Human Resources Management Articles on a variety of HR topics, Diversity and inclusion, leadership and more, offered by the Red Shoe Movement

The New Normal: The Future of Work Is Here

Who would’ve thought that in such a short period of time the entire world would be thrown into the new normal?

Join me in imagining potential scenarios that may become part of the new normal. This is an invitation to ponder questions about the future of the workplace in order to trigger your own questions, hypothesis and ideas worth pursuing. The more you think about it, the better prepared you can be to influence your own role in what’s coming.

We build together the new normal

We build together the new normal

Creating the new normal where we can all thrive

It’s fascinating to see how quickly things change when there’s a pandemic. Have you noticed how overnight organizations and institutions have been forced to accelerate their timetables? Unlike what happened until now when different political agendas or conflicting interests interfered with progress, it’s quite possible that in the new normal things that have proven to work will be put into practice rapidly so that more people enjoy the benefits.

What about your company and your job? Will anything change?

A large part the planet is working from home right now. Regardless of what your job is, this experience will result in at least some changes. That may mean that you’ll have expanded responsibilities, that your division or business unit has been eliminated and you are asked to take on a completely different role, or that you’ll have the choice to work remotely more frequently. Without a doubt, this is a good time to learn new skills that you can apply in any new role. Showing that you’ve made productive use of this critical time by upskilling will play in your favor.

What to study? Start by review your skills, experience and education against the backdrop of the fields that are doing well and will continue to flourish when this is all over. For example: anything that makes life livable right now such as Internet providers, streaming services, virtual conferencing platforms, logistics companies, online retailers, anything to do with healthcare, mental health, entertainment, and so on. Spend some time considering: What other areas can you think about that will remain a necessity or will become a necessity when we are on the other side of this crisis?

The New Normal is happening now

The New Normal is happening now

Here are the kinds of questions that can help you explore areas of opportunity

  • Will people be more or less likely to travel?
  • In response to a long time in isolation, how will people’s spending habits change? Will they try to live a smaller, more controllable lifestyle or will they splurge on luxuries they were deprived of for a long time? Think about products and services that may become popular.
  • Will people try to become more self-reliant or be ready to hire the services of others after a long time in isolation?
  • Will people continue to order everything online or will they opt to do their food shopping in person and walk to their favorite boutique to try on the clothes they want?
  • Will most K-12 schools become technologically savvy and finally enter the 21st century with an education model that is more aligned with kids’ real life outside of school or will they go back to traditional teaching?
  • Will this accelerate the AI revolution or on the contrary, slow it down?
  • Are there new opportunities to expand the shared economy? And what about the caring economy?
  • Will there be new opportunities in exercise/sports that people can do on their own while still feeling part of a team

What aspects of the present will remain?

Companies have been forced to implement quick changes. I believe that as they prove to be useful, many of those changes are likely to become permanent. What do you think?

  • In certain sectors, many companies will close their office buildings, now that the organization has verified that employees can be equally productive from home. Other companies may establish remote work as the default policy, as the software that helps people work in teams at a distance has now become a standard tool for companies big and small not only in the US but in regions such as Latin America.
  • Having had to shuffle people around to cover different functions may help establish formal programs for associates to rotate roles in different business units so that the organization remains nimble.
  • Perhaps seeing how useful it was to have certain people be able to deal with a wide variety of issues in an organization might encourage a return to generalists versus specialists.
  • When I see how companies and the public sector tend to collaborate in times of crises, I can’t avoid being hopeful that at the end of the crisis at hand, that collaboration remains in place. So, I hope we’ll see an increase in cross-industry collaboration and in collaboration between competitors.
  • Most likely, there will be an expansion of the gig economy. It’s likely that many of the people whose jobs get eliminated will opt to work for themselves. This will in turn create more opportunities for large organizations to interact with these individuals and new small companies.
  • If you think distance learning was already a well-established sector, it will now be much more widely adopted. As more individuals and companies realize the convenience it offers, the ease of customization and the flexibility for everyone to study at their pace and at the time of their choice, online learning will offer many more options and formats. A sign of things to come is the high demand we are experiencing right now for our virtual leadership programs for female talent and for men: Step Up Plus and Step Up Men.

