4 Tips for a Female-Forward Company Culture
International Women’s Day (IWD) is coming up this weekend - March 8th, 2020. Although the official day is a Sunday, and our Echidnas will be home in their burrows, we believe it’s important to take the time to recognize the amazing women we work with.
Four-fifths of our Directors, three-quarters of our Account Managers, and all eleven Project Managers and Project Coordinators at Echidna, identify as female. Careers in STEM are notorious for being male-dominated, but the times are (slowly) changing. Keyword -- slowly. Just over 30 per cent of our development team are female, which is about average for our industry. Overall, our team is 46 per cent female.
We embrace the term “female-forward” rather than “female-friendly”, because it’s important that we take the lead. It’s one thing to welcome women into your company, it’s another to contribute to initiatives that make them want to stay.
Tips for a Female-Forward Company Culture
Choose the right moments to give others a chance.
Take a second look at your job descriptions and hiring practices to make sure you are not screening out valuable candidates before they even get an interview. You can say “we only hire the best '' until the cows come home, but you may be missing the mark. Sometimes those who are the “best” on paper, are not the best for the role.
Second, when new projects come up, if there’s a woman in your team who you think would lead it well, either put her forward for it or suggest her. Men are regularly chosen for projects and roles based on their potential and confidence, whereas women are often chosen simply for their prior experience.
Create a culture of care with comprehensive benefits and flexible work schedules.
Take care of your people and they will take care of you. High quality of work, timely project delivery, and commitment to our clients are what define us as Echidnas -- not how much time we spend at our desks. Work/life balance is important, and often a particular struggle for women, who statistically are more involved and responsible for children and families. A flexible schedule policy allows a team to dedicate themselves to their work while they’re here, knowing that if something happens at home or with their families -- they’re able to go take care of it.
Everyone, not just women, gains a great deal from this flexibility. It’s been shown to boost mental health, reduce staff turnover and increase productivity.
Offer support for career goals and personal growth, and reimbursement for continuing education and certifications.
There are a lot of ways to upgrade skills or to help your team upgrade theirs. For example, a lunch and learn series can be facilitated by and for employees. Each week, or every few weeks, host a half-hour-long session over the lunch hour on a topic that helps your team improve or learn something new. While the obvious choice is to make those sessions work-related, personal development or wellness topics now and then can inspire teammates to develop their whole person, and not just improve their efficiency.
Paid certifications and reimbursement for continued education classes is another way to inspire employees. The benefit your company earns from those new skills certainly makes the investment well worth it. Again, this is something that benefits everyone, regardless of gender.
Leverage your corporate social responsibility budget to support agencies that support women.
If you are in an industry that is typically dominated by males, support local activities and organizations that are working to eliminate the systemic barriers that prevent women from considering entering your industry. For us in the tech field and locally, this may be found supporting Girls Rock IT, SheHacks, and Ladies That UX.
Diversity isn’t just about checking a box with your HR department, it’s about building companies that accurately reflect and engage with the diversity of the world we live in. The diversity of our team further inspires innovation and those different perspectives lead to stronger solutions that allow us to help a wide variety of clients.
2020 IWD theme: EachforEqual
For anyone involved in our local tech sector, this IWD 2020 join the Women in Communications and Technology London Chapter on March 5, 2020 from 5:30-7:30pm at the London Club as speakers explore how our individual actions, conversations, behaviours and mindsets can have an impact on our larger society.
At Digital Echidna, we offer a results-driven but laid back, professional, supportive environment and seek talented people who understand the value of teamwork and have the drive to succeed. Whether you are just starting out in your career or seeking a new challenge, we want to hear from you.