Digital technology is now at the heart of businesses and society as a whole. It plays a vital role in democratizing access to knowledge, enabling anytime-anywhere work practices, and helping governments provide a range of facilities to citizens. However, women are still underrepresented and currently hold only about 26.7% of tech-related jobs.
To reverse such trends, the first aspect that needs focus is education. While the past cannot be changed, girls today can prepare for the future to prepare for a job market that STEM careers will dominate. It is particularly vital to encourage girls between 12 and 16 years old to maintain their interest in STEM fields. In addition to classroom support, businesses can give opportunities to senior secondary school and college students to visit their workspaces and gain a practical feel of how technology works in their industry.
Government bodies also must play a role in facilitating people’s access to digital connectivity and devices. As digitalization grows with education and public services going online, the connectivity gap must be closed to ensure that women do not lag behind.
Ensuring diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in workplaces
Once steps to democratize education and connectivity for knowledge of technology have been taken, the pathway to jobs in an expanding digital market for women becomes more straightforward. Indeed, many global, high-profile tech companies have already taken action to close the gender divide. DEI is becoming prominent in tech as it has across other verticals. There is a wave of organized initiatives, partnerships, events, and discussions as the demand for positive change grows louder.
Encouraging diversity and inclusion within any enterprise cannot be undertaken half-heartedly or in an unstructured manner. It needs a formal commitment from all units and stakeholders of the organization. iResearch Services, a global data and insight-driven thought leadership agency, conducted a study of 550 executives in the technology industry in the lead-up to COP26 in late 2021. The report titled ‘How Sustainable is Tech?‘ found that the UK, Japan, and Germany are ahead of most other countries in this regard, with more than 50% of their technology companies having a formal commitment to DEI initiatives. France, China, and Russia ranked lower with 35%, 36%, and 38%, respectively.
Another positive transformation is that companies like Apple and Google, along with some other technology giants, are part of an impactful coalition committed to taking action for the representation of women in technology fields. The Action to Catalyze Tech (ACT) report advises these tech companies on taking bold collective steps with open-sourced DEI best practices, collaboration on general solutions, and more significant responsibilities to drive change. The ideas were put forth by a special working committee with PwC as a founding member, encouraging more organizations to participate.
The recommendations by the ACT report include:
- Keeping a framework where DEI is recognized as a business imperative and inclusive leadership is incentivized
- Operationalizing DEI all through the business by deploying a model on how to allocate funds, design and build products, and strategize recruitment and retaining of talent
- Sharing DEI demographic data with Tech Equity Accountability Mechanism, a new industry partner, incubated by the Aspen Institute, to help build industry-wide standards for reporting
- Transforming future pathways into technology fields for underrepresented talent and addressing the critical lack of computer science teachers from different communities
The ACT report states that tech’s current paradigm is usually dispersed, individual, and short-term. In other words, tech companies often poach each other’s talent from underrepresented groups. When existing diverse tech talent is only redistributed, it is just a zero-sum game and, in essence, does not create any real meaningful change. Companies need to work for a paradigm shift to eliminate systemic roadblocks. They must remove bias completely by implementing better practices for recruitment, retention, and the development and promotion of talent.
Thriving in a D&I tech environment
Women are sparsely represented in many tech companies, particularly on the board. A McKinsey study found that only 28% of the people in senior management and C-suite roles are women. From a social perspective, one of the challenges is that women have to walk on a razor’s edge between being “assertive” and “likable.” They must prove their worth beyond the level expected of their male peers. They also face an array of biases that feel challenging to overcome.
HR teams must reflect that if nearly half of the consumers – buying technology products – are women, does it not make sense to have a similar proportion of employees handling product manufacturing, engineering, and technical support responsibilities? And it is feasible to close the gender gap by consciously:
- Giving women equitable access to the projects, training programs, and other resources that men predominantly manage
- Implementing a structured approach to promotions
- Connecting early-tenure women with capable managers and mentors
On the brighter side, organizations are progressively acknowledging the significance of building inclusive technology cultures that nurture belonging, engagement, and collaboration to reflect a diverse tech workforce and deliver value. Even though the industry seems to be only scratching the surface of DEI in some countries, leading CIOs have prioritized focus on employee diversity. They have started filling the leadership pipeline with skilled women and other underrepresented groups to promote innovative thinking and working. A study by Deloitte has also reported that companies with inclusive cultures have higher employee retention rates and find it easier to recruit new employees than those without.
Aaseya is committed to making DEI an intrinsic part of everything it does in the digital technology sector. Valuing soft skills such as creativity, cognitive flexibility, and emotional intelligence in our recruitment drives, we aim to promote a generation of diverse tech leaders who can effectively apply tech-based solutions to address business challenges and foster growth.
To know more about our team and how it can help you, contact us at https://aaseya.com/contact-us/