Gender equality may happen overnight

Here’s one of the great opportunities to make a change overnight taking advantage of the current situation.

Think about the following. For a long time, the double burden (of working full time and having to take care of the family) and the demand to be available anywhere anytime were two of the biggest obstacles for women to get executive positions.

Now, when almost everyone has experienced working remotely from home while quarantined with their families, both men and women from senior executives to support staff, suddenly, the playing field is leveled at least for a moment. Remote work is no longer an accommodation for women, or something they can do so at the same time they can take care of the family, but a benefit used across the board.

As everyone is home together, men and women working remotely and not able to get out of the house, it’s a great opportunity to renegotiate roles. Responsibilities previously thought to be women’s can (and should) now be shared more equally. This must be done in a deliberate way in order for the new roles to be clearly defined and to be long-lasting and not only temporary.

It may be the push we needed to shift social stereotypes. When both mom and dad are home and they alternate cooking, household chores, taking care of the kids, homeschooling and working remotely, suddenly, it’s hard to go back to the old ways. So, may this crisis give us the chance to come out on the other side a totally new society? It may.

We must also be observant of the possibility of the exact opposite outcome. That the likely economic downturn in most countries may create a conjuncture where women are expected to stay home again. When, because resources are limited and jobs fewer, the family needs to make a choice around who goes back to work and who takes care of the household and kids. And we go several steps back in terms of a gender inclusion at all levels in our organizations and institutions.

The new normal is being created now. We are building it together with every one of our acts every day of this pandemic. The way in which we behave, in which we work, live, communicate and care for each other is creating a new fabric as we were stitching together a global quilt. New social agreements, structures, priorities and values will emerge as a result. And as all of us will be changed by the experience it’s critical that all of us participate in the making of this new society.

Take this time to think about what future you want. Defining the new normal is everyone’s responsibility. Let me know your thoughts so we can keep this conversation going!

Anxiety: What Causes it and How to Keep it at Bay

We are at an unprecedented moment in the history of humanity. A moment that requires us to take care of ourselves and in most cases shelter in place in isolation or with our family. Today we talk about anxiety: what causes it and how to keep it at bay.

It is the first time in history that a pandemic is taking place through a virus of such rapid contagion and long incubation in the midst of globalization. This virus can get to any of us. It makes no differences.

In our normal lives, there are many reasons why thousands of people die, but since they seem like problems of another country or region, we usually feel safe.

Do you remember a couple of years ago, the photo of a little dead boy in the arms of a rescue worker on the shores of the Mediterranean? It moved us all for a few weeks and then we forgot. The image had the audacity to penetrate our daily lives and yet it did not provoke more than a few minutes of emotion in our lives. Soon that death, like that of so many thousands of other refugees who continue to die at sea, was forgotten and no longer news.

The same goes for wars, famines and many other diseases like Ebola that are restricted to areas far from our homes.

This virus, which in the early days could be believed only affected a far- away town in China, soon spread throughout the world. And it has the particularity that it makes all of us equal. (In Argentina, for example, the first case we had was of a passenger who arrived in first class on a flight from Milan.)

Here's another post on how to overcome anxiety inside and outside of work
Understanding what causes anxiety will help you control it. Photo Credit- Priscilla Du Preez. Unsplash

Understanding what causes anxiety will help you control it. Photo Credit- Priscilla Du Preez. Unsplash

What causes anxiety and how to keep it at bay

When we talk about anxiety, it is important to explore what causes it and how to combat it, since understanding the cause will help you find solutions tailored to your situation.

