Future Female is a network dedicated to inspire and promote women who are working, or interested in working, in tech and other digital industries. In August they arranged after-work seminar on the diversity and inclusion in tech in co-operation with New Things Co, Talented, Inklusiiv and Futurice. Recording of the seminar is also available.
Where are we now?
Diversity is something tech is lacking, in Finland only 21,7% of technology workforce are women (Teknologiateollisuus 2019). On European level, only 9% of app developers are women and women working in ICT are also underrepresented especially in managerial and decision-making positions (Advisory committee on equal opportunities for women and men 2017).
In general it seems that career in tech or ICT is not an option for many women; only 29 of every 1000 female graduates in Europe have a computing related degree, and only 4 of these graduates go on to work in ICT related industries. It also seems that ICT industries are suffering from so called “leaking pipeline”; women working in the industry seem to leave the industry in the middle of their career more often than men. (Advisory committee on equal opportunities for women and men 2017.)
Diversity and inclusion
Many of the Finnish tech companies have started to actively encourage women to work and study in tech related fields. Futurice for example, has participated in events like this one, but also in national level movements such as Mimmit koodaa and Super-Ada.
Promoting the need of diversity and hiring more women has been the first step, but now companies have understood that it alone is not enough, they also need to have inclusion in the equation. Inclusion can also be one of the ways to fix the “leaking pipeline” of female tech talents leaving the industry.
Inclusiveness Workshop by Heidi Pech, Futurice.
In short: diversity is about representation and inclusion is about involvement. Diversity is so much more than just gender issue, like Katja Toropainen from Inklusiiv reminded us. Diversity is all the differences we need in companies: gender, age, physical abilities, religion, nationality etc. Inclusion on the other hand is the feeling of belonging, the way you are welcomed into the new company and like said in some examples, the invitation to dance with others on daily basis.
What can companies do?
Increasing diversity is usually done through recruitment. Teemu Tiilikainen from Talented participated the evening and shared his learnings from that field:
- By using applicant tracking system you can automatically hide gender related information
- Avoid gendered terminology in job postings. Examble Se parempi Mikko
- Create company policies and culture that are flexible, welcoming and accepting
- Be prepared to resolve conflicts in professional way
- Hiring trough employee referrals can be a bottle neck for diversity
Both Teemu and Katja Toropainen suggested in their talks that companies need to change their preference of cultural fit -candidates to culture add-candidates to truly embrace the possibilities and benefits of diversity.
Katja Toropainen founded Inklusiiv to help Finnish companies espouse diversity and inclusion.
After recruiting diverse talents companies need to retain them. At Futurice this is ensured trough company culture, by adding inclusiveness in the onboarding and providing employees with practical tools such as diversity dashboard and code of conduct. Inklusiiv also provides free to use tools for companies to avoid pitfalls such as unconscious biases and networked employment. The main thing is to create open company culture where people feel free to talk and take action towards topics that might cause controversy.
Advisory Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men. 2017. Opinion on Gender equality and the digital society in Europe: opportunities and risks. European Commission. [Cited 9.9.2019]. Available: https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/aid_development_cooperation_fundamental_rights/opinion_on_ge_digital_society_2015_en_0.pdf
Teknologiateollisuus. 2019. Teknologiateollisuuden henkilöstön sukupuolijakaumat, ikäjakaumat ja keski-iät. [Cited 26.8.2019]. Available: https://teknologiateollisuus.fi/sites/default/files/file_attachments/ika-_ja_sukupuolijakaumat.pdf
Text and Photos by Ria Gynther who works as a project coordinator in GameChangers project.
Originally published 16.9.2019 in LAMKbusiness blog.