Congratulations to Amazon employees Gillian Russell and Ramat Tejani who have been recognised among the HERoes Top 100 Women Future Leaders 2021.
The HERoes Women Role Model Lists recognise those who are leading by example and driving change to increase diversity in the workplace – including lists for Women Executives, Women Future Leaders and Advocate Executives.
A panel of judges rate nominees on factors such as the influence of their business role, their impact on inclusion inside and outside the workplace, and their business achievements.
We are delighted to see Amazon employees recognised again this year – so we spoke to Gillian and Ramat to find out more about their achievements and how they’re driving gender diversity in the workplace.
Gillian Russell – Senior Program Manager, Global Military Affairs
Gillian is a Royal Navy veteran and military spouse who joined Amazon four years ago with the objective of increasing military hiring at the company.
“When I arrived, I realised that solely increasing the number of veteran hires would do little to impact diversity,” she explains, “so we instigated specific measures to attract woman candidates and those with different backgrounds and education.”
Working with recruiters and hiring managers, she dispelled myths regarding the perceived lack of transferable skills that military personnel, and their spouses, bring to business. She designed and executed tailored events, some created specifically for women veterans, to ensure that military leavers and spouses understood the breadth of roles available at Amazon.
By highlighting Amazon’s commitment to the military community, Gillian’s work has resulted in a notable increase in women military hires at Amazon. In 2020, 33 female veterans joined the company, making up 11 per cent of military veteran hires.
Gillian has also worked tirelessly to ensure the viewpoint of military spouses are seen and heard: “Military spouses are an overlooked cohort of potential employees. Their careers are often disrupted by their partner’s service, making their CVs disjointed and consequently disregarded by many recruiters. When 95 per cent of military spouses are women, not focussing on this resilient and resourceful pool of talent is a huge missed opportunity for employers in the UK.”
Gillian has driven the Military Spouse Program at Amazon in EMEA, which breaks down the stereotypes and perceptions around their employability with hiring managers to significantly increase military spouse employment at Amazon. Specially designed HR programmes which facilitate internal job moves and allow remote working, where no suitable local job is available, have also driven up military spouse retention.
As the Vice President of the veteran internal employee engagement group Warriors@, Gillian regularly partners with other engagement leaders to ensure her programmes align not only with Amazon culture, but also educate as widely as possible throughout the business.
“Veterans are a hugely diverse group of individuals, made up of every single gender, race and ability and from widely varying socio-economic backgrounds,” she adds. “As large and diverse organisations, Amazon and AWS have immense power to support the military community here in the UK.”
Ramat Tejani – Programme Lead, AWS GetIT
At Amazon Web Services (AWS), Ramat leads the AWS GetIT education programme for the EMEA region, which is designed to inspire young students aged between 12 and 13, especially girls, to consider a career in tech by challenging long-standing gender stereotypes. The programme reached tens of thousands of students across the UK, Ireland and Germany in the past year.
Ramat adds: “AWS GetIT also empowers talented women within our own business to build confidence and leadership skills through a ten-month executive training program. Known as AWS GetIT Ambassadors, they apply their skills to mentor school students taking part in the education programme.” This year, Ramat increased the total number of GetIT ambassadors to over 100 women across Amazon’s business.
Ramat co-leads Amazon UK’s Black Employee Network professional development activities. This year in collaboration with the Women@ affinity group, Ramat curated a series of financial wellbeing workshops after recognising the importance of financial literacy especially for women.
Outside her day job, Ramat is passionate about intentional personal development and is a Mental Health First Aider. This year she hosted the Women in IT Awards & Summit for the second year in a row. Ramat was also selected as part of the UN Women UK’s delegation to the Commission on the Status of Women.
“At the end of 2020, I lost my own biggest cheerleader, my Mumsy,” Ramat adds. “She was the biggest advocate for diversity and inclusion – with three daughters, she was adamant nothing would hold us back. My Mumsy and I previously started a charity to build primary schools in rural Ghana, called Yaarah Schools. She will always be my motivation and I’m committed to being a cheerleader for others, particularly women, in her name and honour.”
Find out more about diversity at Amazon.