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Tear Down This Wall: 4 Ways to Fix Business and Tech’s ‘Women Problem’

StrategyDriven Diversity and Inclusion ArticleInformation technology (tech) is at the epicenter of the world’s economy. Apple, Microsoft, and Google are the foremost companies in the world. But women in tech, as in other industries, face obstacles from entry-level positions to the C-suite.

If industry truly wishes to fix this, it must stop retreating into seemingly noble expressions of sentiment, and instead evaluate and adopt specific procedures and programs. That is particularly true of tech, exhibit “A” in the corporate failure to hire and promote women. Re-allocating burdens, from women who aspire to the companies and industries that would employ them, and adoption by those companies of specific programs, is what my book is all about.

Women can lean in, education can push STEM, states may enact wage gap and family leave legislation. But those developments mask the more fundamental issue. From startups to the largest firms, firms themselves actually hire and promote females. In contrast, many of these companies have gender aversion baked into their DNA. Tech, for example, has been unable to support women at any level. A mere 5 percent of Tech’s senior executives are women. Branches of the industry, such as video gaming, are overtly misogynist in governance, in culture, and in product content.

Can tech and other industries redeem themselves? Here are four steps companies could take:

Change the mindset, reallocate the burdens. Bookshelves are overloaded with advice books for women who aspire in business. Get a mentor, network, don’t be a “bully broad,” be strategic, lean in, lower your voice, don’t be a “queen bee,” dress conservatively, and so on. Now is high time to look at the other side of the equation, what responsibilities companies and industries bear and what sorts of measures they should be considering. The onus shouldn’t be solely upon women anymore.

Adopt specific programs and procedures. Professional advice books emphasize that women should obtain mentors. Women have, and it has not moved the needle at all. Women in business complain, “I have been mentored to death and I am still in same position I was 7 years ago.” Recently, emphasis in Australia has shifted to corporations themselves and to mentoring plus sponsorship. It has moved the needle – significantly. Ideas include comply or explain requirements (“if not, why not?”), certificate programs, pledge regimes, quota laws (Norway, Spain, Italy, France, Germany but probably not for the United States), mandatory disclosure, voluntary disclosure, structured search (Rooney Rule) adoptions, and more.

Cast a wide net. Compared to other countries around the globe, the U.S.’s progress on gender diversity issues has slipped below the global median. Governments, stock exchanges, and industry groups in Australia, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and New Zealand, for example, are very active on gender diversity issues. Surprisingly, promotion of women in business and in governance is hot-button issue of in the Peoples’ Republic of China (not in Japan, however: fewer than one percent of corporate directors are female). On the Atlantic side, proposals and programs proliferate in the countries of the European Union and with the EU itself.

Look to the future: pay attention to the pool problem. We now appreciate that executives must balance maximization of shareholder value with sustainability. Long-term sustainability requires gender diversity. The pool problem speaks to that issue. The pool consists of the women from among whom boards and executives will choose senior managers — not now, not next year, but 10 years, 12 years, or 15 years in the future. Compared with today’s meager pool, the future pool will be markedly inferior, unless companies put in place steps to deal with the deficiency. One vital strategy is to ease the off ramps and ease the on ramps for women as they find it necessary to step aside from their careers, temporarily, often because of childbirth and child rearing issues. Dial up, dial down, alumnae, and welcome back programs, among other things, can ease those on and off ramps. Companies must think about these type of measures.

When it comes to promoting women to leadership roles or positioning them for executive roles in the future, tech is the most backward of major industries. Even lower down the ranks, the number of women tech companies employ has declined – from 37 percent in 1995 to 24 percent in 2016 — and is predicted to decrease further in coming years.

Neither does the future appear as hopeful as we have wished. Yet there are steps and programs that might brighten that future significantly.


