Diversity and inclusion have become one of the most common objectives of organizations that operate in both the public and private sectors. The benefits of establishing a diversity and inclusion program that gets results include receiving different perspectives and enhancing an organization’s level of expertise. However, diversity appears to be significantly late to the IT party, as revealed by several research studies.
According to a report recently released by the National Center for Women & Information Technology, women comprise only 25 percent of the workforce in the IT industry. The employment gap is even more noticeable at the executive level where women hold just 11 percent of executive management positions. The same report states women-only IT teams raise one percent of all funding for IT projects, and the women-only IT teams that receive funding are getting less than what they used to get for financing projects,
Houston, we have an IT gender gap problem.
The IT gender gap means far too many organizations in both the public and private sectors are missing out on the leadership and technical acumen of around half of the population. Lack of diversity creates a workplace culture that screams women are not welcome, and if they are welcomed, not supported enough for them to succeed in the IT industry.
Every organization is responsible for creating a workplace culture that fosters diversity and inclusion. Let’s see how your organization can help women overcome the gender gap in IT.
You cannot expect to solve a problem unless you discover it exists. Your organization’s human resources department might not know about the gender gap in IT because it has never conducted research that unveils the imbalance. By leveraging the power of a data analytics platform, your HR team should discover the gender gap and then create ways to close the gap.
Target Women During the Recruitment Process
Targeting women during the recruitment process starts with writing gender-neutral job descriptions. Filling an IT job description with highly-technical words tends to dissuade women from making IT the goal of their next career move. During the recruitment process increase the scope of searching for job candidates by targeting women through social media channels, as well as implementing a strongly incentivized employee referral program.
Highlight the Women on Your IT Team
Female candidates for IT positions learn how serious an organization is about closing the gender gap by highlighting the women on an IT team, as well as their professional accomplishments. Research indicates two of the most difficult barriers for women in IT concern the lack of mentors and female role models. By increasing the visibility of the women on your IT team, your organization encourages more women to pursue IT careers.
Tucking a section about diversity and inclusion in your organization’s employee handbook is not enough to eliminate gender bias. Your organization should make gender bias education an ongoing and mandatory component of its employee training program. Appoint women on your hiring committee to teach female job candidates about how to overcome the obstacles that develop during the interview process.
Devote Financial Resources to Diversity and Inclusion
Although the COVID-19 pandemic forced organizations in all industries to reduce operating budgets, research demonstrates that many organizations have increased their budgets for building a diverse and inclusive workplace. Your organization must devote the financial resources required to implement a successful diversity and inclusion program to close the IT gender gap. Some of the ways to optimize the financial resources devoted to building a successful diversity and inclusion program include sponsoring job fairs and purchasing diversity enhancement tools such as Textio.
Invest in STEM
The rapid transformation of the modern workforce to be much more technical emphasizes the importance of finding job candidates that have completed STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) courses. By investing in a STEM education program, your organization can create a more welcoming learning environment for women, as well as support the growth of IT jobs and attract the most talented women to fill your open IT positions.
The Bottom Line: Women Make Great CIOs
With the IT industry enjoying phenomenal growth, women should be flocking to an industry that provides never-ending career opportunities and compensation packages that rank among the most lucrative of all occupations. Nonetheless, women fill just 11 percent of CIO positions. “Women CIOs are often the first female C-level executive beyond the chief human resources officer, and they do face unique challenges. In addition to wearing the CIO hat, they must be prepared to carry the torch for advancing diversity efforts to influence corporate culture, as well as fulfill the long-standing role model vacancy for other women in tech.”
Trailblazers such as Pam Parisian, Sheila Jordan, Marcy Klevorn, and Paula Tolliver have led the way for women to break through the glass ceiling. They all discovered the successful career path to becoming a CIO.