We need to keep women in tech
The “glass ceiling”, a phenomenon commonly discussed for women in the workforce, does not reflect most women’s experience in technology. The “glass ceiling” refers to an invisible and impenetrable barrier that women must face after reaching a certain level in their career while their male colleagues continue to climb around them. While there is a great national conversation around this Glass Ceiling and helping women reach the highest levels of corporate leadership, the reality is that many women who start their careers in tech don’t get away from it all. never find themselves in managerial positions, even at the beginning. In the field of technology, we are not so much fighting against the “glass ceiling” as against the “broken rung”, because women find it difficult to access the first level of management at the same pace as men.
In American companies, for every 100 men promoted to manager, only 72 women are promoted. For black and Latin women, these numbers are even smaller (according to McKinseyreport 2020, for 100 men promoted, only 58 black women and 68 Latin women receive promotions). The men being almost more numerous than the women 2 to 1 in early managerial positions, it’s no surprise that so many women leave businesses, industries and even the workforce after finding themselves stuck in entry-level jobs.
As an executive working in the tech field for over 20 years, I have seen “the broken echelon” forcing many talented women out of the tech industry. The bad news is that even in 2021, this is a huge barrier to women’s success. The good news is that there are a lot of measurable changes that can be made to fix the problem. Here are four measurable actions that can help you.
1. Make sure women get that promotion first. This is crucial. Once the employee pool begins to shrink in terms of demographics, this will only be magnified with each subsequent leadership level. It is therefore not surprising that women occupy such a small percentage of C-level positions, as they have such difficulty in obtaining promotion opportunities after their first job. A study conducted by LinkedIn found that the number one reason millennials leave the workforce was “lack of advancement opportunities”. Generation X and Baby Boomer women cite “dissatisfaction with senior management” as their main reason for leaving the workforce. Poor early career promotion opportunities will lead to a lack of diversity at the highest and most important levels.
2. Develop women in your workforce. So that women do not get stuck in entry-level positions, companies must make a conscious effort to ensure that women have the opportunity to develop. This can include side opportunities to expand skills, chances to work on difficult projects, and direct access to leadership and mentoring. Keep in mind that women tend to have more underrated language data in their resumes and reviews. This does not make them less efficient or capable, just less outspoken. If you have more entry-level qualified men than women, consider whether men have more opportunities to work on critical assignments, more opportunities to broaden their skills, or more support from the field. from senior management.
3. Make sure that the first level of management has the same demographic breakdown as your entry-level workforce. Businesses need to be committed to ensuring that men do not get promotions and opportunities at a higher rate than women, especially very early in their careers.
4. Adapt family-friendly policies. Flexible work, remote work, childcare, maternity and
paternity leave is essential to retain women in the middle of their career. 45% of women leave tech higher rate only men. While most report lack of career advancement opportunities as the main reason, almost a third of women cite “family” as the main reason for leaving. The adaptation of family-friendly policies like paid maternity and paternity leave, childcare options and flexible work options has been proven to increase retention of all employees. Many companies have seen this happen. In 2012, Google find that postpartum women left the company twice as fast as other employees. After extending their maternity leave and moving from part-time to full-pay, attrition fell by 50%.
Thoughtful and intentional programs and commitments from early employment levels could drastically change the makeup of the industry as a whole in just a few short years. Remember that first-level managers become the pool of candidates for senior executives. Companies are talking about a big game over gender diversity and hiring, but it’s time they showed that commitment by supporting the women they have. Not just by hiring them, but by promoting them, giving them big projects and defending them as they move into the job market.
The ‘broken echelon’ has likely continued over the past year, as the COVID-19 pandemic has forced millions of downgrade their career or leave the labor market altogether due to the increasing demands for care. Women who face the “broken rung” will seldom reach their full potential. They will move to different industries, find it difficult to make up for lost time and, in general, either abandon the workforce altogether or resign themselves to working well below their potential.
As a company, we are missing almost half the potential of our workers in allowing this to continue. As tech leaders, it’s our responsibility to make sure this doesn’t happen – the risk of losing talented women in tech is too high.
Rena Nigam is the Founder and CEO of Meytier, which she started with the mission of helping improve diversity at scale through a technology-driven approach. She is an entrepreneur focused on building and scaling businesses that focus on reimagining businesses through technology. Until 2018, Rena was president and member of the board of directors of Incedo. Previously, Rena co-founded Aspark (sold to LiquidHub, then acquired by CapGemini) and was part of the Mphasis management team until 2011.
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