How to Support a Culture of Diversity
By Carmel Zein, Content Manager, Online Retailer
International Women’s Day, celebrated on 8 March, commemorates the movement for women’s right around the world.
The push for rights may look different in various parts of the world but the message is clear; we are striving towards gender equality.
What does this mean for the tech industry?
Only 14% of women hold executive positions in the tech industry in Australia and women account for 28-31 percent of technology roles in general. There is clearly a need to find ways to nurture women into these roles and provide opportunities to increase the percentage of women in executive positions. Further to this, there has been a bit of controversy recently around the lack of female representation as speakers and participants at conferences and on panel discussions.
There is a great opportunity for conference organisers to use their platform to assist in growing the profiles of women in the industry and as such, the team at Online Retailer have made a pledge to strive towards gender parity at Online Retailer 2018 (agenda to be released soon!).
Whilst we as conference organisers play an important role in facilitating spaces that encourage diversity, the issue goes deeper than simply filling panels with women for the sake of equal representation. A thoroughly curated conference agenda is a reflection of the state of the industry and its current trends, therefore we must all take ownership in playing our parts in shaping the industry and ensuring complete diversity.
When asking Fi Bendall, Founder & CEO at The Female Social Network what gender equality in the digital/tech sector looks like to her, she replied;
Gender equality looks like a dichotomy in the digital/tech sector. Broadly women in the global technology industry are sparse and few in great or leading positions. The constant dreadful sexist programs or comments coming out of the tech sector over the last couple of years are cringe worthy and woeful. On the other hand we see amazing technologies being designed by women, women in health is one that stands out. Women in the USA with STEM jobs also earned 40 percent more than men with non-STEM jobs. While nearly as many women hold undergraduate degrees as men overall, they make up only about 30 percent of all STEM degree holders. Source http://www.esa.doc.gov/reports/women-stem-2017-update
Along with Fi’s thoughts on this, many other professionals, men and women alike, in the digital/tech world are grappling with the issue and how to make positive steps in the right direction. The team at Online Retailer are ensuring we place women and men in equal positions on advisory boards, roundtables, panels and speaking roles so that we can support collaboration and normalise this movement.
‘Women belong in tech’ says Fi, ‘Give them the space to breathe and collaborate with men… Let’s not tolerate a #metoo culture’.
What can you do to support this movement?
As retailers and key players in the digital world it is now more important than ever to build each other up and support your female colleagues.
- If you hold an executive position, make a conscious effort to bring more women under your wing and support them through mentoring programs and encouraging them to further their professional development
- Retailers can give back to women in need; charity based retail is definitely on the rise and it would be wonderful to see more retailers jumping on board and providing products to women in less privileged situations such as women shelters
- Referrals, recommendations and a push for women to participate on conference programs and industry conversations
We are trying to create a culture of comradery within our network. We welcome suggestions and recommendations of new ideas and speaker suggestions so that we can all work together to bridge the gender gap and assist in driving ecommerce in Australia in a way that is inclusive of both gender equally.