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Creating Diversity: Women in Tech

Gemma Roberts

Written by Gemma Roberts

Head of Operations at Foration

[fa icon="clock-o"] 20 November 2018 [fa icon="user"] Gemma Roberts [fa icon="folder-open'] Tech, small businesses, recruitment, HR

I recently attended the DattoCon18 event in Barcelona.  It was a huge event over three days and offered a range of learning opportunities, as well as the chance to network with business leaders in the industry from around the globe.  I heard from several speakers on all areas of business management and the keynotes were so inspiring, I can see why so many people attend both the European and US events.

A session that stood out to me during the event was “Women in Tech”.  I wasn’t drawn to this simply because I am a woman, but because I am currently the only female in my office.  I wanted to find out from my peers if they were experiencing the same challenges regarding diversity in the industry, as I would love to see more women in businesses like mine.  The other reason for my interest in this topic was an article that I read a year or so ago in the Independent.  The article was from one Ex Googler to another in response to a manifesto that the latter had posted while in the business that had suggested that Google should stop making it possible for women to be engineers, because it’s just not worth it.  The Manifesto also went on to suggest that women were kept in these roles, simply for political reasons.  These harmful comments could be a contributing factor to why fewer females go into technical roles – would you want a role if you believed you were a HR box ticker?

The Women in Tech session had both male and female attendees, albeit predominantly female, and explored the entire recruitment journey to identify how we can encourage more women to apply for roles in tech.  The insights shared were amazing and highlighted things that I hadn’t even considered! 

A huge part of my role as Head of Operations at Foration is to create a fantastic team of diverse, skilled and ambitious individuals and this isn’t done by hiring people with the same skillsets, experience and background.  The difference between a good team and great time is diversity, so I am on a mission to see if I can encourage women to consider technical roles and dispel the myth that working for a Managed Service Provider (MSP) is like being on the IT Crowd!

Here are my top three things you should think about when recruiting:

 The Job Description: 

  • Some job descriptions are extensive, and generally in technology list several required/desired skills and qualifications. This gives the applicant a checklist to compare themselves too, which on the surface seems a great idea; however, a study published by Harvard Business Review (HBR) showed that men will apply for roles when they only meet 60% of the requirement, whereas women will only apply if they feel they meet 100%.  Due to this, you could be missing out on female talent.  Personally, I look for attitude and potential when hiring as you can train skills for specific roles, so I’ll be AB testing some scaled back job descriptions soon!
  • The job title is also something to be considered. When thinking about my business, while we are in the technology industry, what we aim to offer is excellent customer service.  Customer service skills are the key to customer satisfaction.  If I were to advertise for customer service associates/representatives, I may end up with a larger pool of women applying (generally only a third of applications for these roles come from men).  From this I could put a training plan in place to teach the skills needed (assuming those who apply have an interest in technology).  This approach wouldn’t work for all roles but is worth exploring.

The Advert:

  • In the advert you want to sell your business to prospective employees, so you write about the culture, activities your team participate in etc. If you’re in a male dominated business you might end up with a list of team activities such as golf days, track days and axe throwing.  Now I’m not saying that these don’t appeal to women, I happen to be a very apt axe thrower; however, think about a broad range of things that you do and share these, as you want to appeal to a wide audience e.g. Some people are sporty, support charities, are foodies, enjoy learning, the list goes on.

The Interview:

  • Involve women in the interview process as it shows you aren’t just a male business. Also get different age groups and roles involved, as this gives people a more rounded view of the business.  We spend approximately 260 days a year at work, so people need to feel that they are joining an environment where they can build bonds and will enjoy spending time with the people.  I always ensure that interviewees meet a few people from the team and have a full tour of the office in the first interview.

If you have any tips of creating diversity in business, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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Gemma Roberts

Written by Gemma Roberts

Head of Operations at Foration

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