Although efforts have been made to promote more gender equity in the workplace, a recent Pontoon insight on bridging the gender gap shows that creating a truly inclusive and equitable environment continues to be challenging for many employers. For example, women are still highly under-represented in functional tech leadership roles. With representation sitting at only 15-25%, there’s ample room for growth and improvement to achieve gender diversity within the sector.
Additionally, recent WomenTech Network research found that 70% of individuals who lost their jobs in the sector at the end of last year were female – an alarming example of gender discrepancies in tech employment. By allowing these inequities to continue, tech companies are at a significant disadvantage, limiting their access to top female tech talent.
Overcoming industry stereotypes
It’s no secret that to create a more equitable future, women in tech must challenge traditional gender stereotypes and build the confidence to take on new challenges. Meanwhile, 39% of women in tech cite gender bias as a barrier to promotion. Removing the roadblocks to the C-suite is essential for female talent’s development and, better for business. Companies with equal representation of men and women, or a higher percentage of women, tend to be the most profitable and innovative organisations. Research shows that gender-diverse companies are up to 48% more likely to outperform their competition.
If the benefits of equitable representation are evident, why do we continue to see a gap in female talent and senior leadership roles within the technology space? More importantly, how do we close this gap?
While many factors impact these stats, we’ll focus on a handful of solutions employers can use to drive more diverse, women-focused talent pools and support females in their tech career journeys to maximise potential.
Equitable and enhanced benefits
One way to attract female talent in IT is to offer benefits that will significantly impact a woman’s decision to work for your organisation. These include flexible scheduling, hybrid or remote work opportunities, paid parental leave, wellness programmes, and caregiving support.
When supporting working mothers, tech leaders need to incentivise female employees to use the available benefits and paid time off policies to their advantage. Let’s encourage spending quality time and celebrating special occasions with loved ones. Resources like paid emergency childcare help families spend quality moments together. With these additional perks, companies can show they genuinely care and support their female talent.
Starting early in the career journey
Companies that prioritise skills-based leadership training and career pathway guidance from the very start see a significant increase in female representation at higher levels of management. Coaching has become increasingly essential to help reverse any pattern of disparity and empower women to succeed as it can nurture self-confidence – enabling more girls and young women to strive towards executive positions within technological sectors.
Tech employers can attract more female talent by investing in educational programmes for young girls, providing early exposure to STEM fields, and holistically creating a pipeline of future professionals who are confident, capable, and excited to make an impact. Organisations can benefit from alliances with local and national women’s universities, robust onboarding processes, and correlating training plans focused on professional growth and leadership.
Company culture can greatly impact how women in tech are valued and supported. When companies create an environment that embraces diversity and inclusion, it sends a message of support to all female employees. This can include providing equal pay, flexible working hours, and other benefits that help female workers reach their full potential.
All staff should be trained on diversity and inclusion and how to help remove barriers to professional growth. By creating a workplace culture that includes women in tech, firms play an essential role in advancing gender equality in the industry.
Creating an inclusive, judgment-free environment where women can openly discuss their experiences navigating the workplace is essential for companies looking to develop and nurture female tech talent. Allowing a space of understanding and support fosters meaningful connections between colleagues, leading to greater satisfaction and productivity in the work setting.
The key to success in creating these affinity groups is to ensure they provide inclusivity, offer an ecosystem of psychological safety and give resources to boost professional growth. Direct managers should support by allowing time for participation. At the same time, those willing to join must specify what they want to gain from participating so that each session is focused and meaningful. Pontoon recently launched empowHER, an empowerment group for women in tech which includes networking, personal storytelling, role-related training, guest speakers, and a virtual swag bag filled with professional growth resources for independent learning. Post-launch feedback has been highly positive:
“Being part of a community of like-minded individuals is a great source of inspiration and motivation. It’s fantastic that we are coming together as a global and diverse group of women to learn from each other and share our experiences.” – Pontoon colleague
Mentorship programmes and internal networking opportunities
Establishing female-centric mentorship programmes for new hires at the onset of their career journey helps women continue to learn and develop their technology skills. For example, internal networking programmes are an ideal starting point. They can widen female recruitment beyond current limits, ensuring that tech firms get all the advantages associated with gender-diverse teams.
During onboarding, Pontoon’s Technology & Consulting segment challenges new hires to network with at least three colleagues they don’t know and who work outside their segment. Making a focused effort to encourage internal networking allows these new hires to get their name out there and establish strong connections that, in the future, will open career pathways and doors they didn’t even know existed.
We are in an Open Talent Economy, where work looks much different than in the past. Women can choose where, when, and how to work. If you want to drive greater profits and innovation within your tech organisation, consider limiting existing barriers and becoming part of the solution. Organisations focusing on attracting and hiring female talent and supporting them throughout their careers will win in this new talent game. Ultimately, “winning” organisations will have built a strong company culture that truly values and supports female employees, allowing them to thrive and continuously grow. By incorporating the strategies discussed above, tech employers will secure a strong brand reputation and become an employer of choice for female talent, eventually achieving and exceeding their business objectives.