It’s not news that women are hugely underrepresented in the global technology space. In the UK, only 17% of technology roles are occupied by women. This is compounded by the 42% of women citing female role models as the most important influence when applying for a new job. Fewer women in tech at your organisation means that fewer women in tech are attracted to your organisation. And PwC can back this — only 27% of female respondents to their survey overall said they would consider a career in technology, compared to 62% of males. To attract the best and brightest female talent, employers need to assess how their employer brand is perceived.
Employer branding is how you differentiate your company from others. It outlines the purpose, aims and motivations of your organisation together with the unique traits that employees can expect to enjoy – your Employer Value Proposition (EVP). These are crucial differentiators, as without the EVP candidates are left questioning what benefits are on the table for them and whether or not their diverse needs will be met.
In a traditionally male-dominated industry, female tech talent is scrutinizing prospective employers for evidence of an employer brand that values their unique contributions.
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Here are three ways you can overhaul your employer brand to ensure you’re attracting women in technology roles:
1. Elevate Your Female Role Models
According to PwC’s 2017 whitepaper, Winning the Fight for Female Talent, two-thirds of both women and men took into consideration whether or not an employer offered positive role models of similar backgrounds to them when deciding to accept a position with their most recent employer. This was particularly important to women working in sectors that are typically regarded as relatively male-dominated, such as FinTech (85%), Engineering and Construction (82%), and Asset Management (78%).
Your existing female employees that already occupy these technology roles offer the insight that prospective female talent is seeking. For female candidates, employers need to back up their diversity talk with actions – including creating a workforce that reflects wider society and an inclusive talent environment where all employees can fulfil their potential. In this way employee advocacy provides the social proof that candidates are seeking, demonstrating that your employer brand is not just attractive, but inclusive.
By identifying your strongest employee advocates, you can showcase them as faces of your employer brand. When trying to hire women in technology roles, the best way to attract top female talent is to feature the stories of women already achieving success at your organisation. And the most powerful way to injecting authenticity into your employer brand is by making use of your employee advocates as internal storytellers.
This discussion on EY’s platform provides a tangible example of how to do so. A female consultant advocates the values embodied by EY in response to an enquiry about an applications to a technology-based role:
2. Align Your Organisational Values with Your Employer Brand
Modern career women are invested in value alignment – an idea championed by Research Professor Brené Brown. In her keynote address at the WorkHuman Conference in April 2018, Brown articulated three steps for connecting people to an organisation’s values:
- Start at the top.
When organisational values form part of how a company operates, they are lived by all employees across structures and hierarchies, and people know how to communicate them effectively. Women and men alike want to invest their energy in business environments that interlock with their personal beliefs and career goals.
Unfortunately, the reality is far from expectations. A joint KRC Research and Weber Shandwick study found that only 21% of American workers agreed that their employer’s image was in alignment with the employee experience. This is enough to drive candidates away.
According to PwC’s research, the top three factors that make an organisation an attractive employer for women are:
- Opportunities for career progression
- Competitive wages and financial benefits
- Flexible work arrangements and a culture of work-life balance
An example of a company that is getting this right is 3M, a Minnesota-based multinational conglomerate that occupies sectors from industry, healthcare, worker safety, and consumer goods. Its employer brand helps it to consistently feature in Fortune’s List of the World’s Most Admired Companies and achieve third place in a 2016 study of the most innovative companies worldwide.
At 3M, innovation as an important organisational value. Employees are allowed to devote 15% of their time towards work on an innovative project of their own choosing. Through these projects, employees can continue to develop and be promoted within the company. Plus, employees benefit financially through the presentation of cash prizes and internal awards that come with successful innovation.
Tech companies should take note – 3M are smashing organisational alignment. They retain great scientists and innovators whilst boasting high return; 30% of which comes from their employee-generated products. These kinds of financial returns arise when the goals of the company are matched with the strengths and interests of employees. It also makes employers attractive to women – an innovative company that values individual contributors speaks to women’s desire to work in an environment that offers career advancement and professional development opportunities.
To draw in the modern talent pool, companies must make opportunities for career progression, flexible working, the promotion of work-life balance, and competitive pay across the organisation, realities across their workforce. And to attract the best and brightest female talent, they must also make these are an integral part of their employer brand and employee value propositions.
3. Action That Employer Brand
For women seeking tech roles, companies either don’t talk enough about their diversity and inclusion policies or do not action it. A sentence or blurb in your job adverts saying that you are an Equal Opportunity Employer is simply not enough. You must personalise your vision of a diverse workforce and why diversity in the workplace is important to your organisation. According to research by PwC, 56% of women look at whether companies publicly share their progress on diversity.
Bloomberg is leading the way in this regard – showcasing their Bloomberg Women in Technology (BWIT) organisation. Started by one of the company’s financial software engineers, in tandem with other strands of the organisation, it offers mentorship and networking support. In the spirit of this commitment, a main focal point for BWIT is recruitment and human resources. The Bloomberg Women in Technology group collaborates with external organisations, like Women in Computer Science (WICS) at Columbia University, to send female representatives to campus recruitment events. It also works with the National Centre for Women & Information Technology to endorse the practice of unbiased interview and training methods when sourcing prospective hires.
This visible commitment to women in technology provides an authenticity to the employer brand and delivers on a crucial employer value proposition.
Nestle are also proactive when it comes to diversity and inclusion, transparently outlining how it delivers its gender-equality commitment. On their website, they outline objectives they’ve set and the results they’ve delivered. They’ve also put into place their Nestlé Gender Balance Acceleration Plan with the aim of increasing the number of women in the top 200 senior executive positions by 2022.
When championing the place for women in technology, actions speak louder than words. Organisational values that reflect your employer brand as simple sentences on your career website ring hollow. Did you know that companies who invest in these actions have seen their return on invested capital increase by at least 66%, return on sales increase by 42%, and return on equity increase by at least 53%?
The representation of women in technology continues to be an issue that companies must address head on. The employer brand is crucial in this effort – it represents the company and is optimally placed to address the stereotypes and misconceptions with which companies are faced. Simply relying on statements about gender inclusivity will not cut it. To be truly effective, your employer brand must be brought to life through the stories of your existing female employees and your organisational actions. From internal networks to impactful diversity initiatives, the employer brand is brought to life by the exceptional women achieving success at your organisation.