Follow-up of Online Knowledge-sharing Workshop in Sweden

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 women’s participation in the tech sector. This time the knowledge sharing workshop dedicated to the development of an inclusive tech ecosystem took place in Sweden.

The recent online workshop organized by Women Go Tech has brought together some of the key stakeholders working in gender equality in Sweden: Linda Randall, a Research Fellow at Nordregio, Arash Sangari, Programme Manager Startup-Sweden, Jeanette Mill, the CCO at AICenter, Anna GulliksenGlobal head of Talent Acquisition and Employer Brand at TietoEVRY and many other.

The knowledge-sharing workshops aim to promote gender equality dialogue and the exchange of good practices, thus, today we are thrilled to share the key points and lessons learned from the discussions with Swedish stakeholders.

Good practices to promote women’s career advancement

Inclusive recruitment. Inclusive recruitment is the process in which recruiters connect with, interview and hire a diverse set of individuals through understanding and appreciating different backgrounds and opinions. To create an inclusive recruitment environment, an organization needs to consider how different experiences, opinions, and values can work together to achieve common goals.

Getting over good girl syndrome. Avoiding confrontation and risk-taking, following instructions – these are some examples of women’s behaviours usually approved by society. However, they truly prevent women from achieving career success. Leaders tend to take risks and do not follow the rulebook blindly. That is why for women it is crucial to re-learn the leadership skills if they feel like they have been misshaped by societal norms that tend to promote agreeableness rather than assertiveness.

Lowering expectations. It may sound counterproductive but sometimes women need to acknowledge themselves and be confident with their efforts.

Over-performing and going the extra mile from time to time might be necessary but if you are constantly over-performing, you may place yourself at high risk of burnout.

Engage men in conversations about gender. When it comes to talking about gender equality at work, men are a significant part of the solution. Bringing both men and women to discuss gender roles and different expectations build awareness and diverse perspectives among the group.

Raising female voices. For women, the ability to speak up and make their voices heard is critical to their career success. During the workshop, some of unfair workspace dynamics were identified. For example, when a male colleague claims credit for an idea which was presented by a female co-worker or when women struggle to make their point heard. It was concluded, that although these behaviours are still prevalent, the best way is to address them when they happen and change the dynamics by acknowledging the input made by female team members.

Eliminating biases related to hiring decisions

Fair, objective and transparent hiring decisions. Unfortunately, bias––even if it is subconscious––can prevent diversity from occurring naturally in some organisations. We are all biased – we want to be among people similar to us. And if the recruiters are not paying close attention, they may naturally gravitate towards candidates that they connect with.

Remove gender bias from job descriptions. Without realising it, we all use language that is slightly biased toward men or women. For example, the word “bossy” rarely appears in job descriptions for male-dominated industries.

This way gendered wording in job descriptions acts as a deterrent for females and only widens the existing gender gap.

Use structured interviews. Structured interviews that standardise the process among candidates eliminates the subjectivity and reduces bias. Interviewers should know what type of competencies they are looking for during an interview and focus on them instead of asking candidates unrelated questions that may differ from one candidate to another.

Identifying positive role models and mentors

During the workshop, the participants noted that there are quite a few mentorship organisations in Sweden making mentorship more accessible for everyone looking for a mentor. However, there is some room for improvements:

Diversity in mentorship. It is important to have mentors and mentees coming from different backgrounds and demographics.

Some mentoring programmes work with young people helping them to enter the technology sector. But the women’s retention in the tech is also very important and it can be addressed by providing mentorship programmes for this audience.

Customising mentoring experience. Many people are willing to share their knowledge and inspire others but sometimes the formal structure provided by mentoring organizations does not work for everyone. Mentors should be able to choose the format of mentoring that works best for them: for someone, it may be phone calls, for others it may be an inspirational talk.

Mentorship programmes within the organization. Mentorship programmes within an organization have many benefits – it unlocks the employee potential and increases retention. It also creates visible role models – mentors become role models for both mentees and other employers in the organization.

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.