4 Practical steps to Bridge the Gender Gap in Tech

August 30, 2016 | Meera Raikundalia
Gender Gap in Tech

It is apparent that today the technology sector is integral to our everyday personal and business lives. There is no industry that hasn’t benefitted from it and most people rely on technology for anything from hailing a cab, to socialising or simply to answer any question. Yet, the tech community has a well-documented diversity problem where the current male to female ratio stands around 5:1. The matters we are discussing here are as much about boosting business performance as they are the progression of equal opportunities for women. Diversity in senior management enables greater potential to meet consumer needs and a greater likelihood of attracting and retaining talent. It has been found that these companies outpace their competitors with a 42% higher return in sales, 53% higher return on equity and 66% higher return on investment capital.

However, diversity in any organisation is more deeply rooted and nuanced than any “add diversity and stir” approach, and it always has significant payoffs. It is important for tech companies not to limit their diversity initiatives to recruitment and selection, but instead foster this balance by building a supportive infrastructure.

Any tech company that is serious about meaningful diversity needs a well-defined strategy that gives maximum priority to this issue when expanding the talent pipeline and implementing talent retention initiatives. Here are a few suggestions on how to do that:

- Uncover hidden biases in the recruitment process. When it comes to hiring, people unintentionally or otherwise tend be more attracted to other people of similar personas. To eradicate this homogeneity, it is important to train hiring teams to recognise personal biases and embrace candidates who have different perspectives. This can be translated into more inclusive job descriptions, interview processes and competency questions.

- Make diversity a business case by introducing key performance indicators to drive change. Don’t stop diversity at recruitment as retaining diverse talent is arguably more difficult than attracting it. Set up a mentor program so opportunities for advancement are highlighted to new hires. Bolster up on benefits for parents like on-site daycare, flexible schedules and schemes to help them return to work and pick up where they left off.

- Incorporate a value for diversity into your organisational culture. Don’t just actively recruit women, but then require them to assimilate to the dominant culture and not incorporate a value for diversity into the structure of the organisation. Take active steps to cultivate diversity awareness by including diversity in your mission statement and by training employees to address differences in communication style, conflict management and other misunderstandings.

- Engage with diversity partners to expand the talent pipeline. Affiliate your company with universities and coding schools, and also partner with key diversity stakeholders who actively engage with the Women in Tech community. This would enable you to position your brand as a progressive and desirable place to work, thus streamlining your ‘diversity talent acquisition’ efforts.

Overall, it is proven that gender diversity causes businesses perform better financially, enjoy exceptional team dynamics, and attain greater productivity. The real challenge is actively taking these steps within your organisation and getting it done.