1Feeling like everyone is a threat

First, a source of anxiety is that anyone can be a threat and infect you. You don’t know where the enemy is. It is an invisible microbe that has humanity in checkmate.

2Feeling that you are not in control of the situation

Many people feel anxiety in response to thoughts like, “I can’t control it.” That is, the idea that you can’t control it simply because you don’t see it. These past few days, many of my patients expressed this concern. If this is your case, let me remind you that the idea of ​​having things under control is just an illusion. Actually, you never have complete control of anything. There is always a margin of error and chance that makes us susceptible to things not going the way we expect. When this illusion explodes against an indisputable reality it makes us anxious because we suddenly feel out of control. The illusion that dissipates and makes is that it is impossible to have absolute control. Ever. Only until now you did not see this fact clearly clearly. Therefore, let yourself be guided by the authorities, and live one day at a time without trying to plan anything, even in the medium term. This situation is changing minute by minute and we will have to adapt to the new normal.

3Feeling uncertain about the future

Uncertainty also generates anxiety. But this is a time to be patient, and not try to anticipate anything. In other words, as I said before, manage your life minute to minute. We do not know when the quarantine will end, nor in what situation we will be. Right now it is important to think about today’s actions and projects and perhaps those for the next 2 or 3 days. Let’s put to work our creativity and internal resources.

If up until now you were someone who liked to have her entire schedule planned well in advance, take the opportunity to “break” away from your structure. Maybe you can use that ability to organize your closets, drawers, books, the kids’ room, or the kitchen cabinets. For the next few days you will have to make friends with uncertainty since it is not possible to do anything else. The sooner you do, the less anxious you’ll be.

One of the activities to keep busy at this time is to clean up your closets and organize your home. Photo Credit- Dhruv Patel. Unsplash

One of the activities to keep busy at this time is to clean up your closets and organize your home. Photo Credit- Dhruv Patel. Unsplash

4Having an excess of information

You have to be very careful with excess information. Especially the one that flows from unofficial media. We all have many chats where we get videos or audios. Some seem scientific others are funny. People bombard us with information. In some cases, we ourselves go looking for it on the Internet. That excess makes you crazy. Because it often involves false or contradictory information that is hard to weave out from the real one.

I suggest that you focus on the information shared by the official channels of your country, such as that of the ministries of health. If you don’t trust your own authorities, you can visit the World Health Organization’s (WHO) page. Establish one or two times a day when you’ll seek this information and then disconnect.

The coronavirus ends up infecting everything, not only physically, but mentally. If you allow it, it will take over your whole life. Even if you are tempted to be on social media constantly or watch the endless stream of news, do your best to avoid it. More information will not benefit you. Also avoid forwarding messages and videos to others in your network. Not only does it overload them but it also overloads the system which is already stressed by everyone being online all the time.

Learn what causes anxiety to limit these situations

Learn what causes anxiety to limit these situations

5Formulating apocalyptic ideas

Situations like the one we are in lend themselves to apocalyptic ideas. Maybe it is not your intention, but when you see that your neighbor buys food as if he were preparing to spend six months in a bunker, or you see the empty shelves at your local supermarket, you start to think that perhaps the apocalypse is indeed around the corner. Keep calm. We are not facing the Third World War or the end of the world. It is important that you stock up knowing that you will be able to go out again in a few days. I reiterate that if in doubt go back to well respected sources: your government’s official page or the WHO site.

6Overestimating or underestimating the situation

Another thing that generates anxiety is not being able to assess accurately what is happening because we don’t understand it. Let us trust that in each country there is a committee of experts advising the authorities.

It’s as important to avoid overestimating the situation by creating an apocalyptic movie or underestimating it to the point of putting your life and that of others at risk. If you follow the guidance of your local authorities, anxiety will drop substantially. It is not you who has to make the key decisions right now. Delegate that responsibility on those who understand the subject. Your responsibility is to abide by their recommendations and to use common sense.

