In this case study, we speak to Sue Brewer, Senior Director at Oracle, about Oracle Women’s Leadership . Sue is a professional leader with over 25 years of experience in the Software and Hardware industry, holding key leadership positions in Operations & Sales across EMEA and Globally. Additionally, she has balanced her career with her personal life, including being a mother to two children. Sue has helped Oracle, a multinational computer software company, paving the way for inclusive workplace culture. Oracle has been influential in encouraging women into the tech industry.

Oracle Women’s Leadership is an initiative that unites employees for the empowerment of women, working to:

  • Enhance employees’ leadership and professional development skills
  • Strengthen employees’ professional networks and improve organizational awareness
  • Foster an inclusive workplace that empowers female leaders

OWL’s mission is global. They aim to ‘develop, support, educate, engage, and empower current and future generations of Oracle women leaders to foster an inclusive and innovative workforce.’ [1]

The Challenge

The Hampton Alexander review (an independent, business-led framework supported by the Government set recommendations in 2016 for FTSE 350 companies) reported that representation of women is increasing. However, they are still underrepresented in positions of leadership.

  • On average, one out of three FTSE 250 companies added women to their boards in 2018-2019
  • As of October 2019, the percentage of women on FTSE 250 boards increased to 29.6%, with 582 women directors
  • Women represented over a third (35.0%) of non-executive directors, yet only 10.3% of executive directors
  • Only 8 women (3.2%) held CEO roles in the FTSE 250 as of October 2019.

The Solution

Oracle focused on creating opportunities and learning programs within their own company to help support women.

  • Inclusive culture – At Oracle, they don’t just respect and value differences—they celebrate them!
  • Support for parents, to include flexible working, parental leave, onsite nursing rooms, breastmilk shipping for travelling mums, and family health plans
  • Career growth – Oracle supports your path forward by reimbursing tuition fees up to the value of $5,250 per year for approved programs of study
  • OWL not only empowers Oracle employees but current and future generations of women leaders. OWL helps individuals with professional development through:
    1. Cultivating communities to network and learn o Engaging in leadership programs with our customers
    2. Offering professional development events and networking opportunities; including opportunities to network with a group of senior female executives from Oracle and our customer base
    3. Ensuring that it is applicable to all and open to both women and men
    4. A developed a partnership with Smart Works Reading, a charity that helps low-income women getting back to the workplace by providing interview coaching and work clothes. They work to provide support in many areas, including raising awareness, donation of clothes and fundraising

The Impact

Oracle is pleased to have happy and successful employees. Over 150 Oracle employees volunteer as local Community Leaders for OWL. It has grown from a grassroots organisation to have international outreach; there are now over 95 OWL communities in 46 different countries. Furthermore, in the 2018 financial year OWL hosted over 400+ events with over 14,000 attendees [1].

Monica Lantz, Director of Consulting, describes how the company’s focus on work-life balance benefits women at Oracle: “There is a lot of freedom here in terms of flexibility and working from home. It’s a culture built on trust, that each employee has a strong sense of responsibility and will take care of their tasks,” she commented.

“We measure success in efficiency and results—not by counting hours. I plan my own week and I am trusted to do so. That’s something I really cherish.”[3]

Monica Lantz, Director of Consulting, Oracle

Lessons Learnt

  • Work together. “It’s when we work together for the empowerment of all that we can achieve the most.” Says Yuan Lin, Software Developer and Chairperson of Dalian OWL. OWL members are encouraged to uplift each other through sharing stories
  • Encourage men to take part – Bonnie Carlson, Oracle Program Manager says: “Great things happen on a level playing field when men and women work together and leverage each other’s strengths.” [4]

Carolina Florez, Vice President of Human Resources in Latin America and OWL member strongly agrees with this:

“Inclusion is the opposite of exclusion. That means that empowering women is not about excluding men—the development of women leaders is everyone’s responsibility. OWL activities are open to all because everyone deserves access to career advancement.” [1]

Carolina Florez, Vice President of Human Resources in Latin America and OWL member

OWL’s ‘Pay it Forward ‘concept encourages women who have learnt and benefited from the initiative to help more women benefit from the work OWL does. The ‘Pay it Forward’ model ensures that we continue to help the next generation of women in succeeding.

[1]  How Oracle is Developing Female Leaders. [online]

[2]  The Hampton-Alexander Review: FTSE Women Leaders. [online]

[3] How Oracle is Developing Female Leaders [online]

[4] Oracle Women’s Leadership hosts IWD mentor and expert panel. [online]

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Oracle Women’s Leadership is an initiative that unites employees for the empowerment of women. This case study examines how Oracle has worked towards creating an inclusive workplace culture.

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