Like A Girl

Pushing the conversation on gender equality.

Code Like A Girl

Women in IT — Issues and Fixes: A Workplace that Works

We need a productive inclusive Workforce that fosters the considerations of perspectives from women and men of different races, personalities and an assortment of diversity; empowered to provide effective approaches and solutions. This means everyone has to feel comfortable, so they can do their best to keep the organization competitive.

After many years of being the only Woman and Black Person on one too many IT projects it’s been great to see the push for more inclusive IT Teams.

Issues around social justice have always gotten a good deal of my time and initially I went into IT as a contract consultant to have the flexibility to work on grassroots political campaigns. But, over the past few years I have found myself on a few panels and involved in numerous conversations around making Tech more inclusive. Talk of micro-aggressions, privilege, hostile environments, compensation, lack of opportunity and work life balance recur.

Solutions range from taking negotiation out of compensation, increasing benefits, implementing the Rooney rule, fast track promotions, mentoring and offering work that matters. We see the latter in the New York Time’s piece on ‘How to Attract Female Engineers.’ where Lina Nilsson shares U.C. Berkeley’s success in bringing women to the field of Development Engineering by offering opportunities to design solutions for low-income communities to have clean drinking water and medical diagnostic equipment. The success of this program offers a template to other corporations to provide employees the opportunity to do meaningful work while serving to attract and retain talent from a wide range of individuals.

There are a lot of areas for us to improve but in general people want to be compensated fairly and offered opportunities to advance.

Pay Everyone Enough Money…
In Knowledge at Wharton’s “The Uncomfortable Questions You Should be asking about Pay Equity”, Matthew Bidwell, professor of management points out

We are highly attuned to things we think are unfair.

As workers, we look at the ratio of what we’re putting in, versus what we’re getting out, and we compare that to the ratio of what other people are putting in and getting out…. [It’s only] natural to think: Is this fair?”
James Caan, in The Guardian’s ‘Motivating my staff — how do I reward them beyond a pay rise?’ found that

Recognizing home life needs, such as childcare and flexible working …can dramatically improve work ethic and motivation.

In short, people come to work and they have lives. They need fair pay and adequate benefits to live and work well.

Opportunities to Advance
Speaking up and out is a great skill, but like any other proficiency it is not needed in every situation and doesn’t always produce the best ideas or results. But for years this was some of the key advice offered to Women in Business.

Now, various communication technologies provide people the option to post or tweet comments or questions to facilitators or moderators. Teams can chat online, around specific topics or even data points for more structured conversations allowing ideas to come from those who may be stronger at the written than spoken word.

This overhaul to business communication gives more women and men an opportunity to effectively contribute. Business gets a chance to move forward by taking in a wider variety of ideas from a wider pool of talent and benefit from different approaches to work and leadership

Trainings, Workshops and Someone to Talk to
In the Harvard Business Review’s “Diversity Training Doesn’t Work” Peter Brogan says

Teach them how to have difficult conversations with a range of individuals. Teach them how to manage the variety of employees who report to them. Teach them how to develop the skills of their various employees.

Yes, ongoing Training and Workshops are a must but they must be structured in a way to help each individual gain the needed skills to use their talents to advance the organization.

In addition, both managers and employees need one-on-ones with professionals trained in human behavior that can help move them through difficult workplace situations without fear of losing their job. If providing that is not possible the organization can invest in and encourage the use of online training and resources to help people resolve conflict. People need real ways to deal with real people.

In Mckinsey’s “Why Diversity Matters” Hunt and Layton offers data that shows diverse companies

are better able to win top talent and improve their customer orientation, employee satisfaction, and decision making, and all that leads to a virtuous cycle of increasing returns. This in turn suggests that other kinds of diversity — for example, in age, sexual orientation, and experience (such as a global mind-set and cultural fluency) — are also likely to bring some level of competitive advantage…

All in all, organizations need diversity to competes and each employee needs Suitable Compensation, Benefits, Respect and Opportunity so the organization can do its’ best.