Don't miss 10 things you can do to stay sane during the quarantine
Anxiety: What causes it and how to keep it at bay. Avoid overestimating or underestimating the situation. Photo Credit-John Cameron. Unsplash

Anxiety: What causes it and how to keep it at bay. Avoid overestimating or underestimating the situation. Photo Credit-John Cameron. Unsplash

7Feeling dragged down by the vertiginous moment

Another cause of anxiety is the speed of changes we are experiencing. Between the uncertainty and the confinement, it would seem that nothing contributes to calm you down. But think about this: When there are strong winds, the trees that survive are the most flexible. The stiffer ones will probably break. So stay flexible.

The news flow is ongoing and the information is not always consistent. It’s two steps forward and one step back. Maybe two days ago you were working at your office, and now you are doing remote work. Maybe tomorrow you’ll be laid off. We all have to adapt all the time. Don’t think for a moment that you are the only one who’s having a hard time adapting. To a greater or lesser extent it’s hard for everyone. What you should know is that as long as you want to cling to the way things used to be, you’ll have a worse time.

As a psychologist, I have always seen patients in person. In the last few days due to the measures taken by the government, they weren’t able to come to my office. So I offered to hold our sessions by phone, Zoom, FaceTime or any other virtual platform.

Many accepted the idea immediately and some decided to wait because they still don’t feel ready for it. Think how permeable you are to change. The new norm, for some, is an inaccessible monster. Try going slowly, taking on the challenge of doing something you have never done before. You may be surprised to see that it was not so difficult. And the monster was nothing more than a defense mechanism of yours to hold on to rigid models.

This can be a great time to rest. It is as if the world has stopped for a while, giving us the possibility to look each other in the eye, or to look ourselves in the mirror. Reflect on the direction our life is in and the one we want going forward. Let’s think about the things we have never said, and to whom we would like to say something. It is also a great opportunity to get bored. Yes, getting bored allows ideas to bubble up.

While we don’t know how long this isolation will take, it won’t last forever. At some point we will meet others again, we will hug again, we will kiss again. Perhaps by then we will have discovered abilities that we did not know we had. Perhaps by then, a painting created by us will hang on our wall. Perhaps by then, we have become friends with unthinkable people. Or we have become wiser, more cautious, with some permanent habit changes, truly valuing leisure time.

There is so much to do …

Be flexible. Photo Credit-Mahkeo. Unsplash

Be flexible. Photo Credit-Mahkeo. Unsplash

2020 Perfect Vision on Gender Equality

The year is 2020. The time is now to make gender equality a reality. Here’s how you can engage with likeminded individuals around the world.

Just as the World Economic Forum set Closing the Gender Gap Accelerators “to create global and national public-private collaboration platforms (…) to address current gender gaps and reshape gender parity for the future,” many organizations have set their own gender equality goals for 2020.  For our company it’s a big year as well. With the motto: 2020 Perfect Vision on Gender Equality, we are rolling out the 3rd annual “Ring the Bell on the 7 Seas,” a Red Shoe Movement Gender Equality global initiative.

We've been Ringing the Bell on the 7 Seas, a Red Shoe Movement Gender Equality Global Initiative since 2018

We’ve been Ringing the Bell on the 7 Seas, a Red Shoe Movement Gender Equality Global Initiative since 2018

Why do we ring the bell for gender equality?

A few years ago, UN Women, the Sustainable Stock Exchanges, IFC, Women in ETFs and the World Federation of Exchanges created the “Ring the Bell for Gender Equality” to “raise awareness of the pivotal role that the private sector plays in advancing gender equality to achieve SDG 5.” (United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.) With this mission in mind, every year for International Women’s Day, March 8, (or close to that date) women ring the bell at stock exchanges worldwide.

Considering that the Red Shoe Movement’s mission is to accelerate the representation of women at the highest levels of leadership, it was only natural for us to support and echo the UN’s initiative with one of our own.

