“It starts with trust”: How to make your tech company more inclusive

Written by David Waller Wednesday 08 May 2024
From pay disparities to unconscious biases, women still face a host of barriers when joining or progressing through emerging sectors. Here’s how you can help dismantle those hurdles…
Illustration of a person on a ladder, looking out at plain blue surroundings with binoculars

When Lauren Trevelyan CMgr FCMI moved into her first IT role, she found the prospect of the “tech geek” space incredibly daunting. It’s hard to imagine a more male work environment. But she thought she knew what to do: smile, tell a few jokes and everything would be ok. 

It wasn’t. She found herself getting pulled up for not using the right jargon. Despite being in a management role, her level of understanding was repeatedly questioned and challenged. In one meeting, where she was the only woman, a group of men showed their disagreement by standing over her. 

“In every conversation, every look, every email exchange, it was like there was an agenda,” she says. “I was asked in one meeting if everything was okay at home, because I was coming across as aggressive. In fact, I was the most senior IT representative in the room and I was being assertive about specific issues.”

To compensate, she felt an obligation to over-perform and compete with the alpha personas around her. 

“That was really stressful,” she says, “because I was trying to be something I’m not. It made me feel very uneasy and uncomfortable and distant.”

Technology may be transforming modern life, but behind the scenes, the industry still struggles with issues of diversity and inclusion.  

Watch: Breaking barriers for women in technology

The WomenTech Network estimates that at the current pace of change it will take 131 years until the economic gender gap in technology is closed. Beyond pay inequality, the challenges include conscious and unconscious biases, lack of inclusivity and issues returning to work after maternity leave, off putting language in recruitment and a lack of role models in the boardroom. 

But the upside of change is huge. As women currently control over $30trn of consumer spending worldwide, gender-inclusive organisations will be far more likely to create products and services their customers actually want. 

So how can managers in tech and other emerging sectors help make sure those barriers keep falling? Here are a few key tips…

Read on for six ways that you can help to dismantle barriers in your own industry


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