About the Author

StrategyDriven Expert ContributorDouglas M. Branson is the W. Edward Sell Chair at the University of Pittsburgh. He has been a visiting professor at Cornell University, the Universities of Washington and Hong Kong, and Melbourne University, among others. He was a State Department–sponsored corporate governance consultant to New Zealand, Indonesia, Ukraine, Slovakia, Serbia, and Bulgaria. He is the author of 23 books on gender and corporate governance. His new book is The Future of Tech Is Female: How to Achieve Gender Diversity (NYU Press, July 2018).

5 Strategies, Tactics and Traits to Support Diversity in the Modern Workplace

StrategyDriven Diversity and Inclusion Article
 
Whether it’s embracing differing cultural backgrounds or bringing in workers from abroad, modern businesses are becoming more diverse than ever in terms of talent.

However, bear in mind that today’s companies aren’t adopting a sort of “melting pot” mentality “just because.” In fact, there’s a strong argument to be made that embracing more diverse backgrounds is a net positive for modern businesses.

Think about it. Beyond data that supports that more diverse companies reap higher profits, casting a wider net in terms of backgrounds and culture means dipping into a deeper pool of talent. In other words, hiring the absolute best people possible to meet your business’ needs.

Also consider the need to expand into new markets and connect with other cultures from a business standpoint. The more diverse your team, the easier it is to tap into those markets.

And if nothing else, diversity can ultimately lead to a more connected, open-minded workplace. Fresh ideas and perspective can be powerful motivators, if nothing else.

That said, it takes a thoughtful leader with strong attention to detail to ensure a positive, diverse work environment that products results. Below we’ve broken down a list of strategies and traits necessary to make sure that your team thrives while also supporting workplace diversity.

Conduct Individual Check-In’s

Perhaps one of the most important aspects of creating a stronger team is taking the time to understand your workers on an individual level. This is especially true of workers who are coming from abroad.

According to Gallup’s most recent State of the American Workplace, many employees feel like their concerns, strengths and needs completely go over the heads of higher-ups. On the flip side, having stake in your workers’ personal lives alongside their professional ones ultimately makes you more approachable in the long-run.

In other words, take the time to have one-on-ones to understand the motivations of your employees. Perhaps they could only climb the career ladder in a new country. Maybe they regularly send remittance payments to family back home and therefore have a huge stake in their jobs. Either way, regularly one-on-ones create that ever-so-important bond in the office.

Collect Frequent Anonymous Feedback

Consider that not all workers will be so forthcoming in one-on-one meetings, particularly those who might be nervous about concerns over discrimination or bullying.

To address such concerns, collecting anonymous feedback is a must-do for any office. Providing multiple avenues for feedback gives you a more comprehensive view of your teams’ strengths and weaknesses, while also holding workers accountable.

Whether through anonymous email surveys, engagement surveys (think: a employee net promoter score) or a digital suggestion box, you’d be surprised at what you can by asking the right questions. Feedback received from workers serves as valuable insight as you strive to continuously improve your company’s working environment.

Encourage Group Collaboration

Allowing employees to frequently work in groups, whether through an open office setting or on their own terms, is a smart move. This does double duty of helping people from different backgrounds assimilate while also driving home a “team” mentality. Rather than allow departments to become siloed, collaboration can be the catalyst your company needs for fresh ideas.

Be Aware of Bias

The epidemic of unconscious bias in the workplace is a serious issue that is overlooked simply by nature. In short, people don’t realize that they might have biases against someone’s background until it becomes an outright problem. This not only opens companies up to legal trouble, but could ultimately lead to improper treatment of workers which is unacceptable.

Acknowledging bias is a must-do, and anyone found to display bias should be held accountable. A company culture of empathy and open-mindedness is a good starting point, yet also think about biases that occur during hiring such as disregarding someone for their background or perceived lack of experience.

Rethink Your Onboarding Process

A huge factor in making any team member feel welcome and comfortable is how you onboard them. There is no “right” way to onboard employees, but there are ways to ease people into your company without overwhelming them, all the while celebrating their diversity. For example:

  • Introduce your new hires to current team members in “waves,” ideally allowing them to mentor or be shadowed by someone who they can form a working relationship with
  • Convey your company culture of acceptance from the word “go”
  • Make their success a priority, with frequent check-in’s as per usual in addition to giving them multiple points of contact for questions and concerns

While the concept of diversity in the workplace is nothing new, many companies struggle when it comes to adapting to new backgrounds, cultures and experiences. By emphasizing these tactics and traits, you can manage your team with more peace of mind while also embracing diversity.

