Leaders in the Girls’ Lounge at CES explore ways that managers can inspire change and create a culture that welcomes and encourages women.

How to Empower Women in Tech

Author: Holly Corbett
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Photo credit: Nadine Shaabana on Unsplash

Women make up 59% of the total workforce, but only 30% of the workforce across major tech companies, according to Inc. While those stats continue to improve, we have a lot more progress to make. Leaders in the Girls’ Lounge at CES explore ways that managers can inspire change and create a culture that welcomes and encourages women. You can watch the full discussion here. Read on for their top takeaways on how to advance women in tech.

Enable women to have leadership opportunities. “One of our high-potential female directors recently shared that she was terrified of having children because of what it would do to her career. As a mother of two, that really struck me. So I’m going to preserve contractor funding for women who go out on maternity so they don’t feel like their job is being left behind, and to prevent managers from not giving juicy projects to women who are pregnant. This will enable women to have more leadership opportunities, because we all know a lot of this is the luck of getting a juicy project. If you have anything keeping you from that, it can prevent you from getting to the top.” ~ Emily Soelberg, VP, IoT Solutions at AT&T

Make equality part of the company conversation. “[Gender equality] wasn’t as active a part of the conversation and what [company] success looked like 15 years ago. I think for so many of these conversations—whether it’s diversity and inclusion or the #MeToo movement—we want hard lines. The refreshing thing we’re finding now is that there is more of a comfort level in terms of having [equality] being part of the dialogue across the organization, and with people being more aware and pushing for change.” ~ Meredith Long, Chief Revenue Officer at Quantcast

Invest in the women at your tech company. “As a company, Huge is very diverse, but unfortunately as a technology team, we’re not. That’s top of mind for everyone on the team and leadership…the challenge is that it is difficult in terms of recruiting to find the right qualified candidates. We focus on retention, enabling and empowering women who are already on the team to take opportunities, investing in them, and offering them the best career path.” ~ Gela Fridman, President of Technology at Huge

Create the space. “[The women at Spotify] are not in the roles that they are in because they are women and we hired them, but because they are the best candidates. From a diversity standpoint, what we can do every day when we come to work is to create that space, the space to have the confidence to step up in the tech world and to look across the room and see diversity of gender, race, age and experience.” ~ Khartoon Weiss, Global Head of Verticals at Spotify

Measure what you treasure. “We’re tracking and recording. We’re looking not only at who is at the organization now, but how do you cultivate the funnel? It’s part of hiring and promotions, identifying talent, and actively making sure women are on the list.” ~ Emily Soelberg

Create a personal board of directors. “Companies have boards, and you should have one as well. Have a board of directors of people who are diverse and who can give you perspective and encouragement and confidence to stand up and stand out in this marketplace. You will find there are an incredible amount of support people in the tech space who are about allowing for success through others.” ~ Khartoon Weiss

Get to know your colleagues. When you really get to know people, it helps to create a level playing field for access to managerial or executive teams. For example, if you typically bond with your team over drinks, there are people who are parents or who for religious reasons maybe can’t make drinks. A lot of men may like to do golf and maybe that’s not as inclusive of everyone. Don’t only think about what you enjoy and force your team to conform, but think about what other people may enjoy and how you can level the playing field that way.” ~ Stacy Lynn Bourgeois, Director, Customer Acquisition at Yum! Brands

Read more on how to rise up in the workplace:

Women Rising: How to Succeed in Male-Dominated Industries

Why These Feminine Traits Are Your Superpowers

Do We Need A New Definition of Successful Leadership?