Building Talent, Teams, and Community for Women in Tech

Automatic Summary

Building Talented Teams and Communities for Women in Tech: Barriers, Solutions, and Strategies

Today, I'm delighted to share some insights on an essential topic - the development of talent, team, and community for women in tech. My objective today is to provide clear guidance on how we can intentionally improve this crucial sector.

About The Author

I am Sydney Tetro, the CEO of brand list, a consumer and technology company, and the President and Co-Founder of the Women Tech Council. With a career steeped in being a woman in tech, combined with my passion for building and scaling businesses, I believe I have a unique perspective that could benefit everyone.

The Current Reality of Women in Tech

Women in tech represent about 23-26% of the workforce in the technology sector depending on your region, a number far too low for comfort. Our goal should be to increase the number of women in technology as they bring with them novel ideas, result in high-performing teams and reflect the world's changing dynamics.

  • The common desire: Over the last decade, majority of women in tech have expressed a common desire for flexibility. It's critical to understand that this does not represent a desire to work less, but a need for a better work-life balance.
  • The issue of pay equity: Once pay equity and benefits are achieved, the next step up in what is important to women in tech is finding balance in life.

Challenges Faced by Women in Tech

Currently, women in the tech ecosystem face significant challenges.

  • 38% of the technology industry layoffs are accounted for by women, even though they represent less than 30% of the tech workers.
  • It's more likely for women to lose their tech jobs than men, with 65% of women being more likely to lose their job in this sector.

The Importance of Women in Leadership Positions

Yet another metric worth considering is the number of women in leadership positions throughout the talent pipeline, right from entry-level jobs to executive positions.

  • In the tech industry, women only make up 5% of leadership roles.
  • Looking more broadly at public companies, we've just hit the 10% mark of women CEOs.

We need more women in leadership roles to help promote ability and resolve issues around the ‘broken rung’. The McKinsey report refers to the 'broken rung' as the significant gap faced by women as they move into their first leadership positions.

The Complexity of Remote Work

The current discussion around remote work adds a layer of complexity to this issue.

  • Only one out of ten women want to come back to working on-site full time. Again, this isn't about wanting to work less; it's about creating the most efficient work environment.
  • Women have been returning to the office at a slower rate than their male counterparts.
  • 40% of women are breadwinners, making a work-life balance more critical than ever.

Leadership Approach and Building Teams

The success of an organisation in these challenging times depends heavily on the approach of its leadership and how the teams are structured.

The Evolving Role of Leadership

The current state of leadership is evolving, reflecting the demands of a changing world.

  • Accountability, communication, and collaboration are now essential skills for leaders and employees alike.
  • There is now an elevated responsibility on everyone to ensure strong performing teams.

Creating Inclusive Environments

Creating an inclusive environment that is capable of attracting and retaining diverse talent has become critical for any business. This can lead to significant growth and new pathways for women in tech.

In Conclusion

By delivering on these strategies and working together, we can make a real difference and positively impact the future of women in technology. This is a collective effort and with your help, we can bring about much-needed change.

Let's create high-performing teams, meet the goals of our companies, and contribute to the success of our communities. That is how we ensure a vibrant future for everyone in the tech industry.

Video Transcription

OK. Well, welcome to our next session.Super excited to have an opportunity to share a couple of thoughts about the topic that we're top that I'm talking about today, which is really focused on how do we build talent and team and community for women in tech, maybe kind of quick intro. Um I'm Sydney Tetro, I'm the CEO of brand list, which is a consumer and technology company and I'm also the president and co founder of an organization called the Women Tech Council. And I've really spent my entire career being a woman in tech. And then when I think about uh build and scale companies and the talent underneath them and what that looks like in the world today. And as we go forward, um I think there's a lot of things that we can do to be really intentional around what we're doing and what we're building. And I just want to share a couple of thoughts with um all of you to think about how we really lean into this and kind of kind of tee this up.

Um Because I think this is a critical issue at the highest level, you know, women in tech only represent about 23 per 23 to 26% depending on your region of the workforce inside of technology. And one of the gaps that we have. And one of the things is how do we increase the number of women in tech? Because it really allows us um to create and use all of the best ideas and it creates high performing teams and all the world is changing in these dynamics. And I think this is a really important thing that we should be talking about. So as we jump into this, one of the things that it has been very consistent for probably the last decade since I've been serving uh like surveying women and talking to them about what is the thing that when they think about how you join and build teams is at the core of um what is most important to them.

