How to drive ongoing gender, diversity transformation
In a world that is rapidly transforming in multiple ways – generationally, culturally and technologically – it is more important than ever for companies in the ICT sector to ensure a consistent talent pipeline.
Remember that as technology continues to evolve and cultural shifts increasingly impact the way we work and deal with customers, having a steady talent pipeline helps ICT businesses to consistently meet industry, client and individual company needs.
According to Nerasha Parbhoo, Chief HR Officer at CipherWave, her company utilises a combination of strategies to achieve this, including proactive recruitment and effective employer branding. The latter, she says, helps build a positive company image, which helps with both employee attraction and retention.
“Creating a proper talent pipeline also includes learnership placements that provide opportunities for our unemployed youth and collaborations with educational institutions, where we can place and grow learners in support of equity and diversity,” she says.
“There are, of course, limited skills in the ICT space, so competition for them is strong. Successful organisations are usually the ones that seek out different ways of recruiting people and implement innovative practices to achieve this. This could include recruitment tools that are unbiased, or sourcing talent through the creation of a strong employer brand. It could also be about offering better work-life balance, or flexible working conditions, all of which help both the attraction and retention of skills.”
It is worth noting that having a good balance of gender and diversity within an organisation actually helps attract other employees, especially from the millennial generation.
“This is a generation that values inclusion and diversity and actively seeks out companies that offer learnerships, mentorships and continuous learning opportunities. They want to be part of an environment that is inclusive and focuses on providing equity, diversity and learning opportunities.
“Remember too that being inclusive is not only about the right levels of diversity and having a strong gender balance, but also about ensuring that disabled members of society have an equal opportunity to contribute as well. Good companies recognise key talent, regardless of the individual’s physical abilities, and these are the type of organisations most millennials would prefer to work for – one that is truly inclusive.”
Of course, notes Parbhoo, businesses aiming to actively lead the change in respect of diversity and equity need such change to be driven from the top down. If you want to make people from different backgrounds feel welcomed and accepted, she suggests, it is vital that management be seen to be the drivers of such policies. This will make it far more likely that they become widely accepted within the business.
“I feel gender and diversity are issues that should be driven forward with an agile mindset, which should be supported by the company culture. In addition, ongoing mentoring, training and cross-skilling will further create opportunities for the company to increase its diversity levels,” she adds.
“It is also clear that organisations themselves are recognising the need for greater diversity. This can be seen via the creation of corporate positions like diversity and equity inclusion managers. Others are implementing policies to ensure unbiased recruitment and putting processes in place that promote equal opportunities to all, and treatment that is fair. Many are also instituting culture training, to help employees from different backgrounds and cultures understand each other better.”
Parbhoo explains that one way of increasing gender and equity appointments is to address skills gaps by bringing in diverse new talent that offers not only the right skills, but also a fresh perspective to the business.
“As already mentioned, cross-skilling is also vital, so employees should be encouraged to learn skills from other departments. This helps them to develop both new abilities and associate with staff members they may otherwise never have had a chance to meet.”
“At CipherWave, we have embarked on mentorship and knowledge-sharing programmes, enabling less-experienced employees to learn from more senior ones. We have also implemented advanced tools and technologies that help in automating certain tasks and making them more accessible to our entire workforce.”
This helps the company to attract the best and brightest talent, she continues, adding that once you have such employees in your ranks, retaining them is equally important. “Through our offering of continuous learning and cross-skilling programmes, coupled with a strong company culture, CipherWave’s retention of key talent is an ongoing strategic imperative.
“If we reflect on how the world has evolved over the last 30 years, we are now seeing women in a number of key roles, and the industry’s level of transformation overall has been significant. Of course, creating a truly diverse and inclusive workplace is an ongoing process that requires input and effort from all levels of the organisation.”
“Nonetheless, looking at how far we have come in recent decades, I am certainly confident that a complete and effective gender and equity transformation of the ICT industry is achievable in the not-too-distant future,” concludes Parbhoo.