Ringing the bell in Tel Aviv

Ringing the bell in Tel Aviv

Ringing the Bell on the 7 Seas

I’m sure you’ve heard that water represents 71% of our beloved planet Earth. This invaluable fluid substance never sits still. It’s constantly moving dynamically connecting us, nurturing us and making life possible. It’s the world’s connective tissue bar none, a true example of a global force with the power to erase distances and differences, and to bridge all gaps.

And since water has long been associated with emotion and intuition (starting with the Greek philosophers Empedocles and Plato,) it has also been associated with the feminine. No wonder then, that we call our initiative “Ring the Bell on the 7 Seas,” the best way we know to communicate that gender equality is an issue that affects us all, and only by having men and women working side by side will we achieve success.

On International Women’s Day we echo the UN’s Ring the Bell for Gender Equality. We extend an immersive, hands-on invitation for everyone to grab their bell and join the worldwide conversation. We will be ringing the bell once again on the 7 seas and the 7 continents with a large number of partner organizations and millions of individuals. 

RSM Gender Bell 2020 commissioned to visual artist Scherezade Garcia

RSM Gender Bell 2020 commissioned to visual artist Scherezade Garcia

Debuting our 20/20 RSM Bell

From the beginning of our initiative the bell has played a key role. From the CEO of the company to guests, executives, associates all ceremony participants are invited to take turns ringing it.

We felt it was time to elevate the bell to an art piece and in doing so, conveying the message that this is no ordinary object but the symbol of a collective call to action. To achieve that, we commissioned Scherezade García, a unique visual artist with the kind of synergy you can only dream about. Born in the Caribbean, in the Dominican Republic, Scherezade moved to the island of Manhattan where she resided until years ago she moved to Brooklyn. Both the sea and the issue of inclusion have been a constant thread in her artistic exploration, culminating recently in her Liquid Highway series. For our project Scherezade created Chromatic Current, a painting that now graces our limited-edition bell collection.

Scherezade Garcia with RSM 20/20 Bell

Scherezade Garcia with RSM 20/20 Bell

“The sea is the liquid highway and the keeper of our ancestral memory. It carries our stories, our DNA, our memories, and our history. With this project I aim to imply the universal connection and the fluidity of our identities and our lives,” said Sherezade about her work. “The RSM 20/20 Bell is like a brush that I dipped inside my paint and it came out dressed up by the sea. When people ring it, they are calling upon all the stories that we weave together when we sail through the planet’s oceans. The sound has the remarkable power to unify us, men and women pulling together towards gender equality.”

Grab the Bell for a Perfect Vision on Gender Equality

Grab the Bell for a Perfect Vision on Gender Equality

Ringing the Bell on the 7 Seas with You!

Our Smart Lead & Celebrating Partners

For this year’s exciting celebration, we are joined by Honeywell, our Smart Lead, ranked 77 in the Fortune 500 list, a company that produces commercial and consumer products, engineering services and aerospace systems. And by our amazing Celebrating Partners: Microsoft, Ultimate Software, Lexus, the Panama Canal Authority and the California Maritime Academy.

Gender equality for our time

You can already see how for the new generation, the one Greta Thurnberg leads (more so now that she’s Time Magazine’s 2019 Person of the Year,) gender equality is a given. Young people today don’t even understand why we need to have this conversation. Inclusion is part of their make-up and gender fluidity one of the tenets that support their understanding of inclusivity. Yet, until there’s a full generational replacement in the workplace, several different generations will continue to work side by side for many years to come. So, the challenge of reaching gender equality in pay and in leadership positions will remain one we all need to address.

“Ringing the Bell on the 7 Seas” is a fun, yet truly effective way to raise global awareness while encouraging everyone to actively engage with one of the key issues of our century. Join us, our Smart Lead and Celebrating Partners by grabbing your bell and wearing your red shoes and ties. Let’s make some noise together. Sound carries strong and clear across the oceans.

