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Women in Tech – Journey to Leadership

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Women play in increasingly pivotal role in Tech, and while the gender gap is slowly decreasing, there is a long way to go to even the playing field, particularly at the top.

We have a growing number of clients looking for female leaders.

This edition of our Diversity and Inclusion webinar series looked to explore ways we can encourage up and coming female leaders as this demand increases.

We thoroughly enjoyed this 57 minutes of shared insights and wisdom from three inspirational women in tech. We hope you do too!

We began with defining leadership, and then went on to discuss our three topics

  • Encouraging female promotion

  • Overcoming obstacles as a woman

  • How can we champion more women?

Followed by a live Q and A

A special thanks to our panelists Melissa BenuaTacita Morway and Alex Robinson!

Encouraging female promotion

We delved into the reasons why women apply for 20% fewer jobs than men, despite similar job search behaviors, while men apply for a job when they meet only 60% of the qualifications, but women apply only if they meet a hundred percent of them.

First off, job descriptions were put to question

Are we getting these right and how can we make sure we are attracting the right talent?

Tacita touched on the importance of language bias that can affect who the job advert might resonate with, thus unintentionally filtering diverse groups out.  Melissa added it was important to be clear about the essentials and nice to haves, ensuring clarity across the board.

Alex concluded that as an applicant it was important to not be jaded by any job description – instead, ensure you can talk to someone within the company or the recruiter, to see if your skills and experience really align with what they are looking for.

So what can be done from an internal perspective to ensure the right people are applying?

Melissa highlighted the importance of taking an interactive approach – monitoring the responses to job application and adjusting were necessary. Tacita developed this point; that as well as noting who was applying, we must look at what demographics were falling off along the process. First hand feedback from candidates is valuable too.

As for ensuring your own progression…

Alex asserted the importance of having regular conversations with your manager about your career growth and what your future looks like, as well as documenting the work you’re doing and what you’re learning along the way. Through this, one can then match opportunities for growth in an intentional, progressive way.

Overcoming obstacles as a woman

Women are leaving the tech industry at 45% higher rate than men, yet companies in the top quarter of gender diversity on their executive teams are 25% more likely to achieve above average profitability, proving there is a really good reason to overcome the obstacles that may be causing women to leave the tech industry.

The primary obstacle that showed up on our poll was inequality

All of our panelists acknowledged the tiring effects of being the only ‘other’ in the room.  We spoke about the importance of deciphering whether there’s a growth mindset and potential for change, and if not, then look to work within an organization that is aligned with your values.

The best opportunities and growth can be found in organizations that provide support

As Tacita asserted, the energy put into ‘swimming upstream’ in situations that did not sit well, could be better placed in being the best in your role.

And when you find the support, and people that will advocate for you, you can be your whole self, which is a wonderful thing. As Alex noted, its important to seek out spaces where you have this community within which like minded people can be your sounding board.

Such resilience leads to strong leadership qualities in women

We touched on what it was about women in leadership roles that attributed to a company’s improved success. As Melissa noted – overcoming adversity builds certain muscles and repetition of this strengthens those muscles. Tacita touched on the communication skills women are able to develop based on their ability to read the room and reduce friction.  All of these experiences we go through as women develop skills which are incredibly useful as a leader.

Other responsibilities outside the office improve productivity within the office

As a parent, Alex doesn’t have the luxury of being able to pour extra hours into her work. Her ability to prioritize and maximize her time has developed so much as a result!

How can we champion more women?

Deloitte predicts that roughly one in four leadership positions at large global tech firms are expected to be held by women in 2022. And the shares of women in technical and leadership roles are increasing the most rapidly, which is really good news for women in tech.

So how can we ensure these figures go from strength to strength?

Tacita delved into some of the work that Textio are doing in terms of improving the gender bias in performance feedback. For example, women receive 22% more feedback about their personality compared to men – but how can being ‘nice’ be seen as useful feedback to get you that promotion? It’s not! Textio’s goal is to create consistent equitable access to high quality feedback that can help promote career and personal growth across all demographics.

Be the change you want to see

When questioned on advice to women who are facing biases, or men who are witnessing this happening in organizations, Melissa asserted the importance of speaking up. If you see something, say something. This doesn’t have to be confrontational – but it’s important to speak up even against microaggressions witnessed in any space.

Mentorship is invaluable!

Alex spoke in depth about how mentorship from a range of people over the years has helped her to develop professionally and personally. Yet when this isn’t immediately available, so much can be learned from the different skills of those around you.

And remember – to always be grateful and kind to your mentor, this is extra time outside of their job that they are gifting to you.

We ended with a live Q and A

What’s the number one thing women can do to advance their journey to leadership?

Melissa said to be clear and direct about what your aspirations are and what leadership means to you, and then be clear with the person that can give that to you.

Tacita added to this, asserting the importance of being easy on yourself – is what your expecting of yourself realistic? And ensure you have adequate support along the way.

Alex stressed the importance of pin pointing your values, and ensuring whatever you do and seek out aligns with those values.

As Tacita mentioned, (being a woman in tech) can be quite exhausting.

How do you manage this pressure and avoid burnout?

Alex noted this was a balance she needs to be wary of on a daily basis – It’s a process of having the self awareness to notice when you are in need of time out, and the discipline to ensure you do take the time out while consistently doing the right things to take care of yourself holistically.

For Melissa, the most important thing for her is to choose your battles wisely – it’s not possible to fight every fight! Tacita expanded on this advising to be conscious about what your focus is each week.

Despite promising to diversify the team, the overwhelming majority of candidates being interviewed are cis men. It’s exhausting facilitating these interviews as the only female on the team.

What are fair expectations to set for the candidate funnel?

Melissa was strong on refusing to accept any candidate lists that do not meet her diverse requirements. This has resulted in high quality qualified candidates who are diverse, and she only uses sources who play ball. (With thanks to Helen at Trilogy for her diverse candidate lists!)

My company’s head count is male dominant across most, if not all functions. So, what conversations can I have with the few women?

Tacita noted that starting to just share your experiences alone can be really helpful, or to be a sounding board and a form of support. In a situation like this representation is needed – so by coming together, notes can be made on the patterns or stories of what is going on currently to present to your manager in an effort to encourage change.

Are you looking to diversify your teams or looking for work within the technology space in the US?

Contact Helen Tankard today!

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