IWD 2023: How women in tech can ‘embrace equity’ by supporting each other
I’ll never forget the weeks before returning from maternity leave and the support I received from other women. Facing the anxiety of restarting work after several blissful years of full-time parenting, I reached out to female peers, who I admired, for advice. Their generosity gave me the confidence and determination to re-enter the workforce as though I had never left.
I often relay this story when I speak to fellow women in the technology industry. I believe it illustrates how one person can have a tremendous, life-changing impact on one’s career when we reach out for each others’ advice and connection.
For that reason, this year’s International Women’s Day theme, ‘Embrace Equity’, resonated with me deeply. When women support and empower each other, we can both increase gender diversity in tech and create real change in the community and our workplaces.
Why flexibility is a game-changer
Times have changed since I first stepped into the industry over 20 years ago. My first role in digital recruitment came at a time of rapid digitalisation in the media and advertising industries, creating a highly fast-paced environment.
While the pace of technological change and innovation has not slowed, our approach to it has evolved to widen participation from women and more diverse groups. The move towards flexible working arrangements, which was heavily accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, has been a game-changer for women.
The support we now have for flexible or fully remote work environments has opened up opportunities for women, allowing women, who remain predominantly the family caregiver today, to remain in the workforce after having children.
Having moved from Sydney to working remotely in Byron Bay, I personally have felt the life-changing benefits of flexibility. Leaders that have trust and faith in their workforce stand to gain higher employee retention, stronger female participation and a more motivated team.
Flexible arrangements are a key component in supporting women to maintain a work-life balance. As individuals, we must learn what it takes to do our best work and schedule our day around that. For me, exercising in the morning is critical to my routine and my mental health. I also ensure I schedule face-to-face calls in a consolidated block so I can spend large chunks of time in deep work or actioning all the things on my to-do list.
As such, flexibility should now be a priority in any tech company’s People and DEI initiatives as a crucial way of supporting women in the workforce.
Data and empathy
As a leader in the People team, we can often be tasked with ensuring all employees' needs are being met both professionally and personally — which can be overwhelming. Hence, focusing on encouraging and embedding the company's culture through processes and leadership is an efficient and effective way to ensure the ultimate pay-offs in terms of staff well-being and work success.
As impact.com’s director of People and Culture Asia Pacific, I have seen first hand the rewarding opportunities in the People and DEI space and how these can drive real business results. By harnessing both data and a people-first approach, we can create a positive human experience that reinforces our culture – from career development plans, supporting employees in the key life moments of paternity leave or bereavement, and offering access to internal mobility opportunities. It is in these moments that employees need our support most and if approached through a diversity, equity and inclusive lens, we not only do 'the right thing', but also gain employees’ trust and loyalty in the long run.
Throughout my career, I have been inspired by many leaders, male and female, for their courage, empathy and dedication. However, it is the female leaders that have used their position and platform to share their story to inspire, educate and support others that I am most grateful for. I now have an opportunity at impact.com to do the same.
DEI is no longer a 'nice-to-have' in an organization, but a must-have. And we, as a community of women in tech, now stand to make the most transformational contribution we can make: supporting each other every step of the way.