Archive for November, 2019

How we Support Women in IT @ Contactpoint

November 28th, 2019 by Heather Maloney

I believe that it’s important to lead by example, which is why I am writing this blog post about women in IT at Contactpoint.

The fact that I’m the founder and sole director of an IT company (male dominated industry) some would say is enough. And it would be relatively easy to leave it at that, because anyone who operates a business knows that doing so is very challenging, particularly a small business. However, that isn’t enough for me; I want to do my small bit to ensure that the females who work for us, and any other females that I come across in my industry, are given a fair go. That’s Australian after all.

Please note that I said a fair go. This isn’t about “jobs for the girls”, or giving anyone who doesn’t deserve it an easy ride. It is about acknowledging the diligence, hard work, brilliance, and support from the women in IT around me, who may need to break some cultural norms in order to be noticed and get the opportunities they deserve.

What do we do differently at Contactpoint for women in IT?

  1. When hiring:
    • Our job ads include words that research shows attract more females because we want to have a diverse team. A diverse team provides a richer source of knowledge and ideas for our clients, and a richer work experience for the whole team.
    • During interviews we acknowledge the (generalised) different styles of men and women when presenting themselves and their achievements. We have both males and females from our team involved in the interview to provide balance for the process and comfort for both male and female candidates.
  2. Work ethic:
    • Same for all. Women are socialised to be the ones who “pick up after everybody else [read ‘men’]”. I expect all my team to work hard (and smart); to do an honest day’s work.
    • Both men and women may need to do basic, perhaps you might say “menial” tasks from time to time … I expect both genders to roll their sleeves up and get it done.
    • When it comes to time off to care for children who are staying home because they are sick, I expect that either parent in the household might need to stay home to fulfil this caring role.
  3. Salary:
    • Same for all. We reward our staff with a salary commensurate with 1/ their level of education, 2/ their years of experience, 3/ their effectiveness in their role, and 4/ their work ethic. Males are often more likely to request a pay rise without any qualms (not always, it can depend on cultural background), whilst women are more likely to rely on their manager valuing their skills and efforts without fanfare, and will be less inclined to ask for the raise. This can leave females less likely to receive increases or a lower increase, as they are perceived to be happy. I am careful to assess pay rises evenly across the board, regardless of requests for raises or not.
    • Maternity leave doesn’t mean you miss out on pay rises – why should a woman’s salary effectively decrease due to time out of the workplace? I am careful to ensure that any CPI type increase is applied to the female upon return to work so that her earnings is not disadvantaged.
  4. Career:
    • Opportunity for all. As an employer I have had (mostly women) say things to me like “don’t hire young women, they won’t be with you for long before they head off on maternity leave”. Regardless, I believe that it is important to provide both males and females with the same opportunities to learn and grow their career, in any role they choose. Cultural norms can also lead to men being given more opportunity to progress and develop than women [you’d think that men were innately smarter the way some people behave]. Without that bias, I believe that I am better equipped to recognise talent.
    • Training for all. Each member of staff who has been with us for more than 1 year has the same funding for additional training, regardless of gender or role.
  5. Maternity Leave:
    • Pregnancy is obviously a uniquely female circumstance. The pregnancy also takes a significant toll on the female’s body and physical ability to work and do seemingly simple things like get on a crowded train and travel with morning sickness.
    • After the birth, the female can experience anxiety with regard to conflicting desires to both return to their career, as well as stay at home to nurture their young one. Cultural pressures from family or social circle can add to the internal conflict.
    • Helping a female return to work after her maternity leave requires flexibility; I try to provide this flexibility and empathise with the pressures that are unique to females who have a young one at home.
  6. Mentoring:
    • Whilst I’m very busy, I have made myself available over the last couple of years particularly to mentor females who are undertaking studies in technology and related fields – providing encouragement and insights to help them understand what their career might be like in the field, and ensure that whilst it is still very male dominated, that they understand the upside of working in the industry and can see examples of females being successful in this field.

The above might not sound earth shattering; actually it seems pretty obvious and like it should be the norm everywhere. Sadly that’s not been my experience, and from what I hear from others, not their’s either. This blog post seeks to put it out there, help to bring attention to the problem in a very practical way, and keep myself accountable as well.

What have I missed from the above? Feel free to contribute!

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