Ways to Create a Diverse and Inclusive Tech Sector Workforce

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Childcare is taking its toll on working mothers. Women are almost twice as likely as their male counterparts to take on the lion's share of childcare pressures. As a result, one in four women have spent less time on paid work, and one in two feel their work performance has been negatively impacted, according to research from Vodafone's #ChangeTheFace initiative.

Despite wishing they had more support during the pandemic, the majority of mothers have a sense of positivity and ambition and claim to be confident they can maintain a work life balance, according to the initiative.

The Female Quotient recently hosted a panel with several global leaders to discuss the latest research findings from #ChangeTheFace, as well as strategies concerning how to rebuild the tech sector post-pandemic and retain talent, particularly working mothers.

Here is some of what the panelists offered:

First, break the link between working mothers and flexibility. Instead of requiring employees to formally ask for time off to take care of their personal needs, allow for informal flexibility, where the employee doesn't have to ask for it, thereby humanizing work environments and processes.

As Sherry Coutu from Digital Boost shared, "It takes collaboration and flexibility to make the hybrid work model overall beneficial for all of us. Reminding those in our industry that they are not alone, and are supported, is so valuable."

The panelists also noted that companies can equalize the chances for success for all employees by providing life-stage accommodations. When you create policies that help remove barriers across life-stages, with both functional and emotional support mechanics for all employees, you will create a culture in which all employees can make their needs known, and respected.

"We need leaders to set the tone when it comes to flexibility and compassion in the workplace," said Stephen Bereaux, United Nations Specialized Agency for ICT, International Telecommunication Union. "Especially for women, having a team that is supportive and understanding is a make-or-break for success."

Another piece of advice: enable online support systems to connect all employees, build skills, and provide needed information. Online platforms allow each employee to ask specific questions, either inside or outside their organization, no matter where they are in the world. In that way, they get answers when they need them, without having to research the information themselves.

In addition, online platforms allow employees to mentor and give of their time to their colleagues more frequently than when they are in person. In that way, no one has to feel alone. "Technology has allowed us to be flexible, and take advantage of remote work," said Anneli Karlstedt, of Nokia. "That, in combination with social movements globally, has had a huge impact on how companies view the importance of diversity and inclusion."

This column was written by Janis Gilman, Head of Research at The Female Quotient.

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