How Tech Companies Can (and are) Challenging Gender Bias banner image

How Tech Companies Can (and are) Challenging Gender Bias

In recognition of International Women's Day and this year's #ChooseToChallenge theme, we reached out to companies asking the following question: 

What can companies do to help remove and challenge any gender biases that may exist in an organization?

Here are their responses. 

"When a company promotes a culture where great ideas come from all levels, genders and races and all voices are welcome and respected around the table, everyone wins."

-Christina Luconi, Chief People Officer, Rapid7
It all comes down to having equitable processes in place and creating psychologically safe outlets for our employees to challenge us as an organization. We use 15Five to maintain a consistent feedback loop and hold our team accountable, while also placing trust in our employees by way of flexible hours-- which is especially impactful for parents at Privy. In addition, all of our job descriptions go through a gender decoder to ensure balanced language, and we have established career ladders to ensure equal pay for equal work. At the company level, we are 44% female and 56% male, with a 50-50 balance on the leadership level!
Piaggio Fast Forward
Piaggio Fast Forward has multiple DEI programs in place for our employees; including a mentorship program, regular pay equity audits, DEI training, and a standardized interviewing framework that is focused on "culture add". These programs support an equitable and inclusive workplace, that promote the growth, retention, and recruiting of women and BIPOC in the workplace.
One of Cogitos core operating principles is to seek diverse perspectives. There are several initiatives and programs that we are doing to both promote gender equality and remove bias which embody our own core principles. We have created a Cogito Women Resource group (ERG) which is sponsoring this month an event for International Women’s Day 2021 (IWD). We conducted a compensation audit focused on gender and race equality and corrected any parity that was identified. We are partnering with organizations like She Geeks out and National Center for Women & Technology (NCWIT). We have an ongoing several weeks rotation program that non-senior leadership women participate in the senior leadership meetings by providing a diverse perspective. We provide several different training resources, such as giving equitable feedback during the performance review process. We are continuously looking for additional ways to promote gender equality and remove biases.
"We must confront ourselves and our core values. The disproportionate professional impact that the pandemic has had on women, especially women of color, has yet to be determined. We must all take a close look at our organizations and force ourselves to make immediate adjustments to empathize with and be supportive of women in business, as we slowly return to our new normal."

     - Heather Ames, Co-Founder and COO
"In order to improve gender dynamics, we must look from within to ensure employees emanate behaviors consistent with Examity’s messaging of equality in the workplace. One way Examity strives to accomplish this is by altering our hiring practices to increase gender diversity. We have done this is by maintaining a diverse interview panel, proactively sourcing from a gender-diverse pipeline, imposing fair equal pay practices, and promoting flexible schedules and a positive work-life balance."

     - Kathleen Glebus, Vice President, HR, Examity
"Provide continuous education around Unconscious Bias to all levels of employees. What does it look like, what does it sound like and how can we help each other to avoid letting these biases get in the way of our decision making? Everyone needs to be able to look around the room and ask "Who's missing from this conversation?" and take action to bring them into the room."

     - Chelsea Dougherty, Talent Development Consultant, ERT
"At DraftKings, we believe that role modeling is an extremely important step to challenge any gender bias: seeing is believing. As an example, last month we proudly appointed our long-time risk and compliance leader, Jennifer Aguiar, as the new Chief Compliance Officer, an executive level position reporting directly to our CEO, and this past fall, we made two significant additions to the Company’s Board of Directors through the appointment of Jocelyn Moore and Valerie Mosley, joining Marni M. Walden as female directors.

Role models do not just appear, they are supported and developed along their path to leadership, which is why DraftKings works with The Leadership Consortium through Harvard Business for Executive readiness, and Sylvia Ann Hewlet, author of The Sponsorship Effect, for formal sponsorship of underrepresented talent. These investments help to create opportunities for current employees to organically develop as subject matter experts and Senior leaders, to become the next generation of role models in our industry.

We understand the significance of diverse career role models and mentors for our employees and actively create spaces and opportunities for employees to engage in direct lines of communication as a way to drive value for everyone at DraftKings."

     - Vanessa Spatafora, Director of Inclusion, Equity, and Belonging, DraftKings
ToastHER is our community dedicated to female-identifying Toasters and allies. ToastHER is on a mission to empower each other in the workplace. They run a number of events, programs, and workshops tailored to helping our community develop the personal and professional skills needed to thrive.
Framework is intentional in our recruiting and screening processes to mitigate gender bias in all hiring decisions and to ensure pay equity across our teams. That, combined with our generous parental leave policy (52 weeks paid) and flexible approach to work location and schedule for all employees, has resulted in 14 out of our 17 leadership positions being held by women.
Words matter. That’s why at Nexthink, we run job descriptions for our open roles through a gender decoder to help uncover language that might subtly bias applicants. Our aim is to be as inclusive as possible and using tools like a gender decoder helps us match our words with our intent.
The Predictive Index
"Organizations can reduce the barrier to opportunity for women through training and exposure to technology, senior level management and positions. With a goal of developing the best teams possible, companies should recognize the economic, technical and societal contributions women have achieved and make it a priority to incorporate the characteristics that have created those achievements into their company mission. If standard practice, those qualities become the norm and are valued across the organization. Creating a safe, transparent culture allows organizations to identify and remove biases where they may exist, ensuring a better workplace for everyone.

