- Technology industry employers could double the number of women working in tech over the next decade, but many will need to address their lack of an inclusive organizational culture to do so, according to a joint report published Sept. 29 by Accenture and the nonprofit Girls Who Code.
- The organizations conducted surveys of both senior HR leaders and women in tech as part of the report, and the resulting data revealed a disconnect between the two groups. HR leaders were twice as likely to agree that it is "easy for women to thrive in tech" compared to women-in-tech respondents. Moreover, just over one-third of HR leaders said that building a more inclusive culture would be an effective means of retaining and advancing women in tech roles.
- The report recommended five practices for creating a more inclusive culture: instituting maternity and paternity leave; setting targets or goals for diversity in leadership; providing support in the form of mentors, sponsors and resource networks; rewarding employees for creativity and innovation; and scheduling inclusive networking events.
The drive to increase female and minority representation in the tech industry has yielded some progress, yet there are still concerns about organizational commitment and inclusivity, even as some research indicates the number of women applying to tech jobs has increased over time.
So far in 2020, several corporate hiring commitments centered around women in tech have been announced. In May, Intel said it would aim to increase representation of women in tech roles to 40% as well as double the number of women and individuals who identify as part of underrepresented groups in senior leadership roles by 2030. That's despite the fact female representation at Intel declined between 2018 and 2019, per the company. Meanwhile, Melinda Gates' Pivotal Ventures announced in January a $50 million investment to bring more women into the sector.
But Accenture and Girls Who Code note in the report several areas that affect women's ability to succeed in tech and other industries. Caregiving, in particular, has emerged as a talking point during the COVID-19 pandemic as parents — including working mothers — are reportedly more likely to leave their jobs this year, according to career community the Mom Project. The organization found in a study of 2,000 U.S. professionals that women are nearly twice as likely as men to leave their jobs within the next year.
That's on top of biases that existed before the pandemic. A 2019 study of historical trends in public opinion polls by researchers at Northwestern University found Americans still consider men to have an edge on topics such as "agency" or personality traits associated with leadership. Such biases lead women in corporate America, especially multicultural women, to consider leaving their employers, according to a recent report by Working Mother Media.
A report earlier this year by business-to-business rating and review firm Clutch showed that despite 79% of surveyed HR professionals saying their organizations were diverse, these organizations may be overly focused on surface-level elements of diversity rather than deeper improvements. Diversity and inclusion experts have noted that employers can change their approach to creating inclusive workplaces in part by listening to employee experiences, encouraging tough conversations and avoiding a "check-the-box" mentality.