Attracting and Retaining Women in the IT Industry
May 30, 2023
Innovation and modernization are crucial for an industry as big, and as old, as the mainframe. But that innovation isn’t something that happens in a vacuum—it takes the input, perspective, and hard work of all kinds of diverse groups. Any technology business that finds itself falling behind industry competition on recruiting and hiring diverse talent do so at a detriment to their own business. So, how can those organizations struggling to recruit and retain women in their organization do a better job?
As a woman working in the technology space myself, there are several strategies that I’ve found companies implement to reach and recruit more women into IT sectors. Let’s look at just a few ways to make it happen:
Promote Diversity and Inclusion, and Prioritize Employee Well-Being
It’s so important to create a supportive and inclusive environment that values and uplifts all employees. As a part of Rocket Software’s efforts to achieve that goal, we have been partnering with reachHire on its Aurora program to ensure women have the opportunities and tools they need, like mentorship and coaching, to thrive here at Rocket Software. Pairing women leaders with mentors or coaches provides valuable guidance and support as they navigate their careers. This program is global. Fifty-Six have graduated from Aurora since 2021, and in 2023, thirty-three women from 17 different time zones are growing together and practicing a growth mindset.
The benefits of our partnership speak for themselves, and as Alice Rodman, inclusion, diversity, and equity program manager at Rocket Software, said: "The program, provides a unique opportunity to a diverse cohort of women, to learn from women leaders in industry and to develop their leadership skills. As a direct result, participants bond and develop a global professional network where they continue to learn, share, and inspire each other. A diverse and inclusive workplace culture helps attract and retain top talent and helps build multiple generations of workers where people learn from each other.”
Offer Opportunities for a More Flexible Working Environment
Making it easier to attract talent means offering more flexible ways for people to get their jobs done. Options like remote and hybrid work have exploded in popularity over the last few years, providing employees across the globe with the ability to work in a way that best matches their personal needs. Those benefits are already appealing on a broader basis by now, but in an industry where there’s already a talent crunch, employee work-life balance has to be at the top of mind for any recruiting efforts.
Offering a mix of flexible options from hybrid to remote or even part-time can also be particularly helpful for recruiting women who may have caregiving responsibilities, affording a more balanced schedule to fit their particular time constraints.
Provide Training and Development Opportunities
Another important piece to driving retention and empowering women employees is to ensure businesses are offering training and development programs to help those women grow their careers. Incorporating those opportunities plays a critical role in not only bettering those employees’ skills, but also building their confidence and helping them feel valued in a meaningful way.
Any training program a business implements should prioritize developing leadership skills, such as communication, decision-making, and conflict resolution. In IT, as with any other industry, confidence is vital to personal and professional growth, and providing training that reinforces that self-worth and competence in an individual’s role can help create more authentic and effective leaders within the organization.
The other piece of development and growth comes with networking opportunities. Part of building that confidence and competence comes from building relationships, sharing stories, and having experiences with other women who can help expand and grow each other’s professional networks.
Create a Diverse Environment that Sets Everyone Up for Success
No matter the business, no matter the industry, we share a responsibility to create a more inclusive, diverse, and supportive environment for every employee. While there may be many challenges to attracting and retaining women tech talent in IT, there are steps any organization can take to make their workplace a more welcoming, equitable one—from a focus on well-being to flexible work options to more leadership and training opportunities, there are myriad ways to attract and empower women within any business.