How Codifyd focused on merit and what it did to gender equality?
Each March, when Women’s Day arrives, folks start talking on Twitter and LinkedIn about gender equality. Many of the posts follow the line that tech companies need to do more to get more women into the workforce. Some of them offer helpful suggestions like creating some positive discrimination in favour of women. A few suggest earmarking some specific roles and positions only for women. But I believe that this is not required. We tried a different approach, a much simpler one. Here’s how that panned out.
But first, is there a real problem?
The tech industry is great at setting (and following) trends. The pace of innovation fuelled by technology forms a substantial part of the corporate business strategy in tech companies. But some trends seem to take root here slower than in other sectors. For instance, it is still demotivating to see that gender equality in tech companies is still stuck somewhere in the ‘60s. Statistics reveal that only 25% of IT jobs are held by women. Only 5% of women own tech startups. Only 28% of women hold proprietary software jobs. Women hold only 11% of executive positions in Silicon Valley tech companies.
According to a report from McKinsey, women made up 37% of entry-level roles in tech (compared to 45% in the overall sample), and only 25% advanced to senior management roles. Just 15% reached the C-suite.
Clearly, these numbers are not good. In some ways, they are also surprising in that while the tech sector blazes on to establish itself as THE forward-looking sector to work in, it’s lagging behind so much in the area of gender equality. So, yes, I guess it’s clear enough that there is a problem.
But is it something we can just live with?
Well, obviously no! Tech companies have to wake up, shake up, and actively start working to change the gender dynamics that exist in our sector today -and while the ethics of that are very important, this has many other important facets too.
For one, we have to take a conscious call to flip these statistics on their head if we don’t want to lose a talented workforce. We have to passionately believe that the tech space is for everyone. After all, since everyone uses technology then why should there be discrimination in who builds it? And the world is moving in that direction. An interesting study at Cornell University revealed that in 2017-18, women accounted for 38% of computer science majors but in the current class (of 2022), 55% of the class is women. Greg Morrisett, dean of Computing and Information Science at Cornell University puts across a very interesting point. He says, “These fields (Computer Science and Engineering) are BETTER (emphasis mine) with more diverse populations. Especially if you’re building products – how could you make something like a phone or an app or a web landing page or a site without understanding half your audience?”
A forward-thinking company is not just about the products it builds or the volume of technology it employs. Being forward-thinking also means changing the age-old problems that continue to plague the world all over. But in order to see the change, we also need to be the change.
So, what’s the simple solution I promised?
Let me tell you what we did at Codifyd. We wanted to ensure that we put workplace gender equality as a clear goal and here’s how it came about quite easily.
We decided that for us, merit is the only point of consideration over the course of the hiring process. It’s a simple point but needs to be stated -we believe that talent is gender-agnostic. And that belief should be fundamental for companies that want to break down the ‘boys club’ stereotype in the tech space. Do that and it will become virtually impossible to consciously or unconsciously discriminate against a person based on where they come from or their gender or anything else. At Codifyd, maintaining this diversity is not just company policy. I passionately believe that this is extremely critical for organizational success and thus, should form a part of our company culture.
We do recognize that in order to have more women in our workforce we have to create a more enabling environment. Creating equal opportunities is the essential first step but is only a part of the story. The other part is taking clear steps to help the employees get work done and chart their success story.
I am proud to say that we don’t just talk the talk but walk it as well. Nearly half of our workforce comprises women. This representation is even better as we rise up the hierarchy. Out of the 4 core teams in our India operations, 3 are led by women.
I believe that it’s well past the time to recognize the contribution that women have made in the space of technology over the years. Right from the second world war, women have been critical contributors to the tech space. Our industry, among others, had sidelined them over the years but that has to end now. It’s time to drive the change. And, it’s quite easy to do.
Trushit Buch, India Lead, Codifyd Inc