Lithuanian mentorship and content sessions programme Women Go Tech together with the Nordic Council of Ministers Office in Lithuania, continue working on a shared vision to build global partnerships and encourage female participation in the tech sector. This time the knowledge sharing workshop dedicated to the development of an inclusive tech ecosystem took place in Denmark.
Private meetings as a preparation for roundtable discussions were organized by Women Go Tech and they had brought together some of the key experts and policymakers in gender equality such as Andreas Lunn, Department of Gender Equality of Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Denmark, Patricia Moser, United Nations Office for Project Services, Lisa Sundberg, The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women and many others. It was also a great opportunity to strengthen Lithuanian-Danish cross-country relationships during a meeting with Gintė Damušis, the Ambassador of Lithuania to Denmark and Iceland.
These knowledge-sharing workshops are a vehicle for promoting gender equality dialogue and the exchange of good practices, thus, today we are thrilled to share the key points and lessons learned from these discussions.
Making workplaces more inclusive
One way to make the workplace more inclusive is to have a diversity champion in a company. Simply put, this may be a designated person within a business who promotes and instills diverse workplace culture. By starting open discussions about gender issues, diversity champions create a safe place where people can discuss, ask questions and learn more about the subject. Also, when diversity-related issues arise, people will not feel like they are left alone to solve it and they know that there is a person capable of helping in these situations. It is really important that not only people from the HR department would be diversity champions but also those from C-level management positions.
Diverse representation in C-level is also a crucial aspect in establishing an inclusive workplace. Employees would like to see greater representation of women and ethnic minorities in senior positions. When people from management teams are all mainly from the same background, it creates a culture where a great number of employees may not feel that they belong. It also creates an idea that becoming a member of senior management is not an option for them as they may come from different backgrounds. The lack of diversity is a risky and costly problem to have as diversity is not just a metric to be strived for, it is actually an integral part of every successful business that generates revenue.
Eliminating implicit biases related to hiring decisions for females in TECH
Gender bias still remains a significant barrier in the hiring process and female’s career advancement. One of the issues addressed during the discussion was the fact that gender differences in confidence are quite dramatic. Women are more likely to be self-critical about their qualifications needed for the job, and as a result, companies receive fewer applications from women. Also, underrepresentation of women in leadership positions impacts hiring decisions as very often these decisions are made by male recruiters. That is why the team of interviewers should be more diverse with at least one female in the panel.
Another good practise is blind recruitment when recruiters do not know the gender of candidates and these details are removed from applications. In the tech industry, blind assessment is especially easy to implement as recruiters can see a written code or a prototype of a product without a need to reveal the gender or age of its author.
Role models and mentors
The importance of role models is non-negotiable. However, we should pay attention to the diversification of mentors and role models as well. For example, a slight stigma about men in nursing still, unfortunately, persists. The same happens to women in male–dominated industries like construction. That is why it is important to have a broad diversity across different industries and occupations. The diversity of role models becomes even more important considering that gender is not just male and female and there are different identities across gender spectrum.
As companies are now starting to realize that top-down learning is not always appropriate, reverse mentorship programmes become more common. In a reverse mentoring scenario, a younger employee will be the mentor, and the mentee will be someone who is comparatively more experienced but may not have the same skill set as the younger employee.
Designed to empower younger workers to share their expertise and ideas with more senior employees, these programmes are an excellent opportunity for junior team members to discover new role models and share up-to-date skills and knowledge with more senior colleagues.
Also, it increases collaboration and helps to build a bridge between young professionals and people in more senior roles.
Closing the pay gap between genders
Although salary is still considered a taboo topic in many workplaces, this social norm is changing and more employees share their salary information openly. One of the concerns shared during the discussion was that some companies support a culture of pay secrecy by discouraging salary sharing.
This creates a disadvantaged situation for the majority of women, because, without salary information, they may not even know that they are making less than their male counterparts. It really becomes clear that the radical pay transparency may put an end to discriminatory hiring and pay practices.
Gender inequality has a high economic and social cost for organizations and countries worldwide. With more and more institutions recognizing that gender equality would have dramatic benefits for their future success, we strongly believe we could see positive shifts both in the technology sector as well as the overall labour market.
Nordic Council of Ministers Office in Lithuania, together with a Lithuanian mentorship and content sessions programme Women Go Tech, has launched a project “Developing an Inclusive Tech Ecosystem in the Nordic and Baltic Regions” encouraging female participation in the tech sector. With a goal to build a global partnership network, this project facilitates much-needed discussion about best practice examples and experiences in order to help such initiatives grow, collaborate, and scale-up in the Baltic Sea and Nordic Region. More information about the project.