Back when I started in the tech industry 23 years ago, 100% of the people I worked with were men. Perhaps most of us didn’t notice the disparity back then, because that was the norm, but comparing how it was to how it is nowadays, our working environment was far from the reality of the world. Not only that — we were also missing out on the kind of intellectual richness that only comes when the team is as diverse as possible.
Thankfully, slowly but steadily, the percentage of women working in the tech industry is growing, and the sector as a whole is evolving in the right direction. In the past few decades, we’ve seen prominent female figures in the tech industry (such as Sheryl Sandberg, former COO of Meta, Cathie Wood, founder and CEO of Ark Invest, and Marissa Mayer, former CEO of Yahoo!, to name a few) step into the spotlight and become role models. By doing so, they’ve inspired millions of girls who might want to follow a career in STEM, and who might’ve not had many women to look up to professionally.
The present of women in tech
Nowadays, studies show the overall percentage of women in the tech industry is around 26.7%. However, when it comes to senior roles, the percentage drops to 16%. In @Efficy’s case, the percentage of female workers is 32%, and when it comes to senior roles, 3 out of the 8 management team members of our company are women (which would put us at around 40%).
We’re proud of these figures, but we’re also ashamed we’re only at a third. We should aim for larger equality and also work towards understanding the reasons behind the gender disparity in the industry. That way, we’ll be able to think of better strategies to overcome it.
The fact that we’ve overperformed the global tendency is because we’ve been pushing very hard for it. Working towards closing the gap is a collective effort that starts from our company’s values and translates into all of the recruitment processes — from the first filter, to assuring we’re not using a bias when recruiting and making sure we’re not influenced by gender during interviews, and finally, if two candidates of opposite genders have the exact same qualifications, ultimately giving the woman the opportunity.
What diversity and inclusion means to me
Diversity and inclusion is, first and foremost, the normal thing to do, as well as the right thing to do as a human being. In a business environment, it brings a lot of value – both in revenue and for our clients. Take Efficy as an example: we’re a software company and we develop software for close to half a million people. Among our users, there’s obviously a large percentage of women. If we don’t have anyone on the team who’s thinking like a woman, we won’t be able to cater to this large percentage of customers relying on us to give them the best possible product.
The same goes for all other types of diversity – religion, nationality, languages. If you’re not diverse, you’ll miss out on opportunities to give your customers more value. Especially for companies that produce something for a large audience, diversity can help you achieve a level of certainty that’s good for a broader spectrum of users. By doing the right thing – the normal thing, the human thing – you’re actually improving your performance.
Ever since Efficy’s beginnings, we’ve aimed towards inclusivity and diversity, because we know it will bring in value: the ideas and thinking processes become richer and more 360º, and we can know our customers, users and market much better by looking at them from different points of view. We live in a mixed, co-ed world, so we should strive to keep our company as close to the ‘real world’ as possible.
How to build a diverse workplace?
My advice for up-and-coming entrepreneurs: avoid hiring people who are too similar to you. Instead of always being with people who resemble you, try to surround yourself with people with strong characters that can be role models for others in the organization.
From there, it can grow — diversity calls for more diversity. Hiring people that are different in character but also origin, nationality, and gender, will only bring positive results for the company.
Like I mentioned before, at the beginning of my career – and during Efficy’s early days– we didn’t have any women in tech working with us. Back then, women were a scarce resource in tech: a lot less women went into STEM careers, so not every company had women working in them. What to do in a situation like that? You do everything you can to find those scarce resources. Even back in the day we knew and appreciated the value of diversity, so we doubled the bonus for hiring women and did all we could to really incentivize them coming to work with us. When faced with disparity like this, you need to patch it up in one way or another.
The future of women in tech
I’d like to see a future where the gender balance in tech is close to what we can find in the legal sector (where around 50% of lawyers are female). What we’re noticing now is that there’s more and more women ready to learn and work in tech, coming from all different backgrounds, and that’s great news for a sector such as ours, which is constantly growing and in need of new talent. There’s still a lot that needs to be done, but also a lot that has been achieved up until this point.
Society has the challenge of making more women go into STEM, and companies can support and help in this challenge, but that’s not the end of it. It’s a structural problem that needs to be addressed, and although companies can (and should) do their part, there’s root issues – like the entire education system or the bias towards being a woman in STEM — that need to be fixed before we reach true equality. It’s something that, although slowly, is changing for sure. It’s exciting to be able to witness this change first hand and contribute in any way possible towards a more equal future.
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If you’d like to continue on this journey, check out these stories:
- Blog 7: Let’s talk about SaaS.
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