Gender diversity in the workplace matters, for various reasons. Not only does it clearly benefit business by stimulating creativity and innovation, but it also represents an ethical and social commitment, towards society as a whole and towards women in particular. Having acknowledged that, I think it is safe to state that in the technology industry, where women have traditionally been underrepresented, gender diversity matters even more. Here is why.
More diversity means more creativity. Teams with members of different backgrounds, all having a different frame of reference as well as different life experiences and points of view, are more likely to create innovative solutions and think outside the box. Conversely, if all team members share the same vision, it’s harder for them to try new ways of working, to dare something different, or even to find flaws and weaknesses in their old work habits and existing solutions. Bringing new visions to the team prevents it from falling in the “we have always done it this way” trap.
More importantly, however, more diverse teams can meet the needs and demands of more diverse customers. Decades ago, computers and electronic devices were mainly boys’ toys. Nowadays, every ordinary citizen, whether young or old, man or woman, uses computers, smartphones and other connected devices on a daily basis. And not merely at work but just as well outside of it. Electronics have, in fact, moved into every single room of the household.
Your customer is a woman
The plain and simple truth is that women are not a minority in the world. In fact, they constitute at least half of the world’s population. Therefore they, too, need to be represented during the conception, development and testing of those devices and applications that they, too, will end up using. Otherwise, we will just keep on producing digital technologies and services that appeal only to men and leave most women unsatisfied, or ignore import aspects of their lives.
To give an example, even though their target customer represents a huge part of the population, period tracking applications have arrived on the market only really recently. Ignoring women in the technology production process can even lead to pretty dangerous results, such as pacemaker manufacturers not taking into account that pregnant women have a particular heart condition, so that the program in the pacemaker should be set accordingly.
Your colleague is a woman
Finally, let’s not forget that, from a human resource perspective, being acknowledged as a company that encourages diversity also allows you to attract and retain the best talents, reducing employee turnover. For example, it would be way harder for a company that shows little respect for gender diversity to convince a female top candidate to work for them. Just as it would be a lot tougher to retain a female colleague, if she doesn’t feel included in that company’s teams.
As these examples show, hiring diversity requires diversity. But if handled well, it also breeds diversity, allowing you to benefit from the above-mentioned creativity, innovation and other competitive advantages. To conclude with the words of our CEO, Vincent Paris: “Diversity is a strength, a real strength. It encourages innovation, it accelerates collective intelligence, and that is exactly what customers expect.”
As I hope to have proven here, gender diversity can be a huge asset for your business. In my next post on the subject, I will write in more detail about the ethical and social commitment it can also represent. Meanwhile, you can find more information about Sopra Steria’s own commitment to diversity and equal opportunities on our corporate web site.