According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women now make up 47% of United States workers. Women are increasingly choosing careers that were traditionally male-dominated sectors. Research has continually shown that women in leadership have proven increased revenue, higher return on investment, and a rise in collective intelligence.
Even with these proven benefits, women are still underrepresented in leadership and technology careers. However, globally women make up less than 20% of the tech industry. To foster change, many companies, leaders, and universities are encouraging women to study a science, technology, engineering or math subject. (STEM) Companies can also focus on inclusive recruiting efforts and retention of employees.
Internally, Nexio has chosen to sponsor the Utah chapter of the Women Tech Council. This provides an opportunity for any employee to attend their meetings, volunteer at their events, and learn more about inclusivity and diversity trends. Nexio is dedicated to fostering a work environment that supports both men and women. The Director of Marketing, Megan Wintle, is the newest addition to the women in leadership positions at Nexio along with June Caffaro who is the Director of Underwriting, Koryn Ireland who is the Director of ISO Operations, and Adrienne Fusitua who is the Director of Customer Support. In our Development Department, we have hired Emily Landon as a Product Manager and we have Linda Robledo as our Technical Writer. These women play an integral part in Nexio as we continue to grow.
One of the first steps to support women in technology is to study up on this subject. Reading books, blogs, published studies, and more will help increase awareness and understanding of the critical issues. Awareness is critical to making changes. Following female industry leaders on social media is another way to stay up-to-date on the current trends, frustrations, and successes of women in the technology industry. The adage, ‘knowledge is power’ is still true.
Setting goals to eliminate bias and promote inclusivity is another way to support women in tech. Eliminating the gender gap through cultural and organizational changes will need to be a multi-step process. Diversity alone doesn’t create inclusive workplaces. Hiring senior-level female candidates and promoting qualified female applicants from within can be part of the business strategies. By setting goals and then tracking, measuring, and holding the company accountable will direct improvement. Companies can also use social media to promote internal groups, committees, book clubs, and more that focused on promoting women and eliminating bias. Consider establishing a formal diversity and inclusion group.
Give praise where praise is due. If a company has a majority of male workers, female workers may not be given credit for their contributions. Just as promotions and raises are desired by all workers, positive affirmations for great ideas, new solutions, or out-of-the-box thinking is valued, too. It may seem obvious, but don’t take credit for someone else’s idea. Instead, give the credit and acclimations to the correct person.
Becoming a mentor and finding a protege is a great way of sharing experiences, helping younger generations see career paths, and furthering the cause of women in tech. Finding a mentoring opportunity can be as easy as joining a Women Tech Council (WTC). WTC has supported university mentoring efforts as well as retaining women STEM students. Another opportunity would be to volunteer at a STEM exploration day where high school girls attend sponsored events with hands-on sessions. Look for, bond with, and become a leader and others will follow. Learn more at www.shetechexplorer.com or www.womentechcouncil.com.
Leaders, both men and women, should make sure to encourage feedback on the work environment. By providing an open and safe space for sharing, workers will be more confident that changes could be made. And of course, when receiving negative feedback, be gracious and accept the criticism. Some companies offer a way for suggestions and feedback to be anonymously submitted so that company goals and programs can be changed and modified. This allows employees to be honest and share ideas without the fear of retaliation. Leaders do well when listening to colleagues, team members, and subordinates. Listening skills can help you understand the different perspectives of different people.
Today we are living in a world where we depend on technology. The way we understand and promote diversity and inclusion in technology companies will help pave the way for more opportunities for women.