“Less than 20% of women represent tech employees.”
For the first time at one of their meetups, CWIT invited some of the top male tech leaders from the Holy City to answer questions on why they thought there were such a limited number of women working in their industry.
Sitting on the hot seats that night were: John Mistretta, executive vice president of HR at Blackbaud; Marc Murphy, CEO of Atlatl; Chad Norman, chief marketing officer of Catch Talent; Chris Rickborn, COO of BoomTown; Fred Robinson, chief architect Benefitfocus; and Don Taylor, CTO of Boxcar Central.
As a father of two daughters and a big supporter of women’s empowerment in our community, I went to this event curious about the real reasons for the lack of diversity in the tech world. I have to say, I was surprised at what I discovered.
After asking the panel to name some of their personal women tech heroes, Christina inquired: “What do you feel women bring to an executive team?”
Chris Rickborn of BoomTown, a real estate-focused tech company with 110 female employees to 130 males, answered: “Women bring diversity, which brings different opinions and perspectives.” Chris went on to emphasize that his company’s rapid success could have never occurred without the contributions from their strong female leaders.
When the men were asked whether they had witnessed any gender bias in the tech industry, all of them said they had not seen it personally in Charleston. And I believed them. I’m sure it exists in other communities, but my impression was that these male leaders were sincere in their support of wanting more women in tech.
“What solutions has your company taken to improve gender disparity?”
John Mistretta of software manufacturer Blackbaud mentioned that they recently had an executive women’s conference and a women in tech event, which more than 200 women attended. Blackbaud also recently rolled out conscious bias training. “It really opens up your eyes to how you think and how others think,” John said.
“I think the easiest way to move the needle is maternity policy,” is how Marc Murphy of Atlatl, a sales optimization software company, answered the disparity question.
When he came on board, Marc polled all the tech companies in Charleston and discovered that Atlatl was on the lower end of leave time. “So I went to 12 weeks of maternity leave immediately”, he said. “You can get a huge return on that because it allows more women to stay with you. It has played a role in us hiring some really great women this year.”
Look for a Part Two on this series in the next edition of the Business Journal. What I can say I discovered that seems to be the main issue here: Lack of pipeline. Stay tuned.
Thomas Heath, CLC, is a business coach, strategic advisor and founder of Thomas Heath Coaching. Have a question? Planning a great startup event? He loves to respond to our readers. Contact him at Thomas@ThomasHeathCoaching.com or on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/AskThomasHeath.