6 Ways to Get (and Keep) More Women in Tech

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Women in tech


Kavitha Prabhakar, Kristi Lamar, Anjali Shaikh, and Caroline Brown
Kavitha Prabhakar, Kristi Lamar, Anjali Shaikh, and Caroline Brown
May 20, 2024 at 8:55PM UTC

Despite the efforts that many chief information officers (CIOs) have made to increase diversity in IT, women continue to be underrepresented in IT leadership and the IT workforce as a whole, according to a recent analysis by Deloitte LLP’s U.S. CIO Program. 

Most U.S. CIOs who participated in Deloitte’s 2018 Global CIO Survey say their organizations lack programs to support diverse employees. Almost half (44 percent) have no specific initiatives in place to recruit, develop, or retain a diverse workforce. Only 36 percent say their organizations try to recruit and hire diverse employees and even fewer focus on initiatives such as training and development (22 percent) or retention (15 percent) that can keep talented underrepresented employees on board for the long term (Figure 1).

And even when IT teams have workplace diversity and inclusion (D&I) programs, not quite a third of IT staff (32 percent) are women and an even smaller percentage of women (27 percent) report directly to the CIO. As you can see in Figure 2, these percentages aren’t much higher than those in teams that did not provide such programs.

Through creative leadership, CIOs can demonstrate that diversity and inclusion are priorities, not just platitudes. Many organizations have reinvented recruiting efforts, tried to eliminate bias in the hiring process, and partnered with educational institutions or external organizations that emphasize STEM careers or education. Others are expanding their focus beyond diversity hiring to inclusive IT cultures, career development opportunities, and engaging all employees in D&I efforts.

Based on Deloitte interviews and research, here are six ways to help create diverse and inclusive IT cultures that can enable all employees to thrive.

1. Articulate the business case.

Clearly outlining the business benefits for IT D&I can help CIOs align any team skeptics to the D&I strategy. More diversity can help teams overcome persistent IT talent shortages, and research has shown that the heterogeneity of ideas present in diverse technology teams can enable better operational and financial performance and greater innovation, among other benefits. Employees on such teams can benefit from higher performance ratings and pay bonuses.

2. Establish metrics and hold leaders accountable.

Diversity-related data on talent, hiring, and salary, among others, can help CIOs create baseline measures, set goals, compare progress across teams and industry averages, and hold IT leaders (and themselves) accountable for meeting targets. The data may reveal gaps in racial and ethnic diversity, sexual orientation, age, educational background, disability, geography, or other factors, enabling CIOs to determine what diversity means for their teams and extend their commitment to diversity beyond gender.

3. Pay attention to inclusion, not just diversity.

Organizations that focus primarily on recruiting and hiring diverse populations but not on retaining them may not be fully committed to true inclusivity. Employees may appreciate perks such as generous parental leave and on-site childcare, but they also likely want to work on IT teams that authentically prioritize and value inclusivity, provide advancement and development opportunities, and remove biases that may exist in HR and IT policies (e.g., salaries, performance reviews, and flexible scheduling).

4. Provide networking, mentoring, sponsoring, and professional development opportunities.

Employee resource groups (ERGs) and other networking groups, formal and informal mentoring and sponsorship, and professional and career development opportunities can help level the playing field by creating an environment where women and underrepresented groups don’t have to climb uphill to access the same opportunities as others.

5. Enlist everyone in D&I initiatives.

Inclusion training can provide men and women with the information and tools to become valuable supporters of diversity. Some companies provide enterprisewide inclusion training initiatives; CIOs may be able to leverage such employee training programs to help bring men into the gender diversity conversation.

6. Walk the talk.

In any department, leaders set the tone. CIOs’ beliefs, words, and actions usually help drive IT D&I goals and objectives. For example, they can serve as advisors for ERGs, lead corporate or team D&I initiatives or committees, or sponsor and mentor high-performing women technologists. CIOs can also work to help ensure that outside vendors and partners share similar corporate diversity objectives.


A version of this article originally appeared on Deloitte Insights. Fairygodboss is proud to work with Deloitte. 

This publication contains general information only and Deloitte is not, by means of this publication, rendering accounting, business, financial, investment, legal, tax, or other professional advice or services.

Kavitha Prabhakar is a principal with Deloitte Consulting LLP and leads Deloitte’s Civil Government sector. She is a member of the Deloitte’s Board Council and the leader of the executive women in technology initiative for Deloitte’s CIO Program. Kavitha has led various Women’s Initiative (WIN) programs for financial services including 100 Wise Women and Women on Wall Street.

Kristi Lamar is a managing director and the experience leader for the Deloitte U.S. CIO Program at Deloitte Consulting LLP. Kristi leads a team dedicated to supporting CIOs and technology leaders through research and insights, career support, brand building, and custom services designed to fit the ever-changing needs of today's CIO.

Anjali Shaikh is a senior manager at Deloitte Consulting LLP. She is the Executive Experiences lead for Deloitte Consulting’s CIO Program where she is responsible for strategically leading and managing immersive CIO and IT executive experiences. 

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