Women in tech: how MSPs can build a diverse talent pipeline

Trellis Usher, SVP of Talent Development
Pax8 Women in Tech 2024 Blog

March is Women’s History Month, so there’s no better time to visit the subject of women in tech. Over the past two decades, women have made significant gains in the tech world, increasing to about 35% of the tech workforce, up from about 9% in the early 2000s.

Despite these strides in closing the gender gap, women are still underrepresented in the tech industry, as 47% of the U.S. workforce. This issue is particularly pronounced in leadership, where women currently make up 28% of leadership in tech.

However, even the smallest businesses and partners can make an impact in addressing inequality in technology by carefully and intentionally building a talent pipeline. This March and far into the future, everyone in our industry can take action to address the need for more gender diversity in the talent pipeline.

Diversification equals success

Diversifying your business isn’t just the right thing to do — it also makes business sense. In fact, 60% of respondents to a LinkedIn survey said diversity increased their sales team’s success.

According to McKinsey, companies in the top quarter percent for gender diversity on their executive teams are 25% more likely to show above-average profitability than those in the bottom quarter. Not only do more diverse companies tend to do better financially, but they also benefit from more unique perspectives, experiences, and skills. Research has also shown that companies with more diverse teams tend to be better at solving problems and innovating, helping your business grow and thrive in a competitive MSP landscape.

How MSPs can work to increase gender diversity

There are steps MSPs can take to promote gender diversity within their organization. They are:

  • Create a culture of change: Unfortunately, up to half of women in tech are likely to quit by age 35 due to issues such as bias, harassment, and a lack of role models. To combat this, ensure leadership in your organization demonstrates a genuine commitment to diversity and inclusion, making it a core value of the organization.
  • Establish clear goals: Want to increase the number of women in your organization? Set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals for increasing gender diversity, such as filling half of open positions with women by the end of the year.
  • Employ diverse hiring practices: Implement inclusive hiring practices that attract a diverse pool of candidates, including actively recruiting women for technical and leadership roles. You could commit to hiring or promoting a certain percentage of women into leadership by the end of the fiscal year, for example.
  • Find local talent: Consider supporting local college programs through internship opportunities or seek out women’s networking and professional groups to build brand recognition with potential employees.
  • Work toward eliminating bias: Train hiring managers and employees on unconscious bias to ensure fair evaluation of candidates during the recruitment and promotion processes. Make completing trainings like these a mandatory part of annual reviews.
  • Allow for remote work options: When possible, allow employees to work remotely to accommodate pregnant people and those with young children. Your employees will show less absenteeism and turnover, and studies show employees are often just as not, if not more productive, when working remotely.
  • Use equal pay practices: Conduct regular audits to ensure equal pay for equal work, addressing any gender pay gaps that may exist within the organization.
  • Establish employee resource groups (ERGs): Focus on providing support, networking opportunities, and mentorship for women in the organization.
  • Develop leadership programs: Implement programs specifically tailored to women, providing them with the skills and opportunities needed to advance into leadership positions within the organization.

How Pax8 is helping create a more diverse industry

Our commitment to fostering a diverse gender workforce is twofold: one, we believe that women should be encouraged to pursue and keep careers in technology because they are every bit as capable as their male counterparts; and two, we believe that ensuring our teams are diverse makes good business sense. This is not because there is a lack of highly skilled candidates who can fill those roles, but rather that fully qualified women do not always have equal access to opportunities and professional networks as men who compete for those same opportunities.

Expanding the talent pipeline includes widening the net of where jobs are advertised, developing relationships with diverse networking groups, career fair events specifically focused on attracting more women in technology, and more. Once we’ve cultivated more diverse sources of talent, we must ensure that hiring managers receive proper guidance and training on how to interview candidates without bias. Every human being naturally possesses bias, but it is crucial that all candidates, including women, are evaluated fairly during the interview and selection process.

Finding ways to expand the talent pipeline and support women employees is an ongoing process for us and the entire industry, and we recognize that we can always do more. Some of the practices we’ve enacted thus far include:

  • Elevating the voices of women within the organization, with blogs, videos, and more highlighting some of the talented women working at Pax8 and hopefully inspiring the next generation of women along the way.
  • Ensuring women are in positions of leadership and change within the industry, such as Pax8 CVP of Business Applications Vicky Critchley (formerly the CEO of Bam Boom Cloud, which was acquired by Pax8), who chairs Women in Dynamics, a nonprofit organization promoting underrepresented groups in the Microsoft Dynamics community.
  • Joining forces with Everfree, a nonprofit that works to help survivors of human trafficking thrive, providing technical education, scholarships, vocational training, and job placement, among other services. Pax8 employees themselves have joined Everfree to take part in efforts to help women establish independence after experiencing human trafficking. Everfree will have a featured booth promoting social impact efforts at Pax8 Beyond, the premiere channel event, taking place June 9-11, 2024. A portion of proceeds from the event will also be donated to Everfree.
  • Launching a women’s ERG to create a space for women to speak, organize, and inspire. It’s one of several ERGs Pax8 has created, such as our Pax8 Pride ERG, which aims to support all LGBTQIA+ employees at the organization.

Build a hiring practice with intent

For our MSP partners and their customers, taking actionable steps toward improving the tech landscape for women might seem daunting or even impossible for businesses of their size. But everyone can think carefully about their talent pipelines and work to diversify candidates now and in the future.

MSPs and small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) can work with local resources in their own communities to develop their pipeline before they need to hire candidates and plenty of groups within the channel offer advice and guidance for MSPs in hiring and training staff. Organizations such as The Channel Company run programs like the Inclusive Leadership Network that encourage the sharing of best practices and an overall increase in awareness surrounding inclusive hiring. All these resources and many more can offer success stories, advice, and guidance to show even the smallest businesses what actionable steps they can take to build a more inclusive talent pipeline.

It is also important to remember that businesses can and sometimes should take all these steps before they ever need to hire for a new role. Building relationships and strengthening hiring practices proactively is the best way to ensure that hiring is more equitable moving forward.

A commitment to equity doesn’t stop once an employee is onboarded. Rather, hiring is only the starting point in creating an environment where women can succeed. A healthy, high-performing culture lifts all its employees and supports them with access to the learning, resources, and tools to fuel growth and career mobility. Pax8 remains committed to being a world-class workplace, and we want to help others in the industry follow our lead.

The work to champion and create a more equitable tech industry should not only occur during Women’s History Month. Every organization in our industry can and should seek to make important strides toward more inclusive workplaces for women in technology.

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