Why more women in startups can only make the tech world a better place

At the latest World Economic Forum, large companies like IKEA, Royal DSM and McKinsey committed to achieving gender parity in their workforces. Countless others have implemented programs for supporting women, including tech players like Scaleway.

However, any such commitments must be made authentically and wholeheartedly. While diversity has become a buzzword in progressive industries, looking at the statistics, it seems in reality to be filled with empty promises. One study found that at the current rate, we'll only achieve equal gender representation on boards by 2032.

These statistics are all the more mind-boggling when you consider the proven benefits of diverse teams. They have access to a wider talent pool, a greater range of ideas, and increased profitability, just to name a few.

It's crucial to understand the benefits of an inclusive team, as well as what can be done by individuals and businesses to support these efforts.

Diversity is just plain good for business

The data is clear – including more women in business equals more profit. Study after study has shown the many benefits of diversity in the workplace – a McKinsey report found that companies embracing diversity are 21% more likely to demonstrate “above average” profitability, meanwhile having just a 30% share of female C-suite executives correlates to 15% growth in net margin.

Yet despite the clear science, there's still a gap in gender representation in business and tech, with only 19% of the UK's tech sector's workforce made up of women.

The same goes for the startup world. Women are drastically underrepresented, with only 4% of startup founders being female, and VC funding overwhelmingly going to men. In 2020, women received 2.3% of VC capital. The statistics get worse the more you dive into ethnic minority categories. Startups, which are known for their focus on rapid growth, seem to be overlooking this statistically effective growth hack.

Most importantly, an inclusive tech sector has the potential to improve the living conditions of society as a whole. Not only are women more likely than men to create favourable working conditions — such as being 30% more likely to pay fair wages/benefits, and 34% better at working out compromises — but they also lead to significant impact on the economy and improved quality of life for underrepresented communities. In fact, closing the gender gap can add $12 trillion to global GDP by 2025.

You don't have to have a degree in economics to be able to read the data: including more women in business has a direct correlation with your bottom line. It's a no-brainer. Diversity is just simply good for business.

Walking the walk – how Scaleway supports diversity, and what others can learn

Acknowledging that change has to occur, Scaleway has taken steps to shed light on women's representation by taking proactive steps. With diversity built-into the company's value-based DNA, Scaleway has implemented a company-wide hiring referral program: if an existing employee (“Scaler”) attracts a new employee, they receive a bonus. At Scaleway, if the newly-attracted employee is a woman, the Scaler receives double the bonus.

Because of the gender gap in tech, it takes initiatives like these to resolve the imbalance. And as women are more likely to apply to a job where they see other women thriving, starting to close that gap is an important first step to get the ball rolling.

Making workplaces diverse and welcoming starts at the company policy level. Scaleway notably insists on these diversity pointers:

  • Equal treatment for all – in terms of transparency, equal contract conditions, equal pay and employee evaluation
  • Work-life balance modelled by leaders – CEOs and managers should lead by example in terms of respecting boundaries between professional and private lives
  • Demonstrations of diversity – publicly showing support for underrepresented groups, for example during Pride month
  • Working towards equal representation in all lines of business:
  • Continuing to recognize and reduce bias in evaluation, talent acquisition and support. Scaleway implements a 360 degree feedback process to reduce bias in their annual evaluations and to continuously improve their systems towards more inclusion and fairness.
  • Working to embody inclusive leadership: Scaleway provides unconscious bias training for their leaders, which aims to reduce bias in the hiring process, corporate conduct and internal talent mobility.

These, and others, are indicators that a business has aligned itself with diversity. They're also policies that businesses can steal in their efforts to become more inclusive.

Empowering female founders from the start – introducing the Women in Tech Startup Programs

With women receiving just 2.3% of VC funding, female founders already face challenges and are disadvantaged when it comes to scaling their businesses. To give them a leg up, Scaleway is announcing a special edition of their Startup Programs, dedicated to “Women Entrepreneurs”.

Women entrepreneurs who sign up November 15 - December 15 will receive:

  • Up to 12 months of free cloud services from Scaleway, a value of up to €36,000
  • Technical support and consultations on cloud infrastructure
  • Customized training and mentoring in IT, product development, marketing, and more.

As an extension of Scaleway's commitment to diversity, women are invited to take advantage of the program and sign up.

Join Scaleway's Women Entrepreneurs startup program! And while you're at it, why not invite a friend to support women in tech too? This special edition of Scaleway's Startup Programs is organised in partnership with 50inTech, a France-based association working towards 50/50 gender balance in the technology sector.

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