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Do you feel you’re getting what you’re worth? Do you feel you’re paid what you’re worth? Do you feel you’re being offered opportunities that reflect what you are worth? Do you feel like you’re being evaluated fairly for what you are worth?
You probably answered “no” to at least one of those questions, but that doesn’t mean the issues can’t be fixed.
In fact, the opposite is true. Importantly, there are things that women in IT can do themselves to implement change and create a more inclusive work environment. The key is to fight for your worth – whether that is demanding pay equity, career opportunities or more inclusive and productive day-to-day interactions. And in an industry where women comprise just 28% of the workforce – and women of colour account for only 2% – this is extremely important.
Here are four ways that women can drive a more inclusive workplace.
1. Build a community
Embrace neurodiversity and build a supportive community that includes many different people.
There is a lot of confusion around the term “neurodiversity”. It is effectively a concept that refers to the neurological differences that are recognised and respected as any other human variation. These differences include labels such as bipolar disorder, dyspraxia, dyslexia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and Tourette’s syndrome.
Neurodiversity itself is not a trait that an individual possesses. When we talk about diversity, we should not say that an individual is diverse. It is typically a group, team or organisation that is diverse. Individuals can be divergent, or neurodivergent if they fall under these labels – the opposite of which is neurotypical.
When looking at your own workplace, neurodiversity can represent itself in four key roles. A coach helps group members develop specific skills or competencies, such as reading data or presenting information. A mentor helps navigate career options and decisions. Consider tapping mentors from outside the organisation. An ally provides support in challenging situations. For example, in a hiring situation, someone might say: “I’ve noticed we don’t have any female candidates. Is that something we can look into?” And a sponsor is there to advocate for others – expending their own political capital to further the careers of others.
2. Hero your personal brand
If you’re still thinking about your career as a ladder and you’re trying to figure out how to climb to the next rung, it’s time to change mindsets. Consider your career in terms of purpose. Your purpose is a combination of what you love to do, what you’re good at and what you’re paid well to do.
Identify where you enjoy spending time and where you’ve been praised for good work. This can be a specific task, like fundraising for a specific cause or the way in which you work, such as your approach to analysing data. The key is to use purpose as a basis for your brand and to choose your career path accordingly.
3. Challenge pay inequity
According to Gartner, 60% of women have never negotiated their pay. If you’re in a position to coach other women on this skill, do so.
If you are in control of pay, be clear and open about paying equitably. Leaders are often frustrated by the lack of data on pay. IT leaders are in a position to partner with other business leads and provide better data – for example, in a salary audit.
4. Deal with marginalising behaviour
Behaviours that marginalise women can include anything from ageism to pet names to over-explaining and gender-biased language. These may not rise to the level of being reported to HR, but they are relentless behaviours that add up throughout a job or career. Call out these behaviours if and when you see them in meetings or in the workplace.
Christie Struckman is a research vice-president at Gartner.