Diversity and inclusion have taken the centre seat as a topic of discussion amongst companies across all industries and has had a sweeping impact across the globe. The voice of women and minority groups are being amplified, as companies begin to understand the competitive advantage brought about by diversity.
Diversity in a workplace setting is not a choice, rather mission-critical for performance. Although this topic is finally gaining the much-deserved attention it requires, the progress is still slow. A long road ahead of us, for which we need to start laying the foundations now!
Speaking of diversity, one of the areas we see unequal representation widely is the number of women in the IT industry. It has been noted that more than half the women trained for technology-based jobs eventually leave the industry, according to Forbes. This strikingly high percentage highlights the institutional barriers and the structural workplace challenges that exist.
Quick look at the current IT market gender divide:
We recently conducted research on the IT market using LinkedIn to understand the general spread of IT professionals in Ireland. Here are some of the stats below:
- The current gender split within the IT industry Ireland is 66% male and 34% female.
- In regards to C-suite professionals working in large multinational companies, the divide reflects 83% male and 17% female
- Looking at people working within IT, across all industries (including banking, manufacturing services, etc.) the divide looks like 72% male and 28% female
What are these barriers that have led to this widespread gender inequality in the industry? Where do they start and how deep-rooted are they? and how should companies address these issues? Answering these questions should be the first step taken by companies to abolish workplace gender inequality.
Let’s take a closer look at the steps below.
Eliminating the root cause- Unconscious bias
The first step towards removing unconscious bias is to make everyone conscious of these pre-existing beliefs and biases. It is far more prevalent than conscious bias.
Many factors contribute towards developing unconscious bias. Our past experiences, background, and environmental conditions construct these biases. These eventually trickle into our work-related decisions and hence hinder our ability to make decisions based on performance and skills.
Conscious bias in relation to gender diversity can be more easily rooted out through training and awareness activities. These will need to be developed by the leadership team but implemented company-wide. We’ve written a handy little guide on the steps that need to be taken, you can find here: Why is workplace diversity training so important.
What steps need to be taken to make this change?
Although it is not easy to completely eliminate these pre-existing biases, there are steps that can be taken to reduce and address them. As mentioned earlier, this can only be done through conscious effort on the company’s part.
Here are a few simple ways to eliminate unconscious biases:
- Writing gender-neutral job adverts: Yes, you start at the very beginning. The first step towards creating a gender-diverse work environment would be to remove suggestive and vague language from job descriptions. Control your external communication with the wider market.
- Leverage Artificial Intelligence (AI): We’ve seen AI already making its way into the recruitment process across the industry to improve and speed up the hiring processes.
It serves up an additional advantage as it reduces the room for human unconscious biases. As a machine, it will be able to scan a CV for the relevant technical skills and experience, over any other factor. Of course, it is limited by the bias of the human who programmed it, but it can help reduce it to a great extent.
- Widen your network: Connecting with and engaging with a diverse crowd will help you learn more and improve your cultural competence.
- Arrange on-going training: Training and support on topics like this needs to be conducted in a more systematic and effective way. Always address any issues that developed between the two sessions, and how to go about managing them.
Biases cannot be unlearnt in a single session, it takes repetitive discussions to completely eradicate existing stereotypes.
- Understand your own biases: Another crucial step in the direction of creating a healthy work environment is to take ownership of your existing biases. Owning it will help you deal with it and you never know, you could inspire change amongst the people around you.
As they say- True change comes from within. To change the world, we must change ourselves.
What are the advantages attached to having a gender-diverse workforce?
According to The Atlantic, the majority of global studies that have been conducted by the likes of Goldman Sachs and Columbia University, have found that all those companies employing women in larger numbers have outperformed their competitors on every measure of profitability.
By excluding people based on aspects outside their expertise can only damage your company’s progress. Different people bring different perspectives to the table. Hence, ruling out a section of people based on gender, background, ethnicities, and so on, could restrict the level of knowledge you can collect, thereby harming your performance.
Another major advantage presented by a diverse workforce is that it enables change at earlier stages. Younger women who can witness change taking place at such levels will drive them to take up STEM courses. Presenting these changes will highlight the potential they stand to achieve and a sharp rise in interest in these courses will be seen as a result.
Valuable communities for women to get involved with
As mentioned above, there are opportunities now more than ever to create a gender-balanced society. There are many platforms dedicated to backing strong and determined women along their journey to success.
Rise Up Women is one such community where their mission is to narrow the gender leadership gap and advance more women in their careers. The founder, Susan Dwyer has created an online learning community designed to empower women from all different backgrounds and accelerate gender diversity across all levels of business. Helping organisations stay accountable through their resource rich network.
As a member of this community, you gain access to online learning, exclusive events, coaching, mentoring and networking opportunities.You can sign up to be a part of the community here.
Companies that are delivering on their promise to improve gender diversity in tech
We at GemPool are trying to play our part in closing the gender gap within the tech industry. As a part of this initiative, we would like to encourage more and more female candidates to register with us for IT-based jobs here. If you’re actively looking for a new role as well, you can head over to our IT careers page and apply for a job applicable to you.
We are also seeing a number of companies who are actively recruiting female candidates to try and deliver on their promise of creating a gender-diverse workforce. Here are some of the jobs that are currently seeking strong women candidates:
This is the time for all of us to collectively take a step towards creating a diverse workforce, eliminating our unconscious biases, and creating a more nurturing work environment. These things take time, but the biggest takeaway from this is that we should start acting on them.
If you have any further questions regarding workplace diversity, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we would be happy to share any further industry insights.