Diversity management: technology is the future for everyone

How culture of inclusion can fill the skill gap – the point of view of our CTO, Ivana Borelli

Gender equality in the global labor market, in its long and tortuous battle, is finally experiencing a much-needed momentum. In Italy, however, it still hides in the shadow of equally important problems such as youth unemployment or digital literacy. Raising this problem and demonstrating its relevance will be the first step for the creation of an inclusion culture, essential to bridge the skills gap.

An interesting starting point for this topic can be found in recent Consob research, “Gender diversity and performance of companies listed in the stock exchange”, based on the the impact of Law 120 of 2011 , which introduced gender balance. The conclusions are clear: diversity in the business environment has important consequences for company performance. A larger percentage of women on boards of directors, which is around 20%, is a determining factor in increasing corporate profitability, while the BoDs that value gender diversity tend to work better and be more open to innovation.

How does the technological field, often considered innovative and far-sighted, deal with this problem? Let’s look at the numbers: a recent report by Statista shows that the largest companies in the technology sector employ about 26% of women, in the case of Microsoft, and 46% in the case of Netflix, with a decreasing percentage when it comes to positions in tech. Furthermore, the female presence in the various positions remains very low:

  • only 25% of employees in tech are women
  • women own only 5% of technology startups
  • female executives represent only 11% of the Fortune 500 companies

Faced with these data we must start with a new approach: create a culture of awareness and encouragement, starting from institutions and schools, abandoning the prejudices that technical skills are reserved exclusively for men.

I think one of the main reasons for girls’ lack of interest in deepening IT skills is the lack of female mentors. Having a role model can help many girls to imagine themselves in that role, to have self-esteem and pride in their professional experience. Allowing women to share their achievements and experiences in technology to a large audience is crucial. One of the important initiatives, regarding this issue, is the Women4Tech conference, which takes place during the MWC, the world’s largest digital and mobile industry event to be held in Barcelona at the end of February (DigitalGO will be there, let’s meet!) .

The initiatives that promote women in technology are also born within the big companies, such as NoiD Telecom, a Women’s Association that seeks to enhance the female talents of Telecom Italia. With the promotion of an inclusive and merit-oriented style of management, NoiD Telecom is also oriented towards research and analysis, as demonstrated by the recent event “Let’s look inside: Gender Gap Tim Observatory”.

So how can each one of us contribute? We can start by questioning the culture of our company. How does my company address diversity issues? Do girls apply for open positions? Can they grow and advance in their careers? If we find improvement points, we should open an inclusive dialogue, and rewrite our corporate culture so as to accommodate talents regardless of gender, age, language, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity and experience.

From the moment we succeed in convincing our interlocutors that the power of diversity produces innovation, speeds up problem-solving and gives a fresh and wider perspective, we will be able to motivate future programmers, designers and leaders to undertake their journey in technological field. Digital innovation and technology are the future for everyone.

 

Download the Consob report