Most of my recruiting conversations in 2018 started like this:
Client: “We’re on a diversity drive right now, so we’re doing our best to hire more women”.
Me: “It’s great you’ve recognised the need for more female representation in tech. Tell me more about your diversity drive and what your views are on it”
Client: “Well, we’ve got some pretty aggressive quotas to meet and it’s coming from above because we know we need to become more diverse. We want to be more diverse as well – so I’ve been given the go-ahead to come out to you because you can help me find more female candidates”
Me: “Let’s explore the ideology of diversity more….”
These conversations are largely because I’m the founder of the networking group, Women in Data which has made me the Recruiter of choice when it comes to engaging more women, but the ‘diversity drives’ you’re hearing about are also mostly due to the fact there’s a change coming. 2018 saw the Me Too Movement, the ‘Time’s Up’ speech by Oprah and The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, one of Women’s Literatures most prolific writers, become a huge household hit as a TV show. The tides are changing for women – even brands have started to capitalise on it (Gillette, Nike), so it’s no wonder that the business world is following suit by wanting society’s perception of them to change – especially in the tech industry.
Atlassian is one of the Australian Tech market’s biggest success stories. In some countries, they’re arguably better known for their work culture than they are their products (a first for a tech company). What they are building, is a totally new and innovative way of embracing the kind of employer the next generation is going to want to work for. They encompass technology, ethics and humanity all rolled into one and I’m looking forward to seeing their take on the strategy behind this at our next event.
The woman behind this strategy is Aubrey Blanche, Global Head of Diversity and Belonging. Much more than just a D&I leader, Aubrey has changed what it really means to embrace diversity in the workplace and has disrupted the ‘us and them’ mindset by nurturing a culture of ‘balance and belonging’. By changing the focus from ‘inclusion’ to ‘belonging’, she is already shifting focus for anyone that may have felt ‘unincluded’ before which is a concept that I feel is simple enough for all of us to explore within our own work cultures.
The word on the street is that now is a very good time to be a woman in the tech and data space.
For the most part, we all agree that despite your gender, race, ethnicity or heritage, equality should be a given within the workplace. I would wager that every man in your company right now will tell you that they believe their daughters have the same rights as their sons to work in whatever field they choose. They will tell you that gender doesn’t matter to them, it’s the right person for the job that counts.
In this way, we have progressed in leaps and bounds in the last 60 years.
But I will also wager that if you were to ask your entire employee base to draw a picture of a CEO or a professional in Tech, they’d draw a picture of a man……
Progress is a sliding scale.
We celebrated this progress on International Women’s Day this year. But this year’s celebration was a mixed bag of emotions for me. On the one hand, I felt a change coming in 2018, and I feel like I’m playing a part in that both personally and collectively. On the other, this year more than ever, I have noticed the divide. Even our Prime Minister’s speech about IWD suggested that putting women first at work means a generation of men come last – pitting us against each other as if first and last are our only 2 options.
What if first and last aren’t our only options? What if instead of men versus women, we all unite to collectively do the best we can to make sure everyone feels they belong? Equality shouldn’t be a luxury – and it still is in a lot of parts of the world. This ‘us vs them’ mentality is so harmful to the cause that the change that I can feel coming is in jeopardy of becoming a riot. And not the bra-burning good kind.
True equity (read more about why I use the term equity over equality here) is about so much more than just gender and race. The Inclusive Foundation is making waves in this space. Their mission is to make a more inclusive world for all – starting within the workplace where they highlight some amazing people who don’t fit into the box that is considered socially normal by the rest of us. Their Founder, Elizabeth Shoesmith uses the story of how she met her husband, Scott, who is deaf as a metaphor for the journey to inclusiveness and raises awareness for even the most open-minded of people.
We all have some work to do. I promise you that after attending this event, you’ll have taken your first step towards building a more diverse and inclusive team.