This week, I had an early start to one of my workdays attending the British Chamber of Commerce Singapore’s Breakfast Club event – “Women in Tech: Addressing the Gender Gap”.
The panel was moderated by Dr. Tanvi Gautam from SMU. Executives in Microsoft, LinkedIn and HP and the Regional COO for Technology in Barclays were on the panel.
3/4 ways into the panel discussion, the moderator (Dr. Tanvi Gautam)remarked that she has just confronted an unconscious bias/assumption of hers: She had walked into moderating this panel thinking that Tech would be the one to save us all regards to gender equality and show everyone else the way. And as the panel conversations progressed, she was realizing that those of us in Tech are also grappling with many of the same issues as others and that we cannot count on Tech to be the silver bullet and that we probably all need a software upgrade and reboot.
I could not have said it better. So many people I speak to on D&I do think that technology is the answer to all our gender challenges in the workplace:”Let’s get the latest technology and we will solve for work life balance and flexible working and women will stay longer and get promoted,” and the accompanying refrain (nay, excuse) that is less explicitly expressed: “We don’t have the latest or the right technology so we are stuck in our efforts trying to progress gender diversity.” Right, the Chief Technology Officers in so many companies already have a lot to shoulder around shrinking budgets, security and keeping up with exponential technology progress and now they get to own the (lack of) progress on gender diversity too.
Technology makes it easier to achieve some of the stuff that enables progress on gender diversity and equality in the workplace, without a doubt. But it is not the be all and end all. As I have expressed previously, mindsets matter – the mindsets of leaders, of HR and of women themselves. And mindsets drive culture and culture drive behaviours (and technology enablement).
But it is a lot easier to pin this on Technology or the organization or the leader or team members than to work on our own unconscious bias and mental models. Everyone individually need to own our own mindsets, unconscious bias and mental models, go get a software upgrade and reboot our unconscious bias and self-limiting beliefs. D&I 2.0 anyone?