2020 has seen significant changes in the way the world does business. Compared to other industries, the tech sector has perhaps been the best suited to respond to social distancing restrictions, quickly rolling out new products and tailoring services to help businesses adapt to remote working.
But while the tech industry may be leading the way in innovation, who’s leading the industry itself? In recent years, the sector has struggled to improve its reputation for a lack of diversity, and a look at leadership numbers shows it still has a long way to go. According to research from Silicon Valley Bank, only about 40% of US start-ups have at least one woman in the C-suite or on the board of directors. This is an important topic where Accedo has similar room for growth along with many others.
While this topic continues to get a lot of attention from the media, those of us already in the industry should seek out initiatives promoting diversity and inclusion in the industry. Next month Accedo will be joining other sponsors and industry leaders to support the Women in Technology Online Festival – a virtual event that brings together 250+ speakers and over 10,000 attendees to discuss how to transform and elevate women’s impact in the tech sector in a post-COVID era.
So, what are the key areas that companies need to invest time and energy in, to attract and retain female staff and ultimately support them in a transition to more senior roles? Here is a closer look at four of the strategies that the Women in Tech Festival champions.
Proximity to industry experts and role models will continue to be a key factor when motivating the next generation. Those in junior roles or still in education ultimately need to “see her, to be her”. Collectively we must prioritize removing the barriers to industry insights, to help inspire those considering careers in tech. One of the unexpected side effects of the pandemic is the leveling of the playing field when it comes to creating a new female audience. With more virtual panels, workshops, and demos than ever before, specialist content is now significantly more accessible to the wider masses. Female thought-leaders can maximize these remote speaking opportunities for an extended global reach.
This is one of the key areas which historically has been dominated by the tech industry “boys club”. But in a virtual space, there are more opportunities and fewer closed doors. Women can connect with mentors and engage in discussions without geographical restrictions. The ability to connect effectively at events no longer means relying on your organization to allocate budget to fly you there. The pandemic has highlighted the importance of meaningful digital networking, and virtual events are orienting their platforms towards this engagement. Most importantly women working for organizations where they are in the minority, can now connect on a huge scale and share ideas as part of the majority.
It can often be challenging to fit development initiatives into the demands of a normal working week. If your company doesn’t proactively support staff training and development, you might need to invest significant time and energy in your own skill sets to advance. Again, this is where the current remote working set-up can be beneficial. Learning online enables all of us to curate topics and maximize the time spent interacting with relevant content. If you discover information that could be useful to the rest of your organization, it’s worth presenting it to your leadership team and helping identify the areas where training opportunities could be improved.
For many, a post-COVID world represents an opportunity to rethink and reboot. A recent Peterson Institute global survey found that companies with diverse leadership teams often perform better and see higher profits than their less diverse counterparts. If organizations can start to see inclusivity as a benefit to aspire to, rather than a metric to fulfill, significant improvements can be made to workplace culture. Together we can holistically prioritize diversity and inclusion and restructure the tech industry to deliver a better future for everyone.
My colleagues will be attending the Women in Technology Online Festival and look forward to discussing and elevating these issues.
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