Four women working in a business meeting in a cafe coffee shop
Image Source: LinkedIn Sales Solutions

Member Article

Technology leaders assert the importance of International Women’s Day and explore how we can break the bias

International Women’s Day is the annual call to action for us all to acknowledge and champion gender equality. Below are some insights from female technology leaders on how to #BreakTheBias.

Clare Loveridge, VP and GM EMEA, Arctic Wolf The technology industry has historically always been a male dominated industry but I am proud to see so many incredibly talented women coming through the industry and breaking the bias. If we want to continue on this upward trajectory, businesses need to take a proactive approach on their diversity and inclusion initiatives and strategies. While it is important to attract and hire, it is more important to create a culture of inclusivity and belonging so that when hires are made, they stay!

Sonja Gittens Ottley, Head of Diversity & Inclusion, Asana International Women’s Day is an important reminder for businesses to scrutinise their diversity and inclusion efforts. As a first step, businesses must establish a culture of trust, which is the foundation on which all inclusive practices can live. Crucial to this is creating spaces for employees to express themselves; where women can be vulnerable about challenges they’re facing and be honest about any changes they believe the business needs to make.

Once businesses have created this foundation of trust, they can then set out their inclusive practices. Working in tech I realised replicating the approach used for building a product when building a diverse and inclusive culture can be a powerful approach. Treating company culture like a product means constantly assessing and evolving through direct consultation with employees, analysing data and reviewing processes and policies. Inclusion isn’t a check-box exercise and the work does not end when these initiatives are started. Much like a product, it requires review and iteration to ensure that it is successful - only then will business truly break through biases.

Andrea Grotzke, Global Director of Energy Solutions, BayWa r.e. We’ve come a long way in the last few years and are witnessing highly qualified women deliver outstanding results in the renewable energy industry, not only in what have traditionally been seen as “female” roles, but also in typically male-dominated fields such as engineering. I’m seeing rapid, positive change, with an increasing recognition among male colleagues of the value of mixed teams and female leadership, which can offer a different style to the norm. Equality must develop naturally, however, there are steps that organisations need to take to help enable it.

Equal pay should be a standard across all organisations as a clear marker that women are equally qualified to men. We need to offer women, at any stage in their lives, flexibility in when and where they work. The option of part-time hours for both mothers and fathers, will also ensure that women who are juggling work and family are not held back. With renewable energy being a relatively young sector, we have a unique opportunity to challenge the status quo and set the standard for more diverse, equitable and inclusive workplaces across industries.

June Ko, General Counsel, CircleCI International Women’s Day is a day to reflect on whether you live and work in a diverse, equitable, and inclusive world.

We’ve certainly made progress over the years, but important work remains ahead of us. From the recent nomination of the first Black woman to serve on the US Supreme Court, to companies publishing annual Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) reports, I have a lot of hope that we are creating positive change for future generations. However, bias still exists, and to break the bias we need to call it out when we see it – in short, creating awareness with others is critical. We need to lead with empathy and get comfortable with uncomfortable conversations.

This is especially true in tech. Technology touches everything in our lives and has consequences for everyone across every background. It’s more important than ever that women and all who are underrepresented have a voice and are involved in decision making, research and technology. We can empower each other by recognizing achievements along the way, while promoting a clear vision of how greater diversity and equity in tech is not just a box to be checked off, but is vital to designing a world that works for everyone.

Maya Tank, Business Director, DoubleVerify To meet the theme of ‘Breaking the Bias’ this International Women’s Day, one area the media and advertising industry can focus on is improving representation. We need more women of all backgrounds leading our businesses, managing our teams, speaking at events and more. Personally, I’m particularly passionate about bringing more young women into the industry. By creating bespoke events and initiatives, we can enable younger women to ask questions, learn about the sector and ultimately pursue a career in advertising.

Carving out safe spaces for women to talk to each other, to share experiences, to inform action taken and to mentor one another is vital. Having fantastic women in leadership to learn from has been transformative in my career—we need to nurture those connections.

This only scratches the surface of what needs to be done. We should welcome the initiative set forth by International Women’s Day and commit to doing our part and taking actions that will improve representation within our industry.

Annette Reavis, Chief People Officer, Envoy There are a few things that I think business leaders can do right now to ensure a better workplace for women.

Take a look at your recruitment team. This is the first point of contact with potential talent. If your recruitment team lacks diversity, how can you expect diverse talent to want to join?

What happens after women join a company is just as important as getting them through the door. There needs to be more focus on retention and to do this you need an inclusive environment. There’s a lot of unconscious gender bias that goes unacknowledged and leads to attrition.

Develop a compensation philosophy that is consistent and transparent, beyond individual managers’ personal preferences. Remote talent and particularly women, as they tend to be caretakers, are already disadvantaged by proximity bias. A few years from now, this will disproportionately impact women.

