Around the world, organizational leaders are reporting a significant need for employee training and development to fill skill gaps and meet the fast-paced developments in technology. The effects of the pandemic have only intensified this need. According to Skillsoft’s Global Knowledge IT Skills and Salary Report, 76 percent of IT decision-makers are facing critical skills gaps among their teams, a 145 percent increase from 2016. The pace of change feels faster than our ability to skill for it, but there is hope. Hope in the human capacity for learning and adopting new skills; hope in learning experiences to unleash that capacity for the advancement of all talent. The best way to tackle this shortage of skills is to expand the pipeline of talent in tech and invest in the continuous development and equitable compensation of diverse tech talent.
In addition to knowing that we have a tech skill shortage, we also know that women continue to be underrepresented in STEM industries. A recent report illustrates that while female professionals have made strides in the workplace, there is still a significant disparity in professional development and training opportunities. This report notes that about 86 percent of women in tech surveyed ranked professional development and training opportunities as extremely important, while only 42 percent stated that their employers currently offer this benefit. Also, a third indicated a lack of training as their top challenge while pursuing a tech-related career.
In this world of pipelines and skills, here are some ways to act now, build bridges, and ensure that humans, organizations, and tech can grow together.
Believe That The World Is Your Pipeline The US Census Bureau stated last year that there was an 8 percent increase in women in STEM careers, but they still remain underrepresented in computer and engineering fields. While women are pursuing STEM careers more than ever before, that does not translate to their presence in the workplace. A report found that 45 percent of surveyed women in tech said men outnumber them at work at ratios of 4-to-1 or greater.
We have all heard the excuse that there are not enough women in tech to recruit in tech jobs. We also know that is not true. What is needed is a shift in organizational mindsets to look at the world of our pipeline of talent. Where are you looking to recruit emerging talent? Do you have internship programs? Do you invest in organizations that support the advancement of girls and women in tech? These are all questions that organization and tech leaders need to be asking regularly.
Skillsoft recently announced a partnership with iamtheCODE, the first African-led global movement to mobilize government, private-sector, and philanthropic foundations to advance STEAMED education for women and girls in marginalized communities. Skillsoft provided its Percipio platform to offer free tech learning to students in refugee camps. These types of initiatives create opportunity; they create movement. Start investing in talent broadly and forming your pipelines in early careers, continue to expand the boundaries of your recruitment, stop looking in the same places to recruit your talent and expect different results.
Provide Training and Certifications To Build 3Cs Continuous learning is the key to career success and growth. 86 percent of female IT professionals stated that coaching, career development, and training opportunities as extremely important. For most people who identify as part of an underrepresented groups, these credentials build competence, credibility, and confidence to compete for jobs.
Many female IT professionals are eager to take those steps, yet many organizations are either not offering these opportunities or not aware of the desire that exists, and as a result, we are losing so much potential – personal potential and earning potential. Skillsoft’s Global Knowledge IT Skills and Salary Report shows that women in tech who have achieved certifications have gained more responsibility (52 percent), earned higher salaries (34 percent), and have received promotions (32 percent), among other benefits. So, investing in your female team member is not just ethically sound, but it can also lead to higher productivity and business performance.
Strategic investment in training for women fills skill and career gaps, broadens an organizations capacity for growth, and is the first step in solving global inequities.
Address The Gender Pay Gap Head On
We all know it exists, but the breadth and depth of the problem can feel overwhelming for many. It is no secret that the gender gap has been a significant problem since women entered the workforce. The advancement of women in any industry, but especially in STEM requires that all organizations start now to assess and solve for compensation inequities. Hired’s 2021 Pay Inequalities report stated that men were paid more than women for the same IT jobs, 59 percent of the time. This was considered an improvement from 2019, where the percentage was a whopping 65 percent. Although this is faint progress, it is not enough. Many organizations today (from top executives to front line managers, from Board rooms to social media) are part of the conversation, but data shows that our actions are still largely siloed and performative.
Organizations that apply equity principles to their compensation and benefit systems and processes, being transparent, and correcting past biases to invest equally in their female talent are those that will survive and grow, those that will be known for growing the next generation of female entrepreneurs and tech leaders.
Create A Blueprint To A More Inclusive Tech Industry Stony Brooks University highlights this, stating that women often leave STEM careers due to workplace culture, biases, and lack of growth opportunities. In short, the problem lies within how organizations recruit female talent and lack of action to craft inclusive and comfortable work environments for them.
Women continue to be an underutilized force within many organizations. Progress for women in tech is progress for us all. Start now. Unleash the opportunity that exists in the great resignation to broaden your scope for recruitment to bring women in, invest in developing your female talent to lift them up, and pay them fairly to ensure their and our long-term success.
This guest post was authored by Elisa Vincent
Elisa Vincent is the Vice President of Global Talent Enablement at Skillsoft, where she leads strategic initiatives that foster the individual and collective success of the organization. Her journey to human capital leadership was not a traditional one. She has built a latticed model to her own career path that has afforded her many opportunities to grow new leadership strengths and skills.
She started her career in international education and study abroad where she designed, developed, and led international leadership development experiences for students and faculty – experiences that enabled research and study of gender equality and equity around the world.