Skip to main content
RECOMMENDATION M ODEL ACTION 1

Increase your personal DEI expertise

People in the tech industry are familiar with the concept of “failing fast” and “failing forward”—using failure to learn and experiment. This is also necessary for DEI, but fear is a huge inhibitor. Like any skill, becoming an inclusive leader takes time, research, and practice. A great DEI advocate must be willing to learn and make mistakes. You don’t need to be an expert at the start, but you do need to model a growth mindset for other leaders and hold yourself accountable for outcomes.

HIGH LEVERAGE POINTS

the ceo
c-suite leaders

CHANGE AGENTS

CEOs
CEOs
C-Suite
C-Suite
Managers
Managers
Team Members

IN SUMMARY

1.1

Make time for the personal reflection and engagement that sustainsallyship. Allyship is not a state; it is ongoing action.

1.2

Interact personally and on an ongoing basis with employees from underrepresented groups and ERGs.

1.3

Model a growth mindset.

1.4

Disrupt biases that subtly but repeatedly harm people from underrepresented groups.

1.5

Give personal signals that you are an inclusive leader.

MORE INFO

THE IMPORTANCE OF FLEXIBLE WORK ARRANGEMENTS, LEAVE, AND WORK-LIFE BALANCE

Flexible work, leave, and support for work-life balance are critical DEI issues. The pandemic exposed the degree to which different groups were disproportionately impacted by varying workplace policies, and how equity issues specifically intersected with issues of work-life balance1. Mothers of small children faced particularly devastating effects, experiencing significantly greater declines in employment levels than men.2

Many companies offer leave and/or part-time options, but taking those options can incur reputational costs. Access to work-from-home benefits has increased in the professional and technical service industries, especially in the pandemic, but that hasn’t necessarily improved work-life balance.

Moreover, work-life balance is an equity issue because being able to work long hours often depends on other privileges (e.g., having a partner to look after children, a housekeeper to maintain your home, etc.). Normalizing the ability to work at times that factor in the personal commitments of your employees, from caretaking responsibilities to long commutes, ensures that employees can take advantage of those benefits without stigma or repercussions. As we recreate the workplace post-pandemic, we have an unprecedented opportunity to increase inclusion.

CEOs and top leadership can:

  • Model work-life balance to remove stigma and establish norms around leave and flexible work.
  • Assess flexible work policies and whether they’re accessible (Chapter 6, NCWIT: Women in Tech: The Facts).3
  • Equitably factor in any leave taken when assessing employee performance (e.g., an employee who took three months leave shouldn’t have their achievements directly compared to those working 12 months).
  • Create a safe space for the discussion of flexible work options.
  • Share practices and learn from peer organizations.4
  • Understand why people choose flexible work—for example, remote work options are important because some people live in rural areas or on reservations and may not want to or be able to leave.
  • Operate with the understanding that family and competing responsibilities are not “women’s issues,” but rather concerns and policies that are important for everyone.5
Footnotes:
  1. See https://public.tableau.com/app/profile/anitab/viz/NSF_RAPID_CIRCLE-CT_SURVEY_1_DASHBOARD_2021_v2/CIRCLE-CT.
  2. Alon, T., Coskun, S., Doepke, M., Koll, D., & Tertilt, M. (2021). From Mancession to Shecession: Women’s Employment in Regular and Pandemic Recessions (No. w28632). National Bureau of Economic Research. https://faculty.wcas.northwestern.edu/~mdo738/research/ACDKT_0621.pdf
  3. Ashcraft, C., McLain, B., & Eger, E. (2016). Women in Tech: The Facts. National Center for Women & Technology (NCWIT), https://ncwit.org/resource/thefacts.
  4. E.g., NCWIT’s Workforce Alliance provides opportunities for learning, peer collaboration, and engagement in communities of practice, https://ncwit.org/about-ncwit/ncwit-alliances/workforce-alliance/.
  5. Ashcraft, C., McLain, B., & Eger, E. (2016). Women in Tech: The Facts. National Center for Women & Technology (NCWIT), https://ncwit.org/resource/thefacts.

Flexible work, leave, and support for work-life balance are critical DEI issues. Many companies offer leave and/or part-time options, but taking those options can incur reputational costs. Access to work-from-home benefits has increased in the professional and technical service industries, especially in the pandemic, but that hasn’t necessarily improved work-life balance.

READ MORE

Model and incentivize inclusive leadership
ACTION 1
Increase Expertise
ACTION 2
Establish Business Imperative
Operationalize DEI throughout the business
ACTION 3
Resource DEI
ACTION 4
Redesign Systems
ACTION 5
Apply DEI to Products
Share DEI data, metrics, and goals
ACTION 6
Share Data
ACTION 7
Set Public Goals
Transform pathways into tech for under-represented talent
ACTION 8
Advocate for CS
ACTION 9
Create More CS Teachers
ACTION 10
Invest in Organizations