Shantaa Foster rings the bell for gender equality

Shantaa Foster rings the bell for gender equality

Our Founding Sponsor 

Joining forces with Celebrity Cruises was a no-brainer. A company led by Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, a CEO set on changing the industry by making gender equality a priority, its ships started ringing the bell in every corner of the globe with the Red Shoe Movement on March 8, 2018. That first year, my team and I joined Lisa onboard Celebrity Summit at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale while the rest of the fleet as well as Royal Caribbean Offices joined from their own locations.

In 2019, we boarded the Celebrity Reflection anchored in front of Cayman Islands in the Caribbean Sea and then took a small tender to reach the Celebrity Edge, which was strategically positioned only a couple of miles away. After leading the morning bell-ringing ceremonies on each ship, we sailed on the Edge to Fort Lauderdale and took part of one of the Red Parties that Celebrity hosted on each vessel. We were joined by Ultimate Software, our Tech lead, a company that offers Human Resources software solutions, who carried out bell-ringing ceremonies in 18 locations from Singapore to Toronto.

In 2020, we recognize Celebrity’s leadership with the first RSM Hall of Fame Women Ensemble Award honoring four of their leaders: Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, President & CEO, Captain Kate McCue, First North American female captain of a cruise ship, Captain Nathaly Alban, First Ecuadorian Captain of a cruise ship and Nicholine Tifuh Azirh, First West African Bridge Officer.

 

How to get more girls into STEM & keep them in tech careers

For the last few years there’s been an increased focus on how to get more girls into STEM fields. But that’s only the first step.  But if organizations want to be successful in the not so far away future, keeping young women interested in tech careers is just as critical.

Programs to get girls into coding, engineering, robotics and other STEM fields are beginning to make a difference not only in the way young women view learning about technology, but also in them considering a job in the tech world after graduating.

Start early to get more girls interested in STEM. Photo Credit: Andy Kelly- Unsplash

Start early to get more girls interested in STEM. Photo Credit: Andy Kelly- Unsplash

Wanna Know How to Get More into STEM? Early Introduction to Technology

Some studies show that toys can teach children important skills. Yet, contrary to what you might think, it seems that toys are actually getting more gendered than ever.  Girls continue to be targeted with more and more princesses that foster stereotypes that tend to stick with young girls, and boys with building sets that tend to encourage engineering skills.

According to Reshma Saujan of Girls Who Code, girls are “afraid of trying something they might not excel at right away.” This makes it easy for them to lose interest in things like coding, which is a process of trial and error where mistakes are not only unavoidable, but completely necessary. Teaching girls to be brave from an early age, to allow themselves to make mistakes and try new things, seems to be a key ingredient in keeping them interested.

Parents and educators play an essential part in keeping girls interested and helping them develop both skills and confidence. You can help by encouraging a balance in your kids’ toys and choosing activities you can do as a family on a regular basis. Remember, it’s not about taking all “girly stuff” away, but rather about introducing a larger variety of options and truly sending the message that anything is possible if they work hard and persevere.

Educators will have to find new ways to help girls connect with STEM subjects, providing good role models, creating programs that cater to their particular interests. They should also encourage girls to keep trying, not shy away from competition and to use their voice. The “one-size-fits-all” approach isn’t working and, unsurprisingly, girls need to be given work they can be passionate about to be lured out of their comfort zone.

Offer girls toys that encourage building things- Photo Credit: Rick Mason- Unsplash

Offer girls toys that encourage building things- Photo Credit: Rick Mason- Unsplash

Closing the “Interest Cliff”

But it’s not just about integrating girls into programs that have been largely built for boys. It’s necessary to develop better computer programs in schools with different options that appeal to a more diverse group of students, with projects that girls can be invested and involved in. Studies show that girls do stick around when projects are personally relevant.

