Photograph of a woman in a blue dress seated at a business table typing on a device in an office environment with a second woman seated in the background.

How diverse and gender-inclusive is your business? How many women do you have in senior technical roles—or senior roles across your organization? Have you considered the benefits of building a more inclusive and diverse business culture that includes more women, minorities, and people with disabilities? This post shares insights, success stories, resources, and research facts (from McKinsey, StatsCan, and Stack Overflow), to help you identify and bridge the gender and cultural gaps in your business.

Diversity and inclusion drives business performance. McKinsey & Company global research found that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15 percent more likely have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.

Partners—and every Canadian business—can gain competitive advantage by hiring outside their comfort zone.

Given the benefits they create, many Canadian businesses still resist change when it comes to their business and hiring practices.

Do you resist change? Have you embraced diversity best practices yet? If not, why not? Can’t find the candidates?

As a technical employer, it’s important to calibrate your expectations around available talent. Stack Overflow’s developer survey of 90,000 developers around the world provides useful insights into how they learn and level up, what tools they use, and what they want. Interestingly, the same survey delineates the results by gender, providing us invaluable insight into the demographic and psychographic differences that business owners/employers need to consider.

Developer role and gender

A screen grab from Stack Overflow’s 2019 developer survey visually representing the relationship between developer role and gender.

Unfortunately, women are still vastly under-represented in the technology industry. Stack Overflow also reports a major gender discrepancy in the prevalence and type of developer, with women taking mostly front-end and back-end development roles. To further compound the recruitment challenge, female developers seem less confident about their professional experience than their male counterparts:

Competence and experience

A screen grab from Stack Overflow’s 2019 developer survey visually representing the gender gap when it comes to confidence among respondents.
A screen grab from Stack Overflow’s 2019 developer survey visually representing the gender gap when it comes to confidence among respondents.

Respondents were asked to evaluate themselves for their years of experience, but we see differences in opinion with experience. Among our respondents, men grew more confident much more quickly than gender minorities.

Do some of your technical resources suffer from a confidence issue? If so, they may be passing up internal opportunities to grow and help you prosper!

So, what’s Microsoft doing?

We believe in the transformative power of diversity and inclusion, recognizing it as an essential part of our mission to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. Microsoft has diverse programs and initiatives on the go to make a difference, including funding initiatives for women-led startups. You can visit Microsoft diversity for more information on our corporate initiatives.

What can you do next?

Every Microsoft partner can leverage this insight to create a technical business culture that accepts and inspires confidence in everyone. That all starts by making accessibility and diversity a business priority, not just an HR request. Your business leadership team can develop a thoughtful diversity and inclusivity strategy and bring it to life in meaningful ways.

  1. Balance immediate changes with realistic, incremental goals while making your plan. The approach helps evolve your culture gradually.
  2. Include ample communication, internal and external, to reach your employees and candidates.
  3. State your policies prominently and proudly in your website, in employee materials, in job descriptions, on your social media landing pages, etc. Then deliver on them.
  4. Ensure your compensation is fair and equitable and put programs in place to attract new talent and mentor the talent you have.
  5. Leverage best practices from others.

Get inspired with Canadian success stories

For inspiration, check out examples of Microsoft partner companies driving diversity. Canvass Analytics, MetaOptima, and My Intelligent Machines, Cerebri, and Mindbridge were co-founded by women and/or have women in senior roles. Many have unique programs accelerating diversity. Cerebri runs a fantastic speaker series on diversity and inclusion – give it a listen! And Mindbridge’s innovative HERoes program offers women seeking a career in STEM mentorship, training, and more.