Speaking from experience, women in IT careers are few and far between. Whether the cause is a lack of encouragement in STEM careers or business owners refusing to hire them, the result is females are still vastly underrepresented in technology. This underrepresentation not only affects minor positions within tech companies — but also high-level executive positions across industries.
Parity.org is attempting to battle this representation gap through a very simple pledge. The organization requests that organizations commit to interview and consider at least one qualified woman for every open role, VP and higher, including the C-Suite and the Board.
There is no requirement to hire the female applicant, they only want females to at least be considered for each position. From there the company can choose to hire whomever they desire. The organization calls this the ParityPledge. Just by putting female candidates in front of those in charge of hiring can open up thoughts and a point of view that may not have been considered prior to meeting with the potential employee.
Many businesses have already taken the ParityPledge, and there is proof that it can work. While not specific to women, the NFL Rooney Rule, named after Dan Rooney, owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers and champion for equal representation, is a National Football League policy that requires league teams to interview qualified minority candidates for head coaching and senior football management roles. There are no quotas, no deadlines. Just a requirement to interview them. As a result of the rule, minorities in the senior ranks of the NFL increased from 6% to 22% in just three years.
In a prepared statement Amy Robinson, Carbon Black’s chief people officer states:
“In addition to upholding the ParityPledge to ensure a strong focus on diversifying our candidate pool for leadership positions, we’re also investing in initiatives such as: Grace Hopper, Mass Conference for Women, The Cigar Room (our internal women’s empowerment group), She Geeks Out, and Career Contessa to find other ways to network with women and attract them to and grow them within our organization.”
Diversity within the executive levels of any business can only help to improve the company. When you witness a trainwreck of a marketing campaign that completely missed the mark, or was even offensive to many, it is usually due to a lack of diversity from those who created and/or approved the campaign.
You know the ones that make you think, “How in the world did this get passed all of the people who needed to approve it?” Each person in the flawed approval process must have had similar backgrounds and experiences, which limit their ability to put themselves in someone else’s shoes.
A growing number of companies are showing their commitment to resolving gender pay gap issues within their organization, and now through the ParityPledge they are also showing their commitment to resolving equal gender representation even at the highest levels of the company. These commitments are essential, especially in the tech industry, which has been considered a boys club for far too long. Since the ParityPledge is just getting started, it will be interesting to see if results are similar to those experienced in the NFL — where minorities are gaining ground in the senior ranks, though there’s plenty of room for additional progress.