The tech industry is notoriously slow to prioritize gender diversity, especially in leadership roles. According to a recent report by Wiley, approximately 70% of people in the technology industry believe their company lacks diversity. No biased perspective – men reportedly hold about 75% of senior positions in the technology industry and rarely promote or hire women as members of the C-suite. Additionally, women make up only 25% of positions in the technology industry, with very few holding a C-suite position.
Today’s modern workplace does not only depend on a company’s ability to deliver innovative technologies. Instead, it’s about the people, purpose and product of an organization coming together to create a winning formula. However, it is difficult to determine the appropriate focus on each of the three areas, depending on the unique needs of each organization. When it comes to people and purpose, organizations need to look into their internal infrastructure and work hard to create a diverse and inclusive culture. They must create opportunity for all by building minority genders, cultures and ethnic groups. As an industry, we must come together to remove barriers that keep women from moving up the chain, many of which depend 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 implement diversity equity inclusion (DEI) initiatives will struggle to retain employees. Over the past few years, I’ve seen more and more companies in the technology industry do more with their DEI initiatives and create a positive trickle-down effect. The work environment that builds a company becomes a critical component of employee retention and loyalty, it must remain a top priority. Businesses don’t always have to start big, they just have to start somewhere, resulting in an employee-centric work environment that fosters an inclusive culture. By conducting training workshops that focus on building a more inclusive environment or opportunities to build trust, organizations can help connect employees and provide them with valuable insights for their development. Investments like this will build stronger relationships with employees and 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 strengthen loyalty to a company that prioritizes their needs and creates an inclusive workplace where they can grow and climb the career ladder.
- Develop and recruit talent.
The Great Resignation, a recent phenomenon among professionals who appreciate the importance of work-life balance and demand more from their employers, has actively impacted the technology industry. As tech employers seek to fill in the gaps of those who have left the company, they are focusing their recruitment efforts on the new generation of young female tech professionals. Recruitment efforts don’t have to be overly complex. Look at job descriptions, are they written with an open mind? Look at the interview panels, does the company have other women participating? Check out the marketing materials. Does the company show people who are loyal to the composition of the organization? Give the team achievable goals. Look at the company’s existing diversity structure and set a goal for the next 12 months. Then do small things to highlight the importance and make sure the business is moving forward. In the past, executives have asked what different candidates they sponsor or mentor to help them with their career advancement. Check out the organization’s high-performing women and make sure they all have career development plans based on their interests and goals.
- Open leadership opportunities for women.
Diversity means better business. Companies that are more diverse thrive more than companies that don’t prioritize DEI initiatives. A McKinsey report found that companies with a highly diversified workforce are 35% more likely to be financially successful. This also applies to women in leadership positions, which naturally increase the capital, revenue and IQ of a company’s C-suite. Companies with at least three female directors experienced an amazing 66% return on invested capital, a 42% increase in sales and a 53% increase in equity. So, not only can opening up opportunities for women provide a financial incentive, but diverse teams are clearly more innovative. If the company builds a team that all looks, thinks and acts the same, it will achieve a similar result. When it builds a team with diverse ideas, perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences, the company gets many more innovative results that help it stay on top. It’s a win-win scenario.
For tech companies to remain successful and thrive, they must transform internally — by implementing new diversity and inclusion policies that include women. I strongly believe in selecting the best candidate for a job, but make sure there is a large enough pool of candidates to choose from. Based on what we know, companies are better off embracing diversity, so build the company’s talent and prepare them for what’s next. Companies that strive to do this will see their business grow from the inside out and create a positive work environment that knows how to partner with women.
Lynne Doherty, President, Worldwide Field Operations, Sumo Logic