Negative stereotypes of women tend to color the perceptions of hiring managers, who may think that technology is the forte of men, and women may not be able to perform in technical positions. Also, the COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll on people, organizations, and regions in different ways. The unfortunate side of International Women’s Day 2021, is that the women workforce has also been disproportionately affected.
The tech industry has collectively demonstrated remarkable leadership in responding to the challenges posed by unprecedented times. Women’s jobs are more vulnerable during the pandemic than that of men. The percentage of women in tech was already low, and combined with COVID-19, the workforce is at risk. The need of the hour is that the tech industry must encourage, motivate women whose lifecycles have changed due to the pandemic. Creating a welcoming culture, encouraging more women to take up leadership roles, and fostering a collaborative culture between female employees within an organisation will help undercut some of the systemic inequalities within the industry.
As a female leader in the industry, prioritizing relationship building is necessary. Also, there is a power in a relationship that extends beyond a generic introduction. We need to put ourselves in environments that give us the opportunity to meet with peers and share experiences. This could be a game-changer.
The women leaders like myself need to play a pivotal role in empowering employees to combat the lasting implications of several challenges like marriage, motherhood and now the pandemic. There are many skill development programs being conducted by many companies and women in tech are being recognized. Business leaders are arranging several training programs. As managers and executive leaders, we show other women they can do it and lift others up based on their own experiences. The Shine Theory that says that when you help other women rise, we all shine. We need to build other women up! Credit the female co-worker for doing a great job. This will show a leader as supportive, a team player as well as an inspiring leader.
Due to all uncertainties, women employees aren’t expecting their bosses to have all the answers; however, they expect transparency and a long-term plan that reflects an understanding of the challenges they’re facing.
As a women leader, encouraging the women employees and enabling empathy for each other is critical. A healthy flexible ecosystem for women employees – both in-office and at home is a must thing they expect from their leaders. As women executives, we share the plan of action covering both emotional and physical aspects of the new normal.
Daily interaction with the female workforce, stating how we respect their boundaries, flexibility, sensitivity and empathy. Additional training and support are required by the women employees to return to their workforce. Basically, an offer of supportive culture is vital.
Leaders now communicate their learnings, experiences and progress to the female employees and help them stay positive and optimistic. Keeping in mind that the tech companies struggle with retaining and progressing women, as women leaders we must provide a culture of inclusion and innovation ascertaining that there are more responsibilities beyond work.
As a woman in this industry, I’m confident that the industry will come out with more strategies and programs to help women bounce back. We as leaders should understand that the workplace’s future will put an enhanced focus on making women feel comfortable and heard. We need to be a part of that group of women who want other women to be their very best and actively help them to succeed.
It is true that society definitely needs to change its attitudes towards working women and female leaders, and that companies need to nurture their female employees. This is mostly possible when women help themselves and take charge of their own careers. By learning from the stories of other successful women, tomorrow’s female leaders can create a better future, for their business and themselves.
By Vrushali Pradhan, Co-founder and Chief Business Development Officer, Bizydale Nets