A 2021 report from the Pew Research Center noted that “from February 2020 to February 2021, a net 2.4 million women and 1.8 million men left the labor force.” Men have returned to work at a higher rate than women, said Ellen McRaith, vice president of talent acquisition at CDW.
Women also still face an uphill climb in the IT industry. According to Yule, a smaller percentage of women in IT fields apply for promotions, and a higher percentage of men receive the promotions they apply for. Women overall are also far more likely to step away from their careers, especially to take care of families.
Recognizing the Value of Diversity
While women face clear challenges as they build their careers in technology, speakers at the Women in Tech event agreed that many organizations are learning the powerful benefits of a diverse workforce. “It provides more diversity of thought, more experience,” Yule said. “And women will come forward and represent what our customer base looks like.”
Speakers at the forum touted the value of hybrid work in attracting a more diverse workforce. Supporting workers in both remote locations and in office settings can be challenging, but many organizations won’t have a choice, said Kojo Mensah-Bonsu, CDW’s director of diversity and inclusion, who moderated the forum. Employers that want to attract and retain top talent must find innovative ways to provide the flexible environment that the modern workforce demands.
“Innovations in hybrid work are bringing opportunities not only to the workforce at large but especially to women and underrepresented communities. Through technology, we are redefining what an inclusive culture looks like," said Rachel Barger, senior vice president for Americas sales at Cisco and global executive sponsor for the employee affinity group Women of Cisco. “It’s through the power of technology, our people and our culture that we will continue to make great strides in ensuring that everyone’s views are represented and have a voice.”
The Importance of Mental Health in the Workplace
Multiple speakers, including Lisa Lee, vice president of global culture and belonging for DoorDash, and Theresa Vu, CTO of Praxis Labs, discussed the importance of employee mental health and the value of workplace efforts to provide support. “Burnout happens as a result of a lot of different things,” said Lee. “As much as awareness has risen, it’s still not enough.”
They said organizations can take the following steps to provide support:
- Hold regular check-ins for work and mental health: Vu suggested turning one-on-one meetings into open discussions where coworkers can share their experiences.
- Eliminate unnecessary demands on workers: Managers should be mindful of meeting fatigue and avoid adding unnecessary meetings to employees’ schedules.
- Support families: Organization leaders should understand the demands on their workers outside of work and offer flexible schedules to accommodate families.