Presented by Skillsoft
Gender inequity in the tech industry has a direct impact everywhere from daily business to the bottom line. In this VB Spotlight, learn why it’s crucial to encourage women to pursue and advance in tech roles to stay competitive.
In 2020, the Global Gender Gap Report found that based on efforts at the time, it would take a century to achieve gender parity. But now the Covid-19 pandemic threatens to set that figure back yet another decade. It’s not only that pandemic job cuts disproportionately affected women across industries, but women — and their careers — also bore the brunt of urgent caregiving needs. Plus, economic slowdowns, such as the one triggered by the pandemic, also push gender equality efforts far down organizations’ priority lists — even as companies scramble to find talent for the increasing number of empty or understaffed tech roles.
“Women need to find meaningful careers, as well as opportunities to advance in their current roles, especially in the face of changing workforce demands,” says Koma Gandy, VP head of tech and dev content, Codecademy. “But it’s much harder for women to find mentors and champions in the organization who will put them in the right conversations and make them available for significant career-changing opportunities.”
It’s a two-pronged issue, she adds. Women who want to advance may not know how or where to go to get that guidance or support, but on the other side is the organization itself.
“Leaders must be willing to look in the mirror and say, ‘Am I doing everything I possibly can to make an equal and level playing field?’” she says. “There is a lot that can be done to make sure the burden is not being placed on women. If I am in a senior leadership role, it is my duty to the organization to examine unconscious biases when identifying the right candidate for the right job, and ensuring they’re doing everything they can to create an opportunity where everyone in the organization can be equally successful.”
Measuring the impact of inequities
To address gender inequality, it’s crucial to identify metrics that not only expose inequities, but add a measurable component to solutions that address these issues, Gandy says – and tech organizations, which thrive on data, tend to have a good handle on metrics. It’s also a way to make the situations and elements that hinder the progress of women more real and tangible to stakeholders.
“It can be something as simple as looking at how many women are represented, from the most junior to the most senior levels of the organization, where specific break points appear, and where an unusual number of people are not making the jump from one level to the next,” she says. “That’s where the conversations start, and not just within leadership level, but with these women themselves.”
Here’s where the next phase of data comes in, when women employees share their own perspectives – whether they feel prepared to take on opportunities of greater seniority, or if they have the support to do so. Whether they feel as if they’re missing the skills and learning they need to build the confidence, or whether they need access to the kinds of conversations that lead to high-profile projects, or more opportunities to participate in bigger ways.
“The most fundamental question is, why are women leaving, and why are women not advancing?” Gandy says. “Being willing to listen helps uncover problems that are often hidden and not considered, but are in fact tremendous stumbling blocks.”
The issues could be easily changed, such as a restrictive maternity or parenting policy, or support for the time, money and stress that elder care requires, and putting more flexible policies in place. Pockets of unconscious bias throughout the organization are often a culprit that create barriers in the hiring process, which inadvertently weed out women candidates, or mean that women do not come up in conversations about advancement. And when new skills are required, turning to upskilling and reskilling women to help fill those gaps.
“It’s about making sure that those who are in key decision-making roles recognize some of the things that might hinder them from finding highly qualified, highly motivated women to advance in their organizations,” she says.
The need for upskilling and reskilling
The digital transformation that has swept every organization means that employees in every role are being called on to use brand-new technology tools and platforms in sophisticated ways. Reskilling and upskilling is a way for organizations to ensure employees stay abreast of changes and new demands in their roles. Upskilling also means delving into a known talent pool when a new role appears, rather than having to trawl through an incredibly competitive hiring market.
A robust learning program also has to recognize that every role requires a combination of hard and soft skills. An employee must demonstrate their mastery of certain technologies, concepts and frameworks, but organizations need to recognize that these tech skills are not the be all, end all. If someone is moving into a role where they’ll have to facilitate cross-functional teams, how do you give them the tools to do that effectively? How does a new manager grow in their role?
“It’s about recognizing that it’s the combination of hard skills, like applying concepts and technologies, with soft skills, such as managing and working with people, that make organizations more effective,” Gandy says. “Then putting that together in a package so employees feels like they have access to what they need, in a continuum that makes sense, and helps them advance their careers wherever they are at that point. Plus it also provides opportunities for jumping off points.”
To learn more about the competitive advantage of gender equality in an organization, how to uncover and address inequities, build a skilling program and more, don’t miss this VB Live event!
- The critical need to uncover and address gender inequities now
- Enabling women with onboarding, reskilling and upskilling to future-proof company strategy
- Benchmarking to uncover inequities and create a robust learning program
- Optimizing and implementing equal opportunity curriculums
- Kelly Deich, Executive Director, Learning and Development & Chief Learning Officer, ManTech
- Koma Gandy, VP Head of Tech and Dev Content, Codecademy
- Carrie Goetz, Amazon Best-Selling Author (moderator)