How the tech industry could do more to attract and retain top female talent 

In this article we hear from Annika Albert, Head of People Operations at Scoro, a software company with an equal ratio of men to women across its global workforce.

Why every tech company needs more women

We often hear about the need for more women in the tech industry, and there’s plenty of advice out there targeted at those women looking to carve out a place in the tech workforce. But, what about the responsibility of tech companies to improve this diversity? There’s a lot of things we can do as thoughtful employers to ensure we are not only attracting, but also retaining, top female talent. With research from academics at the Universities of Glasgow and Leicester showed that companies with more than 30% female executives were more likely to outperform companies that don’t, it’s a no-brainer.

Another report from McKinsey also revealed that diverse companies perform better, hire better talent, have more engaged employees, and retain workers better than companies that do not focus on diversity and inclusion. That’s why we at Scoro are proud to have maintained our 50/50 gender split throughout our growth as a company to 160 global employees; we know that the diversity of our team is also the power of our team.

Being conscious of gender diversity, from the top down

We are proud to be the kind of company where our extended management team consists of 15 women out of 31, so the culture of gender diversity really comes from the top down. We have made sure that being female in our software company is not unusual. And more broadly, I believe it should not feel extraordinary to be a woman applying for a job in tech, it should never have been. In fact, it should be something that women naturally consider as an option for their career, as there are a great number of fulfilling and varying roles across the tech industry.

Tech companies need to hold up their end of the bargain in making this a reality, by actioning meaningful change in their culture and practices. There are a few specific ways companies can attract and retain top female talent, for example, at Scoro we have a 4-day work week. This might enable those who have small children at home to continue to pursue their full-time career in tech, or for those where part-time may never have been an option; this completely free Friday with no reduction in salary means, for just one example, those that might need the extra time after maternity leave to still be able to focus on family while maintaining a full-time job. More than this, it could encourage men to use flexible working in a way that creates a better schedule for parents, restoring a more balanced home-life in general.

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Aside from a 4-day work week, which is a big commitment and takes a lot of operational upheaval, there are of course more immediate and quicker wins companies can implement to attract and retain female talent. For example, making sure their brand is consistently representing its female employees. Whether it’s the career page, about page, social channels, etc; they should all reflect the diversity a company has so that when candidates first find that job advert and do their due diligence, they can see themselves working there. This means pictures and examples of females in every type of role, from technical to sales, marketing to HR. When it comes to retaining this talent, it’s important to ensure there is no pay gap; constantly evaluating pay ranges and being aware of, and correcting, any imbalances so that women know they are rewarded in the exact same way for their hard work. This applies also to reviewing salary after returning from maternity leave. The support system created at the workplace is also paramount to successfully retaining any talent, but being aware that the needs of individual employees will vary, and catering to these needs with true flexibility is key.

Building a positive environment for women in tech

Beyond what we can do as a company to attract great female talent, there is also an onus on the tech industry to be part of the movement from the ground up. When giving women the confidence to pursue a career in STEM a lot of it is grassroots, to have the opportunity early is a game changer for boosting the amount of female role models we see in the software space.

When we talk about making change, and taking real action, we should be seeing this play out with companies taking on an even split of male and female interns, in the hope they will start to build a track record of successful, diverse internships that turn into full-time roles within the company. Similarly, it is why businesses should consider taking their engineering team members along to different career events and have them participate in evaluation committee work at universities. Any tech company should be proud to be part of the movement towards better gender diversity by taking action in their community; from initial opportunity, and through to hiring, training, and promoting female tech talent.

There is still work to be done

With one report revealing that  the tech workforce more broadly is made up of 81% men, and 19% women, there is much to be done in the industry to improve gender diversity. Being conscious of hiring patterns, rethinking how the company is outwardly presenting its culture and employee diversity, introducing flexible working schemes, and being active in the local community are just some of the ways tech companies can ensure they have an equal split of talented women and men across their teams.

Whether a tech company is looking to hire a new senior management position, a HR role or a software engineering role; it should never be unusual to interview and hire as many women as they do men. It’s about time the tech industry showed everyone that it’s not extraordinary to be a woman here. But, it’s clear that there is still  some work to be done in being purposeful about, and conscious of, gender diversity before the tech sector can reach that point. We are proud of our company for being part of the movement towards greater equality in tech, and we are continuously looking for ways that we can do better.

Annika AlbertAbout the author

Annika is an experienced HR professional passionate about creating an excellent employee experience and advocating for a healthy work-life balance. She believes that a work culture where people feel autonomous, trusted, and happy results in engaged and driven teams committed to delivering the best outcome.