Written by Katrin Sturm Founder & CEO of The Best Possible You Ltd.
Only 1 in 5 leaders within the tech and SaaS industry are female. I read these figures in an article recently and unfortunately this does not come as a big surprise. There is a dramatic difference in the ratio of female to male leaders within the tech and other male dominated industries. Another statistic that jumped out at me from the article is that the average tenure for female leaders at B2B Tech unicorns is 1.78 years, which is nearly half of the average of male leaders, which is 2.66 years.
Diverse companies perform better and have more engaged employees than companies that do not focus on inclusion and diversity though according to a McKinsey report. So it got me thinking about what can be done to address this challenge within male-dominated business environments?
As I spent almost 10 years as a woman in a male dominated environment ranging from outdoor trade, logistics, to tech sales, and leadership, working for companies like Oracle and Salesforce in the past, I have developed a passion throughout my own business journey over the last 3 years to support women and businesses in those male dominated industries.
Here are 3 suggestions that you can consider in order to overcome the above mentioned challenge:
Speak to your female leaders
One of the best ways to address any challenge is to speak to your female leaders and have open and honest conversations in a non-judgmental manner. Ask what type of support they need and if there is anything that as a company or a leader you could be doing better. If you don’t feel comfortable doing so yourself as a male leader, why not get another senior woman leader to do so and ask her to report their findings back to you?
Do your research
We are fortunate enough to live in an era where information is readily available, so use this to your advantage and do your research. Look to other companies within the industry and take note of the things they are doing successfully and see how you can emulate this within your own company or team. Identify relevant influencers and experts in this area as well as networks and programmes that are readily available on the market without having to reinvent the wheel internally.
Ask for help
It’s okay if you don’t have all of the answers. There might be others who are able to help you find them or provide them for you. If you are a female leader yourself, let me tell you it is ok to ask for help and support – although it might not come very natural to us ambitious women as we have a tendency to think we have to manage and juggle it all by ourselves. Especially as driven women, we have a tendency to be there for the business and the team in the first and put ourselves last.
In case you don’t feel comfortable to ask for help and support internally, there might be somebody in your external network who could serve as a mentor or you could hire an external coach for instance. This can in some cases be covered with internal training budgets that you might not even be aware of or think of right now.
If you are a male leader or business owner, you might be aware of these challenges and maybe even eager to do something about them, but simply unsure about HOW to tackle them. You could hire an external business partner who specialises in this area to come in and support both you and your female leaders on an individual or company level.
It also comes down to the values being lived within your business and your company or team culture, which potentially could be better balanced in order to attract, develop and retain any more female leaders. As one of my female LinkedIn followers recently commented on this subject with, “If we feel we belong, we stay longer”.
What has been working for you to address any gender biased challenges in a male dominant business? What advice would you give to those looking to address them? I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas and have a chat with you, if you would like to discuss on how to approach any of the above suggestions further.
Written by Katrin Sturm, Founder & CEO of The Best Possible You Ltd.
Katrin combines her strengths and passion of developing driven leaders and entrepreneurs after climbing the corporate ladder for almost 10 years in elite sales and leadership roles in companies like Oracle and Salesforce. Empowering leaders and entrepreneurs to thrive with a passion for female empowerment in male dominated industries like Tech with her own company since 2018 and runs the Thriving Female Leaders Circle.