As tech innovation redefines how we study, work, and live, achieving and maintaining gender balance in the tech industry is of vital importance. So, what measures can businesses put in place to encourage women in tech to stay and progress?
According to Boston Consulting Group, Australia faces a labour shortage of 18 percent by 2030. A skills gap in the IT sector is responsible for the bulk of this shortage.
As such, the tech sector is calling out for talent to fill a growing number of roles. And as only 16 percent of employees in STEM fields are female, companies are particularly keen to recruit women and encourage them to stay in the sector.
In this blog post, we discuss how businesses can support women in tech and STEM to remain and excel in the sector.
Creating an equal culture
Rather than considering the lack of women in tech an HR issue, tech CEOs need to take practical steps to ensure they create an equal culture throughout their businesses.
By making gender parity a business priority, and speaking out publicly about this, tech CEOs can show that they are taking the issue seriously.
Global IT services provider, FDM Group, is a good example of a company that has wholeheartedly embraced this approach.
FDM Group’s women in IT initiative, spearheaded by COO, Sheila Flavell, encourages and supports women to excel as IT consultants. What’s more, the company has reported a 0 percent median pay gap for two consecutive years.
Sharing career success stories
A way that tech companies and the wider media can encourage women entering the tech sector to stay and excel, is by celebrating successful women in tech.
When women are in the minority in a company, it can be hard to envisage climbing the ladder unless the success stories of other women are publicly shared.
Businesses that use Slack to communicate, could create a “women in tech” channel to share successes. Or the company could create a newsletter to sing the praises of senior women.
Offering mentorship schemes
Research suggests that 45 percent of women who start careers in STEM are more likely to leave within a year than men. Offering mentorship schemes is a powerful way to counter this trend.
Giving women in tech the opportunity to learn from, and be supported by, senior women in the company will help them to feel valued and empower their progression. This is a key way to maintain women in tech roles.
Addressing maternity discrimination
To maintain women in tech roles, businesses need to take maternity discrimination seriously.
Those taking maternity leave should be supported in their return to work. Offering flexible working hours is a progressive way to combat maternity discrimination.
It is crucial that companies take a zero-tolerance approach towards any managers who are not supportive of those taking maternity leave. Any claims of maternity discrimination should be taken seriously and investigated.
Men throughout the company should be encouraged to take paternity leave to reduce the stigma around taking this. If senior men in the company are vocal about taking paternity, they may encourage younger colleagues to do the same.
In time, having a child will no longer be seen as something that slows women in tech down in terms of career progression. Instead, the hope is, it will be seen as something that affects both genders equally.
Creating gender balanced speaker line-ups
Women are less likely to stay at a company if they do not feel represented by it publicly or through internal events.
Ensuring that there is an equal gender split between speakers at company-wide events is important. It helps junior women envisage being the one up on stage when they reach a senior position.
Similarly, when a company gets invited to send speakers to external events, it is important that they put forward a gender-balanced panel.
The public face of the company should reflect the gender equal culture that the company is aiming for. Putting this kind of consideration into speaker panels helps women working at the company feel seen, represented, and valued.
Using inclusive language in all communications
Research suggests that using masculine language in job adverts may alienate female applicants. But job adverts are not the only place where language matters.
When a company creates its tone of voice guide, to inform how the brand should sound through internal and external communications, emphasising the need for inclusive language is paramount.
How the brand sounds can affect whether women feel included or excluded when they read company updates or see external marketing in the wider media. Inclusive language is more likely to encourage women to envisage a future with the company.
As we have explored, there is much that businesses can do to support women in tech to excel and encourage more women to stay in the tech sector.
Fortunately, businesses across Australia and beyond are taking note of the benefits of gender diversity. Many are working hard to embed approaches that create and sustain a gender-balanced workplace into their core business strategy.
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