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10 ways tech businesses can attract and retain more women

Three tech business leaders shared these insights on how to retain and recruit more women during Kaspersky and Ada’s List’s recent webinar.

Three tech business leaders shared these insights on how to retain and recruit more women during Kaspersky and Ada’s List’s recent webinar.

Kaspersky’s latest report on its survey of 13,000 women in tech in 19 countries has raised encouraging findings yet some troubling questions as it looks back on a significant year for all. While half of those surveyed felt gender would have no impact on their career, 44 percent said men progress faster than women in their organization. Six in 10 said since working from home, they’d taken on most of the housework and homeschooling responsibilities. What does this window into the worlds of women in tech mean for business?

In the run-up to International Women’s Day 2021, Kaspersky and Ada’s List (advocates for women and non-binary people in tech,) held a webinar on the evolution of women in tech. The panel – Dr. Patricia Gestoso-Souto, Global Head of Scientific and Technical Customer Support at research software designers Biovia, Tim Campbell MBE, Co-founder and CEO of Iternal and Claire Hatcher, Global Head of Fraud Prevention at Kaspersky – shared their insights on how tech businesses can support and promote more women.

1.  Focus on the business benefits of diversity

Claire Hatcher: “We need to stop thinking about this as an equality issue but as a business benefit. Studies show diversity – the intersection of background, culture and disciplines – matter. If you only hire people from the same background, gender and education level, you’ll see challenges and opportunities from a silo.

“I work in Fraud Prevention. Fraudsters come from all backgrounds. To find vulnerabilities, you have to think like the fraudsters.”

Claire Hatcher

Products get launched that have glaring gaps. If there were more women on the team, or women had their voices heard, products could succeed sooner.

Claire Hatcher, Global Head of Fraud Prevention, Kaspersky

Experiences of women in tech

Empower Women report

13,000 women in tech in 19 countries speak out.

Read report

2.  Make leaders accountable for achieving gender equality

Tim Campbell: “We need to set the bar higher. Leaders need to advocate a clear pathway from education into employment. We should hold organizations with the power to recruit to account for setting challenging targets. Ask why we’re not seeing a 50/50 balance in recruitment and the boardroom. Targets shouldn’t just be words on a website – they should be measurable, and people shouldn’t be rewarded for unless they achieve them.”

3.  Inform educators about tech pathways

Tim: “In their formative years, people make decisions about where they want to go in society. We need to educate the educators about options for young women. Groups like Stemettes and Ada’s List help empower women and open minds.”

4.  Share best practice

Dr. Patricia Gestoso-Souto: “There are no magic bullets. Let’s talk about the challenges and best practices. I see more progress in B2C than B2B companies. B2C can’t say they don’t ‘see’ color, age or gender in their marketing, but B2B has a ‘pass’ at the moment.”

5.  Market your organization as an employer for all

Tim: “The danger for corporates is that if we don’t harness the power of diversity, others will find opportunities. People leaving college or university will think about working with a big brand.

Tim Campbell

Organizations should market how they’re different than their competition. One way is to put up a big sign saying, “best talent, whoever you are, is welcome here.” If I can attract the best talent, I will be better than you!

Tim Campbell MBE, Co-founder and CEO, Iternal

6.  Ensure career time out doesn’t affect promotion

Patricia: “Employers should think about why they are rewarding employees. There should be different paths for promotions – like not penalizing people for taking time off. We need to be able to get on and off for maternity, paternity or caregiving.”

7.  Use emotional intelligence and consider everyone’s circumstances

Claire: “Kaspersky’s study showed the burden of home chores fall more to women. We need to be mindful of people’s situations. We should help them exceed, considering their circumstances. We need more emotional intelligence in leadership. We need to shift how we think about work to outcomes rather than hours in front of a screen. We need to be flexible with timing: People may need to juggle homeschooling 9 to 5, but may be more productive later in the evening.”

8.  Review recruitment data to find the problems

Tim: “In my organization, we measure at every point in the recruitment process. We analyze how many women apply and who gets lost in the funnel. With more data, we can see where things aren’t going so well or if bias is impacting recruitment.”

9.  Support professional networks for women

I was often the only woman in the role, and I questioned if it was me or I was doing something wrong. Having a network with other women meant I could understand others’ experiences and identify systemic issues. Networks create opportunities for role models and sponsoring women.

Dr. Patricia Gestoso-Souto, Global Head of Scientific and Technical Customer Support, Biovia

Claire: “Women may be in the minority in IT, but we must have informal networks to go to for advice. Communications within organizations can bring people together to talk. Then they can advocate for change in the organization.”

10.  Be willing to change your behavior as a leader and at home

Tim: “I thought I was a true advocate for women until the Me Too movement made me look at my behavior. I realized I was sometimes showing ‘alpha’ behavior, and I reassessed myself. There’s a danger we point the finger at those affected to do the fixing. Men in leadership need to set an example.

“We’re good at talking about equality at work, but not always in our personal lives. During the pandemic, my wife and I sat down and distributed home responsibilities equally. Talk to your partner about achieving equality in your home.”

Kaspersky’s Empower Women report 2021

13,000 women in tech in 19 countries talk about how the last year’s been for them.

Read report

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