Once upon a time (and still true), focus on gender equity was about human rights – it was and continues to be just simply fair that half the world’s population should be treated the same as the other half – have the same opportunities, pay, conditions, treatment. For the record, they don’t.
Over time, in the last 5 years or so, thanks to the likes of McKinsey, Hay Group, Zenger & Folkman, DDI, Bloomberg, the message being shared is that women are a very good economic investment, companies with equal (or above 30%) numbers of women at the executive and board tables do better. They tend to be ‘nicer’ to each other, more inclusive, collaborative, more likely to have a legacy mind-set and, that most telling of issues, act with greater integrity around money and people.
So, the debate has gone from fairness in the hands of advocates for human rights, to an economic pitch – worth hard cash.
Here’s another option – it’s a third path – and it is central to the tech industry (above all), in partnership with the rest of STEMM.
I think we all know that technology is beating politics in terms of global influence. I think smart people love it, use it, and, as the recent ABC phone poll might suggest, need to fess up that we are doing things that aren’t entirely healthy with the tools we’ve got (in particular, our mobile devices).
Is this a personal discipline issue? As with alcohol, or food or smoking? We are all watching the change in the street (everyone is on their phone), or in a queue at the airport, football ground, cinema or restaurant. We know what happens with our phones at home, our PCs, iPads, Apple devices. We know that if we aren’t careful, the entire family splinters off to connect with their favourite social media, live streaming, google searching, and games. We know what’s happening at work (boy do we know) – the absolute myth of email making life easier, the cc all, the 24:7 accessibility, the urgent message at 9pm, 6am (and yes, I am guilty of them all).
So, is this addiction or necessity?
Frankly, I don’t know. But I have an image in my mind’s eye of men (mostly) who own and lead tech companies, men (mostly) in design teams, men (mostly) creating, designing, coding on computers, all over our world, I suspect cleverer than the average Yogi bear, but also introverted in large part, somewhere between 20 – 35, inside their own immense brains, preferring this space to all others, thinking about/inventing the technology we use – at home, work, in the community, for transport, medicine, engineering, for theatres, schools, for data storage, analytics, marketing, product development, security.
I don’t think I am the only person at all who recognises promoting women in this space is not about intellect alone (though that makes sense), or about fairness (although that’s central), it’s simply this: without women’s mitigating influence, what is being created?
If it’s true that (conditioned or not) women predispose to inclusion, collaboration and they are legacy mind-set, if it’s true they can be trusted with assets (money and people) – what would change in the development of the toys that consume our time – phones, iPads, tablets, computers, games, digital media, or, dare I say it, AI, if women were in equal number in the technology sector?
Maybe in any sector.
We are proud to have been the overall winners of the National #TechDiversity Awards for Diversity and Inclusion, for our Compass Program (National leadership program for women – over 600 women have participated) and affiliated global Homeward Bound program.
Author, Fabian Dattner, Founding Partner Dattner Grant, Co Founder Homeward Bound