Published on February 4th, 2016 | by Nancy F. Clark0
How Does Tech Stack Up For Women? It’s Time To Look Beyond Numbers.
By Joanna Riley—
As Silicon Valley continues to pump out some of the world’s greatest innovations, there’s one glaring issue it still doesn’t seem to know how to fix entirely—diversity.
The last twelve months have seen startup after startup work to solve the issue. Pinterest is the latest. Candice Morgan of Pinterest says, “The goal of diversity is to create a true meritocracy. The entire point is to remove factors that have nothing to do with somebody’s skills in evaluating if they’re ready to take a job or excel or advance.” Some progress has been made. Slack’s Stewart Butterfield, for example, made public last year that 41% of all people working at the business messenger startup had a woman as their manager.
For some, it’s appointing an internal champion to address the issue. For others, it’s about drawing clear lines in the sand of how many hires will be from underrepresented groups.
But 2016 needs to be the year we move the conversation beyond just the numbers, and the supply side (“We need more females in our X team – find them!”).
This should be the year we, as CEOs, executives and leaders at every level deal with the issues that drive the demand side—what can we do, for example, to make female programmers not only want to work at the best companies in Silicon Valley, but spend their best years there.
Because here’s the thing: women don’t shy away from careers in technology because they’re not interested in developing the next chart topping app. I was living and working in China when I decided to launch my company. I taught myself to code on the floor of my apartment, to launch 1-Page’s first candidate assessment platform. I then took that company public on the Australian Stock Exchange in 2014, the first Silicon Valley startup to do so.
It’s about how interested—and serious—Silicon Valley’s biggest companies are about making their workplaces great places for women to work, hack, create—and stay in.
If there’s any one number we should be concerned about, it’s this: 45 percent of women who enter the tech field end up leaving, according to Women in Technology president Lisa Dezzutti.
How we fix this situation goes beyond quotas, and more diverse hiring. It involves an entire organization answering two key questions:
How inclusive is my company’s culture in every department?
How serious am I about being flexible with compensation?
Once women are through the door, the culture that greets them needs to be inclusive, in an industry dominated by a predominantly-male “coder culture”. It needs to give them the support to perform, grow, and build. We need to leave behind environments where more than one half of women working in technology have experienced sexual harassment. Calling out this kind of behavior, implementing mentorship programs, and leveraging communities and associations all contribute to a sense of belonging, even if a company’s gender balance isn’t perfect.
It needs to come from the top down, at every level. Every day I come to work as a female CEO, I want to show every other woman in my company that the position you hold comes from your performance, and nothing else.
The second area where we need to spend more time thinking this year when it comes to women in tech is compensation. If we want more women at the top of our organizations, argues Harvard’s Claudia Goldin, we need to think less about the zeros, and more about how flexibility can be included in an offer letter.
Goldin states, “When women then have children, or are caring for their own parents or other sick family members who need care, then they need to work differently. They need to work flexibly, and often go part-time. If you’re working part-time, you don’t get the same raises. And if you’re working flexibly your boss very typically thinks that you’re not that committed to your career, so you don’t get promoted.”
More flexibility can ensure more women stay for longer, and reach higher. And they will. Mothers are 15 percent more interested in being a top executive than women without children, according to research by McKinsey. Another reassuring figure, 24 percent of the top Fortune 100 companies have a female chief information officer. For those joining at a lower level, that can mean the difference between a company they can see their future with, and one they feel won’t be a good fit.
For my team this year, diversity is front of mind as we grow, with more people coming on board every week. And the message I want to send is clear. Things aren’t all bad for women in tech. But we should never stop doing all we can to get out of their way as they code and craft the future.
Joanna Riley is founder and CEO of 1-Page, a San Francisco-based recruiting technology company. Ranked as one of the top 3 HR technologies in the US, 1-Page changes the dynamics of hiring through a platform where candidates compete for jobs based on their ability to solve company’s real challenges & strategic objectives on 1-Page Proposals. Follow her on Twitter @1pagebiz.
Article photo courtesy of Joanna Riley
This blog has been verified by Rise: R1dc5cc6140223f6140666a5859ef2faa