Recently on the 16th of September 2018, Dr. Cindy Gordon was invited to be a speaker at the International IEEE Women in Engineering conference in Toronto, Canada, to discuss diversity and inclusiveness and the imperative to drive better performance. The number one issue she discussed at this international forum that is facing the technology industry is not enough women are in our Tech Sector, and we are not keeping them in our tech sector. Following is a blog written by her on the issue at hand.
Let’s look at some key facts on how Tech Savvy women really are recently profiled by Deloitte Research (2018):
- Canadian women are more likely to own a smartphone than men (82 percent versus 77 percent), more likely to own a tablet or fitness band, and equally likely to own a computer.
- Women are driving mobile e-commerce, buying on a mobile device 25 percent than men compared at 18 percent.
- Women are 10 percent more active than men on Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat.
- Although Canadian men play games more on computer consoles, women prefer mobile gaming, compared to only 28 percent of men.
That being said about women being very tech savvy in Canada, here are some major issues, that every C level executive in North America in the Tech sector have a leadership responsibility to wake up too, and strive daily to make a major difference in closing these gaps:
- Women in Tech industry are earning on average 29% less than their male peers.”
- Women receive lower salary offers than men for the same job at the same company for 62% of the time.
- Women in Tech companies have on average only 1% of the available board positions.
- VC’s invested last year just $1.46B in women-led tech start-ups, while investment in over $58B in male-led investments
Why is this so imperative?
The research (Sodexo, McKinsey, Harvard, Fortune etc.) is overwhelmingly conclusive that gender parity enables companies to achieve:
- Higher Operating Margins
- Better Employee Retention
- Better Client Retention
- Better Safety Record
- Higher Employee Engagement
In addition, according to recent McKinsey Research, companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15% more likely to generate financial performance above their national industry median that their peers in the bottom quartile for gender diversity.
So, what is the Big Elephant on the Table regarding Women in Tech? All the research is pointing to one single factor. Culture.
Culture always Trumps. Over 60% of women in the technology industry have unwanted advances and have experienced blatant verbal and physical harassment. Blatant Objectification was highlighted recently in the Women in Tech Elephant in the Valley report.
As I looked around the room of over 200 young men and women, and many aspiring female Ph.D.’s in Engineering at the IEEE conference today in Toronto, I listened to both men and women share their stories of harassment, fear of losing their jobs, passion for Artificial Intelligence to solve breast cancer in med tech, seek out safe places to talk to other men and women who want to strive to make our world a better place, as well as concerns we need stronger social parenting skills and changes in our school systems at JK to ensure gender parity is top of mind. The conversation was rich, thoughtful and concerned about how to drive more transformation in our Technology Sector.
My message to all men and women today is that in order to transform our Technology industry in North America we have to have more courage and bring a stronger advocacy voice forward. It is no longer good enough to talk about this issue. We all need to act and change what is in our power to change.
Look at what Salesforce, a #1 leading CRM global company, recently did. The company made a strategic decision to investigate equity pay differences to ensure their women were compensated equally to their male counterparts. They fixed the major delta. The goodwill and brand amplification for doing what is not only fair but was just plain right will impact Salesforce’s loyalty and retention rates of its many talented women. This is a role model example for other companies to follow. All it takes is a simple audit and doing what is not only right but demonstrates trusted values.
I can only imagine what the great female suffragettes had to face striving to secure women’s legal right to vote. It has been over 25 years and our progress on achieving equity for women in technology is not improving, it has flatlined, and to achieve our vision to become a #1 AI NATION in Canada, we must StepUp!
Dr. Cindy Gordon, CEO and Founder, SalesChoice Inc., a Guided AI SaaS Company
CATA STEM National Spokesperson
Canada #1 2018 Disruptive Innovation: AI Award Winner
Hot Vendor to Watch in CRM Award – Aragon Research
Sara Kirke 2017 CEO Award Winner, CATA, EY
Start-Up Canada – National and Regional Award Winner 2017
Governor General Award Winner
Co-Founder: The AI Directory with CATA, ITWC (www.aidirectory.ai)
Author 13 Books
Board Director, Advisor to many Software Companies
Mother: 1 Daughter and 1 Son