6 min. read
10 Things You Can Start Doing To Close The Gender Gap In Tech
Advice from Aniela Crisan, Engineering Director at OLX Group Portugal
Can closing the gender gap in tech give companies different approaches to problem solving? Despite significant progress made, gender equality in tech remains to be a global challenge. By now, you probably know that equaling the number of men and women on your team can bring many benefits, but you’re having trouble diversifying your company? Every company has a responsibility to create a culture where everyone feels welcomed, without any discrimination.
With the help of Aniela Crisan, Engineering Director at OLX Group we have created a step-by-step guide on how organisations can do their part in working towards closing the gender gap. Aniela has first-hand experience in successfully increasing gender-diverse representation on their Engineering teams in Portugal. Here’s how she did it.
1. Do company-wide research and Data Analysis
First things first, how can you solve a problem if you don’t know about it? Your HR team might not even be aware of a gender imbalance in any of your departments or candidate pool. Using a data analytics platform can help your HR team understand if a gender problem exists, where the problem lies and work towards addressing them. Doing company-wide research and data analysis will give valuable insights such as gender breakdown and the percentage of women in leadership roles at your company.
To get you started, here’s a few data analytics platforms we’d recommend: Peakon, Peopleinsight and Affirmity.
2. Optimise your sourcing process and job descriptions
Just because someone’s in a role doesn’t mean they’re not looking for a new opportunity or their next career move. Widening your candidate search on social media, implementing an incentivized referral program, attending industry events and meetups, and following well-known global sourcers such as Balazs Paroczay and Vanessa Raath will help you optimise your sourcing techniques to find qualified candidates for your open roles fast.
When it comes to how you advertise these roles, language is everything. To attract gender diverse talent you need to use a “feminine tone of voice” and advertise benefits that appeal to women. According to Aniela, including your salary range and benefits, clear descriptions of the qualifications needed and the company culture will signify that your company is committed to transparency and fair pay, attracting more female talent. If you’re unsure of where to start, Aniela suggests using augmented writing platforms like Textio, Text Analyzer, or Gender Decoder will help.
3. Increase the visibility of your female engineers
Across Europe, women in engineering remain to be a modern-day minority. Research suggests that two of the biggest barriers for women in tech are a lack of mentors (48%) and a lack of female role models (42%). If we look at the root of the problem for gender diversity in tech, we’ll see that the problem is the lack of girls in education not choosing STEM subjects to study. By increasing the visibility of your female engineers you will inspire and encourage more women to join the industry.
Aniela’s tips on increasing the visibility of women on your Engineering team:
–> Create career opportunities inside the company which support the progression of your existing female talent.
–> Build an internal and external presence in the community by hosting talks and workshops, create employee testimonials and use social media to increase the visibility of your female employees and leaders.
–> Nurture an inclusive environment that recognises the bias present and take steps towards improvement which will support your female employees to perform at their best.
4. Reduce Gender Diversity Bias
Although companies acknowledge gender diversity issues and express intentions to do better, more efforts are needed to tackle this issue from a global perspective. Many research projects point to the issue of a huge bias in the interview process. According to Aniela, here are some steps you can take to reduce gender diversity bias:
–> Make gender bias training mandatory for everyone involved in the hiring process. This will increase awareness of the bias existing and contribute to making efforts to go beyond that.
–> Ensure you have gender diverse representation on your hiring committee. To make sure that women can be at their best during the interviews, it is important to offer them the best space to perform. This can be achieved by letting the hiring spokespersons reflect that focus on diversity.
–> Make sure you go beyond and above to ensure gender diverse talent is included in the shortlist for roles you know suffer from gender imbalance.
