Hiring More Women Can Strengthen Your Startup

Diversity is a hotly debated topic in the startup world, and for good reason. While critics of diversity may argue that making startups more inclusive can result in the loss of talented employees, proponents of diversity argue that going the extra mile to recruit female workers yields a plethora of long- and short-term benefits for the company.

n the MakeUseOf article, “Women in Tech: What Future Tech Companies Need to Know”, Rob Nightingale lists several startling facts about the state of females in the technology industry during the last few years. Here are some of the more surprising takeaways:

  • In 2013, in a sampling of 84 leading tech companies, females only accounted for 12.33% of engineers employed.
  • While 57% of occupations in the workforce are held by women, in computing occupations that figure is only 25%.
  • In 2012, 20% of chief information officer jobs (CIOs) at Fortune 250 companies were held by a woman.
  • Women’s choices impact up to 85% of all purchasing decisions, not just in the United States, but in the world.

As you can obviously see, women are drastically underrepresented in the (unfortunately) male-dominated world of startups, yet because they take up half the world’s population, are one of the largest consumers of technology products. Why is there such a disparity between the producer and the consumer? The reasons for this are multifarious, too much so, in fact, to go into in this article with the attention it deserves.

However, what this article can do is help you and your startup to work towards closing the gender gap while also setting up your company for success at the same time.

Why Should You Hire More Women?

As more and more companies have taken extra steps to hire female talent in recent years, the benefits of having a more gender-inclusive workforce continue to manifest. In the Wall Street Insanity article, “14 Ways Businesses Benefit From Having Women In Leadership Positions”, Sarah Alender lists out a multitude of reasons why companies should include more women in their teams. Below are just a few of the more compelling reasons:

  • Women comprise the majority of users of tech-based products, and yet most startups still mostly hire men to build those products. Including more women in your team ensures that you’re getting the female perspective, which leads to a better experience and increased engagement for your female customers.
  • Studies have shown that companies with more females in leadership positions experienced considerably higher financial performance than those with fewer female leaders. If you have a diversity of opinion at the top of your company, this will only lead to better management and better business decisions.
  • In general, women tend to have slightly higher integrity than men, refuting the notion that sociopathy is necessary to be an effective leader. Integrity is an important leadership quality, as it increases the potential for being perceived as a role model, and is synonymous with openness, which is critical for making important decisions.
  • Female team members often produce better results than men. Never believe that femininity means a lack of drive and strategic thinking. Because women are just as dedicated and hardworking as men, if not more so, making the extra effort to add more women to your team can lead to increased productivity.
  • Women are just as innovative as men, if not more so. If you are planning to launch a tech startup, or are in the middle of running one right now, then you must certainly appreciate the value of having team members who can think outside the box and hack together solutions on the fly. If you are a fan of innovation, then you probably have a fairly female-centric office. And if you are a fan of innovation, but don’t have many (or any) female employees, then why don’t you hire more females?

How Can You Make Your Startup More Inclusive to Women?

While hiring more women for a more rounded company can lead to plenty of benefits, it’s nonetheless a considerable endeavor, and must be handled with care, sensitivity, and foresight. Luckily, the Startup Grind article, “Why Diversity Matters in Startups”, by Koh Kim, outlines several steps that founders can take to make their companies more female-friendly. Here are some of the most important points:

  • Create a more inclusive environment in the office. Working at a startup can be difficult for anybody, as each day, and sometimes each hour, can bring about a whole new set of challenges, so it’s important that all employees can work in a comfortable atmosphere. And because the workforce is generally dominated by men, women can often feel out of place and less likely to contribute their ideas, which isn’t good for anyone. Keep the lines of communication open for everyone, not just for men, and ensure that everyone’s feedback is welcome.
  • Promote women as leaders and support their career advancement. Taking the time to identify and acknowledge talented female employees, especially in the form of high-profile initiatives, will enhance your company’s profile and establish it company as a hub of diversity, and can attract even more talent to your company. One way to do this is to create an internal talent pipeline designed specifically to recommend and advance female workers and increase visibility among colleagues and managers.
  • Acknowledge the contributions of your female employees. Too often, male leaders only give notice to the feedback and ideas of their male colleagues, even when females offered the exact same contributions first. Make the effort to listen to your female colleagues’ opinions in meetings and ensure that they will be credited for their endeavors. Doing this not only breaks the cycle of men only praising each other, but encourages male employees to respect their female colleagues.

 

The most important thing we can do now is to retain and nurture our current female and minority talent, provide the same growth opportunities and stretch assignments, and promote the best performers to leadership positions.” - Koh Kim (Writer, Startup Adviser)

Gender inequality is very real, and it’s having a very negative effect on our society. However, equipped with innovation and creativity, we can make gender inequality a thing of the past. It is now up to you, the next generation of tech pioneers and startup leaders, to build a brighter future for everyone.

If you are an aspiring female founder, the Founder Institute wants to help you launch your company. Click here to apply for our Girls in Tech Fellowship.

Founder Institute