“Equality is not a women's issue, it's a business issue.”
-- International Women’s Day website
International Women’s Day began in America in 1911; today, millions of people around the globe mark March 8 as a day of action to support gender equality and human rights. This year’s theme, “Each for Equal,” underscores the role each of us play on a daily basis to challenge stereotypes, fight bias, and collectively create a world with more dignity and broader opportunities for all.Today’s Competitive Advantage is Talent Diversity
Increasingly, the business world is awakening to the fact that diversity -- in all forms -- is a competitive advantage. A huge advantage. Diversity brings individual dignity and collective dollars to those who make inclusion and equality a corporate priority.
Companies with higher-than-average diversity enjoy 19% higher innovation revenues, reports Harvard Business Review. Additional studies demonstrate a variety of immediate and ongoing business advantages accrued by diverse teams. For example, shareholders enjoy 34% greater returns when higher percentages of women are in the C-suite. McKinsey reports that companies with greater gender diversity are 15% more likely to surpass peers. Results are sweeter for companies who score in the top quarter for racial/ethnic diversity, according to McKinsey: these companies are 35% more likely to outperform competitors.
Like DevSecOps, We Must Shift Left and “Build Equality In”
Yet, it is no secret more work must be done, especially in the software industry. Here, there is a direct parallel to a DevSecOps approach. We need to view ourselves as individuals, the companies we work for, and our industry as a whole, as participants in pursuit of continuous improvement.
As we say here at Sonatype, exemplary performers “build quality in”. The strongest groups “shift left,” or, include the tools and strategies to support the best outcomes earlier in the software development lifecycle, significantly improving the overall system. Similarly, we need to “build equality in” by addressing ways we can improve the number of diverse perspectives earlier in, and throughout, our team processes.
As individuals, as teams, and as a company, our pursuit of workplace equality is an ongoing work-in-progress. So, to start, we’ve done some reflection. By examining our beliefs and actions, we will continue to improve our already award-winning work culture.
Sonatypers Share Their Views
A recent internal survey asked employees to share observations about how their experience of gender equality in the workplace over the course of their careers. Here, a selection of questions and responses.
Has your experience of gender equality in the workplace (here, and in other work environments) changed over the years?
“It has transformed significantly, mostly with the introduction and growth in popularity of things like LGBTQ-inclusive groups or hosted events. Learning what others face has helped me understand equality more broadly.”
“Yes, there is definitely more attention now on how women are treated, promoted, and paid. Equal pay for women is still a challenge, but one that is better recognized.”
“Many more companies are aware of equality issues now and proactively addressing change.”
“I've always worked on teams where women were the majority of my co-workers. The past few years of the "#MeToo" movement opened my eyes to how many women have experienced challenging, difficult, or even dangerous work situations. I feel like I've moved from ignorance on such issues to greater awareness, which has been beneficial for everyone. While we have a long way to go to reach the perfect workplace experience for all, more voices are being heard, more perspectives are being shared, and more positive changes are taking shape. It's encouraging to see.”
Thinking about gender equality in the workplace, what advice would you give your younger self? (If you are early in your career, what do you wish to see change?)
“Pay more attention. Being grateful for the opportunities you get is great, but don't let it cloud your vision. Be conscious of gender biases and do what you can to prevent them.”
“Be confident, don’t let others talk over you, take credit for your ideas. If someone makes you feel uncomfortable speak up.”
"Don't dim your light to fit in and to make others comfortable."
"Learn how to make your voice heard in the room. Have a firm handshake. Make meetings to talk to people whose work you admire. Be a good active listener. Compliment people in front of others. All of these help make your presence in the room active not passive."
“Be more outspoken when you are ignored.”
What actions can individuals take to support gender equality efforts today?
“Encourage your team, hiring managers, leaders, and yourself to create diverse teams. Set the example and create inclusive environments."
"If you have children, ensure that the values you teach them do not perpetuate gender inequality."
“Leaders and managers should ensure that women are paid, promoted, and treated equally as their male counterparts. If anyone, whether male or female, notices unfair behavior they should speak up about it and address it.”
"Speak up and call out the contributions of the women and people of color around you. Women should consciously lift each other up."
"Don't take it for granted that things will change over time without your voice and others that you bring to the conversation."
"Encourage and/or champion diversity efforts because one person cannot do this alone. Set goals and openly talk about them but also share how you're doing against those goals.”
“Get involved. Change requires action and participation.”
Supporting Equality Today and Tomorrow
International Women’s Day is a great time to reflect. No matter your gender, ask yourself, who has encouraged you to dare and dream? Who has mentored you in the workplace? What can you do today to give back and ensure a more balanced, and equal, workplace in the future? It’s up to each of us, each for equal.