If you're an enterprise software company with an imperative to hire more women, what do you do? Use your own software to build a systematic way to improve the recruiting process, of course.
That's the approach that SAP AG (NYSE/Frankfurt: SAP) is taking in its quest to improve the gender balance in its multinational corporation. SAP has committed to increasing the number of females in leadership positions to 25% by 2017. Its mix currently sits at 23.6%, up from 21.3% in early 2015 and from just 17% in 2011.
To expedite what can be a slow-moving process, SAP CIO Helen Arnold says the company is looking into how it can rewrite its own recruiting software to essentially create a guide for how to avoid classical traps and unconscious bias, craft gender neutral job descriptions and seek out diverse perspectives. (See Grace Hopper: Power to the Pipeline , WiC Poll: Start Young to Improve the Pipeline and Ericsson HR Dumps Good, Bad Hiring Buckets .)
"Our development and engineering teams are looking at how to build it into the software," she says, adding that many women feel discouraged by the traditional recruitment process. (See Recruit Women Technologists .)
Understanding and normalizing the recruitment process will help SAP complement other more subjective measures that it already undertakes to encourage gender diversity and equality. The company was recently awarded the Economic Dividends for Gender Equality (EDGE) certificate in recognition for its commitment to gender equality in the workplace in North America, an award Arnold says she hopes to extend globally. (See SAP Awarded Gender Equality Certification.)
One way it plans to do this is by attacking the issue from the top down. SAP provides gender awareness training for all its managers. The training is a way to help them understand how gender differences may manifest themselves on the job and how to encourage teamwork, collaboration and inclusive leadership in the daily operations of the company. (See Championing Change: It's a Cultural Thing and What Is Your Company's Gender IQ?)
"From an employer's point of view, you need to be very much aware and also need to have the right culture of inclusiveness," Arnold says. "This is so much about the words and actions and making sure it's really lived in an every day life perspective."
Using technology to reach, empower and educate women is a big part of what SAP does externally as well. Some of its current initiatives include bringing mobile banking to the unbanked in South Africa, providing financial services to female small business owners with low incomes, teaching young girls in Africa how to code and improving pregnant women's access to their doctors in Germany via a mobile app.
— Sarah Thomas, , Editorial Operations Director, Light Reading