This past Wednesday, Feb. 3rd, the Women Tech Council hosted their first Talent Innovation Summit: Top Companies for Women in Tech. This half-day event brought thought leaders together to solve the challenge of “How do we hire more women in tech?" The benefits are obvious - integrating women at all levels of a tech organization equals better solutions, products, and bottom line results.
We had a couple of employees attend the Summit and thought we’d share what they learned:
Lexis Allen, Technical Recruiting Coordinator
Hiring and diversity was the focus of the Women in Technology Council’s first Talent Innovation Summit. We had the opportunity to be in attendance with so many successful women in tech and it was truly an impactful morning. The last panel of the event featured four women from top companies in the area. Jill Layfield, former CEO of Backcountry, led the panel with Dianne Rivera (Goldman Sachs), Denise Leleux (eBay), and Alison Lutjemeier (Adobe). The panel shared great ideas for innovative recruiting and maintaining diversity. Some of their tips include:
1. Have women on your recruiting board.
2. Remove all unconscious bias by educating your employees
3. Set up a diverse slate of candidates, as well as a diverse set of interviewers.
4. Make sure that you aim for a 50/50 gender ratio in the workplace
Jill Layfield offered some advice, that stood out amongst all else, from another CEO in order to gauge employee wellness:
“In my one-on-one meetings with employees, instead of jumping into the agenda and tackling our list of tasks – which is something all of us women are good at, we have our lists – I start off with four questions.”
These four questions Layfield refers to are for employees to rank themselves on a ten-point scale where they are in regards to their health, their family, their peers or colleagues, and how well business is progressing. These questions help drive a conversation where the interaction with employees shows more meaningful and genuine conversation, which should be what we all strive for.
Rachel Wolthuis, Web Developer
As a developer who’s worked primarily with men for the last nine years, the “women in tech” conversation is one I’m very familiar with. I’m excited for this to become a non-issue but diversifying this industry isn’t just going to happen overnight, it’s going to take a lot of concerted effort. Here’s my takeaway from of the event:
- Start talking about diversity in your teams and at your companies. Make a conscious decision to seek out diverse recruits and do it for the right reason, not just for PR.
- Have women involved in the interview process, especially of other women. Even if the two people won’t be working directly together, the additional perspective can be very insightful.
- Include benefits that are geared toward women and their family. (Like extensive paid maternity leave and flexible schedules.)
- Increased diversity pays off. Many companies gave numbers that show their productivity increased when they diversified their teams.
- Confidence versus competence. Women tend to wait until they feel competent before they get confident. Women need to speak up more when they want a raise/promotion and men need to ask.
Things Still Need to Be Addressed:
- Bridging the gap between STEM education and job placement. It’s a large problem in the industry as a whole but discourages a number of women new to the field.
- How the local culture plays a role in the industry here in Utah and how it negatively affects women in the workplace.
- How to effect change in a company where they aren’t concerned or worried about diversity or on teams where you’re the only female.
For more information on the Women Tech Council and other upcoming events, visit http://www.womentechcouncil.org/.