When I look for a job these days, I start with looking at the team page before I apply. Is the CEO a man, what about the Managers, any women there? What roles are these women in? Marketing, HR? To apply at a company, I need to see a lot of women managers and I need to see them in all roles, not just the “soft” departments. Why? Because having a woman as your CTO tells me that you’re not limiting your team by gender. It means your company is actively looking to get more women in Tech (this doesn’t just happen) and that is a big draw for me.
Although women were well represented in the early days of computer sciences (1940s), Tech has increasingly been male-dominated since the mid-1980s (most programmers were men, only 38% women). As the tech industry matured, we saw a broadening of the roles that were needed in software companies, allowing more opportunities for women. Women make it to the Head of Marketing position,Training Manager, HR Lead or Director of Client Engagement – all departments that are needed and have an impact on the company. While the Head of Operations, the Director of Technology, the Business Development Manager, those roles remain under-represented by women. Yet those are the very roles that lead to the C-Suite and the Executive table. It is among these positions that companies looking for new CEOs are sourcing candidates. When Board of Directors are adding new board members, they ask for CEOs. Women are as capable as men of heading those departments, but we still meet resistance and the glass ceiling when it comes to moving into revenue-generating roles. If women can’t head the revenue departments, we can’t transition to the top of the chain.
How do we then make a case for women in those roles? Let’s start with how it’s good for your company productivity. When women see a diverse team of managers, they will trust that promotion is not gender restricted. They will likely work harder knowing those positions are within reach, you get twice the options when it comes to moving people up.
“Good leadership requires you to surround yourself with people of diverse perspectives who can disagree with you without fear of retaliation.” — Doris Kearns Goodwin
Diversity is good. Women are typically more empathetic and compassionate than men. They consider the feelings of others before acting. There are significant advantages to this when it comes to making businesses successful.
I was once part of a forum of women where someone posted that a client had requested a quote for additional work but that since she knew that they had lost a big account, she was wondering if she should offer them a discount for this new quote. Most of the women debated this with 50% roughly agreeing that a discount was a good idea. I countered, “Do you think a man would ever offer to discount a bid just out of being nice and considerate? Do you think that male client would ever consider asking for a discount from a male service provider?” Of course not. The fact is that the client would not have dreamed of asking for a discount, but as a woman who anticipated her client might be struggling financially, she was going out of her way to be compassionate.
While this strategy might be bad for the bottom line, it is probably great for retaining clients. When times get rough, this is a perspective you ought to have among executives. Having women as part of your decision-making team means that you have a more rounded view of a situation, consider different perspectives and scenarios, and can make more informed decisions. This is one of the reasons why companies with diversity do better financially (5 to 20% better).
Consider your products and services too. When women have a voice, they will be able to provide the female perspective of your clients. A table full of men might not see that your new sales strategy will run cold with women. The views women bring to the table, their attributes and skills being different than the men’s is a good thing.
“The quality, relevance, and impact of the products and services output by the technology sector can only be improved by having the people who are building them be demographically representative of the people who are using them.” — Tracy Chou
Technology is leading the world and when women make up 50% of Tech, we will be well placed to be the change-makers that we have the potential to be. Now that’s a world I want to see. And soon.