On the 21st of January, I had the opportunity to partake in the Women’s March in Washington, D.C. Along with hundreds of thousands of other passionate individuals, I was able to join in peaceful protest, striving for a cause we all believe in. The experience was truly invigorating, from the colourful posters and signs to the parents who brought their children along; it was a powerful reminder of solidarity and unity. It was a unique experience, one that I had never before encountered. Being able to march in a public demonstration for something that I care so deeply about gave me a feeling of empowerment like no other.
As International Women’s Day brings us together to celebrate the progress we have made, it is also an opportunity to consider how we can use this enthusiasm to achieve lasting change for women. After attending the Women’s March on Washington, I am reminded of the need to reflect on how we can take this energy and use it to enact true and lasting transformation. It is vital that we use this moment to think of how we can work together to create an equitable and just society for everyone.
It is imperative to ensure secure employment for women in order to create an equitable environment and disrupt current systems of oppression. Establishing secure, long-term work opportunities for women will result in increased female representation in leadership roles, including in elected offices. This will create a more balanced and diverse environment, providing women with the ability to have a stronger voice and greater influence in society.
It may seem simplistic to suggest to many IT businesses that they should employ more women, as if it were the same as a friend offering an oversimplified solution to a difficult situation. While this suggestion is certainly well-meaning, it is ultimately of little help without further information or guidance. Therefore, it is important to recognize the need to provide more substantial advice and support in order to make meaningful progress towards addressing gender disparities in the IT industry.
When teams lack diversity, it can be difficult and daunting to have a discussion about the issue, let alone make any changes. This is an issue that is not unique to the workplace; it is a problem that is encountered in many scenarios.
When I founded Works, one of my chief objectives was to create a supportive and fruitful atmosphere for female developers. After examining international standards, I determined that a company-wide goal of 35% women was an appropriate and ambitious target. I was confident that if I vocalized this goal and motivated my team to the best of my ability, they would make it happen.
Despite starting with an initial pool of 6,800 potential Works candidates, 87% of them were male. We were determined to find a candidate who met the strict requirements for the position, and despite our best efforts and extensive use of networks, we were unable to attract more women to our organization. This result was a personal disappointment to me and the whole team.
Following the initial shock, our team regrouped and conducted further investigation, ultimately deciding to adopt a new approach. We determined that hiring women was not an enigma, but rather, a method of targeting a specific demographic. It was essential that we ascertain the reasons why they were not submitting applications. Unfortunately, our representatives were unable to create a rapport with them and the women were uncomfortable.
In light of the ineffectiveness of our male recruiters to attract female applicants, especially in the tech industry, I decided to make it a key performance indicator (KPI) for our entire recruitment staff to increase the number of applications from women. When asked how this could be accomplished, I responded that it was not fair because we had never hired an unqualified person.
It is undeniable that all of our employees have always been highly skilled and dedicated to excelling in their respective areas of expertise. Consequently, we believe that it would be beneficial to increase the number of female applicants to ensure a broader range of perspectives and abilities in our workforce.
When Works changed to all-female recruiting cycles, the results were immediate and impressive. On a daily basis, we now receive an average of 8.6 applications from highly motivated and qualified female developers. Over the course of the four rounds of exclusively female recruitment, the number of applications rose to 24.8 per day, representing a 288% increase. This has resulted in a total of 4,500 applicants, from which we have hired 40+ women as engineers. While this is a significant achievement, it is not enough and we are committed to continuing to strive for greater diversity among our workforce.
As the leader of the recruiting team, I recognized the need to take responsibility for increasing the proportion of female hires. To that end, I set key performance indicators for each Director of Operations in each office, the Country Directors of Works, and myself. I also allocated resources such as advertising and travel funds for the team to visit universities with a high percentage of female students and test their recruitment messages with A/B testing. This was in order to ensure that our approach to recruitment was constantly evolving, and to ensure that I felt the pressure of financial and performance goals.
After everyone assumed accountability and implemented creative tactics to reach the objectives, the data started to show a change. Surprisingly, following the recruitment of the first all-female Asian cohort, the percentage of representation in the company soared to 34%.
After carefully weighing my options, I decided to pursue something that, at the time, seemed unattainable. The idea was met with skepticism and doubt, with many people claiming it was unreasonable for technology, impractical for Asia, and unrealistic for programmers. Despite the doubts, I persisted, and we eventually came dangerously close to achieving the goal.
Due to our strive for continuous improvement, we are actively recruiting and employing women of excellent calibre. Our female developers have consistently demonstrated to be equally, if not more, capable than their male counterparts in terms of technical proficiency, professional abilities and the psychological characteristics associated with providing a satisfactory service to our customers.
Within the organization, this is not a one-off task; it is a recurring process that is engrained in all of our reports and internal communications. This has led to a healthy competition among offices, and the percentage of success is discussed at every staff meeting. In addition, our investors and board of directors are kept informed of our progress. This endeavor plays an essential role in our corporate identity.
On March 8th, International Women’s Day, let’s start a dialogue between our colleagues about how we can ensure that our recruitment processes involve more female applicants. By broadening our applicant pool, we can guarantee that we are selecting the best-qualified candidates for our available positions.
It is clear that this approach does not address all of the issues that women encounter in the workplace and the labour market. However, it is not possible to solve the issue of gender imbalance unless we make an effort to actively hire more women. Just as one cannot expect to achieve success on every attempt, it is necessary to take action in order to make progress in this regard.
I wish you all the best on this day dedicated to women throughout the world. Proceed with the hiring.