IWD 2023: Why gender equity starts with asking for it upfront
While uncertain economic conditions are taking their toll, the Australian ICT industry is still a seller's market for individuals with in-demand skills and experience. The borders – and the country – have been very much open for business over the past 12 months, but finding high-calibre people to fill positions remains a challenge for vendors and service providers alike.
As a result, employers are having to work harder to develop employee value propositions that make their organisation's compelling places for high achievers to land and remain.
At n3 Hub, we value our people in various ways. Apart from offering market rate remuneration, we have also introduced a range of benefits for our employees. One of our recent initiatives is the 'working from home summer,' which enables our team members with children and those who prefer flexible working arrangements to work from home throughout the month of January.
Seizing the opportunity
The American founding father and second US president John Adams famously remarked that 'every problem is an opportunity in disguise'.
I couldn't agree more.
In the current climate of candidate scarcity, I believe there's an opportunity for senior women to have their voices heard, to define their values and career goals and to seek out companies that genuinely align with them.
Those are not necessarily things I would have felt comfortable or confident talking about earlier on in my career journey, but I've come to appreciate just how important they can be. Doing your best work is so much easier and more fulfilling when you and your employer are on the same page about the things that really matter.
Explicitly asking what a potential employer is doing to embrace equity, the theme of International Women's Day 2023, is a reasonable and warranted question if you're in the running for a leadership role.
The answer will provide an insight into the sort of environment you'll potentially be entering and the workplace culture you'll either enjoy or be forced to endure.
It could also be a clue as to what your long-term career path with that organisation might look like should you decide to accept the position on offer. A paucity of female leaders higher up the organisational chart, for example, can signal the existence of a glass ceiling that will preclude you from winning promotions or achieving your potential.
Conversely, a healthy gender balance across some or all areas of operations may indicate you're talking to an organisation that really does walk the walk, one which will ensure all employees with the right attributes, aptitude, and attitude have an equal chance to excel.
Flagging what matters
Pursuing this line of enquiry will alert those involved in the hiring process, recruiters and interview panellists both, that equity is an important topic – to you and, potentially, to scores of other well credentialled female ICT professionals just like you.
Rightly or wrongly, the fact that the questions and feedback are coming from an outsider – someone looking in and evaluating the enterprise with fresh eyes – can mean they have a greater impact than the advocacy efforts of women and allies striving to shake up the status quo internally.
Agents for change
If enough senior women send those messages and vote with their feet, I believe ICT businesses will have little choice but to respond; to instigate policies and practices that give our gender a more equitable chance to survive and thrive in this most dynamic of industries.
That's good for us, good for business – there's a growing body of research to suggest that more diverse organisations outperform their competitors – and good for the next generation too.
As leaders and influencers in the sector, I believe we have a responsibility to pay it forward; to ensure that the women coming up behind have greater opportunities for career progression than we may have enjoyed a decade or two ago.
With our skills and expertise in high demand, there is no better time to be the change we want to see.