Women Of The Channel Survey: Finding Work-Life Balance Isn’t Always Easy

There are aspects of life that the IT channel workforce, especially women employees, regularly sacrifice in service of their career goals, according to the 2023 State of the Women Of The Channel survey by CRN parent The Channel Company.


Gina Yacone gave up a lot to pursue an executive leadership position.

“I look back on my life and do I have regrets? Yes. But I’m also really, really proud of where I am,” Yacone, CISO for the Mountain States at Irvine, Calif.-based solution provider Trace3, told CRN. “In addition to that, I hope that I am making room for women to be able to have what men have always been able to have: the family and the kids and the success. To be honest, I still don’t think that there’s space right now for some women to have it all.”

Yacone believes that women make those trade-offs because they have to work harder to prove their value, whether it’s seen or unseen.

“It may be that we feel that we have something to prove regardless of if it’s there or not,” she said.

There are aspects of life that the channel workforce, especially women employees, regularly adjust to or deprioritize in service of their career goals, according to the 2023 State of the Women Of The Channel survey by CRN parent The Channel Company that included nearly 500 participants, 55 percent being women.

In a live survey taken at the annual Women Of The Channel East 2023 event this week in New York City, 45 percent of attendees reported that they have made “a lot” of sacrifices for their jobs and 41 percent reported that they have sacrificed “a little.”

[Related: ‘Overworked, Underrecognized’ Women In Tech Leadership Are Leaving]

“Over 50 percent of women said they were sacrificing time with their families for their [work] responsibilities. … Reduced family time was No. 3 on the list for men,” said Lisa MacKenzie (pictured above, right), founding partner of CRN parent The Channel Company, during the Women Of The Channel 2023 East event.

“This is a great conversation if you’re working for men or you have men on your team. Is it because it’s not as important? Because they’re better at saying no? Maybe they think they have an option to say no [and] maybe we don’t think we have an option to say no,” MacKenzie said.

Thirty-three percent of women respondents said they have decreased their engagement in arts and cultural activities in favor of their careers compared with 22 percent of men, and 36 percent of women reported they cut back on finding a healthy lifestyle while pursuing work and work-related activities compared with 34 percent of men.

Forty-three percent of men and the same percentage of women reported having sacrificed maintaining a social life for their careers. Fifty-five percent of women and 63 percent of men said their spouse or partner makes the same level of adjustments for their careers.

Heading To The Top

When it comes to women continuing to make sacrifices as their careers evolve, there has been progress, however.

“We’re learning to say no. We’re learning to set healthy boundaries,” said Cass Cooper (pictured above, right), DEI community leader for The Channel Company.

But it’s still a problem that 81 percent of women believe there is a gender gap in advancement or opportunity in the IT channel compared with their male counterparts, 60 percent of who believe that barriers to the C-suite exist for women.

Despite this difference in perception, however, 43 percent of women respondents said they were interested in a C-level position, a figure that rose an impressive 13 percent in this year’s survey. That’s compared with 47 percent of men who reported interest in pursuing a C-level position.

“More young women are raising their hands to move up more than ever before … that’s progress,” MacKenzie said.

For companies and especially their leaders, the focus needs to be on making these jobs more appealing, she said.

“It’s something we have to think about as leaders and as managers. How do you keep those good people so they don’t have to feel like they’re sacrificing?” MacKenzie said. “I think that onus is on the managers and the leaders in this room to make a work environment where everyone feels like they don’t have to make those sacrifices all the time.”

The Channel Company has been conducting its State of the Women Of The Channel survey since 2015 and this year received its largest number of respondents, according to the company.

Michelle Ragusa-McBain, vice president of global channels for Milpitas, Calif.-based SonicWall, has found her perfect work-life balance, but that wasn’t always the case.

For Ragusa-McBain it came down to finding the right employer, prioritizing her happiness and what’s important to her, and then striving to meet those needs in a healthy way to achieve her work-life stride.

“I treasure my family immensely, my self-care immensely and my job immensely,” she told CRN. “Those three pillars of the stool have to remain in equilibrium for me to feel that I am a well-rounded and successful human. There’s an equilibrium that needs to happen. It’s about investing and, as the saying goes, ‘The grass grows where you water it.’”