This is the third article in our ‘Gender Equality in Tech’ series. In the previous ones, we talked about The Causes of Under-represented Women in Tech, and Top 3 Benefits of Employing More Women in Tech.
From these, we’ve learnt the importance of having gender diversity in the workplace, and the range of benefits it brings. These include helping us to understand customers better, the generation of more revenue, and how the promotion of female role models can help to overcome the talent shortages in the tech sector.
Today, we look at 5 practical ways businesses can try and close the gender gap in tech:
Offer flexible working options
Provide return-to-work programmes
Create a discrimination-free recruiting process
Ensure equal access to opportunities
Promote female role models
Flexible working for parents
According to Forbes, women are 8 times more likely than mento take care of sick children or manage their children’s schedules. According to a survey of 100 women in tech, 72% believe their career is suffering due to childcare and family responsibilities.
However, childcare and household duties are not solely the responsibility of women. A survey by Women in Techshows that 88% of fathers think flexible working would also help them in terms of enabling the sharing of childcare responsibility.
Statistics from the same survey also indicated that the most influential factor for attracting women to remain in tech, is flexible working options. Providing flexible working hours and remote working options not only help both parents to achieve work-life-balance, but also enable women to continue their career and boost their earnings thus reducing the gender pay gap in tech.
Return-to-work programmes for mothers
Since the pandemic began, millions of women have left their career due to family duties and childcare. Re-entering the workplace after maternity leave or as children get older, is not easy for a lot of women. According to a surveyby LinkedIn, 25% of mothers claimed that the biggest fear for them in going back to work, is that they will not be up to date on the skills required to do their job.
To help these mothers transition back to the workforce quickly, many companies have been offering return-to-work programmes, including skill-based training, apprenticeships and mentorships. For those mothers working in emerging technologies, return-to-work programmes not only allow them to utilise their existing abilities and experience, but also help them to level up their professional skills and boost their confidence to continue their career. Hence, improving talent retention in the tech sector.
Discrimination-free recruiting process
Experimental research indicates women with children are more likely to suffer discrimination in the hiring process. Therefore, ensuring a fair and equitable hiring process is the first step in creating gender equality in a business.
Before starting the recruitment process, try to determine what is necessary to do the job and create a list of standardised criteria that apply to everyone. Also, be aware of the difference between essential qualifications and desirable qualities. Certain characteristics might be great, but if they’re not essential to the job roles and inadvertently place some people at a disadvantage, there is a risk of biases affecting decision-making process.
Ages, gender reassignment, marriage, maternity and so on are protected characteristics under Equality Acts in many countries. During interview, it is important to make sure the questions focus only on the criteria and qualifications for the roles, rather than candidates’ protected characteristics.
Equal access to opportunities
In the male-dominated tech sector, women only make up 28% of tech leadership roles according to DDI’s 2023 Global Leadership Forecast. A report from McKinseyfound that only 86 women were promoted to manager for every 100 men, across every industry in 2022. However, in the tech sector, that number drops to 52 women for every 100 men.
In addition, the lack of females in management and slow promotions makes it difficult for young female professionals to remain in the tech sector. Therefore, companies must focus on giving equal access to promotion opportunities and also review their promotion processes to help women advance their careers. For example, ensuring both men and women get insights from assessments and have the same access to training and mentoring can help.
Promote female role models
When we have role models around us, to show us the possibilities and routes for progression, it makes it easier to follow in their footsteps. A study focusing on the impact of female role-models for STEM jobs has found that, on average, role-model intervention has a positive impact on expectations of success in STEM choices.
Promoting female role models by involving women into leadership roles is a win-win solution for both company profits and female professionals in tech. A report by BCG found that those businesses with a proportion of 30% or more women in management, saw a 15% growth in their profitability. Incredibly, Fortune 500 companies with at least three women in leadership roles saw a significant increase of 66% in ROI. In addition, by celebrating female leaders in companies, young female professionals have strong role models to look up to and become more confident to pursue their careers in tech.
Hiring advice to help you build an equal and inclusive workplace
As you can see, we can help close the gender gap in the tech sector through flexible working, return-to-work programmes, discrimination-free recruiting processes, equal opportunities and the promotion of female role models.
At Gravitas we work with many companies that are successfully implementing these types of strategies and leading the way in building an equal and inclusive workplace. We can provide consultancy and advice on how to attract more females into your own company, as well as ensuring you have a fair and equal hiring process. Please contact us today and speak to one of our specialist consultants!
If you missed the previous posts in this series, you can read them here:
Find out more about the author Jo Callaghan, UK Technology Country Director, here.
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