5. Budget for Diversity and inclusion
Although the rise in the COVID-19 crisis has resulted in many companies cutting budgets, recent research shows that expanded budgets have been implemented to build diverse and inclusive workforces. Financial resources are critical for launching and implementing a D&I strategy. If you want to be a competitive employer, have a strong employer brand, increase innovation, creativity and internal engagement then creating a budget for diversity and inclusion should be your top priority. According to Oana Lordachescu, Head of Tech Recruitment at Wayfair, here’s some initiatives to consider when planning your budget:
–> Tools: Adding a tool that will help you with augmented writing like Textio which will make your job descriptions more inclusive. Or perhaps you want to add a blinding cv tool like Equalture which will avoid any bias entering your hiring process. These are programs you can plan and budget for ahead of the financial year.
–> Philanthropy or sponsorship: Consider conferences or community groups you might want to sponsor to help endorse the communities you want to recruit from more.
–> Events: Create a budget to execute your own network and meetups to further optimise your sourcing process.
–> Training: It is essential that your interviewing team are trained on unconscious bias, anti-discrimination and cultural awareness. This will help you elevate the conversation about inclusion, create a culture of open discussion and fairness in the recruitment process.
6. Create a formal Diversity Policy
Having a formal diversity policy creates a culture of inclusion and gives your employees a voice. Outlining your company’s stance on diversity and inclusion will have a significant impact on employee management and engagement, and it will actually contribute to economic growth and financial outperformance. But don’t just take our word for it. According to a study by McKinsey, companies with more diverse leadership went from 15% to 21% in the case of gender diversity.
7. Set goals for your Management Team
Your management team should have a balanced gender representation in it’s senior management. Building a gender-balanced organisation with a focus on management will reinforce your company’s commitment to women empowerment and to creating an inclusive culture. Here are five steps you can take to address gender equality on your management team.
Step 1: Tackle the structural and systematic discrimination challenges, and the cultural challenges your company faces in addressing gender equality. This involves changing the way we all think and treat other people and ourselves – in our day-to-day interactions, in our decision-making and in our wider business thinking.
Step 2: Get backing from your CEO and Senior Level Management to commit to your DE&I goals. This is key to achieving your 50/50 target from day one.
Step 3: Don’t be afraid to tackle gender imbalance at the top of your company. When new positions become available use this as an opportunity to expand the representation of women at the highest level.
Step 4: Provide training to your management team on unconscious bias and challenges relating to diversity in the workplace. But most importantly follow up on this training with concrete change and a plan of action as training can easily be forgotten.
Step 5: Take a data-led approach to diversity and inclusion-related work. Measure how many women are in management positions and determine where systemic improvement is needed.
8. Invest in Global STEM Programs
It’s no surprise that careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) have become in increasing demand. However widespread concerns suggest that not enough young people are choosing to study STEM-related subjects which creates a skills gap, having a negative impact on the economy. By investing in a STEM Programme your company will:
–>Create a better future for the next generation
–> Support the growth of jobs as technology continues to develop
–> Attract top talent by creating a competitive education environment in your company
–> Prepare society to become more informed on complex issues which contributes to higher earnings.
If you’re looking for programmes to invest in, check out VHTO, Jugend hackt or ReDI School.
9. Revise your policy on flexible hours and equal pay
It’s no surprise that your policy, working hours and pay are key factors in affecting motivation and relationships at work. It’s important to develop these three areas which will reward the men and women in your company fairly.
Women are 20% more likely to apply for senior roles if you offer flexible working hours so this should be incorporated into your recruitment process.
The gender pay gap within the tech industry remains to be a worldwide concern. According to the Global Gender Gap Report 2020, women may have to wait 250 years to achieve economic parity. By outlining your company’s policy on equal pay you will communicate a powerful message and show that you value gender equality.
10. Set minimum standards for Maternity Leave
Lastly, you can minimise expenses in your company by offering good maternity leave, return to work schemes, or job sharing for senior positions. By doing so you will improve the retention rate and increase employee satisfaction. So, overall this should be considered a powerful recruitment tactic.
Diversity and inclusion is no longer a “nice-to-have”. Every company has a responsibility to create a culture where everyone feels welcome, without any discrimination. These 10 practical steps are things companies can start doing today, no matter your level of DE&I maturity.
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