There’s been a lot of optimism around increasing the number of women in business in recent years. Particularly in the tech industry, where initiatives like Women in Technology aim to get an increasing number of women into STEM by offering career advice and guidance.
However, a recent survey revealed some stark findings about women in technology roles. When asked what deters a woman in technology from taking a role, a culture that looks off-putting or toxic was the most common answer. Alongside this, the majority of respondents were confident they would be able to spot this during the application process.
Regardless of the initiatives that have been in place over the last few years, only 17% feel that a lot of progress has been made to help encourage more women into tech. This isn’t good news for tech companies.
So, what can employers do? First, they need to understand the main reasons that women don’t want to work at their organisation. Then, they can set their mind to fixing it.
Toxic cultures are an ongoing issue in the technology industry. The survey found that 62% of women in tech have experienced toxic work environments, with 21% experiencing this frequently.
This is a shocking statistic. Promoting a healthy work culture should be a given in any organisation, and was identified as a key way for women to feel supported in tech organisations in the survey.
Employers need to recognise these issues and take steps to combat unwelcoming and unhealthy cultures, which can include negative atmospheres and a lack of career progression, for example. The responsibility lies at the top, and by turning your head, you’re continuing to discourage women from joining your organisation. And, you’re likely sending these candidates straight to your competitor instead.
However, throwing money at new and flashy technology isn’t the answer. You need to address the issues within your organisation before adopting any new tools.
Recognisable examples of inclusion
If everyone in an organisation looks, thinks and acts the same, then that organisation simply isn’t going to be innovative. So, your employees – and leadership! – need to reflect on how diverse our country and world is, and should signal how inclusive your company is.
Put simply, 73% of respondents would be more likely to join a tech firm that has female leadership. If it comes down to female talent choosing between you and a similar company, and you have female and diverse leadership, then you’re going to stand out as an inclusive organisation.
Lacking emotionally intelligent leaders
Emotionally intelligent leaders are important for all employees. However, the survey highlighted the importance of emotionally intelligent leaders for women in particular. Over half selected this when they were asked to describe their ideal working environment.
So, why are these emotionally intelligent leaders important? It comes back to toxic work environments and the recruitment process. Having healthy conversations about work culture during the recruitment and interview process is vital. The majority of those surveyed would be reserved discussing company culture during the interview process – with 7% avoiding the topic completely.
Ultimately, It’s up to all business leaders to have those conversations, and highlight to all candidates and existing employees, that diversity and inclusion is a priority, and on the company agenda.
This survey highlights that there are an abundance of challenges when it comes to getting women into tech, but it’s not all doom and gloom. In fact, 43% of respondents felt that organisations were willing to address environments that are not inclusive. This is a positive step if candidates have recognised a change in how businesses recruit.
However, what’s important is addressing the problems at hand, and taking the right steps to create a more diverse and inclusive tech industry.
Elena Hill-Artamonova is research manager at Talent Works, a recruitment company.
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