Women form a crucial part of the tech industry, yet they are often overlooked or disregarded at the workplace. Research published by WeAreTechWomen discovered that 75% of women in tech do not consider at least some men in their organization as allies, with talking over or not listening to women being the main reason. Female employee retention rates are also lower with women leaving the tech industry at a 45% higher rate than men.
Despite the progress made to close the gender gap, there is still a long way to go to make the tech industry more inclusive and equitable for everyone. From the prevalence of the gender pay gap to the lack of female leadership and microaggressions in the workplace, women in tech face a number of challenges that can make it a difficult and intimidating space for them to navigate.
Although some organizations are doing more to create a safe and welcoming space for women, many still experience hostile work environments that hinder female career growth and development, not to mention self-confidence and work satisfaction. If we want to create a bright future for girls and women in tech, then the whole industry must take accountability and a step forward in constructing the type of workplace where women can truly grow and thrive.
From getting more women into leadership roles to retaining female talent, there are many goals that organizations should focus on to build a more inclusive and female-friendly environment. But ultimately, the biggest influence comes from the top: the management team. Leadership, vision and resources are needed to implement effective diversity and inclusion strategies. Managers are the key to creating a safe space for women in tech.
McKinsey’s Women in the workplace 2022 report revealed that “when managers invest in people management and DEI, women are happier and less burned out”. As a result, women are less likely to leave their jobs, translating to higher retention and better recruitment opportunities for the company. There is no denying that managers play an essential role in shaping women’s experience at the workplace, which is why having a manager who cares about their well-being really matters to women. In fact, it’s among the top three factors female employees consider when deciding whether to join or stay with a company, according to McKinsey’s report.
In every business, managers often hold the greatest power and influence to make meaningful change in their organizations. As a result, they should be responsible for creating a safe space for women in the workplace and addressing gender bias and inequality.
Managers are the key to creating a safe space for women in tech."
Encourage open communication: It is vital for managers to create a culture of openness and transparency, where female employees feel comfortable to speak out and share their experiences. This can be achieved by providing an anonymous feedback system, encouraging team-building activities, and offering opportunities for open discussion and dialogue. Evidently, managers also need to actively listen to
their employees and use their feedback as fuel to set new goals and make
improvements at the workplace. Finally, it is highly beneficial for managers to share well-being and diversity metrics with all employees and publicly acknowledge those who stand out for their efforts to support inclusion in their teams.
Foster a culture of diversity and inclusion: There are multiple ways to encourage and support diversity in the workplace, starting with educating employees about its importance and understanding how to practice allyship. This can be done by providing access to training and developmental opportunities, such as seminars, workshops, and conferences on topics related to diversity, inclusion, and preventing harassment. It is also essential to provide flexible working arrangements and family-friendly policies, such as paid parental leave and childcare options.
Establish a clear code of conduct and anti-discrimination policies: All managers should define what kind of behavior is acceptable and unacceptable in the workplace to help protect employees from discrimination. This means that all employees should be treated with respect, regardless of their gender, race, or sexual orientation. Any form of discrimination or prejudice should be addressed immediately, and all employees should be aware of the organization’s zero-tolerance policy on such behavior.
Encourage mentorship and sponsorship programs: Offering opportunities for women in tech to be mentored and sponsored by experienced professionals in the field is not only beneficial for promoting an organization, but indispensable for its long-term growth. By creating mentorship programs, offering career development opportunities, and celebrating success stories of women in the industry, managers can help create a culture of respect and appreciation for the unique contributions of women.
Monitor and measure progress: To assess the effectiveness of diversity and inclusion initiatives, it is important for managers to track promotion rates, attrition rates and other career outcomes within the company. It is also useful to conduct regular surveys and meetings with managers to measure employee satisfaction and well-being to help organizations identify their strengths and weaknesses.
Although it is in the hands of the managers to implement diversity and inclusion goals and push for progress, creating a safe space for women in the tech sector is an ongoing process that requires dedication and commitment from everyone involved. By fostering a culture of respect, inclusivity, and support, businesses can create a workplace where women feel safe, valued and empowered to contribute to the success of the industry.
It is not only a moral imperative to create this safe space, but it is critical to the success of any tech organization. With everybody as an ally to women, businesses can reap the benefits offered by diverse and inclusive workplaces such as increased employee satisfaction, improved teamwork, and more innovative solutions. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.