Having a diverse and inclusive workforce is a priority for us at American Express Global Business Travel (Amex GBT). It is who we are as a global company, and we value our colleagues’ diverse backgrounds, unique perspectives, and contributions.
That’s why we’re excited to attend the Grace Hopper Celebration, an event that champions women in technology, in Orlando this year. Inspired by the legacy of Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, a computer programming pioneer, the conference brings the research and career interests of women in computing and technology to the forefront – which is sorely needed in a field dominated by men.
As of 2022, women hold only 26% of computing-related jobs (a statistic we were surprised to learn since the number of women holding tech jobs at Amex GBT is nearly double that). Seventy-two percent of women surveyed by TrustRadius say they have worked at a tech company with a heavily male-dominated culture, and that same number – 72% – also shared with TrustRadius that men outnumbered them in business meetings by at least a 2:1 ratio.
Grace Hopper is precisely the kind of event that’s needed to encourage women pursuing careers in technology and computing. After acquiring Egencia, which attends the conference every year, we decided to go as well, seeing it as an opportunity to cultivate women in technology.
To learn more about why we’re attending the event, we spoke with Tonya Hempstead, vice president of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) at Amex GBT.
Q. Why is it important to have women in technology roles? Why is Amex GBT interested in hiring such women?
A. Firstly, women are responsible for the majority of consumer spending. So it’s critically important to factor in women’s needs when developing technology and products.
But also, having diverse teams, and specifically women from diverse backgrounds in technology, allows us to create more balanced and inclusive products and services. Diverse perspectives allow us to see gaps and areas of opportunity that homogenous groups may not necessarily factor in. Having different perspectives at the table creates an opportunity for us to innovate and create products, tools, and services that serve a broader, more globally diverse group of people.
Q. What’s the representation of women with technology jobs at Amex GBT?
A. Women represent 45% of our product and technology team. Considering that women only hold about 26% of all tech-related jobs, we are proud of this accomplishment. Having more diverse representation in tech and taking a talent-first approach greatly reduces women feeling excluded. At Amex GBT, women on our product and tech team know that their voices are heard and their contributions matter.
One area of opportunity we’ve identified is having a higher representation of women in senior tech roles. Currently, we are focused on eliminating those barriers and developing talented women in our pipeline. We’re investing in the mentorship, development, and allyship of women to support growth and help them have a seat at the table.
Q. Is that one of the reasons that Amex GBT is involved in this year’s Grace Hopper conference?
A. Yes. We want to be intentional about what we’re trying to accomplish, and one of the ways we are doing that is by analyzing the composition of our teams and making a concerted effort to move the needle. It’s also an opportunity to share what we are doing and highlight the exciting things happening in travel from a technological perspective.
Q. Why do you think women with a computing/technology background would be interested in working for Amex GBT?
A. It’s something fresh. The travel industry is sometimes overlooked, but there’s something to be said about exploring a new frontier and having an opportunity to use your skills in a different way. Corporate travel agencies have been transformed into technology-forward service providers and provide excellent opportunities for tech careers, especially for women.
Amex GBT is the world’s leading travel platform. To be the top travel management company, we need cutting-edge technology that factors in a globally diverse and inclusive world. We have an ambitious tech roadmap and have invested over $1.4 billion in our products and platforms, with plans to keep growing.
Q. What do you think female job seekers might find appealing about Amex GBT’s culture?
A. Our diversity, equity, and inclusion program is truly global. The ecosystem we’ve created comprises every region and business unit in our company. We like to say that DE&I is global but with a local approach, so the way we talk about DE&I in the US differs from how we talk about it in India or Spain.
The program is based on our philosophy of diversity, which goes beyond primary dimensions of diversity, such as age, race, ethnicity, and gender. We also look at people’s nation of origin, life experiences, religion, cultural traditions, socioeconomic status, and communication styles.
Q. Why is it important to nurture female talent?
A. You’ll see a strong representation of women in many companies, but they’re not in leadership roles. Research shows that companies that have women as CEOs and more gender diversity on their executive teams outperform those who don’t.
Diverse perspectives spur innovation and new ideas, which ultimately can create a competitive advantage and increase financial performance.
But it goes beyond delivering better outcomes and returns. It’s really about innovation. It’s those different perspectives brought to the table and how you’re contributing to those conversations in the development of products, tools, and services – that’s when people innovate and create something amazing.
Q. How is Amex GBT nurturing female talent?
A. There’s a form of mentorship through our employee resource groups, which we call our inclusion groups. All our executive sponsors for our inclusion groups are senior vice presidents who have a high standing and voice in the company. These sponsors serve as mentors and guides to employees in these groups. Employees have an opportunity to speak to these senior leaders and know their voices can be heard, all the way up to the executive level. The same is true with our worldwide country ambassador program, which has an inclusion council comprised of regional general managers. You can interact with leadership and contribute to our thinking as an organization.
Interested in learning more about our career opportunities in computing/technology at Amex GBT? Let’s talk! If you’re attending the Grace Hopper Celebration, visit us at Booth 1536. Or check out our careers page.