Although gender equality has arguably been a core focus of the inclusive workplace conversation, it still continues to be a concern — especially when we see a lack of women in leadership positions in many of the tech companies we partner with.
As a woman-owned business, Inclusion in Progress is all too familiar with the lack of growth opportunities in our past work environments. Which is why our mission to continue to empower organizations to walk their talk when it comes to inclusion is not only a professional commitment, but a deeply personal one. And it’s why we’ll be focusing today’s episode on why women are still underrepresented in tech, despite being a core target demographic for many talent pipelines.
On this episode of the podcast, we explore:
- The effects of women underrepresentation in tech on the larger industry
- What women need to feel supported to stay long enough to step up to leadership positions
- How the lack of women leadership can affect your company’s productivity and reputation
You will also hear our insights on the profound impact that gender equity has on workplace culture and a company’s ability to meet business objectives.
To learn more about how we’re partnering with organizations to support gender equity at work, reach out to our team for a consultation at email@example.com.
Welcome to the Inclusion in Progress podcast where we give you the ideas, actions and insights to help you build more equity at your workplace and in the world at large. I'm your host, Kay Fabella, international expert on diversity, equity and inclusion, a Filipina American living in Spain and your guide in navigating this DEI journey. Having worked with teams at companies such as Philips, the IMF, Red Hat, PepsiCo and more, I know firsthand that the work of inclusion only works when everyone has a seat at the table. Regardless of your personal entrypoint into this conversation: your race, ethnicity, gender, ability, age, sexual orientation, country of origin, or educational background, we all have a role to play in creating inclusion for all and it starts with us having conversations we need to create the change we wish to see. So let's dive into today's episode.
We've been watching as the tech industry, known for its rapid evolution and innovation, has continued to witness a concerning trend — the persistent underrepresentation of women. This doesn't surprise us at all because gender equity at work has seemingly stalled since the pandemic, with waning interest and insufficient action. But did you know that this gender imbalance isn't just a matter of ticking a so-called box on DEI? It actually impacts the very core of our companies, and whether or not they'll continue to innovate, grow, and thrive in 2024 and beyond.
Today, we're going to dive into how women's continued underrepresentation in tech isn't just a moral issue… It's a business-critical concern.
So if you're just tuning in for the first time… welcome to the Inclusion in Progress podcast! I'm your host, Kay Fabella, and I am a DEI consultant for distributed teams. On this show you'll get research-backed industry insights into the future of work and practical how-tos for Equity and Inclusion. I also lead my own remote team and work with clients across EMEA, APAC and the Americas, which means you will get a global perspective on how companies are supporting their distributed teams and building workplaces that work for everyone.
So if you like this podcast, make sure that you follow us on your favorite podcast app and, if you've been listening for a while, feel free to leave us a review because that helps us get these conversations in front of other equity-minded leaders like you who are working actively to equip their teams to thrive in this future of work.
So as I'm recording this, Team IIP is coming back from our annual holiday leave. We're getting ready to go into the new year. So if you are listening to this on your first day back at work… Godspeed! Hopefully, your inboxes aren't too full, and you had a restful end to last year and start to this year.
Now, I'm not sure I've shared this on the podcast before but — surprise, surprise — as somebody who really loves numbers and geeking out on things I really enjoy and, in fact, really geek out on reflection and strategic planning for the year ahead. And I start my strategic planning in September. I know it means I'm looking at, for example, 2025 in September 2024, and so on and so forth. So I'm always reviewing our offerings, going through our most effective client partnerships, and always looking with the team at what's happening in the wider market to keep providing valuable insights to listeners like you.
So, with that in mind, the reason that we decided to record this episode is because we're a woman-owned business. We also have mostly women on our team. And it's been really quite concerning, if we're being honest, when we have been witnessing the seemingly backward slide in progress on gender equity at work, including for many of our colleagues in the tech industry — whether it's in cybersecurity or AI, specifically roles that we know that companies are actively recruiting for and looking for talent in.
Why does this gender gap and tech matter? And what can actually be done about it? That's what we're going to be covering on today's episode. So let's dive in!
Now women's underrepresentation in tech leads to, as we know, a lack of diverse perspectives in decision-making, it hinders a company's ability to innovate, and to respond to the market effectively. Teams with a variety of perspectives, ideas, and lived experiences, on the other hand, can contribute to things like creative problem-solving and, of course for tech companies, the development of products and services that resonate with a broader audience.
If we look at, for example, the rise of FemTech companies: their aim was to fill this huge gap at the time when there were very few healthcare solutions available for women across conditions, such as: maternal health, menstrual health, fertility, menopause; as well as a number of more general health conditions that affect women differently, such as: osteoporosis or cardiovascular disease.
So without women's perspectives and lived experiences, tech teams are missing out on at least half of the global population when they're designing their products and services. The absence of women and key roles, especially in leadership, also results in many missed business opportunities. It also leads to many overlooked perspectives that could contribute to growth for an organization, which can also lead to a decrease in a company's profitability and long-term competitiveness if it wants to continue to remain as an innovator in their market.
But women also need to feel supported. And they need to want to stay at a company long enough to step up into those key leadership roles, which is what we're going to look at next.
The World Economic Forum estimates that we need another 132 YEARS to reach gender equality. Again, 132 years to reach gender equality. I had to do a double take when we were looking at these numbers with the team — it's wild to think of.
