Women in IT

5 tips for CIOs who want to help women lean in: Lessons from AfricaCom

Businesses talk about gender equality; AfricaCom put the spotlight on what it take to actually make progress.

 AfricaCom 2019 in Cape Town last week promised a strong focus on building gender parity in the technology and telecommunications industries, offering up a special track on the topic. That most of the sessions addressing this issue were hosted in the centre of busy and noisy exhibition halls was telling. With many of the female funders, founders and experts almost having to shout to get their points across, the scene served as a microcosm for the experiences women have working in male dominated fields on a daily basis.

And yet, the benefits of inclusivity and diversity speak for themselves.

"Having a more diverse set of employees means you have a more diverse set of skills," says MIT economist Sara Ellison. Her recent research found that moving from an all-male or all-female workplace to an office environment with an even male-female split can increase enterprise revenue by about 41%. She explains why this happens with a baseball analogy: A baseball team composed entirely of catchers isn't likely to hit a lot of home runs. Similarly, work environments with limited social diversity will be great at meeting the needs of one demographic but will struggle to produce products that speak to underrepresented groups.

The industry may be talking about gender equality in tech – and many tech firms assert that diversity is a priority – but progress is slow. Here are five tips to help business leaders change their organisations from the inside.

Change perceptions

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