International Women’s day is an important reminder to take this time and reflect on the current state of workplace gender diversity; particularly in the technology space.
While the percentage of women in the United States labor force has gradually climbed to 46.8 per cent over the past decades, it is still significantly lower in the tech industry. According to Statista, female employees at major tech companies make up an average of 34.5 per cent of the workforce, with Microsoft sitting the lowest at 26 per cent and Netflix at 43 per cent in 2018.
Although statistics help to identify the problem, how do we as an industry collectively challenge these figures and take steps to improve gender diversity in our own organizations?
Emily Hay, Solution Architect, and Women in Tech Group Leader, shares her opinion on how tech companies can get on board and challenge the gender diversity gap.
“At what stage of a tech company’s lifecycle should gender diversity be a focal point?
The point of diversity is, ultimately, to gain different ideas and innovation from different perspectives, and ways of thinking. If you want to have an innovative idea, you should be seeking diverse teams to get there. The best products and services are built by teams that reflect the community and market that they serve.
“What advice would you provide to tech companies to help make gender diversity a priority?”
If gender diversity is not seen as a priority, the importance of gender diversity needs to be brought to a conscious level. Diversity should be something that’s top-level and considered like anything else cultural in an organization. Only when biases are brought to the conscious level can they be challenged, and then actions can follow.
“From your personal experience, what positives have you seen result from a gender-diverse organization?”
- Firstly, I have progressed further in my career when management is equally balanced with men and women. I believe this comes down to the “if you can see it, you can be it” phenomenon. This is a personal benefit.
- I believe that the more women you have, the more women you end up with. I’ve found that when you hire a woman into a team, you’re more likely to hire a second woman, and then a third, as women share job opportunities with their network.
- It’s nice to have a balance. Sometimes, teams that are skewed dramatically towards one gender end up doing ‘team-building’ activities that may appeal to that gender more. One example is a friend of mine who worked in a very ‘blokey’ team – she was given a spa voucher while the rest of the team played golf or drove go-karts.
- I find women to be more comfortable with including emotion in their thought processes. To be truly rational, a human has to use their logical and emotional intellects together. As someone who is quite connected with her emotions, I find it to be a better experience when I can work with managers and colleagues who are similarly emotionally intelligent.
At Enablo, gender diversity has been a thought, but not a priority. Our team comprises of 36 per cent women and until we wrote this blog, it hadn’t been a conscious metric calculated. We will continue to empower our team and hope International Women’s day reminds organizations as it has ours.