As demographics in the workforce shift and global markets emerge, diversity gets closer to becoming a business necessity rather than a stat that companies use to show they are embracing change and differences in their employees. Companies are realizing that diversity in the workforce encourages and fosters innovation, enhances consumer understanding, provides richer brainstorming, and overall better decision making.
According to a report on diversity in high tech from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), "Ensuring a sufficient supply of workers with the appropriate skills and credentials and addressing the lack of diversity among high tech workers have become central public policy concerns." The report also states that "the industries and occupations associated with 'high tech' are rapidly evolving." While this is true, there is still a significant gap with men employing 64 percent of the high tech sector and women employing only 36 percent. And of the executive's category, about 80 percent are men and 20 percent are women.
How to Grow Your Diversity
According to the Marie Wiese Women Talk Tech Report 2020, women make up over 61 percent of the workforce in North America. This number is up 14 percent since 2010 and continues to rise. However, as previously stated, women currently make up only a little over one third of the technology sector, but there are ways that organizations can and are working to grow diversity.
In order to continue growing gender diversity, organizations must address change in the following areas:
- Recruiting Processes – focus on how companies craft job descriptions, express qualifications, and look for talent
- Mentorship and Sponsorship – provide support, mentors, and sponsors that will help women build their careers
- Workplace Environment – focus on how a company works and behaves, specifically how they treat 80% of women who are primary caregivers and workplace flexibility
- Pay Equity – change the way companies use pay grids
WiT at SoftwareONE
We know that diversity is essential to the success of our company. In 2016, three of our leaders took it upon themselves to spearhead the Women in Technology (WiT) initiative for SoftwareONE in North America. Since then, the initiative has grown into a six woman strong team who work to empower women in the company with sponsorship, education, experiences, and best practices.
The vision for WiT at SoftwareONE is to make our company an excellent place for women to work and where women have strong representation in senior leadership. The following quotes offer unique insight about WiT and how employees at SoftwareONE view this initiative:
Courtney Reynolds - Learning and Development Manager: "I've been involved in women's leadership initiatives throughout my entire career, however last December when my daughter was born it instilled an even greater sense of passion and purpose in me. I'm more forward focused. Now when I see inequalities, I want to drive change so that by the time she enters the workforce she sees herself well represented at every level of leadership. If she decides someday that she wants to be a CEO or President, I want her to have all of the support and access she'll need to get there."
Courtney furthermore emphasizes that the initiative works to include men in their efforts: "I'm also inspired every time one of my male colleagues asks curious questions about WiT or truly wants to listen and learn about women's stories and experiences. Something many men don't realize is that initiatives like WiT count on them and their support! We love and respect our male colleagues and we really want them to be involved in our work alongside us."
Lindsay Cicenas – Business Development Manager: "I am currently serving my 2nd year on the Women In Technology Board at SoftwareONE. My role on the board is to assist with our events that are both locally and nationally supported by the board. I also assist with our speaker track with planning presenters and topics along with the rest of the Wit Board."
"With the WiT board at SoftwareONE only being about four years "young," I feel we have made progress in not only recognizing our gap regarding women in leadership roles, but have initiated focus within SoftwareONE on inclusion & diversity across all of our people. It's all about finding the right person for the job, but with that it's bringing diversified candidates to the table and choosing the best one for the position out of that pool. Being a global company, I feel it's very important to not only celebrate and acknowledge women in IT, but diversity as a whole."
Kevin Osterman – Vice President of Customer Operations: "We've discussed WiT many times within the Business Operations Leadership Team to strategize how we can best support from a senior leadership perspective. It's important to lead by example ensuring we include a robust and diverse candidate pool when hiring, being present at WiT sponsored events, and a willingness to have open discussions, while challenging the status quo"
"If I am being honest, my impression of WiT has not always been clear. It took some very passionate conversations with some of the excellent women leaders at SoftwareONE for me to begin to understand their mission. While we still have a long way to go, we have made great progress because of their passion and resolve."
Sherry Song – Business Development Representative: "It has been over 17 years since I have been involved in the technology sector starting from the time I began studying electrical engineering in university. Over the years, I have witnessed and experienced tremendous improvement in the treatment of female workers within the industry. Women are now much more readily accepted and valued in comparison to a decade ago."
"What I especially appreciate from being part of the SoftwareONE family is that the mentality of welcoming diversity is built into our company's DNA. From the leadership team to front line workers, the entire company recognizes and nurtures its female employees, priming them for success, and constantly seeking ways to better support them."
International Women's Day Conference 2020
SoftwareONE is proud to have been leader sponsor of this year's International Women's Day Conference, hosted by the WiT Network, as a Leader Sponsor. We headed to the conference with representation from Hadassa Lutz, a Technology Services Practice Leader at SoftwareONE. Hadassa has over 15 years of experience in the technology field and has proven herself as a strategic leader. At the conference, she will speak on "Stepping Out From Behind Your Own Shadow." This session discussed how women who experience paralyzing self-doubt - that leads to anxiety, burnout, and increased unhappiness - can learn how to step out from behind their own shadows and overcome fears in the workplace and in life.