Happy International Women’s Day! This year, the International Women’s Day campaign theme is #PressForProgress. This theme requires collective, progressive action to achieving gender equality. Gender inequality is pervasive in many business sectors, with the technology industry having one of the lower percentages of women working in the field. As a group of technology professionals, we hope to be part of the movement to accelerate gender equality.
To increase our focus on gender equality at Modern Tribe, as well as create an inclusive environment for people from all demographics, we’ve embraced some larger actions that are worth sharing on this day. While this post is focused primarily on gender equality in light of International Women’s Day, Modern Tribe is focused on creating a welcoming environment for all people who value a diverse set of experiences and strive to live well and do good work. Many of the action items discussed below are not limited to gender equality but have been taken with this broader goal in mind.
For starters, Modern Tribe formed an inclusion group. This is a group of team members at various levels in the company who meet weekly to work on defining and executing inclusion initiatives. Being a member of this group is voluntary, open to all, and considered billable work. This group was formed last summer and has been meeting regularly since then to work toward specific improvements.
We’d like to highlight the initiatives that align with the International Women’s Day 2018 campaign theme and actions.
Action 1: Maintain a gender parity mindset, which states ‘I will question any lack of women’s participation.’
Modern Tribe skews heavily male. Though we have women working in many disciplines, including Design, Project Management, Strategy and QA, we have struggled to recruit female developers. One of our first actions was taking a look at our recruiting process. Are there ways to modify our job postings to garner a more diverse set of applicants? Could we change steps in our recruiting process to reduce unconscious bias? We started by identifying some small initiatives that could have immediate impact. We’ve changed out many of the photos on our website to more current photos that show the increased diversity of our team. We also ran our job postings through Textio, a service that checked job posting language for unconscious bias, and revised posts to use more gender-neutral language. As a result of these changes, we have increased the number of female applicants to engineering roles by 60%.
Action 2: Challenge stereotypes and bias, which states, ‘I will always use inclusive language.’
Modern Tribe’s job posts didn’t include an equal opportunity statement. So our inclusion team wrote one that not only highlights that we’re looking to be an inclusive, diverse company, but simultaneously highlights the various life experiences and lifestyle choices of our current team. You can check out our inclusion statement on any of our job posts (ps. we’re hiring!).
Action 3: Forge positive visibility of women, which states, ‘I will identify ways to make women more visible.’
With an outside consultant, the inclusion team is creating a survey so we can learn about our team’s experience at Modern Tribe. We hope that this survey will provide guidance for future initiatives and help us measure the impact of our inclusion efforts over time. The survey will focus on the importance of inclusion and diversity, including whether team members feel that they have a safe space to discuss issues around these topics.
Action 4: Influence others’ beliefs / actions, which states, ‘I will lead by example via inclusive actions and actively contribute to changing the status quo.’
To this end, the inclusion group has started a reading club, where we meet regularly to share and discuss interesting articles that could promote discussion around inclusion and diversity. Again, these meetings are optional, open to all, and paid as billable work. Here are some of the articles we’ve discussed:
- If you think women in tech is just a pipeline problem, you haven’t been paying attention
- How to Make Tech Interviews a Little Less Awful
- Why Women Don’t Apply for Jobs Unless They’re 100% Qualified
Action 5: Celebrate women’s achievement, which states ‘I will ensure credit is given for women’s contributions.’
Modern Tribe noticed that culturally, many of our internal accolades were given to our development staff. With women underrepresented in that group it meant that women at Modern Tribe were underrepresented of that attention and acknowledgement. Members of the inclusion group and leadership teams have made a concerted effort to include our female team members (and people from all roles) in those messages of positive encouragement and praise, and hope that all team members will follow.
We have more work to do.
As one of our partners, Reid Peifer, said, “A single day is not enough to overcome the structural inequality that exists in the world.” And neither is an inclusion group at an agency of 100 people. However, we hope that our initiatives contribute to the larger International Women’s Day goal of equality worldwide, and our more personal, smaller goal of an inclusive and diverse technology company.