ViewPoint

Mar 14

Decoding Gender Diversity

By Libby Botsford

“I’m tired of ‘women in tech’ panels,” said Alexa Scordato.

If you’ve been to a tech conference in the last decade, chances are you have seen or heard about a panel focusing on women in technology, offering advice for how tech companies can foster gender diversity among its employees.

But has anything really changed?

On Friday, Alexa Scordato of Stack Exchange, Darrell Silver of Thinkful and Savannah Peterson of Shapeways tackled this topic at SXSW during a panel called “Decoding Gender Diversity in Technology.” A key takeaway is that more diversity fosters innovation, and companies that have women (and other minorities) are more successful. In fact, studies show that companies that have women on their boards are 80 percent more successful than those that don’t.

Here are a few key areas companies can adapt to foster more diversity:

Source candidates differently. It’s tricky to get women to apply to jobs in many instances. And while you can’t change the bar for women, but you can market to them in a different way. Reach out to girl developers in code and try to convince them to do recruiting. And update the language on the job listings – when women see content that refers to “looking for the best” or “ninjas,” they automatically take themselves out of the equation.

Focus on mentoring. Women need both heroes and advocates, and by helping women who have gone through the hiring process with mentorship, you empower them to become more successful and engaged employees.

Put diversity on the leadership’s agenda. If the leadership and executive team does not put an emphasis on diversity, it won’t trickle down and become a priority for the team generally.

Set tangible and measurable goals. Make sure you place realistic (but challenging) goals, and then evaluate your company’s performance against this. By evaluating the success of diversity programs, you can re-align and re-adjust if you’re not meeting your goals. Or, if you find you’re meeting all of your goals, make them more aggressive.

Pay men and women equally. Salary discrepancy is a real thing. To combat this, companies should put a transparent framework in place for compensation based on performance and level of experience.

As a woman working with technology clients at an all-female agency, I enjoyed the discussion greatly, and I hope companies finally take the necessary action to diversify their offices. Maybe, just maybe, we can end the “women in tech” conversation once and for all.

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