And finally, we women need advocates. I’m calling on all senior leaders who are women to step up and mentor, and drive change for those who are next in line. We need to be their voice. This year, I’d love to see women from across sectors collaborating and sharing ideas on how to make lasting systematic changes to our workplaces.

Holly Anschutz, Head of Channel for UK and Ireland, Extreme Networks International Women’s Day provides businesses with an opportunity to stand up for women’s rights, and as the theme indicates this year, break the gender bias. Whether conscious or unconscious, bias can make it challenging for women to progress. But, acknowledgement isn’t enough–actions are needed to level the playing field and create a diverse, equitable, and inclusive society, inside and outside of the workplace.

One action organisations should take is evaluating their own workforce to make sure they’re ensuring equal opportunities for all as well as actively encouraging and employing diverse talent. This is vital as women must be able to recognise and relate to their colleagues, and in particular their leaders, to see a clear career path ahead. In addition, women across all levels should have a ‘seat at the table’ so their voices are heard during any decision-making process. Not only is this the right thing to do, but it adds a lot of value to a business, from maximising employee engagement to offering new perspectives that lead to greater creativity and innovation. Now is the time to act and make change.

Lotus Smits, Global Head of Diversity & People Experience, Glovo The World Economic Forum estimates that at the current rate of progress, it will take over 250 years to close the economic gender gap. This is staggering. It is a harrowing reminder of how far off we really are from achieving our end goal of total gender equality. But, I - like many others - believe that it is possible to accelerate the progress we are currently making to ultimately ‘break the bias’ faster than projected.

There is no silver bullet, but there are measures that businesses can take to make an impact within their organisation and beyond. We must provide the right resources and education to encourage employees to proactively take a stand, critique their colleagues and demonstrate allyship within the workforce. Leaders and C-level executives should commit to clear, quantifiable goals, to which they can justifiably be held accountable.

Since I joined Glovo last year, we have delivered training on unconscious bias, privilege and microaggressions to our C-level executives, general managers, new hires and all other managers across the business. We have also developed our Diversity & Inclusion Recruitment Team, a body of five recruiters who are dedicated to attracting diverse talent at Glovo.

These are small actions, but by progressively building a diverse and equal culture that seeks out talent in line with the company’s goals and champions current employees to go the extra mile in the DE&I space, businesses can expect to see change not only on a microsocial level but on a structural level outside of the workplace. It is a collective effort that will not happen overnight, but by starting now, we might break the bias sooner than we think.

Kadri Pirn, Head of Engineering, Pipedrive A UN report in 2020 found that almost 90% of men and women hold some sort of bias against women worldwide. International Women’s Day is an incredibly significant opportunity that allows people across the world to join forces to combat the inequalities, gender bias and discrimination women face. But also, it is a time to celebrate the achievements of women who have overcome these obstacles.

With the world focusing on the COVID-19 pandemic for the past two years or so, progress towards gender equality in the workforce has almost certainly taken a backseat. It is vital for business leaders to reprioritize gender equality and continue breaking the bias. Not only that, but businesses also need to develop a culture that allows people to pinpoint any issues, call them out and ultimately eliminate the challenges to create a workplace where all people feel valued, no matter the gender, cultural background or social position.

Paula Flannery, Strategic Product Consultant, Procore The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day rings truer than ever: businesses need to break the bias and change the career stereotypes which women face everyday by offering new opportunities to learn and develop. The construction industry represents fertile ground for women to do that. And never has it been more vital to do so, especially as the construction industry’s output begins to bounce back.

However, it isn’t just about putting more boots on the ground at construction sites, but opening up the vast opportunities construction offers on the whole, to women. Whether it’s as an engineer, an architect, a surveyor, a data analyst, CEO, or sales person, the industry needs to ignite greater enthusiasm for bringing women in. Tackling the gender divide in this way not only offers a more diverse set of voices, experiences and perspectives, but also skills which lead to a more creative, fast-moving and innovative industry.

Cindi Howson, Chief Data Strategy Officer, ThoughtSpot As a woman, you need to be your own best advocate in a non-braggadocious way. Women are often less adept at self-promotion than male colleagues. In this world accomplishments don’t always speak for themselves, so it’s vital that women step up and take proper credit for the work they do.

One way to find your voice is to imagine how you would describe a friend’s or exceptional employee’s accomplishment: do you describe your own successes so unabashedly with your manager? Another is to bring data to back you up in conversations. This is particularly important for promotions and salary negotiations. Data tells a powerful story of your impact, so make sure you’re prepared ahead of an interview, in the boardroom, or a campaign brainstorm. Finally, don’t aim for the C-suite: aim to do your best work that you are most passionate about and career advancement will naturally follow.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Technology Experts .

Our Partners

Top Ten Most Read