And really over the last decade, there's been one common term and it's been this word of flexibility. Now, what's interesting about the word flexibility is that for women in tech and for um our workforces flexibility is a term that has never meant that anyone wants to do less work, just his ability to balance. And one of the things that we've seen in every um pyramid that we've built around, what allows someone to attract and build and retain teams that have women in tech. Once you hit um pay equity and benefits the next thing up on their most important stack is this idea that you can't figure out how to balance everything that you need to in your life. And it has never meant, you know, this idea of doing less was an interesting dynamic over the last couple of years is that as the pandemic taught us ways to do remote work. And now today's work today, we're, we're flipping back into hybrid. Is that quiet quitting has come in and has kind of muddied this term of flexibility where you know, they have all of these conversations happening around that and somehow flexibility has come even more forcefully recently to think we have people think about either not spending enough time working or unwillingness to come in office.

And I don't really think that it means either of those would it really means is I will be fully accountable, hold me accountable to whatever I need to do, help me set the parameters of what makes sense where I need to show up. And then let me figure out how to balance my life. And as someone who's made career decisions based on these and who has exposure to tens of thousands of women who are also, I really see how this can play out. So when I think about how you build teams and how you lean into women in tech, it's at the core of this. And right now there's a lot of conversation that's creating risk. So just to think about some of these numbers in the tech ecosystem, specifically, 38% of the tech of the layoffs that are current. So this data is basically through kind of mid April have come from the technology industry. But 45% of those tech layoffs are women, even though they represent actually less than 30% of the tech workers. Just think about that for a moment and working for all of these years and making changes and trying to change the numbers. And we're faced with some significant challenges for women in tech that I think we have to be really cognizant of as we think about how we build teams and what this means for the future.

It's also true that 65% of women are more, more likely to lose their tech jobs than men. A whole bunch of research and data that's coming in around why this may or may not be true. Um But there are these challenges that we're all faced with and particularly when we're looking to build diverse teams and bring them into the uh and bring them together in order to get the benefits of what all those teams do. Now. There's some other data that's also come out over the last 6 to 12 months that is also really important in this. So women in leadership, one of the metrics that I often look at is not just number of women in tech, but what is happening in the entire talent pipeline all the way from entry level jobs up into executive positions. Generally in tech, only 5% of the leadership are women in those positions. And if you look more broadly, even at our public companies, you know, we've just barely hit the 10% mark of women who are CEO S. And so we need women in leadership because it's how we help promote ability. It's how we fix issues around what is currently considered the broken rung. Um And we need um a lot of different elements working together.

And I think we've learned a lot that we have to embrace. So in the, in the case of leadership, 10.5% of women leaders are, you know, are leaving jobs for better work, which so, you know, retention is always one of those big top of mind things as I go in and I recruit and I bring in that talent, how do I make sure I'm environments where people stay, which also leads to this burnout.

We've seen the first female recession, we've seen the great resignation. We're now in a much more complex um ecosystem and tech layoffs are happening. So that's creating a whole other dynamic. But you also have women leaders who are significantly burned, burned out. And then you add into this other things where a lot of the den I work that we have done over the last decade has been championed. Two times more by women than their male counterparts because they have just really leaned into this and really started to help us make a significant difference. So you think about that number, then you think about the number on the previous one that talked about the percent likelihood of women who are losing their jobs and those who have already been affected in the tech ecosystem. Then you add into it this layer of one out of every, for every one woman director that's promoted, two are leaving the company. This is also tied to some data out there about what's called the broken rung. The mckenzie report that talks about as women move into those first leadership positions, we have a huge gap and basically a broken rung in the co in the ladder of um corporate development and moving into those executive positions.

