Each year, International Women’s Day celebrates women’s achievements and encourages action for equality. The annual event falls on 8 March and is marked with events and awareness-raising activities. This year’s theme is #BalanceforBetter because, “balance drives a better working world.”
It’s fair to say that in the technology industry, women remain under-represented and change in this area is slow. Last year, tech-focused job platform Honeypot published statistics through its 2018 Women in Tech Index. They make for interesting reading. They showed that overall the proportion of female tech workers was below 31 per cent in each of the countries looked at.
Closer inspection reveals work to do in some areas. While the US and Canada came in at around 25 per cent, many European countries were actually far lower with percentages in Spain of 15 per cent, the UK and Germany around 16 per cent, and France 18 per cent.
The success of diverse teams
Addressing this disparity isn’t just a box-ticking exercise. Across all industries, companies that foster diversity in the workplace see results. Diverse teams benefit from a range of views, approaches and experiences. This can take ideas in new directions, stimulate opportunities to explore and contribute positively to problem-solving.
All of which helps move companies forward, sometimes taking them in new and profitable directions. A diverse workforce better represents customer groups that companies wish to engage and do business with, and helps keep them relevant to acquired and prospective customers.
Neither are benefits of diverse teams just qualitative. PwC, in its Women in Work Index puts some big figures on the situation. It shows that improving female participation in work across OECD countries could boost GDP by $6 trillion and that closing the gender pay gap could boost GDP by $2 trillion.
Redressing the imbalance
However, change won’t happen by itself. It needs initiatives that support the cultivation of a diverse workforce.
Cheryl Ainoa, D2L’s chief operating officer suggests that companies need to adapt to their environment to compete and the environment is characterised by diversity. Positive action to redress any workforce imbalance can take a number of forms, including offering better training opportunities.
Cheryl recently shared her thoughts and experiences as a woman making her mark in technology with Computer Business Review. One of the powerful lessons discussed is having the confidence to go for opportunities and being upfront about career ambitions.
International Women’s Day is an ideal opportunity for companies to take stock of any gender imbalance in their workforce and to re-evaluate strategies for ensuring diversity within their teams.