What is your company culture? It is one of inclusion? Customer Service? Growth? Profitability at any costs? Is the company managed from the top down or is there an open door policy that invites ideas and creativity at all levels?
For Tech Savvy Women, our focus is on growing the number of women (from all cultures) in leadership and technology. It continues to be an uphill battle but there is one important requirement for making it happen which is the company culture.
Michael Krigsman for Beyond IT Failure wrote the article Female senior execs speak out on women in technology in which he interviews four women in leadership from Workday. He asks “how can we increase the number of women in technology to which Robynne Sisco, CFO for Workday said this:
I think that it comes down to the culture of the company and whether that culture is one of hiring and promoting the right people for the job, regardless of gender or diversity and background or anything else. And once you have shown that you are that type of company, then you’re going to start attracting more women.
We’re in our roles here because we were the best people for the job. Not because we’re women but because we were the most qualified. People looking from the outside in can say, “Well, I know that I can have a successful career there as a woman because Workday has proven that they promote on ability and don’t have a gender bias, and other types of biases.”
Workday offers a great example of how company culture can inspire and encourage a growth of women in technology. Even if you are one of a few number of women in your department/organization, you can still create a company culture that promotes women in leadership and a more diverse leadership team. Ashley Goldsmith, Human Resource executive at Workday offers this insight:
When you find yourself in the minority in the organization, whether female or otherwise, you could find yourself with a much smaller network just naturally happening. We can take it upon ourselves to proactively build that network by forming relationships, reaching out, and being more intentional with our network. And not just up. I think it’s a natural assumption to think I need to get to know the people above me so that they will be sponsoring me. Yes, there’s certainly no harm in that. But, peers. Even that newest intern; you never know who will play an important role in your professional life over time.
Be sensitive to informal systems and behaviors. The “brogrammer” culture is a good example of what not to do if you’re trying to create an inclusive work environment. At Pluralsight, we work hard to do the opposite by creating a no-fear culture where everyone feels welcome; people can’t feel like entrepreneurs, which is one of our core values, if they spend their day watching their back. We ask all of our leaders to imagine themselves in their team members’ shoes on a regular basis–and this includes thinking about gender issues. With this perspective in mind, we ask everyone to identify and then eliminate sources of fear that others might be experiencing, substituting effective leadership.
Skonnard founded his company in 2004 and continues to be an advocate for diversity leadership at his organization.
What is your current company culture? It may be hard to assess the culture of your company from the inside. It’s like examining your own personal values and skills – it is hard to look in the mirror and analyze the company culture with an unbiased eye. Susan Heathfield offers some advice in her article, How to Understand Your Company Culture. She offers concrete tactics for assessing your company culture and sums up the exercise by saying:
These are ways in which you can observe and understand your organizational culture. The results of your assessment of your organizational culture will tell you what to do more of, less of, stop or start.
The results from your organizational culture assessment will either confirm the efficacy of the culture you have or provide the encouragement you need to change your organizational culture.
Whether you are working in your ideal job or seeking a new position; understanding the company culture will have an impact on whether or not the company is one that women seek out. When we are seeking to grow the number of women in leadership and women in technology, we need to nurture and develop a company culture that is inclusive and supportive of the endeavor.
JJ DiGeronimo, a speaker, author and thought-leader for Women in Tech and Girls and STEM, empowers professional women and consults with senior executives on strategies to retain and attract Women in Technology to increase thought and leadership diversity within organizations.
Check out JJ’s new award winning book Accelerate Your Impact by downloading three free chapters.