Breedlove's Briefing: 5 Ways to Make the Modern Tech Workplace More Welcoming to Women

August 12 - Stephanie Breedlove

Hi! I’m Stephanie Breedlove, Co-Founder of HomePay, Author and Angel Investor.

I absolutely adore taking an idea and giving it life in the form a business, then leading it to its full potential. Nothing is more fun. (Seriously!) I’d love for every woman who wants to start her own business to say the same thing, so here I am, mentoring millennial entrepreneurs. When I’m not working, I like to recharge and head outdoors to hike, bike, or stand up paddle board!

Is that list of business news and trending articles you’ve tagged still unread? I get it. Allow me to help. Take a couple minutes to read my summary of articles serving the most pertinent, actionable business topics. Or, take 10 minutes to read the full article, and put another brick on the foundation of your growing career.

This Week’s Must-Read:

5 Ways to Make the Modern Tech Workplace More Welcoming to Women

Who it’s for:

Everyone working in a tech company. That’s most of us.

Why it’s important:

While it’s great to see so many companies supporting diversity and inclusion, we haven’t done enough to increase the pipeline for potential women leaders.

Madeleine Albright famously said that there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women. Let’s add that there’s a corner table in hell for women in tech who don’t help other women. For those that have had doors opened for them, it’s our turn to open those doors even wider and help more women through, until there is no door at all.

The undeniable truths.

1. There aren’t enough women in STEM jobs or corporate leadership positions. While it’s great to see so many companies supporting D&I, the business community has not fixed the systemic problem of exclusivity. For instance, only 24% of STEM jobs were help by women in 2017. There are only 33 female CEOs in the Fortune 500, which can be seen as an exclusive club where leaders get top experience and influence. In short, the club is a men’s club.

2. Diversity/inclusion isn’t expanding fast enough. While we may celebrate the incremental improvements within our corporate D&I numbers, we have a long way to go. There is only so much that can happen without a bigger pool of female candidates to choose from.

3. Female leaders don’t get the support they should. Women who make it to the upper reaches of the org charts often find staying there more challenging than getting there. 53% of women recently surveyed who began their careers in business roles in tech-intensive industries left for other industries. The primary reasons they left? Isolation; hostile, male-dominated work environments; ineffective executive feedback; and a lack of mentors.

So what can we do to address these hard truths?

1. Invest in stronger education programs for grade school-age children. Break away from outdated assumptions about what girls “naturally” like to learn. Accept that girls are just as likely to be interested in math and science as boys and make sure they have truly equal support in those disciplines.

2. Prioritize mentorship and sponsorship. As leaders, especially female leaders, we have a duty to empower, inspire, mentor, sponsor and support women. That means we need to encourage them to pursue lifelong learning. This can be advanced education across law, business and STEM-related degrees, or continuous learning through new challenges at work.

3. Hire and recognize high-potential female leaders. Companies must ensure women see a clear and attainable career path, and the hiring process is a critical component. Once we get high-potential people in, we need to look for chances to expose them to career opportunities.

4. Make diversity and inclusion a business priority and explain the “why.” The notion of D&I in the workplace has been heavily socialized, but there are still people who question the benefits. According to a study by EY, companies that had at least 30% female leadership had higher net profit margins than those with no women in senior ranks. We need to be talking about points like these as we discuss the “why.”

5. Build your diversity and inclusion program into a competitive advantage. We need to start thinking of D&I in measurable gains. There are actual measurable, bottom-line benefits to a more diverse and inclusive workspace. When organizations hire people who think differently or come from various backgrounds, ethnicities or educations, teams approach problem-solving and innovation with different lenses and think beyond boundaries.

Top Take-Away: We need to make D&I a leadership issue, not an HR check box. It needs business-specific goals that ensure every team in the organization makes it a priority, and leaders are held accountable. With this kind accountability comes empowerment. That’s where real change happens.

D&I is not yet commonly discussed with a bottom-line focus versus an HR-focus, but here’s a few helpful discussions:

A Study Finds that Diverse Companies Produce 19% More Revenue

15+ Diversity and Inclusion Stats That Will Make You Rethink Company Culture

35 Mind-Blowing Diversity Recruitment Stats

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