Did you know that 77% of women have experienced a toxic work culture in the tech industry within the last five years? A recent Talent Works study found this to be the case, with 21% revealing that they have experienced this frequently throughout their career.

As a talent attraction firm, we are often asked to help bring top diverse talent into our client’s organizations. We develop engaging employer brands and effective recruiting and digital attraction strategies to engage and recruit. However, it is what happens once they arrive that is just as important.

With this in mind, I’d like to discuss three ways tech businesses can start to make a change, removing deep rooted diversity issues from their company.

Healthy, Non-Toxic Culture. A toxic work culture is a big problem for any organization. Often it is characterized by bad communication, cliques, gossip and overwhelming levels of mistrust between colleagues and departments. Twenty-one percent of women claim to have experienced a dysfunctional culture frequently across the East Coast, but I’m sure we would see similar results across North America and beyond.

It takes time to shift these behaviors but focusing on the authentic positive and unique attributes of your business is something you can do today and share internally and externally in the form of a refreshed employer brand. Conducting research and listening to employees helps bring these issues to leadership and enables HR to show evidence of what needs to change to deliver the culture you need to grow successfully. Launching an employer value proposition, or EVP, is important for attracting new talent, but it’s equally important that your current employees agree with the messaging promoted externally.

Creating core values that are used during the hiring process and are continually communicated to existing employees will motivate and encourage unity within the business. It will also ensure that the candidates entering your organization are the best fit for your culture.

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The Pay Gap. Working women often see themselves as having many jobs outside the one they may promote on LinkedIn. Women need to feel supported and we found that 63% of women thought that fixing the gender pay gap was one way that businesses could help to promote diversity within the organization.

Positive steps have been taken by many organizations in recent years to address this, but the fact is that on average women are paid 17.7% less than men for the same amount of work. It is harder today to keep salaries and bonus structures confidential, so this is a concrete suggestion you should follow and need to follow legally in many markets.

Being transparent about what you pay employees is important to help everyone, especially women feel supported and empowered. Not only will it promote core business values that your company recognizes equal and fair pay to be important, but you are likely to see a reduction in staff turnover and a more efficient and productive team.

Start at the Top. There is no point in saying, “We want women to work here, and encourage more to join us,” if the demographic of your leadership effectively says the opposite. An overwhelming percentage of respondents said the responsibility to create organizational change lies at the top (69%). This we all know, and recognize its importance to act as a ripple effect throughout the business. Interestingly, 67% of respondents noted that they’d be more likely to join a tech startup if the business had women in leadership roles. We did this survey in the UK as well and the results were even higher with 73% of those sampled saying this was important.

Candidates research organizations they are considering a move to. Yes, you should have female representation throughout the business, but leadership roles stand out and make clear to all that this is important to the business. The application process is also crucial when it comes to women applying for roles. 65% of respondents claimed they could spot a toxic environment during the application process, which means your culture could be scaring off the talent before you’ve had a chance to convince them otherwise.

Ultimately, if there’s a will there’s a way. Organizations that genuinely care about their employees, prospective hires, and how people view them will choose to dismantle their dysfunctional work environments.

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