Women in the technology field face a vast number of career challenges, from lack of development and mentoring opportunities to unequal pay. But these obstacles aren’t really unique to the tech industry. Women across all industries struggle with them on a daily basis.
At the recent HR Technology Conference in Chicago, I had the honor of sharing the stage with other amazing female leaders to share ways we can better align our people and HR initiatives to support women in the workplace. As the mother of 3 girls, it’s my responsibility to teach my girls to be brave, and that they don’t have to be the helpless princess in their story. They can be the coder, the VP, the CEO. As Ceridian’s Chief People Officer, I hope I am doing something that shows my daughters that they can do anything they want if they work hard enough.
During the panel, I shared a few examples of strategies that have helped companies (including Ceridian) improve the development of women in technology.
Implement programs with purpose
If we want to encourage more women to pursue careers in tech, we need to implement authentic programs that drive them there. At Ceridian, we have a Women’s Network and conduct quarterly global presentations on issues affecting women in the workplace. We are now extending the CWN to the girls (and boys) of Ceridian to show them what working in technology is like. Not only are we reaching Ceridian women, but we’re connecting to their girls and boys at a young age.
Offer flexible arrangements
It is not enough to simply say you support women in the workplace. To have a real impact, we need to show how our organizations are acting on that sentiment. One way to do that is by offering flexible work arrangements. At Ceridian, we have a large virtual workforce, which means we offer flexible work arrangements – not just because it is a desirable benefit for mothers, but because it is important for all employees. We make people’s work life better when we create opportunities for them to take their kids to school or pick them up from daycare.
Flexibility in the workplace also extends to parental leave policies. A great parental leave policy is and will continue to be one of the best perks a company can offer its employees. At Ceridian, we recently announced the extension of our parental leave program to 14 weeks of fully paid time off. As a mother of three amazing daughters, it’s important to find ways to make it easier for women to take the time they need to bond with their child so they can transition back into the workplace effectively.
Something as simple as job postings can create bias as well. If we look at the way job postings are traditionally written in the tech industry, they are very male dominated. The language used in job ads may seem nit-picky, but it can actually dissuade women from applying for fear of failure. They also don’t relate to some of the descriptions and perks we include. For example, while I think ninjas are awesome, I have never really considered myself to be one; yet I see countless tech oriented job descriptions using that term. Do you also highlight as part of your perks your pool table or Xbox? While some women can game with the best of them, you are essentially recruiting a young male with these descriptions. So I would ask you, have you checked your job profiles for gender bias lately? It’s not something we would normally do, but not doing it could have an adverse effect on your recruiting program.
Focus on recruitment – and retention
By 2020, at Ceridian, we hope to have 25 percent of our new hires be taken from the talent pool of recent college graduates. But, when it comes to women in technology (and people in general), it’s not just about getting them there – it’s also about keeping them once they are on board. Organizations need to have internal onboarding and transboarding programs that support, develop, and engage these employees every single day. We need to create experiences allowing each individual to be their best self every day.
What’s important to understand is these challenges are not an HR or technology issue – it’s a people issue. But it’s our job as HR professionals to take a closer look at how we’re – as professionals and as a society – reinforcing imbalances preventing women from entering and staying in the field of technology. By understanding how we reinforce these balances, and taking the steps to remove them, we are giving women a better chance to succeed in their tech careers, and giving our entire organization a better chance to succeed too!
Check out Twitter coverage from this session on Ceridian’s storify page!
As EVP and Chief People Officer for Ceridian, Lisa has a dual responsibility for Ceridian’s overall global people and HR strategies as well as overseeing the product vision and strategy for Dayforce Talent Management.
Prior to joining Ceridian, Lisa served as a Partner and Technology Solutions Leader for Mercer’s Talent Solutions business. Lisa also served in both a product and people strategist role at Ultimate Software as Head of People Engagement. As a Partner at Kenexa – an IBM company – she led the design and deployment efforts of the organization’s performance, succession and career development solution. She’s currently a Human Capital Executive Research Board Member and sought after speaker on various talent management topics.