Why gender equality in tech is everybody’s issue
I’ve lived most of my business life like many men: believing gender equality in tech is not my issue. But, it’s everybody’s issue.
When it comes to making a difference to gender equality in tech, men tend to come up with excuses on why they shouldn’t be involved.
‘I get the need, but I’m busy’, ‘I want to get involved, but it feels risky’, ‘I can’t really contribute to the issue because it’s not about me’.
Traditionally, gender equality has been a conversation between women, about women – and some prefer if this way.
But being brave enough to step up beside women to speak out about gender inequality, and more importantly act on it, is not about speaking for or saving women.
It’s about men, who are still in positions of privilege, being accountable for gender equity results.
As one of the 160 Male Champions of Change in Australia, I’ve learned that for true gender equality to be realised (and all the benefits that come with it including more diverse thinking on teams) it takes all of us – not just half of us.
Earlier this year, I was privileged to attend the 62nd United Nations Commission on the Status of Women to share what MYOB was doing to address structural gender inequality as a Male Champion of Change.
Being a Male Champion of Change involves several undertakings.
They involve: setting gender targets in their own organisation; agreeing to measure and publicly report outcomes against targets; agreeing to tangible actions to achieve the targets; and conducting an annual gender pay audit.
What we’ve done, and what we still have to do
I proudly shared the progress we’ve made at MYOB in the 18 months since I’ve been a Male Champion of Change – but our gender equality journey still has a long way to go.
At MYOB, today our team is 41 percent female.
Women make up 38 percent of leadership roles, but we have a 15 percent gender pay gap.
I’m confident that we pay women and men who do the same role and perform at the same level equally, but we have a shortage of women in our software engineering team which, given its above average pay rates, leads to an overall pay gap.
To close this gap, we have made a commitment that at least 40 percent of graduate level roles in our engineering team will be filled by women.
If we can’t hit this goal through graduate recruitment, we add to our numbers through a paid internship for women looking for a career change – a program we call DevelopHer.
I’m thrilled to say the first year after setting the goal we hit 50 percent recruitment of women on campus, and have seen success in our DevelopHer program, so we’re making good progress towards our goal.
We’re looking to complement and accelerate these results through targeted recruitment, and thinking more laterally about what it takes to be a great technical manager.
Through this program of change at MYOB and my own journey as a Male Champion of Change I have learned that addressing gender inequality isn’t the sole responsibility of women.
It takes all of us working together.
If you’re a man who wants to stand beside women to address gender inequality, get involved.
If you are genuine in your actions, you’ll find far more tail-winds than head-winds.