Empowering Women Tech Leaders

The theme these two weeks has been empowering Women Tech Leaders.  Thank you #MoneyFM for having me on The Midday Show with Howie Lim (replay below).  And HRM Asia for publishing my article on this same topic with a focus on HR's role. I'm grateful for the platforms to continue this conversation. 

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Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) is not just a politically correct workplace initiative.  It's about bridging opportunity gaps that are shifting with our changing cultural demographic.  It's also about the individuals defining the business - its ability to connect with and serve our global marketplace.  And increasing women representation is the biggest opportunity we have presently to improve diversity in the workplace.

According to the world bank, women make up 40% of the world’s workforce.  In some countries, that number rises to 59%. Yet, in the tech sector, men outnumber women at every level, with the starkest difference at the top.  Only 21% of executives in tech are women.  In Asia, on average, women are about 30% of the tech workforce.  In Singapore, about one in four science & tech professional are female – a ratio that has stagnated for over a decade. 

So what more can we do to attract, develop and retain women in tech?  Apart from training and mentoring that we provide to our people as part of their development, I help the women leaders I coach to develop a number of critical strategies.  On the radio interview, I highlighted the importance of Sponsors in advancing your career as well as building ally to navigate complex team dynamics.  Very often, I’m not just coaching the women , but also work with their organizations to evolve their D&I practices. 

Here are a few areas that I believe we can take immediate actions and see tangible progress:

  1. Modernize the way we describe the roles in tech.

    The most critical skills to lead a technical team are leadership skills - the ability to communicate, coach, collaborate cross-functionally and influence across organizations.  Identify key success factors, desired traits and trainable skills.  Present the skills mix of your ideal candidate profile for the next 2 years, and not the skills mix of your existing team members.  This will help to "screen in" candidates that come from unconventional career paths.

  2. Encourage open dialogue to uncover stereotyping & unconscious biases.

    There are some excellent trainings and assessment tools out there to test, expose and address unconscious biases. However, as a leader, you can help by seeking 360 feedback, incorporating measurable data points, establishing & communicating clear evaluation criteria, practicing active listening and providing space for healthy debate.

  3. Promote Sponsorship

    Mentoring programs are important, but not enough. Do your top women talents have sponsors that are actively advocating for their next promotion and making sure their names are brought up in closed-door meetings? Are you currently sponsoring at least one emerging women leader in your organization?

  4. Evolve society expectation on the role of women at home and at work 

    It starts with the conversations we’ve at home. Are we unintentionally reinforcing the traditional gender definitions or are we nurturing our daughters & sons to reach for their full potential & create new possibilities?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.