Dr. Jacqueline Bouvier Copeland
Chief Operating Officer, AnitaB.org
Technology is a huge lever creating the future of our global society. It has become an increasingly pervasive influence in every sphere of life, making it a necessary human right for full participation.
We need a multi-pronged, intersectional approach to improve business practices and disrupt societal attitudes that inflict bias against women’s potential as leaders. This will help us achieve global 50/50 intersectional gender tech equity by 2025.
To sustain success, and acquire and retain talent, CEOs must cultivate a culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion that reflects their markets at all organizational levels. Leadership also needs to recognize that no company is an island.
Society’s challenges, including sexism and racism, will inevitably spillover into business operations, because talent is reflective of our society. Top levels of leadership need to collaborate to advance public awareness and policy reform that can remove barriers to diverse inclusion and change society.
Steps to Success
Five global initiatives are needed to prioritize inclusion and 50/50 intersectional gender tech equity by 2025. These include hiring, retention, pay parity, venture funding, and women’s empowerment, all of which have the potential to uplift all people regardless of class, national origin, race, orientation, ability status, religion, and other social statuses.
Executives must regularly review workforce diversity data, actively promote equality for all people in the recruitment process, and implement an inclusive strategy as first steps toward equity. Companies need to focus on building inclusive work environments that include mentorship and sponsorship programs, where employees feel safe, valued, and supported. Through programs that eliminate the possibility of bias in pay discrepancy, companies can elevate influential women and create role models for female employees to look up to, learn from, and gain support.
On the rise
Women are the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs, particularly black women, and women-led businesses are outperforming their male counterparts in many VC portfolios. Yet Fortune reported female founders raised just 2.2 percent of total in venture capital money invested over 2018, and Digital Undivided reported black women-led startups raised an even more egregious .0006% of total tech venture funding raised between 2009 and 2017. Investors need to address the huge and missed opportunity in the current VC system.
Providing a forum for women of all levels to convene, connect, build networks, and foster a community of role models who inspire and support one another in their careers, like the AnitaB.org Grace Hopper Celebration, provides a foundation of empowerment from which women can feel confident to accept new challenges and opportunities.
Now is the time for the tech industry to measure what matters most and set goals for representation, pay parity, retention, venture funding, and women’s empowerment. Leaders need to provide clear career pathways and enact policies and programs to reach equal participation in tech. We look forward to a day when technology reflects the community it serves, including women worldwide, and where equity is commonplace.
Dr. Jacqueline Bouvier Copeland, Chief Operating Officer, AnitaB.org, [email protected]