SAP Canada conducted a survey of Canadian women working in tech about the tech industry’s response to the pandemic and the work/life stresses that it caused in 2020.
The results are sobering.
On the positive side, the survey shows that technology companies have done a good job helping women manage their work during the pandemic: Women in technology are more likely to agree they feel supported by their companies (63 per cent vs. 51 per cent in non-technology roles), have a good work-life balance (57 per cent vs. 50 per cent in non-technology roles) and feel more productive (54 per cent vs. 33 per cent in non- technology roles).
However, due to the pandemic, nearly half (48 per cent) of women in technology agree that their career growth or goals have been stunted, higher than those not in the technology sector (31 per cent). This is particularly true with younger women in the industry and those who are also caregivers. Over half (53 per cent) of younger generations are more likely to agree that their career growth or goals have been stunted and nearly two-thirds (59 per cent) of women in technology who care for an adult as well as over half (52 per cent) of women with childcare responsibilities agree with the sentiment.
The most startling finding, however, is that the pandemic notwithstanding, 44 per cent of Canadian women working in the technology industry feel that tech companies do not really want to hire women.
Think about that: nearly half of women surveyed feel like they – and their female counterparts – aren’t desirable hires in the industry they work. This is beyond disappointing and the Canadian technology industry simply needs to do better. A gender-equal workplace benefits employees, customers, and partners. Here are three ways that Canadian technology companies can start patching Canadian technology’s gender equality problem:
Dive into the data
Canadian technology companies are data-driven organizations, but many of them don’t measure and map the career arcs of their female employees. These companies need to measure career development (number of women with development plans, hiring/promotion rates), leadership development (number of women in management), impact (employee engagement results for women, attrition rates), inclusive culture and networking opportunities (mentoring, sponsorship). Consider partnering with an organization like Economic Dividends for Gender Equality (EDGE), which is an independent third-party certification organization that analyzes policies, practices, and data to help ensure a sustainable approach to diversity and inclusion.
Once you understand where the deficiencies are, you can then make an action plan to address them.
Support your staff
Having a thriving women’s network is a hallmark for companies that prioritize diversity and inclusion. These networks can help women advance their careers by building strong relationships, sharing professional insights, developing skills, and seizing career-advancing opportunities. SAP’s Business Women’s Network, which has more than 13,000 members and over 60 chapters around the world, started off small and grew. It has driven and expanded women’s leadership skills, career development opportunities, and business acumen. These can start off as grassroots initiatives and build over time as the organization – and the needs of its female employees – evolve.
It shouldn’t have to be said, but it needs to be reiterated: equal work deserves equal pay. About two years ago at SAP Canada, we carried out an internal pay equity review worldwide to validate where we stand. We were happy to learn that more than 99 per cent of our employees were being paid equitably. This reflects the same result on a global level. Salary adjustments were necessary for just 0.89 per cent of our Canadian workforce and took effect immediately after the survey. We were proud of this fact but realize that it’s something we need to do continually to ensure that our workforce is compensated correctly.
Tackling the challenge of gender parity in technology requires both accountability and transparency, and it’s incumbent upon us as an industry to ensure opportunities are accessible to everyone. We need to figure out how to truly become a more welcoming
and inclusive space.
At its core, the technology industry is about solving problems, and this is a problem that we’ve let fester far too long. It’s time to patch this problem once and for all.
Gina Izumi is the Senior Vice President of Sales, Growth Markets at SAP.