What Women Really Want
Here are 4 simple steps to create a neutral culture to attract + retain a diverse workforce.
1. There's more to us [women] than our gender!
Let's bring women together with common interests. Simply throwing them into a room because they all have breasts and work in tech is just not enough to get them excited.
Aim the event at ‘Women who love Python’ for example, or have a theme that runs a bit deeper than the obvious.
2. If your interview process is ancient; change it up!
When interviewing, engage with women and allow them the ability to exemplify how they can contribute to the team on an equal level to that of men.
Pair Programming, initially designed and rolled out by Menlo Innovations to solve the problem of hiring for a specific skillset that will match their ‘agile programming’ methodology (e.g. the ability of candidates to emphasize teamwork ahead of individual goals) is proven to be one of the most successful testing methods to identify team players particularly among underrepresented minorities, such as women.
3. Some of us love working alongside men!
Your interview process should actively seek to explore how women prefer to work on a case-by-case basis. Discussions with a number of women has highlighted that women cannot be stereotyped based on one particular attitude. Some women like to work in a more diverse environment and others love the fact that they are the only women in the team.
Much like men, we cannot assume the above to be consistent with one particular viewpoint. Rather, it would be more constructive to understand WHY women make a great addition to any team and what value that particular female is going to add within context of your organisation's existing culture.
4. Get rid of the bro-culture.
Let's get rid of the bro-culture. Yes, there may be a load of girls who love the appeal of pizza, beer and foosball - but there is absolutely no reason to make this assumption based on a stereotype of the 'developer type' which inherently is a male-dominated industry. I spoke to an internal hiring manager the other day who realised only after I brought this point up with him, that he'd just spent a significant proportion of the budget on PlayStation and Foosball tables - yet had nothing in-store for the girls. This is also a company that quite proudly state that they have a 50:50 gender split in their engineering team. Well done, you've explicitly excluded half of your workforce from having fun!
Mock-up an employee questionnaire on Google Forms and have a vote, or even better - ask for suggestions. Let the engineers speak for themselves before investing in 'cool' gadgets or planning end-of-quarters that imply a lack of thought. You never know, the men may love a trip to the ballet and the women may just love paintball(?) We do at least!