IWD 2022: Breaking workplace bias in tech

As a woman working in tech, Margarida Marques of Hitachi Vantara shares her perspective for International Women’s Day 2022 on tackling diversity and breaking down biases to build equitable and inclusive workplaces.

Image of man and women with equal sign superimposed over the top
Diversity and equity should be a primary concern for every business, regardless of sector, with existing research showing their impact on increasing workplace creativity, performance and ultimately a business’s bottom line. And actions taken to promote positive change should permeate every level of an organisation.
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Tackling existing barriers for women to enter and thrive in the tech sector isn’t easy – while global technology firms are expected to reach nearly 33% overall female representation in their workforces in 2022, according to Deloitte, change is proving slow with this prediction only 2% higher than 2019 figures.There must be a focus on diversity, and to do this, businesses must acknowledge that people might face different barriers or experiences to achieve the same goals.

Embedding diversity

While true diversity will take time, one way businesses can progress in the right direction is by improving their recruitment processes. For example, at Hitachi Vantara, we review our job postings and ensure they use inclusive language to appeal to diverse talent, while reducing jargon, to set an equitable process and access to opportunities.Businesses also need to champion female role models at all levels – within and outside of the organisation – to inspire women and girls to explore the diverse opportunities within the tech sector.At Hitachi Vantara’s Innovation Hubs around the world, we have incredible female engineers at the forefront of innovation across industries, developing projects ranging from forest management to reducing food waste and enhancing public transportation. I encourage women to believe in their own abilities and stand up to the challenges – don’t ever say you cannot do it!

Breaking the bias

We all need to ensure we’re taking the steps to break down biases within the technology sector and beyond to build an equitable and inclusive space. And part of the journey is truly recognising and countering what I believe is the biggest challenge in the workplace today – unconscious bias.Yes, unconscious biases are deeply entangled in our own personal experiences, but with the right tools, businesses can play a tremendous role in countering these to create a diverse, inclusive environment.The challenge with unconscious biases in particular, is that rarely, if ever, are these intentional, and as such, addressing this issue at a grassroots level and, importantly, acknowledging that it exists in the first place, will be key to mitigating its impacts in the workplace. To overcome unconscious biases, businesses need to ensure that all employees have the right training to understand first what unconscious biases are and then how to counter them. This is critical to ensure that managers and business leaders can look beyond their own, personal unconscious biases, to see and grow the potential in all their employees and co-workers.I believe that as leaders, by implementing even small steps along the way, such as offering unconscious bias training or specific DEI hiring guidance and making this accessible to everyone at all levels, we can make change happen.

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