So we have this really complex ecosystem going on right now and our number one job is to increase the number of women in tech, 50% of our workforce are women. Um And technology needs their great minds and talent to help you to solve problems alongside all everyone else in the workforce. And so then you take, you know, these stats and the concerning components of this. Um and then you layer in the complexity of remote work, so remote work, hot topic right now, conversations happening all over the place and at some level, we're all gonna figure this out and we're gonna find a cadence that allows us to figure out how to both have the collaboration and communication that we need and also support what's happening in remote and, and the, and the balance.

Couple of really interesting stats, only one out of 10 women want to come back to working on site full time. Now, what this doesn't say is they want to come back to working less hours. What it does say is they want to think about how to create the best work environment based on commute based on needs inside of their lives and, and based on what the company needs in order to find the ideal situation. It is also true that women have been returning back to the office at slower rates than their male counterparts. I've seen very specific examples of this in companies where um we have seen men returning faster and women still um coming slower for whatever reason it is, is a balancing and then that also is impacting promotable and how we build teams. Also, the data shows that women, 40% of women are breadwinners. So figuring this out becomes super critical to families and communities and really our entire workforce and you know, 33% of women are needing to balance home and life. And I think it's even probably more than that today as you think about all of the complexity that we're dealing with. I think there's a couple of things that we have to think really deeply about that are tied to.

How do we move forward and how do we structure, not just the policies, but the approach to making sure that we can accomplish everything that we need to as we're building businesses and a couple of other layers that are playing into this clearly because it's in every conversation everyone's having is at the top of your, of a business mindset as someone who's running a company.

And I'm constantly thinking about how does the economy play into the business? How do we make sure that we are performing? What are all the leverage that we're pulling? How are we leaning into a strategy and a road map that we feel helps us navigate the current circumstances.

We're in every company is doing this and because of this and because we're in a different economic climate that we were three years ago, what it, what it makes you do as a leader is think about what are proven strategies that I know work in order to manage the complexity that I'm faced with.

Well, in the case of leadership and teams, the pro model that has come forward or the models that we knew pre panem, we understood what leadership looked like when everyone was in the same space and when everyone was managing the same schedule and when all of those tangible things were around us, but then the world changed and now the economy changed.

And so it's layering in a different set of lenses that I think we as both leaders and um those of us who are running organizations have to think about as we structure and we build teams in order to make sure that we've got diverse talent that's helping to solve the problem. And so there's two sets of information or solutions that I think we have to think about. One is what is the way that we think about our leadership approach and style and how do we want our cultures of our companies to evolve based on what we now know and based on where we have to go in the future, you know, I have built my entire career in tech, I have worked both, you know, based out of Salt Lake City when I was working for Disney, that was in California and Florida.

So I've also run companies where I'm physically located in the same headquarters space. And I've thought a lot about how leadership is evolving and what it requires to really build these diverse teams. Because over the course of my career, I have really valued the ability to say, hold me accountable and I will perform at the, the very most peak level and other. And then, but I can do so sometimes from the soccer field or sometimes what at the dance competition or whatever those other things are that I also need to prioritize or in my case, I choose to take lots of Red Eye flights, so I can do my work trips and I can get back with the least impact to my family.

And so as I've thought about that and, and as I think about what it means and how leaderships evolved, we know a couple of things, leadership is requiring qualities around being an empathetic leader and really appreciating that our entire individuals are showing up and everyone's balancing things.

We wanna drive the best performance. We also create the best environment where people can feel like they can perform and they can step into those spaces. I think it also is starting to require a different way for us to think about how we're gonna manage these new variables that have come into play where we do have some element of hybrid components in that one of the things that you learn is that the way that you communicate, the way that you're aware of people in different spaces and how you include them the way that you think about how you create visibility and promot ability for everyone who's not in the exact same room at every second of the day.

It actually requires, I believe more work requires a lot more lift to really dive into. How do I hold people accountable. How do I make sure that they are clear on what's happening? How do I include them in conversations that are happening inside of the business or the ecosystem in order to make sure that they fill up to speed. And as you think about from a leadership perspective and what we have to do, it does require a lot of intentionality. And that's probably the biggest word that, that comes out of this entire thing is that we all have to be intentional in how we work together in order to make sure that we are inclusive of those environments. And then when you look at us as individuals who are on teams, we also have this elevated responsibility in order to build strong performing teams around much stronger communication and collaboration. Because if you are remote or you are not in the same room as other people, you also have to think about how do I lean into the most, the critical conversations that we need to have. How do I make sure I have all of the information? How do I like raise my hand and say, do you know what I think I might have missed a conversation or how do I get involved in this? My, my team is about 50% women and 50% men.