We are looking for examples of initiatives, training programs, tools, etc. that are being leveraged by your company hoping that others might adopt the same best practices to avoid gender biases. At The Predictive Index, we know that diverse teams are more innovative and productive. We understand that expanding our pipeline was a ciritical piece to ensuring we are creating diverse teams. We created a PIoneer Academy, which provides candidates relatively new to the tech industry the ability to grow into a skilled role at the company. Through a mix of employee mentorship and on-the-job training, the Pioneer Academy aims to challenge gender biases, while encouraging culture fit and diversity of perspective."

     - Jackie Dubie, SVP of Talent Optimization, The Predictive Index
Wellframe is hosting an #IamRemarkable training facilitated by our very own VP of Marketing, Alyssa Alsheimer. The training empowers women and other underrepresented groups to celebrate their achievements in the workplace and beyond by challenging cultural and gender modesty norms and imposter syndrome in the workplace.
Companies can require that half of all interview panels be non-male and require very specific (nongendred) language as to why a person was or was not a "fit" within organizaitons
"At ZoomInfo, our Women’s Initiative Network employee resource group recently launched a series of interactive panel discussions called Women Who WIN. The series gives the entire organization the chance to hear how superstar women employees shaped their careers. The first two events in the series focused on traditionally male-dominated fields — Sales and Engineering — and challenged gender biases within these disciplines by showcasing women at ZoomInfo who have taken on leadership roles."  

     - Alyssa Lahar, Chief Human Resources Officer, Zoominfo
Arcadia's commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion has a specific emphasis on inclusivity. During Arcadia's celebration of International Women's Day (which is prominently featured during Arcadia's month of honoring women's history) the goal of inclusivity has a specific focus to empower black and brown women in STEM programs. Arcadia's People Operations and Social Justice League have active campaigns to raise awareness, fund programs and build sustainable career paths in the sponsorship of two critical groups: Girls Who Code and Black Girls Code.
What can companies do to help remove and challenge any gender biases that may exist in an organization?

"Constant focus with the hiring team and HR to ensure that diversity is being sourced and interviewed. It’s a requirement from the top. Hiring is hard, and it takes time. It’s too easy to fall back on taking CVs as they come; we must look to attract and source for diversity in our ranks."

- Pamela Cyr, Senior Vice President of Business and Corporate Development, Tufin

What can companies do to help remove and challenge any gender biases that may exist in an organization?

"Companies can help women by getting out into the schools and communities to teach young women about cybersecurity and inspire them to explore that as a career path. Companies can also create internship programs for high school graduates that can fit into junior roles so they can start their training early on."

- Michal Lewy-Harush, CIO, Tufin
Recorded Future
Removing gender biases starts with action and education from the very beginning of the employment lifecycle. This approach and mindset are embedded into our organization from the start. To support this, companies can ensure job descriptions are gender-neutral and structured in a way to attract all talent of all backgrounds -- there are several free tools online to help with this. We also invite candidates to share their pronouns ahead of interviews with the team.
What can companies do to help remove and challenge any gender biases that may exist in an organization?

"Companies should give women opportunities to present their ideas directly to executive leadership. If managers present ideas on behalf of their teams, it may not be clear to the C-suite that the ideas originated with others. That sort of visibility and direct recognition can be important for career progression and for helping dismantle assumptions about who drives innovation."

We are looking for examples of initiatives, training programs, tools, etc. that are being leveraged by your company hoping that others might adopt the same best practices to avoid gender biases.

"Acquia requires diversity training of all employees to help recognize and avoid biases, including gender bias. We also support Employee Resource Groups--voluntary employee identity- or experience-based groups that help build community and culture within Acquia. The Women of Acquia group provides a safe place to compare experiences and share ideas.

- Lynne Capozzi, Chief Marketing Officer, Acquia
Liberty Mutual
At Liberty Mutual, we understand that fostering an inclusive and equitable workplace where everyone can grow and build a career means embracing all dimensions of diversity. Liberty is committed to the advancement of women and the engagement of men as allies. We provide resources to help expand gender awareness and strengthen gender collaboration skills. We also offer initiatives and benefits that support the advancement of women and strengthening men’s ally skills.
The goal of the PatientPing Women's Employee Resource group is to provide community, personal and career resources, information around gender issues, and advise leadership on these issues and on behalf of its membership. To achieve these goals, the Women's ERG has initiated an external speaker series, PatientPing peer groups, and larger group discussions to enable the women at PatientPing and continue to support PatientPing's growth and diversity.
We have built a culture around three core values, all of which guide us in delivering at the highest level on behalf of our employees and customers: Execution, Innovation, and One Team. We are committed to diversity at all levels of our organization, from our employees to our Board of Directors, where a majority of members are from underrepresented groups. Our longest running and largest employee-led resource group is the Women of Brightcove, centered around amplifying each others' voices, fostering inclusivity, and helping each other achieve our goals.
First, companies and all individuals need to admit that there are gender biases in the first place and they most likely have them (conscious or not). At Markforged, we have a Slack channel called WAM+, which stands for Women+ at Markforged, where both men and women come together to engage openly in candid conversations about the challenges women go through in both the workplace and in the wider world.