How To Attract Top Talent To Your Business

StrategyDriven Talent Management ArticleIf you want to be successful in the long-term, then you’re going to have to hire a team of people who are skilled and committed to helping you grow your business. You’re not going to get far if you’re closed-minded and behind the curve when it comes to technology and treating your employees fairly.

Be glad to know there are specific ways for how you can attract top talent to your business and help guarantee a bright future for your operation. You’ll thank yourself down the road when you have a strong team of people behind you who know what they’re doing and are loyal to your company.

Show that You’re Innovative & Cutting Edge

Employees want to work for a company that’s ahead of the game when it comes to technology and innovation. They’re looking to join businesses that are willing to take calculated risks and try new approaches. Attract top talent to your business by showing that you’re on the cutting edge of some interesting and intriguing projects. Prove to potential candidates that you’re problem solvers and aren’t people who take no for an answer.

Be Accepting of Everyone

You’ll be able to build a more stable and diverse workforce when you’re accepting of everyone, no matter their race, disability or gender. Investing in Custom Braille Stickers is a great example for how you can show that you’re a business that doesn’t discriminate. Your goal should always be to keep an open mind and hire the right person for the particular position you’re trying to fill.

Offer an Attractive Compensation & Benefits Package

You’ll attract top talent to your business when you prove that you’re willing to go the extra mile and invest in your employees. You can do this by offering attractive compensation and benefits packages to anyone who you bring onboard at your company. Cutting corners will get you into hot water, and eventually, you’ll start to lose your most skilled workers, and people won’t be interested in even interviewing with your business.

Promote Work-Life Balance

These days’ people seeking an available position are not only interested in learning more about the specific job duties, but also the company culture. Promoting an environment of work-life balance will help you catch the attention of talented workers who are looking to have a family life in addition to giving it their all in their career. Be prepared to provide examples of how you offer flexibility at your workplace during interviews and let it be a selling point for why someone would want to work for you.

Conclusion

You’ll find you’re able to grow a stable and thriving business when you have the right staff on your side. Use these tips to help you attract top talent to your business so you can continue to move forward and achieve your goals. Start the process by taking a look around and seeing where the gaps exist and then work hard to find people who are a good fit for each specific job opening.

Empowering Women Leaders

Women leaders need to work harder, longer and smarter to achieve the same or similar objectives as their male peers – seriously? We hear this same refrain over and over to the point that many women actually believe it.

There is no data to support this premise. Girls and boys are born with similar intelligence. Society has delivered these differences.


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About the Author

Robbie HardyRobbie Hardy spent 20+ successful years in the corporate sector before finding her true calling in the entrepreneurial world. She is author of the new book Upsetting the Table: Women Mentoring Women.

For more information visit www.RobbieHardy.com.

Find Out if Your Message Attracts or Detracts

You are broadcasting messages every day, both verbal and non-verbal, and they tell others what you and your company think of yourself and the world. If you are not aware of the messages you are sending, others are and one’s perception has impact on your strategy’s bottom line.

Your company culture is vital to attracting, retaining, developing and advancing talent. So how do you discover what it is you are “saying?” A little self-examination should start with knowing what your beliefs, attitudes and biases are about yourself and others.

This quiz will help you explore behaviors based on what you believe (consciously or unconsciously), how you show up and recognize some views and behaviors that hamper success. Select the most correct answer for you.


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About the Author

Rosalie ChamberlainRosalie Chamberlain is the author of Conscious Leadership in the Workplace: A Guidebook to Making a Difference One Person at a Time and the owner of Denver, CO-based Rosalie Chamberlain Consulting & Coaching. A thirty-five year organizational culture and eighteen year coaching veteran, she specializes in maximizing talent and productivity within organizations.