And I have been very intentional around what it means to create an environment where we're trying to find that way for optimal performance. But that lets everyone own their, their own decisions on what's going to make. And you know, we're in the office, we're in the office and we let people remote and we're trying to blend all of those and wouldn't say everything is all exactly figured out. But what I would say is we have had to lean into accountability and both leaders and our employees have had to really change their approach in order to become involved in these conversations. Actually, as an example, I have um a woman who heads up all of our communications and pr and she does a very good job when she can sense that maybe she missed a conversation every so often. We have a conversation and she's like he said, I think I might be missing a conversation where do those informal ones occur? Like, can I step into them? And it's a reminder to me to be better. But it's also this ownership that she has to say, hey, I also recognize that I have a role in figuring this out so that we're all working together.

So I fundamentally believe that if we create the right platform, the right intentions, the right communication structures that not only can we perform well, we can solve these, but all of this can balance all of those things that we need to in our life, which allows us to be the best performers in every individual situation that we are faced with.

So when it comes to leadership, which I think a lot about, because I think we have this responsibility to really be able to create diverse teams where all of the talent is thriving, where we increase the number of women in tech from that 26% to 50%. And we can't stay on the same path that we're currently on its current path. The number of women and tech don't become equal for like 60 years. And I really look at that as unacceptable. And so we requires an entire new intentional way for us to really embrace what has really been the dominant conversation thread around flexibility. Because when we do that, then the women and talent are attracted to those teams. So I think that from a leadership perspective, the tools we have to develop and become much better at art. How do we hold people accountable no matter where they sit, no matter where they're doing their work at any given moment. Do does everyone know what, what we need them to do, how to lean in what you're expecting from them? From a responsibility perspective? Are we good at communication? Are we really including everyone? Do we have platforms that create equity across different places? Because we might also have ge geographically dispersed teams and our ability to communicate and then our ability to collaborate, not only do we have tools, but do we have this sense of culture where everyone just thinks about it?

Top of mind of, hey, how do I include so and so or hey, their ideas, if I pull them in will make us better. And I think that starts from this leadership of I thought I'm thinking about and I reflect that in my communications and the people around me also know that it's expected because ultimately, we have to create teams with strong alignment in order to make a difference. And as I've seen these things play out in leadership, I have seen entire organizations completely change with their ability to attract and retain diverse talent. And that diverse challenge is helping them drive performance and not. And in today's economic climate, what we all care about is how do we create high performing teams so we can meet the goals of the company? Because that is also how we contribute to the economic um vibrance of all the communities we're in and create more job growth and create more opportunities for those people who are helping us build companies. Um There's one kind of quick story. I actually, I have a CEO who's a good friend and he has been leading the company over the last couple of years and in two years, he changed that team from being somewhere where she couldn't really attract talent as he stepped in female talent, women in tech to come in and work to creating a culture where he has been able to have significant growth in his leadership and the company from top to bottom to include women in tech.

It's now a company where that talent is just like going as fast as you possibly um move to. And as I've thought often about the intentions that they made the recognition that he had in what his leadership needed to change in order to create these in this inclusive environment. And then how fast that led to change? What it made me think about is that each of us have such a strong responsibility to demonstrate the leadership skills allow us to create these communities and then continue to build those out um for those around us. So that, that talent is really helping us develop what we need to as a company. And I believe as we do that, that is the way that we change the trajectory for the future. That is the way that we look at what is around us and say, yeah, it's not 60 years. It's over the next five years that we have now made pathways for women in tech. And we've really created an opportunity for all of these amazing people no matter where they are to be part of our team and to contribute to the sex success of what we're trying to build because that in turn will create the generations who come after us and create opportunity for them that hasn't been available before.

And so I appreciate the opportunity to share a little bit of insight with this around you. I'd love any of your feedback or additional thoughts because I really believe this is a collective effort that all of us can lean in to truly make a difference and to truly do those things that we need to, to accelerate what needs to happen for women in technology.