Why the Digital Wave is Leveling
the Playing Field for Women
When we were asked to speak at a breakfast for some of Uber’s Melbourne team and their female drivers on International Women’s Day this year, we thought “there are a few ways we could take this.” Should we talk about the pay gap, the percentage of women in leadership positions, the bias that women face in traditionally male industries? Wait a second, weren’t we supposed to be celebrating?
So, instead of listing a bunch of grim statistics, we wanted to talk about the amazingly positive and ambitious reasons that digital wave is levelling the playing field for women to take the world by storm. And inspiration ensued...
So many companies that are using a digital platform, like Uber, Freelancer.com and Sidekicker, are making it more attractive for women by offering flexible work schedules, locations and working styles that suit their work force or contractors, not the other way around. This has opened up our worlds to when it comes to a flexible workforce – we can now work where we want, when we want, and on the exact projects we want to work on. There’s no denying this works well for women. The traditional model where men typically hold an advantage of being able (or willing) to turn up to an office for a set number of hours will no longer be the norm.
It seems like the ultimate office perk might just be not having an office at all and ditching the massive productivity loss that comes from dressing up and travelling to another location.
At Telstra they have recently introduced an initiative known as ‘All Roles Flex’, which means the starting point for a position is the assumption that the structure is flexible. When this approach was piloted in a specific sales team, the result was an increase in female applicants by 15% and an increase in the proportion of women in job placements by 35%.
This presents an exciting opportunity for us where work and rewards are based on results. Not politics, not connections but the quality of your work.
Another reason why the digital revolution is exciting for women is that it means the talent pool is becoming more than an overfished pond.
Now when a tech start up wants a new developer or content creator, they can simply put a call out on the web for people to send videos or Flipagrams of themselves telling them why they’re awesome. This means you’re essentially accessing anyone with an internet connection and an interest in your company, not limiting yourself to a talent pool within 100k’s of your office. The world is much bigger than that.
It doesn’t matter where they live, what time zone they’re in or who they know. Everyone is starting from zero and showcasing what they have to offer.
A great example of a company that’s doing this is Automattic.com (the creators of WordPress). To give you an idea of their influence, every second in the world, four babies and two WordPress blogs are born. They control about 20% of web content with an astounding only 230 employees. But what’s different about these employees is that they sit in 170 cities across the world.
It’s pretty logical that Matt Mullenweg, the CEO, believes that “99 percent of the talent in the world is either outside of or unwilling to move to Silicon Valley.”
So when Matt was looking for someone to lead the release of Wordpress 4.0, their latest and greatest version of their product in October last year, it was Helen Hou-Sandi, a former classical pianist turned coder (yes you read that correctly, she is one cool chick) that rose to the occasion.
The digital revolution is exciting for women and exciting for the level of talent available to be recruited for forward thinking companies, as it diversifies the talent pool and opens up accessibility to people with a variety of different backgrounds.
Quite simply, the future of work is smashing the boys club and creating equal opportunities for women to succeed.