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IWD 2021: Achievers manager on a diversity gaps in leadership
Tue, 9th Mar 2021
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Comment from Achievers manager of client services Emma Harvie.

What do IT companies need to do to attract more women in the years ahead?

First and foremost, workplace culture and conditions are critical for attracting and retaining women in STEM. Research suggests that women are currently under-represented in STEM organisations, there's a lack of diversity in leadership and the gender pay gap is still very much real.

Create an inclusive culture, ensure the organisation's values align with this and that employees are demonstrating behaviours that align with the values. Also, ensure there is a clear strategy to ensure all genders are equally represented, valued and rewarded, and ensure that you have clear objectives and measurement in place. Track metrics such as gender composition of workforce and leadership teams, promotions by gender, and parental leave by gender.

In addition, the industry as a whole needs to reinforce a commitment to zero tolerance of gender-based harassment and discrimination, sexual harassment and bullying. Organisations need to develop learning and training resources to align all leaders to an inclusive culture — such as unconscious bias training to drive awareness and increase knowledge of the impact personal beliefs and behaviours can have.

Investigate and reform any unconscious bias in your recruitment process. For example, use language in job ads that is inclusive for women and makes them feel like they can apply, and that they can visualise themselves in the role and organisation. Ensure women are included in the recruitment process to provide a distinct perspective. Finally, create and expand flexible working conditions to make work accessible to women.

What do IT companies need to do to ensure that more women have the opportunity to achieve senior leadership roles within their organisations?

IT companies need to encourage sponsorship of women within organisations to highlight great work and create more opportunities. They need to develop mentoring programs with executives to share their experience, learning and networking. Finally, they need to ensure they have the best possible pool of candidates for the jobs on offer.

What is the role of government in attracting more women into STEM-based qualifications?

Governments need to provide funding to advance gender equality, such as investing in programs directed at children, like Little Scientists, which focuses on training educators and teachers to promote inquiry-based STEM learning, and programs for women such as Women in STEM Workplaces. Our leaders also need to advocate for women in STEM on the global stage through the G20 and the United Nations.

What can women do to support themselves and their peers drive a more diverse and inclusive IT industry in Australia?

Speak up and find allies. Women play a big part in creating workplace culture, just as men do — so speak up when there is bias, stereotyping or inequity. The trick is choosing the right time and place to speak up — sometimes it is in the moment, and sometimes it is more privately at another time.

Finding allies will help women find a voice to speak up and ensure that the work is shared. If gender equality is only a women's issue, only 50% of the population is working to create change.

How do we get more women interested in tech?

Research from the United Nations suggests that girls' perceptions of, and engagement in STEM, are strongly influenced by both parents and teachers, so we need to start with education at a young age. Make science and tech fun, tell girls they are good at it, role model successful women. Indeed, make women in STEM visible — recognise, celebrate and champion women in the industry.