How has the tech industry changed for women in 21 years?
Today I reflect on the last 21 years working in the tech industry. I’ve always been conscious of being a woman in this industry, especially on the many occasions I’ve been the only one in the room or on the leadership team.
By Heather Teicher, Head of Marketing, North America at GBG, and chair of Gender Equality for GBG’s internal inclusion & diversity program, be/yourself.
I am fortunate to currently work at GBG, a company that takes inclusion and diversity seriously. Last week was dedicated to holding those important discussions virtually with our global team of over 1,000 employees across 16 countries.
I was impressed by the thought-provoking insight shared during our internal ‘Inclusivity across Genders’ panel discussion, sharing views on how the tech industry can be a more inclusive place for all genders. Yet, when I saw the article Fast Company published this month sharing “Fifty percent of women in tech leaving by age 35,” I understood why.
I’ve witnessed outrageous things throughout my career that might have sent others fleeing, especially in ‘Silicon Alley’ during the dot-com bubble days. But I’ve worked for strong women who set a great example and did not take any BS, and I vowed to do the same.
Here is my perspective from the past 21 years working as a woman in tech:
1. Gender equality needs to be championed by men and women.
We need to create an environment that is comfortable for everyone, regardless of gender, and encourage employees to bring their “whole self” to work. We are all responsible for the culture we create. Over the years, I’ve been lucky to be managed by great leaders – men and women, who have encouraged me to take on tough challenges, share my honest opinions and achieve success in my own style. That’s the beauty of tech – it's about innovation, and women can provide new ways to look at situations and creative approaches to delivering results.
As a leader, I am aware of the role I play in supporting my female colleagues. Sometimes you’re a cheerleader - helping them get recognized for the great work they’ve done, other times you need to listen or lend a kind word to help them get through the day, and other times formal mentoring can have a real impact.
2. We need to improve the recruitment and retention of women in tech.
There are number of things we’re doing at GBG to encourage more women to join the sector and recruit in a fair and transparent way. All our managers have completed unconscious bias training to help raise awareness of any inner biases we may hold. All our job reqs are decoded to be gender neutral and we strive to include men and women in the candidate interview process. Research shows that 61% of women look at the gender diversity of the employer’s leadership team when deciding where to work. Having women in leadership positions within your company illustrates how seriously you take gender equality and supports the recruitment and advancement of women within the company.
Earlier this year at GBG, we launched a Family Friendly Policy which helps women with enhanced maternity leave and offers added flexibility for both genders to support their family.
A note on work/life balance; While it may feature in other gender equality recommendations, I personally think it applies to all employees, of any age, race or gender, and would hope most tech companies today are respecting people’s time appropriately, especially when the majority of us are living and working from the same place.
We know diversity of opinion leads to better ideas, solutions and outcomes. I’m optimistic that the tech industry will continue to improve for women, but it will take all of us, men and women working together and openly discussing the issues, to consciously make that happen.
If you are thinking about whether to join or whether to remain in this industry, please do. There are lots of fantastic opportunities, great people, and it’s an exciting sector to be in. Have a look at the open opportunities at GBG to find out more about us.