From Inclusion to Innovation — How to attract and retain more women in tech
Despite making impressive steps in the right direction, the gender gap in technology companies is still pretty big. From a lack of STEM education for school-age girls to a pervasive ‘bro culture’ in many tech brands, it’s no wonder women are falling behind when it comes to roles in coding and engineering, as well as in senior leadership positions.
But – and here’s the good news – you can change this. Here are 9 ways to hire (and hang onto) more women in your business...
First thing’s first: Fix things behind the scenes
- Review your internal policies
Before you do anything else, it’s time to review your company policies. We’re talking about your parental leave, health insurance and flexible working policies. Consider offering a generous maternity leave allowance, as well as the opportunity for flexible or remote working, which could be a deal-maker for new mums responsible for childcare. Also be sure to make sure you’re already offering equal pay for equal work. Women adjust their careers for their family more than men do, so having family-friendly policies in place is key.
- Freshen up your careers page
For many job-seekers, a company’s careers page is like a window into a potential new employer. This is your chance to make sure you’re appealing to your ideal candidate!
It might sound simple, but including photos that showcase your company’s diversity, as well as positive testimonials from current or previous female employees, can work wonders. This is also a great space to shout about your female-led achievements, for instance, if a woman has recently been promoted to senior leadership or won an award.
Time to put pen to paper
- Mention your DEI policy in the job description
Communicating your efforts towards better diversity and inclusion should be a big focus for your job description. This will demonstrate to women that you’re taking the gender (and ethnicity, sexuality and age) gap seriously. Follow our tips for creating a gold-standard Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) policy, and then include your purpose and company values towards the end of the job description. It’s a great way for potential applicants to get a feel for your company culture, as well.
- Only include essential criteria
There are numerous studies to show that men are more likely than women to apply for roles where they know they don’t meet 100% of the criteria on a job description. In fact, men will apply for a job when they only meet 60% of qualifications. So either only include essential boxes that an applicant will need to be able to tick off, or include a caveat that encourages people to apply even if they’re not a perfect skills match.
- Check you’re advertising the job where women can see it
As the old adage goes, if a tree falls in the forest but no one hears it, did it even happen? The same principle goes for job advertisements. If you post a job online targeted towards women but no women actually see it, what’s the point? Do some research into female networking and careers sites and post your job description there, as well as the usual suspects like LinkedIn. Go to where they are – don’t wait for them to come to you.
Found the right woman for the job? Don’t stop there
- Spread the word about women in tech
Once your new joiner has started settling into their role, encourage them to use their voice for good. Whether it’s to raise awareness of women in tech or simply to share company news or achievements, consider asking your best female talent to speak at conferences or include them on the hiring panel for future positions. The gender gap begins at school – in fact, only 16% of females have had a career in tech suggested to them at that age. So why not ask the women working for you to attend a school or graduate careers fair and pave the way for female techies of the future?
- Promote women internally
Did you know that only 5% of leadership positions in tech are held by women? If you want to do something about this, start by promoting women through the ranks at your company. This could benefit you in a number of ways. Firstly, junior employees are more likely to stay with their current employer in the hope that they too will be promoted down the line. Secondly, female job seekers may be more likely to apply for roles at your organisation if they know that women make up a decent portion of the senior team.
- Make ‘bro culture’ a thing of the past
Tech companies are, unfortunately, well known for their pervasive lad culture. If you’ve read
Emily Chang’s ‘Brotopia’, which uncovers the challenges women face getting a foot in the door in Silicon Valley, you’ll know all about this. The gender pay gap and continuing cases of sexual harassment at work are proof that too many companies are still dominated by brash, over-confident young men. Simply increasing the gender diversity in your workplace and promoting women to leadership positions can help to eliminate bro culture for good. Reprimanding any men who facilitate this toxic workplace mentality – rather than sweeping it under the carpet – is another step you can take.
- Help your employees avoid burnout
The What Women Want report, from the Center for Creative Leadership, found that work-life balance was the most common reason for women to stick with their employer. This shouldn’t come as a huge surprise, given that even in 2023 women are still the primary caregiver to their families. To help retain your best female talent, it’s important to take the necessary steps to avoid stress and a culture of overworking. Here are some useful links and resources to help you prevent burnout in the digital age.
As you can see, the process of attracting and retaining more women at your company is a step-by-step process. It’s not an overnight job, and it starts long before you’ve even advertised your job description. Taking these 9 strategies into consideration is a great starting point to improving your organisation’s gender diversity – let us know how you get on!