How to: Attract and retain female Software Engineers to your business
By Dan Clouting. Dan is a Senior Consultant at Zeren, and is a member of our Technology hiring vertical in the UK.
The value of a gender-diverse workplace has broadly and correctly increased in the current generation of businesses.
Companies have finally recognised that a gender-diverse environment:
- Improves innovation around problem-solving through differing viewpoints, ideas, and market insights
- Increases wider industry knowledge
- Allows them to serve an increasingly diverse customer pool
However, while other functions have seen an increase in gender diversity, Software Engineering is lagging behind. Currently, women only account for 25% of computing occupations and female Software Engineer hires have only increased by 2% over the last 20 years.
There are more institutional factors at play here but, as a business, how do you make your company and hiring process suitable to increase the likelihood of attracting and retaining female Software Engineers?
- Introduce benefits that would appeal to females
Naturally, company benefits are valued differently across professionals – however, for female Software Engineers, we find that benefits such as enhanced maternity policies, childcare vouchers, flexible working/hours are of the greatest importance. Therefore, when advertising a job vacancy, it’s important to clearly highlight these benefits. Not only does this encourage women to apply, but also highlights that the company promotes a culture of understanding, flexibility, and willingness to support a positive work/life balance.
- Include diverse imagery and marketing
Company websites (especially careers page) and social media presence are a telescope into your company culture. By including diverse imagery, you are highlighting that you are a company that caters to all types of employees. It is worth considering the office space when a candidate comes in for a meeting. Football tables and beer fridges for example may give off the wrong signal to a lot of female Software Engineers about the office environment.
- Welcome “returning mothers”
“Returning mothers” are often overlooked when companies are hiring talented female Software Engineers. Whilst these professionals may be slightly rusty and out of touch with modern Software Engineering practices, they are hungry to learn and with the right support mechanisms in place, are able to pick up new technologies quickly. Therefore, highlight the processes and support provided at your company, to encourage returning mothers to apply.
- Diminish and eradicate the male-dominated culture
The Technology industry has been male-dominated for many years, resulting in certain behaviours and cultures being accepted – this often discourages women to stay in the industry. It’s critical to ensure that the office environment and social events encourage women to participate. Furthermore, creating a women’s network within the business could also greatly benefit the culture.As touched on earlier, gender diversity at the decision-making table adds a lot of business value and gives female Software Engineers a platform to contribute. This results in them feeling valued and more likely to stay with the business. Therefore, ensure you are giving the same opportunities to your female members of the team and cultivate a culture where they can share ideas freely and take on more responsibilities.
- Development opportunities
Any employee, no matter the gender, is likely to become frustrated and demotivated if they aren’t continuing to grow and develop. There is a multitude of training courses and events designed purely to encourage female Software Engineers to improve their skills – invest in these, as you are signaling to the female Software Engineers, that you are prioritising their development and giving them a stepladder into positions of more responsibility within the business.
- Female role model presence
If you can see it, you can be it. If your business has women in senior positions such as board members or directors, those at the junior level are more likely to be inspired and have confidence that they can achieve such success. Create opportunities whereby junior female Software Engineers can engage and work with senior role models in order to increase their motivation to work in your business.
By implementing some if not all these practices, you are going to have positive consequences in the shape of an increase in female Software Engineers joining the team and, more importantly, staying for a longer period. From there, the business value across all areas is exponential.
Zeren exists to empower the world’s change makers. We do this by building high-performing teams in the world’s most innovative businesses, to accelerate growth by connecting visionary leaders and ambitious talent.
We are a leading global Executive Search & Recruitment firm with teams and offices in San Francisco, Houston, New York, London, Berlin and Frankfurt.
We partner with both high-growth, VC/PE-backed businesses and ambitious Corporate brands placing senior leaders, building exceptional teams, or providing critical interim and consulting talent.