We’ve heard it time and time again. We need more women in technology! STEM needs greater diversity! 

Businesses are going to great lengths to attract and retain more females, but why is it so important?

Let’s imagine you’re working on a project team where everyone is the same. Think about the impact on the output. How many perspectives would shape that output? Have you heard of an echo chamber? It’s limiting in so many ways and this is exactly why diversity in tech is so important.

And it’s not just women we need, we need individuals from different ethnic backgrounds, LGBTIQ+ representation, different lived experiences. Different experiences that shape their very, very capable technical skills. The broader the experiences, the more insight that contributes to innovative output.

It is widely acknowledged that this needs to be addressed at a grassroots level. We need young girls engaged in STEM activities through their formative years. We are seeing more and more focus on removing gender bias from our educational arenas and it is essential to ensuring we have a pipeline of curious, intelligent, digital natives choosing technology as a career.

According to IBM, women make up less than 20% of the global tech sector. So why are businesses struggling to attract and retain women in tech?

Perceived lack of career paths. When a candidate meets individuals during the recruitment process that don’t reflect their backgrounds, this makes it very difficult to envision progression and career within that business.

This is a relatively easy fix, assuming you have senior female leaders in your organisation. If you do have this talent on hand then ask them to be a part of the interview process. Make a career with your organisation seem like a possibility to potential candidates. If a female candidate sees a male dominated leadership team it’s likely they will not pursue the opportunity. Indeed surveyed 1000 women in tech and found “lack of career growth” to be the number 1 cause for leaving their jobs. When women move into leadership roles celebrate it, both internally and externally, as this is what the market needs to see.

“Brogrammers” Whether it is spoken or unspoken, there is a perception that technology is a boy’s club. The industry stereotypes and reputation for dominated by white, straight men are rife. One of the Australian tech trailblazers was known for it’s “brilliant jerks”, but even they are now reviewing their performance review processes to shift the internal culture to one based on values.

Many organisations are striving to create inclusive cultures yet frontline communications like job ads are letting them down. Consider using gender neutral language in your ads. data analytics on the kinds of jobs men and women apply for, research shows that the adjectives matter. Another way to reduce gender bias in adverts is to limit the number of qualifications to the essentials. Try to avoid the laundry list of “nice to haves” because research shows that the majority of women wont apply unless they meet almost all of that list.

In Australia women represent just 28% of employees in technology. There are definitely measures being put in place to attract strong female talent, and yet women leave technology at a rate 40% higher than their male counterparts. So what are some of the most effective retention strategies we see? Connecting women with other women. Initiatives such as internal networking groups and mentoring programs are very successful. Providing access to senior leaders. Ensuring your employees (both male and female!) are heard; that they have a “seat at the table”. Ensuring utilisation of flexible work policies is supported.

Once these initiatives are in place, take regular pulse checks to ensure they are working. This is not a one size fits all approach. However we have seen many of our client’s programs result in increased long term engagement. 

If we can address some of these issues then we are well positioned to source for a more innovative and inclusive work force for women, and for all.

Want to know more about how Charterhouse can help source you diverse and talented candidates? Get in touch with Justin Cray, Technology Director.