By: Punitha Anthony
We need women at all levels, including the top, to change the dynamic, reshape the conversation, to make sure women’s voices are heard and heeded, not overlooked and ignored.
— Sheryl Sandberg, COO, Facebook.
Similar to the colorful taut fabric of a silk sari, tech firms are going about weaving a vibrant tapestry that shows an accurate reflection and representation of women to ensure the workforce is tightly knit by a diverse mix of skills, youth, ideas, creativity, and experience.
From the vivacious Gen Z to the tenured veterans of the trade, the digital workspaces are gradually becoming avenues for women to enter the echelons of top management. The viewpoints of female digital natives are echoing.
We look around only to find women of every age, grade, tenure, and department speaking out, embracing opportunities, and foraying ahead with their strong personalities and perspectives in an industry that is preponderant with men. Times are changing, and the voices of Venuses are rising; they’re bucking the trend.
While women do not demand a numeric value on their representation, the rallying cry is toward a balanced representation, and a fair go at opportunities, especially on the way to upper strata of management. The industry has not completely fixed the distorted picture yet, but the numbers are surging.
Women are moving from the fringes of the technology market into mainstream leadership positions.
A Reality Check
The gender gap runs deep across the industry and nation. The India Skills Report of 2020 mentions that 28% of the Indian IT workforce are women. The stark paucity of participation in the overall workforce stands at 23%. Ensuring a sensible proportion of women employees is the elusive piece of the diversity and inclusivity puzzle. As the times change, women from a cross-section of grades, tenures, and skills are breaking the glass ceiling with gusto to enter the echelons of top management. As disruptors, they’re leaning in; they’re taking a seat at the table.
Diversity as a Skill Set
We’re not all cut from the same cloth. Apart from productivity and creativity, the right balance in an organization augurs well-rounded discussions and solutions to the most pressing technological conundrums of our digital age. As Marissa Mayer, Co-founder of Lumi Labs, pointed out, “When you need to innovate, you need collaboration.”
Leaders must change their perspective of diversity and think of it as “skill” that brings in the depth and quality of collaborations and conversations unlike that of a workforce slanted toward men. Inclusivity and diversity are now part of the KRAs of some IT leaders. When managers or leaders need to reckon critical issues of any type, it is the strong emotional quotient and team dynamics, and approach to problem-solving that women bring to the fore. Smart and forward-looking companies are hopping onto the diversity bandwagon by hiring more skilled women to disrupt the workspace culture.
Need for a Tightly Knit Fabric
Despite the popular flexible working policies, and work from home convenience, IT professionals still spend a major portion of their time at work. During crunch times or critical deadlines when team members may not be on the same page or see eye-to-eye on some issues, women step in to forge a sense of secure interpersonal connection, bonding, and chemistry in a stressful high-performance work environment. Knowing well the merits of a strongly amalgamated team, organizations are going back to the drawing board to redraft their laws and structures in line with the gender-equality manifesto. Organizations are looking at women as disruptors who can give a holistic perspective on matters.
Amplify the Intangible
Women strongly believe in technology as an amplifier of human connectedness. They’re putting deep thought from a whole new perspective of actually building solutions that appeal to the human connection instead of looking at technology from a superficial angle. The innovative solutions and cutting-edge tools of today that transform Customer Experience could not have been conceived without the diverse thought process and viewpoints of teams with a heterogeneous composition involving women. The individualistic aspect with all its merits has its place, but women amplify the qualities of belongingness and empathy that are lacking in tech firms. Intangible attributes like these have disruptive effects throughout the organization.
In short, the structural and attitudinal aspects that come in the way of women having parity in the IT market are fading but slowly. Women are gradually and quietly rewriting a heavily male-skewed narrative with a strong sense of professional identity. The overall benefit therein is a balanced workplace that harbingers better decision making, higher productivity, and innovative thinking, which benefits the industry. Hence, India Inc. must hear the voices of Venuses in the IT market. Without an iota of doubt, a saner representation across the warp and weft of the workforce fabric bodes well for the Indian tech industry.
(Disclaimer: The author is Director – Human Resources at CSS Corp and the views expressed in the article are her own need not be those of the publication)