Do You Have a Female Friendly Workplace?
Why it should be a top business priority
Having a gender-diverse workplace isn’t just the right thing to do - it’s also good for business. Companies with a gender-diverse executive team are 21 percent more likely to have above-average profitability than those that do not.
And yet the disparities remain, particularly in tech: Only 25 percent of tech jobs are held by women. Even worse, women are leaving the tech industry at a 45 percent higher rate than men; the most common reasons given are poor management, lack of career growth and slow salary growth.
The tech industry is acutely aware of its gender gap and is trying to make amends, but it still has a long way to go: 40 percent of women believe that companies are not doing enough to address gender diversity issues.
With that in mind, how do you become a company that truly values and fosters women employees? Here are a few ways you can attract female tech talent and help them flourish within your company.
Recruit the right way.
A better gender balance shouldn’t be a “nice to have” - it needs to be a clearly-stated company priority. Develop a diversity statement for your corporate website so jobseekers can see that you prioritize inclusiveness. (You can check out ours here.) Work with recruiters who are women and who can help you network with local women-in-tech meetups, bootcamps and other networking groups.
Post jobs on woman-friendly job boards such as Tech Ladies and InHerSight. Review your current job descriptions for any gendered language that may be off-putting to female jobseekers (such as terms like “rock star” and “ninja”).
Sponsoring events for women-friendly tech communities like Girl Develop It, Women Who Code, and Black Girls Code is a great way to introduce women to your company. If you already have women on your team, encourage them to be part of the hiring process - and take their input seriously.
Be open to training promising candidates.
You might want a programmer who knows an unusual, specialized programming language. But unless it’s a must-have from the get go, you’re probably narrowing your applicant pool - and excluding many women. If the position requires something a good general engineer can learn on the job, you can open your search to a wider, more diverse pool of applicants.
Another great way to find and train potential female staffers is by hosting internship programs; some companies also offer returnships, which can help you meet tech-focused women who’ve been out of the workforce for a little while (often young mothers) and who are enthusiastic to learn new skills and return.
Do a salary and advancement reality check.
So you’ve made gender diversity a priority, and now you have several women on your team. Great! They’re valuable members of your staff - and other companies will try to hire them away, so you need to work hard to keep them. As we mentioned above, two of the three reasons women in tech leave their place of work are slow salary growth and limited path for advancement.
Women earn lower salaries than men across the board - and the same is true in tech. Are your female colleagues earning as much as the men in comparable positions? Your accounting and management teams need to take a hard look at the numbers and find out. In addition to salary reviews, have you developed a transparent path for advancement?
Small companies can’t always offer money and promotions - your budget may be tight, or the org chart may be fixed. In that case, look for other perks you can offer, such as an informal in-house women’s mentoring program.
Make your office culture welcoming to all.
While there’s nothing wrong with a ping-pong table and a video game room, it suggests an environment tailored to the needs of young men. Aesthetically, it’s worth looking at the many female-centered co-working spaces that are popping up for a few ideas; even if you don’t want to revamp your office décor, things like breast-pumping rooms and yoga/mediation spaces can go a long way to promote inclusivity.
Another thing you can do (that doesn’t cost a dime) is intentionally avoid gendered communication: Instead of addressing staff with a “hey guys,” say “team” or “all.”
Flexibility is also key: Add daytime office morale-boosting events to include those who can’t stick around for happy hours but still want to be team players; if you host an all-night hackathon, allow remote participation.
Most importantly, make sure you have strict anti-harassment training that is frequent, interactive, and covers subtle forms of harassment such as microagressions; openly talking about these issues will make your workplace better for everyone.