As a woman working in the tech sector for over a decade, I know firsthand how real the gender talent gap is. Women held nearly 57 percent of all professional occupations in the 2018 U.S. workforce, but only 26 percent of professional computing roles in that same workforce were held by women. This ongoing trend holds strong despite study after study pointing to the business value of prioritizing diversity when hiring.
Highly inclusive companies produce 1.4x more revenue and are 1.7x more likely to be innovation leaders in their market, according to a recent Deloitte study. Hiring diverse talent leads to an increase in innovation because there are more experiences to draw from, more perspectives to consider, which in turn drives revenue growth. Yet, the percentage of female employment within computing and mathematics has remained stagnant, hovering around 25 percent since 2007. And hiring gender diverse talent is only one piece of a complex problem as many companies fail to retain diverse talent thanks to toxic work cultures. A 2017 Kapor study revealed that female tech employees were twice as likely to quit as their male colleagues, in large part due to employee mistreatment.
Become part of the solution — while driving increased innovation and revenue growth within your organization — by implementing these strategies to better attract and retain female tech professionals.
1. Develop a diverse talent pipeline
To start attracting more female tech talent, which can be hard to come by depending on your location or industry, you need to create a reliable channel to source talent from. One effective strategy is to have your internal recruiting teams, employees, or business partner with a local or national nonprofit that supports girls or women in STEM. There’s a wide array of organizations today working to help close the gender talent gap and provide women with the same employment and earning opportunities available to men.
Partnering with these nonprofits to host quarterly or annual workshops or provide internships to qualified applicants are simple yet incredibly effective strategies of how to develop and nurture this talent pipeline so it continues to produce the diverse talent you need on a reliable basis.
2. Prioritize an inclusive work culture
The “Me Too” movement clearly depicts how much work we still have left to do for women to feel comfortable and safe in the workplace. Whether or not you feel you have a toxic work culture, consider how you could craft a more inclusive work culture to better attract and retain the female tech professionals you hire.
Start with small steps, like ensuring you have at least one female employee on internal committees who vote on things like workplace perks, diversity initiatives, dress codes, and philanthropy partnerships, to show your workforce you value and consider every perspective. Look to your C-suite to set an example by reinforcing the importance of internal workforce diversity on all-hands calls, 1-on-1s, and management retreats. If it’s a priority to your leaders, your workforce will see it as a priority as well. But prioritizing an inclusive culture is only the first step. To maintain this inclusivity, send out regular surveys to your workforce where they can provide honest feedback on culture-related problems and provide potential solutions.
Providing clear pathways for women to be promoted to management and leadership roles is a key element of retaining female tech talent. If you fail to have any women in management or leadership positions, then incoming talent may feel career growth within your company is only afforded to their male colleagues. As the first female President of Mondo, a digital marketing and tech staffing agency, I’ve worked to create clear career growth opportunities for the female leaders within our organization, which has led to a drastic increase in the number of women who make up our management and executive teams.
Involving a female leader in the hiring process is a great way to show potential talent their careers are not limited to the position they start with, regardless of gender. Representation can be a powerful tool when attracting diverse talent. Ask applicants about their career goals and highlight any overlap you see between what they are interested in and leadership positions the business will have available in the next two to five years.
4. Look for opportunities to empower women in the workplace
Improve retention rates among the female tech professionals in your workforce by looking for opportunities to empower them. There are a variety of strategies you can implement based on what is realistic for your business. To improve long-term engagement within a role, consider developing employee resource groups or mentorship programs specifically for women. Pair female professionals with female leaders within your business, so they have a mentor to learn from, rely on, and feel supported by.
If updating your benefits package for the next year is an option, consider expanding maternity and childcare coverage to better serve female tech professionals with families. Providing a flexible work arrangement for new moms can be the deciding factor between choosing to return to work after maternity leave or quitting, and it can also provide the flexibility many employees may require due to the rising cost of childcare.
Today’s top industry leaders recognize the impact a diverse workforce has on their ability to innovate, remain competitive, and drive revenue, which is why many are working to reshape their internal work cultures to better attract and retain female tech professionals. Make sure your company does the same by implementing these effective strategies to help close the gender talent gap within your own organization.