The tech industry has been notoriously slow to prioritize gender diversity, especially in leadership roles. According to a recent report by Wiley, about 70% of individuals in the tech industry believe there’s a lack of diversity at their company. Not a skewed perspective – men reportedly hold about 75% of leadership roles in the tech industry, rarely promoting or hiring women as members of the C-Suite. Furthermore, women make up only 25% of roles in the tech industry, with only very few holding a C-Suite position.
Today’s modern workplace doesn’t solely rely on an organization’s ability to deliver innovative technology. Instead, it’s about the people, purpose, and product of an organization that combine to create a winning formula. However, it’s tricky to determine the appropriate amount of focus on each of the three areas, depending on each organization’s individual needs. When it comes to people and purpose, organizations must look within their internal infrastructure and work hard to create a diverse and inclusive culture. They must create opportunity for all, building up minority genders, cultures and ethnicities. As an industry, we must come together to remove obstacles that deter women from advancing up the chain, many of which hinge on personal development and confidence in their abilities.
Here are three ways companies can diversify their team, create a culture of trust and build strong partnerships with women:
- Build employee loyalty from the ground up.
Organizations that are slow to adopt Diversity Equity Inclusion (DEI) initiatives will struggle to keep employees. In the last few years, I’ve seen more companies in the tech industry step up to do more with their DEI initiatives, creating a positive trickle-down effect. The work environment a company builds becomes a critical component to retaining employees and their loyalty, it must remain a top priority. Companies don’t always have to start large, they just need to start somewhere that leads up to an employee-centric work environment that promotes an inclusive culture. By holding training workshops focused on building a more inclusive space, or ways to help build confidence, organizations can help connect employees and offer valuable insights for them to develop. Investments like that will build stronger relationships with employees, as well as develop a forum for employees to feel a sense of community, especially in an online or hybrid work environment. Strong initiatives such as training workshops, confidence building seminars, and other employee-focused initiatives will further build loyalty to a company that’s prioritizing their needs and creating an inclusive workplace for them to grow and climb the ladder.
- Develop and recruit talent.
The Great Resignation, a recent phenomenon concerning professionals valuing the importance of a work-life balance and demanding more from employers, has actively affected the tech industry. As tech employers look to fill the holes of those who left, they focus recruiting efforts on the new generation of young women tech professionals. Recruiting efforts don’t need to be overly complex. Look at job descriptions, are they written in an unbiased way? Look at the interview panels, does the company have other women participating? Look at the marketing materials, does the company showcase people who are true to the make-up of the organization? Give the team some attainable goals. Look at the company’s existing diversity makeup and set a goal for over the next 12 months. Then, do little things to highlight the importance and ensure the company will make progress. In the past, asked leaders which diverse candidates they are sponsoring or mentoring to help with their career progression. Look at the organization’s high-performing females and ensure that they all have career development plans in place, based on their interests and goals.
- Open leadership opportunities to women.
Diversity equals better business. Companies that are more diverse have seen more success compared to companies that don’t prioritize DEI initiatives. A McKinsey report found that companies with a strong diverse workforce, are 35% more likely to have more financial success. That also applies to women in leadership roles, naturally increasing capital, revenue and the IQ of a company’s C-Suite. Companies that had at least three female directors saw a staggering 66% return on invested capital, 42% increase in sales and a 53% increase on their equity. So not only can opening opportunities to women be financially incentivizing, but diverse teams are clearly more innovative. If the company builds a team that all looks, thinks, and acts the same it will get a similar output. If it builds a team with varying ideas, perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences then the company will get much more innovative outputs to help it stay ahead. It’s a win-win scenario.
For tech companies to remain successful and thrive, they must transform internally – implementing new diversity and inclusion polices that are inclusive of women. I’m a firm believer in picking the best candidate for a role, but ensure that there’s have a wide enough candidate pool to choose from. Based on what we know, it’s better for businesses to foster diversity, so build the company’s talent and prepare them for what’s next. Organizations that look to do this will see their business grow from the inside-out, and will establish a positive work environment that knows how to cultivate a partnership with women.
Lynne Doherty, president, worldwide field operations, Sumo Logic