April 27, 2023

Gender Equality Hiring is Essential to Growth: Is Your Startup Falling Behind?

Georgia May

Gender Lens Hiring is Essential to Growth: Is Your Startup Falling Behind?

Having women in leadership roles might help you attract the right kind of talent. Gender equality hiring is becoming more and more important in today’s tech ecosystem, and for good reasons.

If you feel your company is falling behind, we have good news for you, our service ACELR8X matches ambitious startups with their next leaders. Part of our mission is building community and supporting networks to share experiences and remove roadblocks to success, particularly for women.

How do we do that (apart from offering our services)?

The Growing with Community dinners we held before Covid helped forge lasting networks of colleagues, clients and friends. We are delighted to reignite that flame.

In Berlin, there was little in the way of an in-person women’s leadership community before ACELR8X. We have prioritised community building and gender equality from our inception. In our team, ACELR8X maintains a 52% gender lens hiring ratio and ACELR8 as a company, comprises 40% female leaders. We believe this is essential in today’s ecosystem.

We are back!

Picture of the Growing with Community dinner in Berlin. Picture by Mari Endeladze.

ACELR8X has relaunched our Growing with Community dinners. The first of which aimed to amplify gender equality hiring in leadership infrastructures.

We understand that the topic of diversity is far broader than gender alone, we practise all aspects of diversity in our hiring process. However, in this article we will focus on having gender-diverse leaders to enable differential viewpoints that are key to growth.

To kick off our first in-person dinner since Covid, Selma Hadzic gave an inspiring talk on the gender gap in tech.

Forging Relationships

In a private room of a laid-back Berlin restaurant, 17 women in leadership positions from the Berlin tech ecosystem — ranging from VP Sales to CEOs — gathered for an open and compassionate conversation.

The guest list was not revealed to any of the guests. “It made me nervous, not knowing who was going to be there”, admitted one participant. It was important to us that those attending were doing so for themselves and their community rather than any one person in particular.

Selma Hadzic is an engineer and a professional coach with a mission to close the gender gap. She works as a tech lead freelancer in data science and consults companies on increasing the number of women in tech and leadership roles.

After a round of introductions, Selma gave a stirring talk. This sparked off a naturally flowing conversation that continued organically for the rest of the evening, requiring no facilitation. There was much agreement, many shared experiences, and an open atmosphere with absolutely no being talked over.

The Gender Gap

Selma started off with a story explaining how it can sometimes feel as a woman in tech; discouraged, alone and full of doubts, many of us share the struggle. Only 15% of the world’s data scientists are non-male, and of the managers in this field even less identify as women, this drops dramatically at director level. In an environment like this, it is difficult to feel as though one belongs.

There are so few director-level and c-suite role models for women, it seems like an impossible task to get there. This is compounded by restricted access to knowledge about career progression that our male counterparts are privy to.

The lack of women in tech and in leadership perpetuates a future lack as it is so disheartening to even attempt it. To add to this, we are still facing the well-documented gender pay gap.

There is a long way to go in closing the gap. Both in terms of gender lens hiring and women being fairly compensated for their work.

So, what can we do about it?

Picture by Mari Endeladze.

The four main themes arose from this evening's conversation:

1 — the importance of transparent salaries
2 — roadblocks and frustrations with the pace of promotion
3 — the importance of male allies
4 — differences in communication style (as well as being interrupted by male colleagues)

There was such an abundance of rich material and conversation here that we will further explore these topics in upcoming ACELR8 Talking Talent discussions. Talking Talent connects startup leaders, team members and builders to master hiring, follow the link and join the community if you want to get involved.

Learnings on Leadership Hiring through the Lens of Gender

It’s become clear that gender lens hiring is no longer a luxury or a PR exercise, it is a necessity.

Unless gender diversity is built into the DNA of your business and underpinned in your growth strategy you will quickly fall behind. Tech and the opportunities within the industry continue to grow and the market for talent is becoming ever more competitive.

If there is a woman who is perfectly aligned with your team but sees only men in leadership positions, she’s being told there is no future for her there. Even as a junior, if she sees no role models at the top of your infrastructure, why should she join you? She will go to a company where she can see herself succeeding. As a startup today, you cannot afford to ignore gender equality in tech and leadership.

As the necessity of gender equality hiring becomes more apparent, women will begin to be offered the same opportunities as men. Not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because doing so is essential to the tech ecosystem and successful startup growth.

The Importance of Community

Despite the importance of gender lens hiring, we are still facing the gender gap today. Building community and support networks for non-male talent is essential to accelerating gender equity. We need solidarity.

Strong and lasting bonds are created at events like ACELR8X’s Growing with Community dinners. Building a community helps in supporting one another. It helps us to feel less alone. We can inspire and be inspired. One guest from the event described it as a healing experience. That is the power of community.

As Selma made clear, support networks provide role models that we can identify with, relate to and talk to. Our role models do not have to be abstract and far away anymore, they are right here in our own ecosystem. This creates a safe environment to ask questions, share knowledge and exchange experiences. We can help to educate one another on the nuances of the startup landscape.

Community also enables curated pools of talent. The reason ACELR8X has such a strong gender equality in recruitment record is that we have access to communities nurtured from our inception. Potential women leaders are often harder to engage than men, for several reasons. Through building community we have cultivated an atmosphere of respect and trust in both male and non-male talent pools.

If you want to begin amplifying gender equality hiring in your leadership infrastructure, contact us and discover how ACELR8X can help you do so here.

Also, if you would like to get involved in future Growing with Community events please reach out to me, Georgia May and see how you can become a part of the community. Thank you again to everyone who attended the dinner, and to Selma for giving such an inspiring talk. We are really looking forward to the next one.

You can learn more about Selma’s mission at her Website and her LinkedIn

Thank you!

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Gender Equality Hiring is Essential to Growth: Is Your Startup Falling Behind?