By Traci Wade, Group Vice President, Global Diversity & Inclusion, Oracle
The tech sector has long been known for a lack of women and minority representation, particularly in senior leadership positions. Within the industry, for instance, only 52 women are promoted to manager for every 100 men. However, at Oracle, there is hard work and promise for progress in the form of the Oracle Women’s Leadership (OWL) community, which is helping women across the company, supporting skills development and creating networks that have meaningful impact.
Established in 2006 as a grassroots effort, OWL has grown to more than 200+ community leaders across 113 locations globally, hosting 263 events that reach over 20,000 employees. OWL’s mission is to develop, engage and empower current and future generations of Oracle women leaders to foster an inclusive and innovative workforce.
Here are three employee stories, which provide a small snapshot of how Oracle’s OWL is taking flight, driving meaningful impact both inside Oracle and in the communities where we work and live.
OWL’s mission, for members like Susan Miller, the senior director technical oversight & reporting, Oracle Global Product Security, has come alive, making a big difference in her career at Oracle and in her community. Susan shared that “OWL’s offerings, like the Mentoring Circle programs, provide opportunities to build new dynamic relationships and skills,” which gave her the “confidence to excel in areas like executive presentations and speaking to large employee audiences on important topics like security assurance with AI and machine learning.”
The skillset Susan gained through OWL has extended into her community, where she knew she could use her expertise to make a difference. Her mentors identified that she could be a resource to the local business chamber and in short order, she got happily involved. As a board member, she has contributed in many ways, including as “a moderator and panelist while also providing valuable advice and connecting local businesses with tech solutions to help them grow.”
For other members, like Daniela Catino Bancora, vice president, global incentive compensation at Oracle, OWL has taught her to go “beyond her comfort zone, to seize opportunities and jump to the occasion!” But also, when it comes to advice and mentorship, OWL understands that succeeding at work and home not only requires skills development, it requires taking care of our holistic wellbeing as well.
A recent event, sponsored by OWL’s Rocklin community, highlighted how diet, rest and stress affect our lives in myriad ways and the solutions we can adopt to mitigate these daily stressors. Daniela explained that the most rewarding aspect of the event for her was understanding how “seemingly little changes (healthier snacks, a little more rest, short consistent workouts) accumulate over time, adding up to help us perform better at work, make us better in our personal lives and, in turn, make us feel better about ourselves overall.” Simply put, OWL’s members understand the challenges women face at work and at home are intricately interconnected and how we can do better, for both today’s women and future generations.
When Sharon Kolarac Hein, CSS strategic accounts delivery director, joined Oracle in 2011 she was essentially embedded with her customers to help them solve problems in real time. The downside was not being able to spend more time with her team in-person, as most meetings needed to be virtual. Sharon remembers feeling like she “needed a greater sense of belonging, reading about OWL and reaching out to find out more.” What happened next clearly had an impact, with Sharon not only joining OWL but suggesting a greater presence of the community in Pittsburgh, PA. Shortly after, she took on the position of local Oracle’s Women’s Leadership Group Community Lead.
In her role at OWL, Sharon has been focused on helping advance the “pay it forward” aspect of OWL’s mission by enhancing employee leadership and professional skills, using a mix of programs and activities. Outside of Oracle, the Pittsburgh OWL team has taken a leading role with local non-profits, including mentoring local women who are unemployed or underemployed to help uplift their talents and connect them with professional opportunities. For Sharon, this work has given her the “sense of purpose and fulfillment” she was searching for at the beginning of her career. “I’m so glad I raised my hand and took the leap,” she said.
As Oracle’s Vice President and Global Head of Diversity & Inclusion, Traci Wade leads programs that build awareness of the business impact and value of a diverse and inclusive culture at Oracle. She engages with senior leadership in creating and supporting strategies that infuse and elevate a culture of inclusion and equity.
She established Oracle’s first diversity and inclusion team in 2009. Since then, Traci has become a strategic thought leader and subject matter expert on diversity and inclusion.
Traci has received recognition and awards for her commitment and success in leading Diversity & Inclusion corporate efforts, including being named a 2021 Profiles in Diversity Journal Women Worth Watching, 2017 Top Diversity and Inclusion Executives in Corporate America by Black Enterprise Magazine, Bridging the Gap Award in 2015 by San Francisco African-American Chamber of Commerce, Corporate Champion of the Year in 2012 by Black Data Processing Associates, Rising Star at the Women of Color STEM Conference in 2013 and Outstanding Corporate Contributor by Black Data Processing Associates in 2013.