Diversity Woman Magazine

SPR 2019

Leadership and Executive Development for women of all races, cultures and backgrounds

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We Mean Business > d i v e r s i t y w o m a n . c o m S p r i n g 2 0 1 9 D I V E R S I T Y W O M A N 29 week, one woman is in the "hot seat," so- liciting advice from the rest of the group. ough Ellevate is not solely aimed at women in technology, many have partici- pated and found it helpful, Wallace says. Tech women can leverage connections and support from women outside their indus- try. ey receive a diverse array of feedback and are encouraged to think about their challenges from different perspectives. In one instance, says Wallace, a woman at a tech company felt frustrated because she didn't see a way to move up. ough she enjoyed working there, she was thinking about leaving to seek better opportunities. Her peer mentors in her Squad suggested that she look into moving into a different department at the company. She did—and didn't have to leave. "She thought about it through fresh eyes," Wallace says. "Having an external network, you can unpack the situation and find a pathway forward." A LONG R O AD AHEAD Despite such efforts, the tech industry still lags behind other sectors in tackling the way it recruits, retains, and promotes women. Tech companies need to do more, says Beninger, such as addressing biases built into its culture. In particular, the tech industry still largely sees itself as meritocratic. Many continue to believe that the best rise to the top, no matter their gender, race, or background. "When people believe the workplace is merito- cratic, they're not checking their biases, and that makes it worse," Beninger says. "at's particularly intense in the tech in- dustry." e reality is that the tech industry— and the workplace in general—is far from meritocratic. Consider a recent survey by the Center for Talent Innovation. It found that 71 percent of executives pick their "mini me" to sponsor, that is, the majority of executives select someone who is the same race or gender to champion and open doors for advancement. Without the same kinds of opportunities, it's no wonder that women leave tech for other industries, or shift into consulting roles, instead of con- tinuing to climb the corporate ladder. In fact, women quit tech jobs at a higher rate than men, with the most cited factor be- ing a lack of career growth, according to a survey of a thousand women last year by Indeed. It found that only half of women believed they have the same opportunities to rise to senior leadership roles as men. Instead of "fixing" women, tech compa- nies need to fix themselves, Beninger says. Mentorships, conferences, and leadership- training programs are "a good thing and can have a positive impact," she says. "But none of that is going to move the needle unless you address the root cause. e reality is that there's nothing wrong with women." ere is hope: the 2018 study by Sili- con Valley Bank found that 41 percent of start-ups said that they do have a program in place to increase the number of female leaders at their company. at's up from the year before, when 25 percent of start- ups said they had a program to cultivate more female executives. Dunn, the president of Women in Tech- nology, agrees that tech companies need to step up to the plate. But the group isn't holding its breath. It plans to con- tinue rolling out programs that can help its members reach the next level in their careers. "We can't sit around and wait for organizations to do their part," Dunn said. "We have to keep going." DW Ellen Lee is an independent journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area. Follow her on Twitter at @helloellenlee. for women in science and tech careers," says Margo Dunn, president of Women in Technology. "at's not really the challenge anymore. Now the challenge is how do you move girls and women through the system." Ellevate, a networking community for professional women across all industries, offers opportunities to find mentors and support, both online and in person, throughout the country. For instance, its in-person mentor meetups operate like speed dating: participants either seek ad- vice or volunteer to be a mentor. rough- out the evening, the mentees rotate about every 10 minutes, connecting with five to seven mentors. e purpose, says Ellevate CEO Kristy Wallace, is for women to re- ceive feedback and advice for a particular challenge they're facing, with steps they can take the very next day. "We found it works well," she says. "We can get bogged down with a five-year plan, but these are microsteps we can take to move forward." Women can also apply for Ellevate's 12- week Squads program. Offered twice a year, it brings together six to eight women online for regular video chats and peer mentoring. Ellevate's algorithm forms the groups based on factors such as ca- reer stage, availability, and location. Each ISTOCKPHOTOS When people believe the workplace is meritocratic, they're not checking their biases.

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