Women’s History Month may be coming to a close, but as a Global Human Resources Manager, building equity for women in the tech industry continues to be top of mind for me.
Equity in the tech industry for women means providing equal opportunities and access to resources, support, and recognition to ensure that they have an equal chance to succeed and thrive in their roles. Building equity starts at the recruitment process. That means creating a supportive and inclusive environment to help women candidates know they’ll be welcomed so they’ll want to apply. It also means taking steps to remove bias.
I lead the HR team at OnActuate, a global technology and consulting firm. These are some practices that we have adopted in order to build equity for women.
Remove biases at the beginning
First and foremost, recognizing how certain language can deter women from applying for jobs is the first step towards eliminating bias. Studies have revealed the “confidence gap”, where many women won’t apply for jobs unless they believe they’re 100% qualified, while men will apply to jobs they are 80% qualified for.
I’ve learned how to recognize coded language that might read as masculine and incorporate ways to reduce that language in job descriptions to encourage more women to apply. For example, try using gender-neutral descriptors in job titles such as “engineer”, “developer”, “project manager” instead of “rockstar” or “guru”, as some still view those descriptors to be male-leaning.
To reduce bias during the initial screening phase, I suggest anonymizing resumes by removing identifying information like name, email, and education graduation dates. This ensures a fair evaluation process and minimizes the possibility of any unconscious bias or discrimination because the focus will be on relevant qualifications and work experience.
Don’t wait for women to apply, go to them
Recruiters can take a proactive approach to finding candidates. This may involve looking beyond traditional channels and tapping into new networks and communities where women are more likely to be represented.
- Post in online groups, especially those specifically for women.
- Don’t overlook other professions or industries. Promote job postings to women who may not be in tech or your specific industry but have transferrable skills.
- Attend university hiring fairs or job fairs that cater to women.
- Partner with charitable organizations or non-profits that specifically help women in their careers.
- Reach out to current employees for referrals and offer referral bonuses.
From talk to action
While promoting your company’s efforts to empower women in your industry on your website and social media can help build your employer brand, it’s important to ensure that these efforts are not just words but backed by tangible actions and opportunities for women within the company. Otherwise, the promotion of such initiatives may be perceived as insincere and ultimately ineffective.
At OnActuate, while we have great representation at the executive level (almost 40% women), and we have strong representation in non-managerial roles, we realized a gap when it came to women in management.
That’s why we started a mentorship program for women on our team to foster them into management and leadership roles. The mentees connect with other women leaders in the company for valuable leadership and network building, giving them the opportunity for career growth that meets their individual professional needs.
In addition to the mentorship program, we recently celebrated International Women’s Day with an online panel event. The panel had four accomplished women in the tech and public sector space sharing their opinions, advice and knowledge on creating more equity in the workplace for women.
Your company can also host similar initiatives. Perhaps a workshop to understand unconscious bias and its impact in the workplace, or host your own International Women’s Day celebration and hear from women in your company about their experiences.
By prioritizing the development of these programs and events, OnActuate not only demonstrates its commitment to creating a supportive People-First workplace culture, but also attracts top talent to join our team through genuine and meaningful initiatives.
Not just a once-a-year commitment
Equity isn’t about blanket solutions, or a one-size fits all approach. It’s about finding solutions and approaches that fit the needs of the groups and individuals already on your team, and those that you want to attract to your team.
Women’s History Month is not the only time you should examine and improve your recruitment efforts. As HR professionals, it’s our responsibility to actively work towards an equitable future year-round and be the catalyst for change.