Gender diversity in IT: How companies are getting tangible results | TECH(talk)

hi and welcome to Tech Talk where we
take a look at what’s going on in technology news and weigh in with our
insights I’m Ken Mingis executive editor Computerworld I’m here with video
content producer or Juliet Beauchamp and CIOs Sharon Florentine it’s Women’s
History Month which is a great time to talk about women and IT so that’s we’re
gonna be looking at stick around okay so Sharon hey thanks for being here women’s
Women’s History Month women NIT a perennial issue and a perennial problem
for women in IT so we thought it’d be a good chance to talk to you and get an
idea for sort of where things stand and who out there in tech linen may be doing
it right thoughts so many thoughts subject that is near and dear to my
heart I blog about this every about every other week at diverse IT and try
to write as much as I can about the issue for CIO but thank you so much for
having me I really appreciate it it’s been two years almost to the day since
Susan Fowler’s blog post heard around the world where she called out the
extremely toxic culture at uber and her blog post set off a something of a chain
reaction in tech it really opened the floodgates for a lot more awareness of
the lack of diversity and inclusion in the industry but you know two years on
how much progress have we really made it’s we’re still fighting a lot of
double standards we’re still grappling with a lack of women and other
underrepresented minorities I don’t particularly like that term but it works
as a kind of a blanket statement tech is still very much a white male game at
this point in fact I was just a piece about how humour when used in
the workplace by men is is seen to increase men’s status
it’s a signifier of better job performance and leadership capability
but the opposite happens when women use humor in the workplace it leads to lower
ratings of perceived status perceived job performance and also it tends to
signify diminished leadership capacity you know I’m just gonna jump in real
quick of course I don’t where do the mansplaining thing here but no no I mean
you make the point and it’s not just humor you know I mean I’ve seen the same
sorts of studies that you know for a male boss who is strong-willed and
domineering and whatever that’s considered a a good thing and
hard-charging and success driven and yet if you’ve got a woman boss who has the
same qualities it that it tends to be looked at as negative you know she’s
hard to get along with no one can work with her I mean and it’s a double
standard that just seems to permeate not just women it’s obviously women in tech
but also you know across the workplace and I just wonder you know with that
sort of perception how how can companies go about changing that you know I mean
it obviously person to person to person but I mean companies it has to be a
cultural shift here I think right yeah that’s that’s exactly right and you know
your your points are unfortunately right on the money it’s um it’s definitely
that double standard so a lot of companies in the last two years have
have realized not just that greater emphasis on diversity inclusion is the
right thing to do as a as a society as a company as individuals but that there
are a lot of studies that that really prove with hard data that that companies
with greater diversity and inclusion show better performance they there’s a
statistically significant correlation between diversity in their workplace and
diversity and leadership and better financial performance as well McKenzie
did a great study back in 2015 and they followed up on it last year in 2018 and
that showed that companies in the top quartile for ethnic diversity at the
executive level are 33% more likely to have above average profitability than
companies in the bottom quartile and when it comes to gender diversity
companies in the top quartile are 21% more likely to have above-average
profitability so there was definitely a business case there but there’s also the
just the general societal moral case for doing what’s right so Intel has done a
great job in this area back in 2015 they set some pretty aggressive goals for
themselves as a company in that they were trying to achieve full
representation in their workforce by the year 2020 so what that means is Intel’s
workforce would accurately reflect the same percentages of women black latina
Asian LGBTQ and Native American workers as occurs in the u.s. population as a
whole so that was that’s pretty aggressive and
they beat that goal they actually achieved full representation in their
work in their workforce last year so two years early if you’re as bad at math as
I am so how did they do that they first of all they set the goal and then they
took a number of different approaches to doing so they’ve got aggressive source
and recruiting strategies that go out and look for underrepresented talent in
a variety of places coming out of boot camps different colleges and
universities they have a very aggressive on-campus recruiting program they do
things like their Native American coders program which works on reservations in
the u.s. to get Native American teenagers involved in tech and there’s
actually I wrote a blog post about that program recently so you can check that
out for more details so they really approached it as a in a holistic way
they weren’t just looking at a single pronged approach they’ve got employee
resource groups it’s it’s it’s a really holistic full program the the other
company that I’m familiar with is a Capital One and Capital One focused on
diversity and inclusion as a way to further facilitate a digital
transformation efforts that they’re going through and again I have a case
study that I wrote about this you can you can check that out as well
but you know they also took a very holistic approach they have different
women in tech chapters across all of their different campuses worldwide they
do a lot with early education elementary education programs to encourage more
women and underrepresented minorities to get into tech and they also do a lot of
great measurement against the goals that they’ve set so they’re tracking their
workforce demographics both their current workforce and in recruiting and
sourcing and it’s also for the top down from the executive levels
as well as from the bottom up so they have a lot of grassroots diversity and
inclusion groups that work together and excuse me
but also all of the executive teams are on board and understand what the goals
are and why they’re important to business performance and also to digital
transformation and then finally thought works is a consulting company with
offices across the u.s. they have in across the u.s. in a lot of major cities
