This past summer, the Girl Scouts launched 18 Coding for Good badges
, part of the organization’s focus on giving young girls the opportunity to learn about technology and encourage interest in STEM careers
. This is great to see, but it also raises a question: Are we in the tech industry doing our part
to ensure inclusion in the workplace by giving women a voice once they’re here?
While the tech industry focuses on encouraging women to get into the field, many smart, capable women enter tech only to find themselves dealing with a non-inclusive workplace
. It reminds me of a song from Hamilton
, “The Room Where It Happens,
” which describes the risk we all face when we’re not at the table when decisions are made and are left to have things happen to
us or around
us. Our unique perspective
and ability to influence are missing.
For example, I had the pleasure of working with a brilliant telecommunications executive who possessed remarkable vision. She could quickly assess trends and spot their relevance for her organization, especially in customer experience. But the company’s leadership team dismissed her ideas and marginalized her. In their view, her recommendations for adjusting key customer care processes were too risky. She forged ahead. By setting strategic goals and delivering big operational results like reduced truck rolls and improved net promoter scores, she became a voice that leadership could no longer deny.
Calling Out Exclusion
Sadly, this isn’t a rare exception. At a recent meeting, I had the uncomfortable experience of a client repeatedly directing his questions to the gentleman on my team, who’s my direct report. At first, I was baffled. My direct report, too, was thrown off. By the time he had fielded a third question from the client, the pattern was obvious. My colleague quickly emphasized that I was the lead and expert in the space, not him.
Like a Girl Scout, ‘Be Prepared’
When it comes to encouraging inclusion in the workplace and giving women a voice, the industry can take a page from the Girl Scouts’ dual emphasis on participation and results. The Coding for Good badge program provides a comfortable environment for girls to learn and requires them to complete a project. The end result could be a computer program, video game or app that solves a problem or generates positive change. Small wonder Girl Scouts are more likely than others
to take an active role in decision making (80% vs. 51%).
Women have made huge strides in tech during the course of my career, but we’re still far from the finish line. Girls Who Code
estimates fewer than one in five
computer science graduates are women. The statistics are even more alarming in the burgeoning area of cybersecurity, where only 11%
of the workforce is female.
Inclusion in the workplace is one of the biggest workforce challenges we face. Let’s hear it for the Girl Scouts for reminding business leaders that we need to ensure women have a voice – and for showing us how it can be done.
This article was written by Shameka Young, Vice President, Communications, Media and Technology, Management Consulting & Digital Infrastructure at Cognizant and was originally published on Digitally Cognizant. Fairygodboss is proud to partner with Cognizant. Find a job there today!