I had the privilege of participating in the Women’s March in Washington, D.C on the 21st of January, joining forces with multitudes of passionate individuals to peacefully champion a shared cause. The experience was truly uplifting, from the vibrant posters and slogans to the parents that participated with their kids; it exemplified solidarity and togetherness. This was an unprecedented and unforgettable event for me, something I had never experienced before. The chance to publicly demonstrate my dedication to a cause I hold dear gave me a sense of empowerment that was indescribable.
International Women’s Day unites us in celebrating the strides we have made, whilst providing a platform to contemplate how we can harness this fervour towards achieving sustainable progress for women. Attending the Washington Women’s March reinforced the need for us to introspect on ways to channel this momentum and effect real and enduring change. It is crucial that we leverage this moment to ideate on working collaboratively towards building a society that is impartial and fair for all.
Facilitating secure employment for women is critical to creating a fair and just society by dismantling oppressive systems. Providing women with stable and permanent career prospects will pave the way for greater female representation in leadership roles, including elected positions. This will nurture a more proportionate and diverse atmosphere, empowering women with a stronger voice and more substantial impact on society.
Encouraging IT companies to increase their female workforce may come across as simplistic, akin to an acquaintance proposing a simplistic solution to a complex dilemma. Although well-intentioned, this suggestion is of limited value without additional guidance or direction. Thus, it is crucial to acknowledge the necessity of providing more comprehensive counsel and assistance in order to significantly advance gender equality in the IT sector.
Discussing diversity issues and implementing changes can be challenging and intimidating when teams lack diversity. This predicament is not exclusive to the workplace, but pervades several facets of life.
My founding vision for Works was to establish a nurturing and dynamic milieu for women developers. Through evaluating worldwide benchmarks, I ascertained that an ambitious and fitting goal for our company was to have 35% women representation. I firmly believed that by articulating this target and inspiring my team to the best of my ability, we could accomplish it.
Out of an original pool of 6,800 candidates for Works, 87% were male. Despite our unwavering commitment to finding a suitable and qualified candidate, and despite resorting to extensive networking, we were unable to entice more women candidates to apply. This outcome was a letdown for me and the entire team.
After the initial surprise, our team re-evaluated and investigated the matter, ultimately choosing to embrace a new approach. We realised that inviting women to apply was not a mystery, but instead, necessitated reaching out to a specific demographic. It was crucial for us to identify why they weren’t submitting applications. Regrettably, our recruiters struggled to establish a connection and the women reported feeling ill at ease.
Given our male recruitment team’s apparent inability to attract female candidates, particularly in the tech arena, I made it a priority to set a performance indicator for our entire recruitment staff, focusing on boosting the number of female candidates. When asked for strategies to achieve this goal, I countered that it was not feasible as we had never hired an unqualified candidate.
Undoubtedly, all our employees have displayed exceptional skills and wholehearted commitment to excel in their specific domains. For this reason, we deem it advantageous to include a greater number of female candidates in our recruitment to introduce a broader spectrum of viewpoints and skill sets to our workforce.
Works witnessed an immediate and remarkable transformation when we transitioned to all-female recruitment cycles. On a daily average, we now receive 8.6 applications from proficient and highly motivated female developers. Across the four rounds of female-exclusive recruitment, the number of applications escalated to 24.8 per day, denoting a 288% surge. As a result, we received a total of 4,500 applicants, from which we hired over 40 women as engineers. Despite this remarkable accomplishment, we recognise there is more work to be done as we strive towards fostering greater diversity in our workforce.
As the head of the recruitment team, I recognised the imperative to bear responsibility for augmenting the proportion of female hires. In pursuit of this objective, I established performance metrics for each Director of Operations across all offices, the Country Directors of Works, and myself. Additionally, I disbursed resources such as advertisement and travel funds for the team to visit universities with a high enrolment of female students and experiment with A/B testing for their recruiting messages. This was to ensure our recruiting strategy continually evolved, and that we were under the pressure of financial and performance targets.
Following the collective adoption of accountability and innovative measures to achieve our goals, the data began to reflect favourable outcomes. Remarkably, after the inaugural intake of an all-female Asian cohort, the percentage of women representation in the company skyrocketed to 34%.
Following a thoughtful contemplation of my alternatives, I resolved to pursue something that appeared almost impossible at the time. The proposal was scrutinized with cynicism and uncertainty, with several people deeming it impracticable for technology, implausible for Asia, and unrealistic for programmers. However, I persevered, and we eventually came perilously close to attaining the objective.
In our pursuit of constant enhancement, we are actively sourcing and hiring highly accomplished women. Our female developers have consistently demonstrated their technical proficiency, professional abilities and the psychological characteristics requisite for delivering excellent customer service, often surpassing their male co-workers in these regards.
Within our establishment, this obligation is not a singular undertaking; rather, it is an ongoing procedure that permeates through all our reports and internal correspondences. As a consequence, a healthy competition has emerged among our offices, and our success rate is deliberated at each staff gathering. Furthermore, our investors and board of directors are updated on our progress consistently. This endeavour holds a pivotal position in shaping our corporate identity.
On International Women’s Day, 8th March, let’s initiate a conversation amongst our colleagues on how we can encourage more female applicants to participate in our recruitment procedure. By enlarging our pool of candidates, we can secure that we only select the most qualified and suited candidates for the positions available.
Admittedly, this approach cannot tackle all the challenges that women face in the workforce and job market. Nonetheless, it is impracticable to address the issue of gender imbalance if we do not take affirmative steps towards recruiting more women. As with all efforts, success cannot be guaranteed on every occasion, and it is imperative to take action if we aspire to make progress in this endeavour.
On this day dedicated to women all over the globe, I extend my best wishes to all of you. Let us carry on with our recruitment efforts.