Philadelphia which is where I’m based New York Chicago and they have a really
interesting approach because their their viewpoint is that you don’t necessarily
need to have a hard technical background to be successful in this field so one of
the more interesting aspects of thought works is that you can sort of create
your own job I thought works you can present the skills and experience that
you have and then kind of make a pitch to them about this is what I would like
to do in tech with my specific skills and experience and if they have a place
that you would fit in well then you can you know join their organization and
kind of create your own role and so that’s one way that they’ve been really
successful with diversity as well that’s really awesome and really great and it’s
encouraging as just a person who works to hear that companies are really taking
advantage of diversity and inclusion measures and on top of that that there’s
real reason to do so there’s real tangible growth and tangible benefits
that can come for all business that’s that being said it’s not as though every
single business has such aggressive measures in place such as Intel and
Capital One and thought work so what can businesses be doing to implement
diversity and inclusion practices and then hopefully see these tangible
wonderful results great question so a lot of a lot of this starts with
understanding both the the moral and societal imperative but also you know
sometimes the only thing that’s going to get through to executives is that
business case so you can start out by you know referencing these studies and
presenting case studies that prove and show that businesses like Intel or
Capital One or others have seen business performance improvements in this area so
then once that case is made you can start by forming or expanding upon if
you already have er G’s or employee resource groups for
you know your LGBTQ employees to have a space where they can get together and
share issues and trade tips and and really just vent it’s that’s really
important and that doesn’t necessarily have to have its own business imperative
but that’s kind of the inclusion part right feeling that your your understood
your accepted and you are valued for who you are and then that can have kind of a
ripple effect into the greater workforce you know people are more comfortable
bringing their authentic selves to work because they know that there are others
in the workforce that are gonna understand their concerns and the
challenges that they face and be able to help them overcome that so employee
resource groups are a great initiative being able to show that business case
you can also start encouraging sponsorships or partnerships with
organizations like black girls code women who code lesbians who tech is an
awesome organized and they do super fun really inclusive
events in a bunch of different cities so that’s another way to set up strategic
partnerships with nonprofits and organizations that might be in your city
and see just pause there and go down here to my other notes sorry no no what
you know while you’re looking at your notes I just wanna weigh in with an
observation and it just seems like you know there is of course the moral issue
and I wonder sometimes if that is the emphasis that is made when it comes to
seeking diversity and the bottom-line issue which might be the one that
actually moves companies to be smarter about this you know it needs to be
talked about more making making the point that this is not only a moral
imperative but it’s a smart thing to do for the company you know and it’s
interesting that the you know the way you’ve been describing these companies
they do take this multifaceted approach the whole point is to have a happy
employee who enjoys their job and well theoretically then do a better job for
you which is going to be good for the company I don’t understand why this
isn’t common sense you know again just an observation based on what you’re
saying and what you’ve been seeing and reporting then you know really a
question but anyway let me let me let you get back to your what you were
saying no and that’s a good that’s actually a really great point and it
feeds into to Juliet’s question as well because so many companies especially in
tech where you’re facing a skills gap and they’re having problems finding
people with the right tech skills and the right soft skills so engagement is a
huge huge concern and that’s absolutely one way to improve your employee
engagement and and therefore your retention so yeah it’s it’s kind of a
no-brainer right should be seems to be quality yeah it should be so yeah back
to your question um I mean really those are those are some pretty easy first
steps companies can take another another issue
too to think about is that you know while you’re trying to measure this and
and and make sure that you’re achieving these goals it’s it’s also important to
remember that meeting a quota or you know just saying and being able to point
to oh look we have 14 black women in this particular department that does not
necessarily nor should it mean that you have met your goal and now you can kind
of ignore it for the next you know 12 months or the next quarter or whatever
because that’s that’s not really the point I mean that that speaks to your
question can about you know making sure that employees are happy because numbers
are one thing but making sure that that the it’s the employee experience and
that people are actually engaged and feel supported and included in the
workplace is is another story altogether oh great great thank you so much Sharon
really interesting insights and certainly timely because of Women’s
History Month and it’s gonna be really interesting to see I mean this is gonna
something that’s gonna take years this diversity and inclusion doesn’t happen
overnight but it’s gonna be really interesting to see what steps the tech
industry and just business at large take in the coming years to really make sure
that they’re promoting an equal and equitable workplace yeah agreed
thank you so much for having me I really appreciate it thank you thanks Sharon
yeah and thanks everyone for watching this episode of tech talk if you like
this video be sure to give it a like and subscribe to our Channel and if you are
really interested in this discussion around women in IT and women in tech be
sure to check out the IgG Tech Talk Twitter that’s just at IDG Tech Talk
where we have our growing to have Twitter chats every Thursday this month
surrounding discussion about women in IT and
we’ll be monitoring the one this Thursday the 14th which fittingly is on
women in IT leadership so be sure to check that out on Twitter I’ll be there
thanks so much for watching and we’ll see you next time

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