A Microsoft-conducted survey found that young girl’s interest in STEM fields peaks when they’re 11 or 12, and drops significantly between 15 and 16. This “interest cliff” happens in some places around the world where young women get the message that these fields are not for them.

So, you can help avoid this interest drop by encouraging your girls to:

  • Plan vacations that have a volunteering component such us building homes, schools, etc. Organizations such as TECHO are ideal.
  • Organize trekking trips that include geological or botanical exploration. They can prepare ahead of time information about the sites they will visit.
  • Visit hands-on science museums.
  • Visit engineering-heavy plants such as NASA’s Space Center in Houston, Boeing in Seattle, etc.
  • Find conferences and movies with inspiring female protagonists. (Hidden figures, for example)
  • Look for programs where they can meet other teens who are also interested in robotics, engineering, programming, etc.

Stay involved and reward your daughters’ efforts. Remind them often how important it is to try even when the outcome isn’t always successful. And even most importantly, encourage them to keep trying when they make mistakes.

How to get more girls into STEM fields. Photo Credit: Emma Matthews. Digital Content Production- Unsplash

How to get more girls into STEM fields. Photo Credit: Emma Matthews. Digital Content Production- Unsplash

Game Changers to Get More Girls Into STEM 

Creating opportunities for young girls to meet women to look up to is also ideal. Some studies show that girls are 17% more likely to feel powerful working on STEM activities if they personally know a woman in these fields. Finding motivation not just in education, but in the future ahead.

It’s encouraging to find that programs looking to get more girls into STEM and hooked on coding from an early age have become more and more common, with platforms like the Girls Who Code Movement, Canada Learning Code, Microsoft’s DigiGirlz and the African Girls Can Code Initiative by UN Women, an Africa-wide program that aims to empower girls through digital literacy and coding.

There’s also Kode with Klossy, a scholarship program created by model Karlie Kloss sending girls aged 13-18 to coding camps where they can be mentored by female leaders in tech.

And social media movements such as #ILookLikeASurgeon and #ILookLikeAnEngineer are also sources of inspiration.

Initiatives like Girls in ICT Day and the She Can STEM look to empower young women with an interest in STEM fields and encourage them to stick around, introducing them to role models in their fields of interest. These success stories can sometimes make the difference between choosing a career in these fields or giving up.

A New Kind of Education in Tech

Some software schools are trying to find new ways of tearing down inclusion barriers and shift the numbers in their classrooms and, hopefully, the workforce.

To achieve this, the Holberstone School of Software Engineering, for example, has an automated application process built on a challenge that can take 8 to 80 hours to complete. It’s built for beginners and ignores the applicants’ background, ethnicity, gender and experience to focus only on the motivation of the person taking on the challenge.

To get more girls into STEM fields and help them stay in tech careers will take a village. There are some hopeful signs that we are taking steps in the right direction.

Tearing Down Inclusion Barriers in the Workplace to Narrow the Gender Gap in Tech

One of the biggest challenges the tech world currently faces is coming up with new ways to narrow the gender gap that exists at big tech companies, both in executive positions and programming. Tearing down inclusion barriers is key to create a world we are excited about.

The lack of diversity in executive positions and programming is a noteworthy problem because it means that these voices and their invaluable insights are not being heard. Change is taking time. According to some studies, the stats for women who earn degrees in computer science are still pretty low. The numbers are even lower for young women who choose to go into computing jobs and even worse for executive positions in Silicon Valley companies.

But while the talent is out there, it needs to be lured out of its hiding place and nurtured and seduced with a brighter future for a more diverse tech world. One with possibilities for young women with an interest in fields like programming.

Tearing down inclusion barriers to narrow the gender gap in technology. Photo Credit: Karl Pawlowicz -Unsplash

Tearing down inclusion barriers to narrow the gender gap in technology. Photo Credit: Karl Pawlowicz -Unsplash

The Importance of Tearing Down Inclusion Barriers

Leveling the playfield in technology and creating a future we can be excited about has a lot to do with tearing down inclusion barriers that have allowed a pretty homogeneous group of people to occupy the big offices at tech companies for years. These barriers have kept others from reaching their full potential and holding progress back.

