#IWD2022: Supporting Women and Campaigning for an Equal Future

International Women’s Day, celebrated on March 8, is a day dedicated to commemorating women’s cultural, political and socio-economic achievements. However, it also serves as a reminder of how far we have yet to go to achieve gender equality. Gender disparity is particularly prominent in the technology industry where, according to Deloitte, women only make up a third of the workforce in 2022. Even starker, a recent report by the Women’s Society of Cyberjutsu (WSC) found women comprise just 11% of the global cyber workforce. 

One of the major barriers to gender equality within the technology workforce is attracting women to the industry in the first place. “The key to this is early education, exposure and flexibility,” explained Anne Tiedemann, SVP people & investor relations at Glasswall. “Engaging and sharing experiences with students and other young women will inspire them to follow suit and highlight that women can have successful technology careers. Similarly, providing opportunities to train and explore the industry will engage more young women and open doors for a successful career. Offering benefits, such as flexible working, will also help retain female staff once they are part of the industry. As many of our female staff are mothers, and some of them the sole guardians of their children, it is important that we offer them flexibility in their working routines to balance all aspects of their lives.”

Encouraging and supporting a healthy work-life balance is crucial for women’s inclusion within the workforce. As, typically, childcare and domestic responsibilities fall primarily on women, employers should be understanding and support the conflicts that this can cause with a woman’s working life. Oylum Tagmac, senior director, worldwide alliances at Commvault, agreed that “women in the workplace should be supported to have short pauses in their careers if necessary for family and there should be programs to bring them up to speed in tech on their return. Flexible business hours and hybrid work should be supported, and I believe in the post-pandemic world, this is a lot easier than ever before.”

Simple Steps Make a Big Difference

Taking these steps to encourage women into the industry and supporting them once they are there does not have to take up lots of time and budget. In fact, “simply creating that space to talk can have a huge impact,” explained Anais Urlichs, developer advocate at Aqua Security. “For example, businesses should take the time to ask women what they would like to see done differently. At the moment, women in the industry are rarely in positions with large amounts of influence. They know what they’d like to see change, but too often, they don’t have a voice. Organizations that are serious about supporting women need to actively challenge this and offer women a space to provide feedback on the businesses’ gender equality initiatives.”

"At the moment, women in the industry are rarely in positions with large amounts of influence"

Although simple steps and encouragement can make a huge difference for women within an organization and give them the confidence and platform to use their voice, some businesses choose to implement more structured processes to provide opportunities for their female employees. 

“Progress has several initiatives to encourage and empower women in the company, as well as support women to pursue STEM education,” explained Diane Murray, EMEA strategy lead at Progress. “We have a company-wide Employee Resource Group (ERG) – ‘Progress for Her,’ created to empower women at Progress. It provides leadership and networking opportunities and the tools needed to create substantial influence both in and out of our professional network. We want to encourage women to choose STEM for their professional development and bring more diversity to the workplace.”

While the logistics of implementing these ideas and initiatives may seem like a burden to organizations, the outcomes can be hugely beneficial. “The more diverse the people in the room, the more varied the thinking, which will increase creativity and innovation, and better the results,” explained Bruce Martin, CFO at Tax Systems. “In fact, a study by McKinsey found that for every 10% increase in gender diversity, EBIT rose by 3.5%. Diversity matters. Workforces perform better in a more inclusive environment.”

#BreakTheBias this International Women’s Day

The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is #BreakTheBias – an essential step that needs to be taken to achieve gender equality. Women can only move ahead obstacle-free in a world without bias and discrimination. However, International Women’s Day should not only focus on the pessimism of how far we have yet to go but should celebrate how far we have come. When we consider that the first International Women’s Day took place in 1911 – when women were campaigning for their right to work, vote, be trained and hold public office – we have much to celebrate, too. 

Julie Giannini, chief customer officer at Egnyte, concluded: “While the journey is far from over – with women in leadership remaining underrepresented and gender biases still prevalent across many industries – we can take the time to celebrate the women who got us here, as well as those who keep pushing.

“Beginnings can look different for everyone, but running your own race and doing it intentionally and with care will inspire those around you to achieve more. As leaders, we must always be prepared to elevate others and push everyone to their full potential. This makes all of us stronger.”

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