On a recent board call, I was asked directly why it is so hard to get and keep women in technology.
Before I could answer, a gentleman on the call answered with the words taught in, no doubt, a corporate-sponsored training.
Now, I am not trying to throw anyone under the proverbial bus. I’m sure this gentleman’s intentions were in the right place. But we can’t whittle down the reasons women aren’t in and don’t stay in tech to the same list of bullet points. One cannot sum women up in a single training event. If you want to genuinely understand what women have to say, let them speak as individuals.
We are diverse. Our experiences are different. Our minds think and absorb information in a wide range of ways. These differences should be celebrated, not relegated to bullet points. So that begs the question: Why aren’t more women in tech? Why is the attrition rate for women in tech double that of our male counterparts? How do we fix the lack of gender parity?
Give HR Tools to Recruit and Retain Women Talent
We must give HR departments the tools to evaluate and grow soft and transferable skills within our existing workforce. Instead of poaching talent from each other, we need more apprenticeship programs and internships for those across data center operations. We learn from each other, and we must value certifications, on-the-job training, and the many different onramps to this industry.
Think of it this way: Despite the best work of engineers, programmers, cyber experts, and other specialized roles within the data center, without a simple cleaning, a whole site can fail from a dust related incident. A data center is an ecosystem, and every skill level is critical to its survival. Why don’t we celebrate the depth and breadth of employment opportunities across our ecosystems?
Promote Women in Leadership
In our business leadership, in our event panels and presentations, and in the data center space as a whole, we need more female role models to reflect the desired makeup of our industry.
Women want to work at companies where they can see career progression for themselves. Whether real or perceived—after all, perception is reality—women may pass a company over if they don’t see themselves down the road in someone that exists today.
All-male C-Suites and all-male boards don’t provide that vision. Companies that have women in leadership do significantly better financially. Companies with multiple women on their boards realize even greater rewards.
Sponsor Training Programs for Early Career Women
Additionally, we need more schools and programs to reach young women. While coding academies are a start, they represent a small part of the industry. Young students that dislike coding often give up on tech entirely.
From construction to the cloud, we need to showcase more roles within the data center industry and meet women where they want to work. We should celebrate the creative “work with your hands” talent as much as the boardroom talent.
Offer Sponsorship and Mentorship
It’s a shame that experienced workers are not just leaving their job, but the entire industry. We must ensure that women in the data center industry gain exposure to other areas within the ecosystem. Skills within one area may translate well into another specialty. One doesn’t have to be a “techie” to work in the data center space.
If we want to work toward gender parity meaningfully, companies need to embrace women and their needs. If you have a corporate team-building activity that excludes any woman, understand that you are cutting them off the resources you avail yourself. Ask what they need. Could all of this be as simple as conversation?