The importance of developing and implementing workplace policies that empower female talent in the tech space

By Sumanpreet Bhatia
November 26, 2022, Updated on : Thu Dec 01 2022 09:42:10 GMT+0000
The importance of developing and implementing workplace policies that empower female talent in the tech space
Sumanpreet Bhatia, VP Human Resources, Exotel, writes that workplaces should amend policies to provide equal opportunities to female talent in tech roles with not a top to bottom approach but an equal approach across positions.
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With changing times, women’s contribution in various sectors, especially tech, has increased manifold over the last decade.


In 2021, women's representation in the IT workforce accounted for 34% compared to around 24% a decade ago. However, when it comes to IT leadership roles, only 7% of women had the nameplate engraved for a CXO position.


This parity calls for amending workplace policies to provide equal opportunities to female talent in tech roles with not a top to bottom approach but an equal approach across positions. 

A policy on gender bias

Gender bias hinders success and decreases the opportunities for female talent in companies. Different treatments based on gender create uncanny work conditions. Also, once discrimination prevails in an organisation, the cloud of uneasiness, dissatisfaction, and fewer opportunities renders female talent devoid of many fair opportunities. According to a report, women work for 26+ years to get leadership roles while for men, it stands at 15 to 20 years. 


A policy that prevents gender bias is the first step to eliminating such differences and exclusions on the basis of discrimination. A company with this policy ensures that female talent in tech is treated the same way by a superior to a male colleague. This also establishes clarity around responsibility, delegation, and authority which can be dominated in the absence of a policy.


Tech companies should take immediate action and train employees and managers towards sensitizing equal treatment for all.

Equal pay for all

The pay disparity is one of the biggest discouragements that prevents women from taking charge in the tech space. Around 43% of women as per a survey say that unequal pay is one of the challenges that hinder their growth in a tech role. We need strict policies that ensure that women are taken seriously in tech and yield the same pay as their male counterparts with the same experience and skill sets.


Equal salary means equal motivation for all. It is also the fight in the face of glaring injustice based on gender. Less pay is a disrespect to the profession and the professional. A woman in the tech industry who has gone through the same education and training with the same skills should be treated the same as her colleague and there are no alternatives for it if we want more women representation in tech.


Create zero harassment tolerance policies

Harassment ranks third for women to avoid tech-based roles. Harassment includes bullying, discrimination, mental torture, or any form of intimidation. No one, let alone women, would like to face such situations on a regular basis at the workplace. To condemn such activities, we need zero tolerance and zero harassment policies. Regular seminars or sessions should be conducted to encourage women to speak up for their rights and injustice.


A zero harassment policy that aims to help women to come forward without any fear of being judged will create a conducive work environment and ensure that they don’t feel unsafe.

Workforce rejoining programmes

Rejoining programmes encourage more women to join back their position post a career break or maternity leave. Technology keeps on evolving and that can be a factor that can hinder the progress of women when they join back. Thus, it is required that tech companies instil 30-45 days rejoining programmes to upskill women and new mothers and polish their skills and knowledge.


Such training programmes help eliminate the tech gap created while away from work. Rejoining programmes make female talent confident about themselves and motivate them to take charge of their work.


There should be flexible training before joining or on the job with a focus on empowering female employees to handle their roles with increased or at least the same dexterity as before. This eliminates nervousness and pressure from their shoulders to instantly prove themselves while also enhancing their overall productivity.  

The flexibility of working from home

Post-corona, work-from-home (WFH) has become a new norm that has increased the overall workforce's productivity. Many tech giants like Infosys, IBM, etc. are still providing this flexibility. Such changes help women to juggle their roles in a more efficient way and in a stress-free manner. WFH gives women the freedom to work from anywhere and reduces the need to discontinue work due to location-related concerns or family responsibilities, especially after becoming a mother.


Also, along with offering the flexibility of working from home, the notion to work from home should be accepted equally. Compared to 64% of males, 71% of women feel judged for opting for flexible working hours, which should not be the case. If companies are adopting WFH or hybrid work culture, they should also ease the process of opting for this benefit.

Goal-based career development plan

To increase the ratio of women in tech, it is crucial to help them have a smoother path and guide them based on their goals. Tech companies should have one-on-one rounds with their female employees and ask them about where they envision themselves after a few years. They should be guided based on their desired workplace ambition at every opportunity.


Achieving their goals and seeing progress are two of the most important milestones that any woman would appreciate and feel empowered for. Setting clear goals and mentoring on the same would create a ripple effect for women in tech and should be adopted by tech companies.

Nurturing the idea of asking for help via concentrated programmes

Women go through multiple phases in life and juggle the responsibilities of taking care of their children or family. For many women, it is a constant battle whether to take care of the family responsibilities or to choose their career, leading to a higher rate of women leaving their jobs eventually.


To avoid such situations, tech companies should come forward and implement programmes that can offer women regular training on balancing their roles and also encourage them to ask questions. For example, leaving an infant at home for a job can be emotionally daunting for a new mother. In such scenarios, companies can start programmes where women who have gone through similar experiences can guide new mothers in navigating their careers and support them emotionally and mentally. Such work policies go a long way and act as a booster for women to join tech.

Equal networking opportunities

When it comes to networking, it is common for male employees to have more ease in networking with their superiors over a smoke break or beer time or inviting clients for dinner. The same level of relationship building might be unsuitable for many female employees and may result in a lack of growth opportunities.


Such instances should be avoided, and policies and programmes should be implemented that can help female talent manage this perspective.

Conclusion

Tech is perceived as a male-dominated field, which needs to be transformed into a field that encourages female talent to make their mark and break the gender barriers. Tech Companies need to prioritise making female employees heard and understood. They should be handheld for developing their skills, and should not be treated as “potentials” to ease the pressure on them to constantly prove themselves against their male counterparts just on the basis of gender.


Developing and instilling these policies are necessary now more than ever if we want to witness a gender-neutral corporate culture that provides opportunities based on qualifications and empowers females to choose this space as a career option.


Edited by Anju Narayanan

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