According to Monique Morrow, president and co-founder of Humanized Internet, it’s more important than ever for people in the technology world to make sure their teams are “diverse in thought and reflect the recipients or benefactors of the technology”. Emphasizing that it’s important to shine a light not only on women, “but also people of color and various diverse backgrounds via film, social media”.

More diverse teams not only serve better an organizations’ clients but they can help prevent unconscious bias within programming and even AI. (Think about recent controversies about facial recognition programs racial biases due to the homogenous  team of programmers who trained the algorithm.)

So it’s critical that organizations make Diversity and Inclusion a real priority and set specific interventions to overcome implicit biases when hiring and promoting.

Tearing down inclusion barriers. Photo Credit: Brooke Cagle Unsplash

Tearing down inclusion barriers. Photo Credit: Brooke Cagle Unsplash

 The Rise of Remote Work

Remote work is among the many ways in which technology has made life easier. There are some simpler, positive aspects of working from home, but there’s more to it than comfort or avoiding long commutes and traffic. A remote workforce can also play a critical role in tearing down social, geographic and physical barriers, making it easier for more diverse teams to come together naturally and for team leaders to avoid any issues of predisposition they may consciously or unconsciously have.

Working remotely also creates job opportunities for people who in the past would not have been considered for the role.  It pays no mind to location and allows a special flexibility in schedules that, in many ways, is unique to our day and age. This also makes it possible to focus on the work that’s being delivered and the proficiency of employees.

For women who take up on the role of primary caregiver of their families, remote work can open a world of possibilities and make it easier for them to grow and compete in the fast-evolving tech world.

It's important to focus on narrowing the gender gap to include more women in tech. Photo Credit: Marvin Kuhn- Unsplash

It’s important to focus on narrowing the gender gap to include more women in tech. Photo Credit: Marvin Kuhn- Unsplash

 Digital Fluency and Alternative Recruitment

 While women are still fighting for their much deserved spot in the world of tech, the tools and initiatives to tear down barriers and help companies operate outside the stereotypes are becoming more readily available. Finally, the recruitment process has started to change to give way to a more inclusive workforce.

Increasing number of companies have adopted automated processes in recruitment, employing algorithms that eliminate biases. These programs overlook variables like gender, past titles, years of experience and even names and last names making it possible for candidates to be hired based on skills alone. Companies like tilr.com go as far as skipping the interviewing process to provide its clients with background and skill ratings of their hires.

This makes it paramount for women to work on honing their tech skills and mastering “digital fluency”. The extent to which women can comfortably embrace new technologies plays a key role in narrowing the gender gap. Female leaders can and have thrived in the business, but education is key in the process of reaching those spots.

Together we should work on reducing the gender gap in tech. Photo Credit: Tim Mossholder-Unsplash

Together we should work on reducing the gender gap in tech. Photo Credit: Tim Mossholder-Unsplash

A future we wish to have

Creating a more inclusive workforce is, not surprisingly, a crucial aspect of creating a world we are excited about. Until there’s a better balance in the world of tech, the views, opinions and needs of a considerable part of the population (half in the case of women) will continue to be ignored in a digital era that needs them.

However, there’s hope. Hope in education, platforms and companies that have what it takes to change and inspire change in others. With opportunities being created in spite of how easy it may be to feel hopeless sometimes. It’s a process. An ongoing fight.

Morrow sees opportunities in spite of how easy it may be to “paint a dystopian world”, and she seems to feel optimistic about the future of young women in tech in fields like healthcare, cybersecurity and privacy: “There is so much to do and I am personally excited about the possibilities to truly create the world we wish to have not the one we would like to avoid!”