Bringing 'thought diversity' in D&I at the tech sector
Concepts of diversity, equality, and inclusion have slowly started to become many organization’s core value system. Irrespective of the sector one functions in, companies face numerous challenges in ensuring diversity and inclusion (D&I). Like all other industries, the technology industry is inching towards diverse representation and inclusion at a glacial pace.
Over the past decade, herculean efforts have been made in attracting diverse people into technology based fields; however, the percentage of women graduating with computer science degrees has dropped—from 40 percent in the 1980s to less than 20 percent today, stated a Deloitte report..
A 2020 survey of Deloitte’s workforce and technology clients revealed that gender bias remains an ongoing concern. Gender bias was identified as the top barrier preventing women in technology roles from moving into leadership positions, followed by work/life integration and lack of mentorship.
As most tech companies are dedicated to improving the lives of the many people, it’s crucial that they reflect and understand the diverse customer base. In addition, research shows that diverse teams are more innovative and companies with gender diversity across all levels have better financial performance. Gender diverse teams reflect society at large, research shows that diverse teams are more innovative. When we have a diverse and equal workforce, we take better decisions too on the job.
Organizations, especially the technical ones have now started talking about it and actioning its principles starting from the shopfloor to the leadership roles.
Over the years, it has been ingrained in the minds of many that women cannot take up technical or field work. It is quintessential for tech companies to overcome this stereotype by recruiting more women personnel at the shopfloor as well as at the leadership level.
Women adorn multiple roles, they are business professionals, entrepreneurs, mothers, wives, and home makers. They are considered as primary care givers; thus, it is only right to say - women can take up any role and activity.
It is an observation that between men and women, men will apply for a job even if the job description matches them 40 to 60 per cent. On the other hand, women will only apply for a job if they’re utmost fit for the job description. This holds true across industries but is heavily witnessed in the technical sector. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the organization to create a job description specifically designed for female candidates and ensure more and more women are hired for the role.
A major reason why technical organizations struggle to see women participation is due to the lack of role models and mentors. Women leaders such as Kiran Mazumdar Shaw are far and few. Therefore, it is a prerequisite that tech companies create an environment that fosters women mentors and help elevate them in the industry as well as the organization.
Gender diversity plays a crucial role in organizations that are driven by value. If one wants a strong hold on its cultural and value system, be able to sensitize employees and help them understand its significance, gender diversity becomes of utmost importance. Women in any organization drive value and culture in the right direction which leads the organization onto the path of growth.
When organizations talk about diversity, they highlight the need for gender diversity and forget to reiterate the gravity of thought diversity. Ethnicity, location, gender, class, caste, religion, geography, physical ability etc., adds to the thoughts and brings forth varied perspectives which in turn leads to thought diversity. A tech company’s livelihood is innovation and creativity that serves the needs of its customers. This can only be achieved when different minds with varying perspectives collide to create a unique brainchild.
Additionally, having women or other members of diverse communities on an organization’s board or in key decision-making positions adds to a fuller, more humane perspective and completes the circle of decision-making. For example, women are well known for their interpersonal skills and understanding emotions which are necessary while making business decisions otherwise the result may heavily number, and target driven if left to male decision makers only. When it comes to rising in ranks, it is seen that men are more aggressive towards growth while women have higher levels of empathy, which can be an impediment but also bolster growth. Having said that, organizations need to achieve a balance between the two leadership styles.
Women are value champions, forward looking and conscience keepers of all and any organizations and bring in perspectives that help create a sensitive environment and initiate communication that is otherwise unidirectional. An organization matures when they realize and act upon gender sensitivity.