As much as we would love to believe that it’s an equal playing field out there for women in the workplace, it’s not always the case, particularly in the tech world. While a role might seem like your dream job and you may have an instant connection with the hiring manager, you might discover a disturbing ‘bro space’ when you start your first week if you haven’t carefully examined the company.
You don’t have to only seek out female-founded and run companies to find workplaces that value diversity and empower minorities. Instead, it is beneficial to think strategically when investigating a new role, team, or company.
We chatted with three women who are strong advocates for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging in the workplace: Sandra Lim, Head of Talent; Christa Swana, People, and Experience Lead APAC/DEI Officer; and Pavi Iyer, Head of People and Talent. They share their insights on how women in the workplace can identify a nurturing environment where they can grow and feel supported.
How to recognise an environment that supports women in the workplace through career progression
Sandra highlights the visibility of allies throughout the workforce as an indicator of a healthy environment for women to succeed. “In male-dominated workplaces, it is crucial to have leaders and allies who support women’s success. Having both male and female leaders who champion, mentor, and guide women in their roles ensures that women are not overlooked. Providing mentorship from leaders promotes employees’ growth plans.”
According to Christa’s observation, the presence of women of all ages in the workplace signifies a supportive environment where flexibility is valued. “Women in different stages of their lives are often the strongest advocates for flexible working conditions. Such conditions allow women to have a smoother transition back to work after maternity leave. It also allows primary carers to feel less stressed in juggling their responsibilities.”
A culture that values and supports speaking up empowers us, says Pavi. “You need a supportive and safe space where you can voice your needs and express areas you’d like to develop without fear of being overlooked for promotions, or stymied in career progression and growth. It’s important to find a workplace that appreciates your skills and empowers you to be your authentic self.”
You must consider your current priorities when looking for a job that suits you as an individual. Your needs and ethical priorities matter. By conducting thorough research, you can gain valuable insights into a company and determine whether it aligns with your values.
For women in the workplace considering a new role, Sandra suggests looking at the diversity makeup of the business and the prominence of individuals from underrepresented communities in their work-life within the company. “Having representation from across various communities, not just based on gender, demonstrates the diversity in thought leadership, and the openness of the company to different ideas.”
To gauge a business’s fit with you and your values, Sandra suggests looking at the activities and programs in which the company has participated or sponsored. She suggests asking questions such as: “Do they have a DEIB council? Are there employees involved in Women in Tech, Women in Sales, or Women in Energy groups? Which employees do they feature on their LinkedIn page?”
Christa explains that she found the right-fit company by considering factors such as “work/life balance, positive employee feedback, and reviews, opportunities for growth, training opportunities, diversity, and inclusion metrics and policies, as well as maternity leave, miscarriage leave and domestic violence leave along with the business’s standpoint on these important matters.”
What sort of questions should women in the workplace ask in interviews?
Alongside your usual list of interview questions, don’t hesitate to ask the tough questions regarding workplace equality if you cannot find the answers through your research. Sandra, Christa, and Pavi have provided several great questions for women in the workplace to gain a comprehensive understanding of a company from the inside out.
- Do you have a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging program in place?
- How has the company responded to recent events that impact diversity and inclusion in the workplace?
- What are the CEO/Founder’s views on equity in the workplace, and what do they personally do to promote this?
- Do you have a DEIB program that specifically addresses gender diversity in the workforce?
- What is the current gender pay gap in your company, and what initiatives are in place to ensure equity for all employees?
- How does the company provide support mechanisms for females in this particular industry?
- What programs or support networks can I expect to receive in this company if I am successful?”
- How does the company support professional development and growth for its employees?
- What are the company’s values?
- Do you actively promote behaviours reflecting the company’s values from the top down?
- What does success look like for this role?
- What do you believe would be my biggest challenge in taking on the role?
Providing an equal-opportunity workplace goes beyond mere statements on paper and hiring women across different departments. As Sandra puts it, an equal-opportunity workplace is one that “offers equal opportunities to all employees, providing them with equal access to growth and development opportunities, flexible working arrangements, and continuously addressing unconscious bias through awareness training.”
Just as employees have KPIs, workplaces should implement quantitive measures to assess their progress in DEIB. “This can be done through annual audits or pulse checks that specifically analyse gender-related data. Sharing the analysis of any identified shortcomings can guide companies in addressing them. ” Pooling together diverse working groups can help in meeting these needs.
By adopting DEIB strategies, companies can foster an equitable environment that addresses gender imbalances and attracts more women in the workplace in a meaningful and supportive manner, particularly in male-dominated industries.