The discussion about gender equity in the workplace is nothing new. It’s been ongoing for decades, but we’ve made a good deal of progress overall. However, we still have a lot of problems encouraging diversity in tech.
Varied perspectives make for a more dynamic, in-touch and ultimately sustainable organization, meaning that it’s not just a moral judgement — it’s also smart business. The shortage of female recruits in tech, though, makes diverse organizations much harder to build.
This leaves a lot of tech businesses asking the question: “How can we attract more diverse recruits?” Fortunately, addressing imbalances in tech isn’t as difficult as many might assume.
Encourage diverse leadership.
Opportunities for advancement are a powerful incentive in recruiting top talent, and the best way to recruit female candidates revolves around this very simple concept. Step one is to underscore that the same opportunities exist for male and female recruits by encouraging women in leadership positions. Drawing on diverse perspectives in leadership will pay off quickly as you can expect more:
- Customer engagement and a better understanding of individual consumers
- Creative and innovative thought
- Sustainable growth
- Positive impressions of the company that will help recruit talent
If candidates see your company as an active promoter of women in tech with a culture that makes advocacy a priority, they will be more interested in working with you.
Hold the door for others.
Data from 2015 found that less than 30 percent of the labor force at the largest tech companies were women, and women occupied just 15.6 percent of explicitly tech-related positions. It’s not easy for women to find their way in this industry. When they do, though, it’s helpful if they can provide support for others still at the beginning of their career.
I’m passionate about advocating for women in tech positions because I know that it makes a difference. Women are much more likely to start at entry-level roles than their male counterparts, and they tend to make less. I’m a firm believer in the idea that people should be paid and positioned according to the value that they represent to a company, but that’s not always the case in tech.
We can change the situation by supporting and pushing for assurances of pay equity to make for a more welcoming and enticing culture in tech. Women who’ve fought through the barriers to entry have indispensable insight into the matter of gender equity in tech, and no one out there is better positioned to have an impact on it.
Encourage mentorship and self-advocacy in company culture.
Of course, helping bring women on board is just part of the equation. Business leaders can also make a positive difference by equipping women in tech with the tools to find success.
The best way to get others to promote your contributions is to start promoting yourself. Women need to take on the roles of self-advocates, but that’s much easier with the benefit of guidance from a more experienced figure. Unsurprisingly, though, these relationships tend to be divided along gender lines.
As women occupy a relatively small share of tech positions, chances for them to find more experienced mentor figures are limited. That’s why it’s important for women with tech backgrounds to seek out opportunities to pass on the benefits of their experience.
Having a mentor figure to offer insight and the benefit of years of experience can fundamentally impact one’s career. So, just as women need to advocate for themselves, it’s also important that tech companies encourage mentorship in the company culture. It will make your company more attractive to female candidates if they know that it will be a positive career move.
Develop passion for tech early on.
The themes of mentorship and advocacy carry over into the next generation as well. Based on my experiences, there are three main reasons young women tend not to consider tech as a career path:
- The passion for tech isn’t instilled in girls early on.
- Girls aren’t aware of the opportunities available in the field.
- They don’t possess the same confidence as boys when it comes to tech.
Correcting for these is essential if we’re ever going to address the gender imbalance in the industry, and we’re going to have to start with young people to pull it off.
The industry can play a major role in helping inspire a love for STEM subjects in young girls. This will be the most effective way to encourage more women to pursue these fields and stick with them. The next generation of thinkers and innovators are developing now. By encouraging girls to tinker and create, tech companies can ensure a much more diverse future for the industry.
Keep at it.
Correcting for gender imbalances in tech won’t be an overnight fix. But, if everyone plays their part — business leaders, women in tech and women looking to enter the industry — it will make the process much easier.