Innovative Tactics to Recruit Women in Tech

By Tamika Cody


There is still a perception that the field of technology is a male dominated industry. However, KeyBank, a subsidiary ofKeyCorp(number 49 on the DiversityInc Top 50), makes it a point to keep the male to female ratio in its technology divisions in proportion.

Amy Brady

Amy Brady, who leads the technology andoperationsteam at Key, said women make up 40 percent of tech roles at the company. This is quite an achievement given that the national average of women in tech is only 26 percent, according to theNational Center for Women & Information Technology(NCWIT) and the U.S. Department of Labor.

Brady manages the organization’s shared technology, operations, data, servicing, security and procurement at Key. It’s worth noting that she is one of only6 percent of corporate CIOs who are women.

Although Key’s overall ratio of women in technology is higher than the national average, there is still some room to recruit more women into the male dominated field. Brady shares five original best practices to get more women onboard:

1. GENDER NEUTRAL JOB DESCRIPTION

Brady suggests editing job ads and recruiting materials so that they appeal to highly qualified candidates of both sexes. “We want to make sure we are using words that would be gender neutral,” said Brady. “Instead of using words like aggressive, hard driving, we might say things like motivated and energetic, which to me are gender neutral.”

2. CHECK YOUR DIGITAL PROFILE

Today, job seekers in the tech space are doing more research on their prospective employers, and Brady said they are taking a deeper look at digital profiles. Prospects are thoroughly navigating websites, social media profiles and how a company is represented online. “You have to make sure that your language and the look and feel of your [digital] spaces are inclusive,” said Brady. “You should be aware of the pictures and the words you use to convey that women and people of color belong in your workplace.”

3. INTRODUCE FEMALE RECRUITS TO OTHER WOMEN

As female candidates are going through the interview process for tech positions, Brady said it’s important for them to have an opportunity to meet women working in the technology division of the company. “The worst thing you can do is to have a woman come in to interview with five men,” said Brady. “You have to put your best and brightest women and have a diverse flight of people they are interviewing with so that they could see themselves in your environment, which is something that we do here at Key and are very deliberate when we bring candidates in.”

4. BUILD A RECRUITING PIPELINE

Instead or waiting for a college recruiting fair to find the next best tech female candidate, it is actually a better idea to start the engagement process earlier. To promote careers in technology, Brady said Key proactively works with high school and middle school students. “We are reaching to middle and high schools around the country earlier, so that we can change the perception for young women who may understand that the technology acumen can open doors for incredible career opportunities in so many different directions.”

The company attends and supports events that recognize young women for their contributions in the tech space. One of those events is theOhio Aspiration in Computing Event, which recognizes young women from Ohio high schools who are active in computing and technology. The organization also acts as a talent development pipeline lead by NCWIT.

Another way Key builds its recruiting pipeline is to invite a group of high school students to take part in a summer internship program. Most of those high school students usually circle back to Key for an internship once they are in college. “Our internship program really provides us an incredible opportunity to bring a very diverse group of young men and women and we expose them to all aspects of technology,” said Brady. “Starting that pipeline early, is starting to be a best practice for us.”

5. PARTNER WITH PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS

The pipeline of women in technology tends to run dry when women move up the corporate ladder or when they take a break in the middle of their careers. This makes filling the higher-level roles with women in tech a bit of a challenge.

To stay ahead of the shortage, Key partners with diverse professional organizations. For example, Key teamed up with the National Center for Women in Technology, Women in Technology International, Black Data Programmers Association and a list of others, to recruit potential candidates.

Brady sat on the board of NCWIT for more than six years, and she is now on the executive advisory committee, which Key is also very active. “We encourage both men and women from the management team to be involved in [these] groups, networks, and diversity of focus technology organizations so that we can make sure we are consistently representing our brand,” said Brady.

Partnering with these professional organizations allows Key to share opportunities as they become available and they are able to build a pool of candidates from the profiles. Overall, Brady said that she seen the benefits to partnering with the organizations, especially when postings of job opening are listed on the sites.

BONUS TIP: RECRUITING ACROSS THE AGES

Brady noted that KeyBank sees to it that all of its recruiting materials are inclusive across the board. “It’s important for age diversity, which in the technology field is equally important to getting female and minority diversity.”

For older employees in the workforce not ready to retire, Brady said age is not a hindrance and that they are looking for the best and the brightest first. “We have to make sure that we are structuring roles in technology that allows for diversity of experience and tenure of experience to fit those roles,” Brady explained. “There are roles where we need people with 20 years of experience that would preclude someone with five years of experience qualifying and therefore probably, not necessarily always age specific, because there may have been people who moved into the industry.”

TECH REALITY

Brady noticed that the number of computing jobs continues to grow in the United States, but the interest in those majors and careers has declined over the past decade. “Fewer students, male and female, are enrolling in computer science programs, and fewer are graduating with computing science degrees,” she said. “We know that has to shift and I think we have to continue to emphasize the value of understanding computing to not only IT degrees but to all professions.”

Brady said there is value of having some experience with computing regardless of what career path a person selects. “I think future CEOs will have computing in their background. Doctors need IT experience,” she said. “Choose any industry, and you’ll find that you’ll benefit from that. I think the more we encourage people to understand the value of those basics in their career, we will see more and more women moving into these roles.”

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