For us to actually work towards solving that starting within our organizations, women stepping up into leadership roles will be a critical part of closing that overall gender gap sooner. Studies show that inclusive work environments that value diversity enhance team collaboration, employee engagement, and overall productivity. According to the International Labor Organization, companies with inclusive policies are 63% more likely to have increased profitability and productivity, they're 60% more likely to attract and retain talent, 59% more likely to have greater creativity, innovation and openness; and 58% more likely to have an enhanced company reputation.
So we know that companies with diverse teams who benefit from inclusive environments experienced increased productivity due to higher morale and engagement. But when women are underrepresented, particularly at the leadership level, this can create an environment where certain voices are marginalized or overlooked — which we've seen from our client partnerships [and] lead to things like decreased collaboration, and also the loss of potentially-valuable ideas that could support a company's goals.
In 2023, Deloitte found that while gender equality in the workplace has long been a stated priority for many organizations — particularly in tech — 92% of women do not believe that their employer is taking concrete steps to deliver on its commitment to gender equality. Now, with the economic uncertainty that we're currently facing and higher burnout levels from a post-pandemic workforce, women especially are at a higher risk of leaving the workforce despite being a key demographic for recruitment and representation targets in many tech companies. Which is why it's important for tech leaders, like many of you who are listening, to demonstrate your continued commitment to gender equality for the women in your workforce, to raise women's morale after a particularly tough few years.
Now, at the time of this recording, International Women's month is coming up in March — so it's just a couple months away — and I'm excited to share that bookings are still available for our signature keynote talk: “Beyond IWD: How to Champion Change for Women at Work Every Day”. This is an interactive virtual session. It's designed to uplift and empower women in your workplace with daily micro-actions that participants can use either at their desks, or in their day-to-day work environments, or in work interactions to boost gender equity at work.
One attendee had this to say after attending one of our signature talks on gender equity for International Women's Day: “Our experience working with Inclusion in Progress to facilitate two workshops on male allyship and gender equity was one we’d be happy to repeat! Kay was highly proactive and insightful with her suggestions on how to meet our objectives and she didn’t stop at what we asked for. She helped us go even further by offering alternative strategic tactics. Her team’s professionalism and preparedness was top notch and the content was not only highly relevant but also expertly sourced. Kay’s fun and lighthearted personality opens the audience’s heart to difficult topics and facilitates understanding and ownership.”
So to learn more about how we can tailor this keynote to your organization for your gender equity initiatives and events in the New Year, head to the link in the show notes or you can get in touch with us and our team, as always, at firstname.lastname@example.org to book a call.
Finally, let's look at how a lack of women represented in tech affects a company's reputation. Now, tech companies lacking in gender diversity will also impact their ability to attract future talent from around the world and secure the strategic partnerships they need to continue to stay competitive. Since 2020 up-ended our workplaces and the ways that we work — understatement the century — we've witnessed employees and consumers alike call for greater corporate social responsibility. We've also witnessed employees expecting — and in some cases demanding — flexibility in the workplace, pushing back on full-on Return-To-Office mandates, particularly for women whose performance actually benefits from the ability to choose where they work from. Finally, we've also witnessed how much the lack of visible representation in leadership influences whether or not an employee chooses to apply for a company, especially for groups who are historically-excluded, such as women.
So if there is a persistent lack of diversity at a tech company, in this case for women represented in leadership, we know that this can lead to negative public perception and hinder your company's future growth and, of course, your brand reputation. Companies, however, that hold a reputation for inclusive work cultures are more attractive to potential employees and consumers and partners, and can secure the funding and talent that they need to remain competitive as the world we live and work in continues to evolve at lightspeed.
So there you have it! This is our take on why women are still underrepresented in tech and what can be done to close the gender gap in our workplaces. Now, specifically for gender representation in tech, which seems like a never ending conversation that never seems to move forward, we know that companies must take proactive steps to address the barriers that prevent women from joining, staying, and especially advancing to leadership roles. This includes implementing things like a targeted recruitment and retention strategy, auditing and solving for gender bias in your systems and processes, and incentivizing a culture of inclusion and respect at work that bolsters your reputation for future talent.
Now, by promoting gender diversity, tech companies can have a positive impact not just on their ability to perform financially, but also their ability to support their employees in their engagement, morale, and retention in the face of a very rapidly changing workplace. At Inclusion in Progress, LLC, the company that's behind this podcast, we understand the profound impact that gender equity has on workplace culture and on a company's ability to meet their own business objectives. We're a woman-owned business ourselves. We have women on our team who often lacked support or even growth opportunities in traditional work environments. Not only is this commitment professional, it's deeply personal. And it's why we are on a mission to continue to empower organizations to walk their talk when it comes to inclusion. And with International Women’s Month coming up in March, I'm excited to share that bookings are still available for our signature keynote talk: “Beyond IWD: How to Champion Change for Women at Work Every Day”. It's an interactive virtual session that we've designed to uplift and empower women in your workplace with daily micro-actions that they can then use to continue to boost gender equity at work, helping your company create an environment where every team member can contribute their best ideas without fear of judgment or exclusion. So if you want to learn more about adapting our International Women's Day keynote to your workforce, you can reach out to us at email@example.com or head to the link in the show notes of this episode. Our team is here to support your journey toward a more inclusive, equitable workplace through International Women's Day and beyond.
As always, thank you so much for tuning in. Thank you for sharing these episodes with others. And we'll see you next time on Inclusion in Progress!