From coder to leader: How more companies can hire women in tech
- Posted on July 8, 2019
- Estimated reading time 3 minutes
This article originally appeared as a post on forbes.com.
I’m a female executive at a tech company, and there aren’t many of us. I’m hoping that changes, which is why one of my passions is championing women in the technology sector.
I began my career post-university as a computer programmer, and at the time, there weren’t many female role models to aspire to in technology. I was born in London, but my parents immigrated from Barbados to the United Kingdom. My dad began as a bus driver and eventually turned to carpentry, and my mom was a nurse. They were huge champions of higher education for my brother, sister and me -- no matter what we chose to do.
While I lead product and innovation for Avanade, I have another important role: to be a role model for other women. This means I take on other key positions, such as executive sponsor for our Women’s Employee Resource Group and International Women’s Day events and champion our Women in STEM scholarship program. Since we created our inclusion and diversity strategy in 2011, we have increased women in leadership by 60%, but we can do better and we will. So, how will we make progress?
Foster attraction to technology for young women.
Many girls and young women don’t know what types of STEM careers are out there or how best to prepare for them. It’s the role of enterprises and organizations to begin educating these girls on various careers in technology and reveal the paths for them. So, when these young women are interested in technology careers, how can companies facilitate and lead them to that path?
At my company, for instance, we offer STEM scholarships to deserving young women. In fact, some recipients of our STEM scholarship program go on to intern with Avanade, and a few have even started their post-college careers with us. One young woman received a full university scholarship through our program, then interned with us and is now a thriving employee in our Los Angeles office. We are striving to create more stories like this.
Eliminate unconscious bias in the hiring process.
Whether we intend to or not, sometimes our humanistic nature bends toward unconscious biases -- those that we are completely unaware are happening.
To ensure you’re preventing this in your hiring process, it’s important to do some blinding of names that indicate gender in the process. Then, to ensure you have a fair number of female candidates, you can specify to recruiters the number of women you want to interview and ensure that women are included in your interview panels.
Think beyond the traditional career paths for open roles.
Not every candidate has to fit the typical tech stencil. And not everyone has to start their career in technology. We all have different paths and sometimes an atypical résumé brings unique skills that can truly benefit an enterprise. We need to look beyond the traditional employee scope and embrace differences.
As technology grows and enters every industry, tech companies now have an opportunity to ensure we open doors to women who have taken a more unique career path, whether they took time off for their families or are perhaps moving into tech from a different industry. We should be open to that and embrace them.
You can hire gender diverse talent, but if you don’t create an inclusive environment for them, it defeats the purpose. Workplace experience is extremely important, and we’ve correlated customer experience directly with employee experience. It makes sense -- the happier and more fulfilled employees are at work, the better their client work. For example, we offer a truly digital workplace, enabling employees who work remotely or who need more flexibility.
We also offer many ways for employees to get involved in various diversity and inclusion endeavors. Finally, our Tech for Social Good program enables employees to work with nonprofits and clients who are making a #humanimpact on our world today. In other words, their client work directly impacts a social cause or world issue.
I’ve been fortunate to work in technology and champion innovation, and I get to fulfill my passion of advocating for women in technology. It truly is the best of both worlds. I cannot wait to see where the tech industry, women in tech and my own organization are in five years.