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Women In Comms

WiCipedia: How to create a diverse board

This week in our WiCipedia roundup: Board diversification goal setters; Netflix releases first inclusion report; CES 2021 focuses on women in tech; and more.

  • Diversifying boards has been a real point of tension in the tech world in recent years, yet there are companies out there that have done it and don't seem to think the excuses bear weight. CIO featured an article by Elizabeth Stock, executive director of nonprofit PDX Women in Tech (PDXWIT), to talk about the process that PDXWIT took to get from 100% white, straight, CIS board members to more than 80% BIPOC along with LGBTQ members, all in under two years. While the organization had a bit of a head start compared to more traditional tech companies as its focus is on diversity and the original board was already entirely women, Stock believes that companies have full control over their diversification efforts, and that great change can be made from the top down, particularly from CIOs. Check out the article for PDXWIT's step-by-step instructions for creating an inclusive and diverse board. (See WiCipedia: Networking helps get women on boards.)

    Everyone loves a blank slate
    (Source: Pixabay)
    (Source: Pixabay)

  • Netflix just filed its first inclusion report, according to Deadline. The report seems a little late to the party, though it does appear to be comprehensive and goal driven, with more of an actual focus on hiring a racially diverse staff than many fellow Silicon Valley companies. The streaming giant reports that women already make up nearly half of its employees, and people of non-white heritages are also almost half of its employee base. Even more impressive, this demographic makes up 42% of Netflix's director-level roles, a number that most other tech companies are far from reaching. Netflix isn't done moving the needle; the company has a reputation for always demanding more and better innovation. "Netflix reports that they are striving to be more inclusive and equitable as possible with open compensation for leaders, family forming benefit, gender-blind parental leave and U.S. transgender health benefits," the report states. (See WiCipedia: Why Women Leave Tech, Gen Z Wants to Disconnect & Aviation Equality.)

  • CES wrapped up last week in its virtual format, and SDX Central reports that the focus on gender diversity in tech was front and center. Not only were keynotes led by more women than ever before, but the conversation around parity and equality was more noticeable as well. Female execs from Amazon, Deloitte and others discussed the journeys of women and women of color in tech, where companies can go from here and what inclusivity truly means. "Any of us can say I'm an inclusive leader and I embrace diversity, and yet when you show up, do you actually demonstrate that as a trait? Do you actually welcome everybody in the room, or do you do what's happened to me so many times, which is somebody walks into the room and they only greet the people that look like them or sound like them?," said Terri Cooper, vice chair of diversity, equity and inclusion at Deloitte. (See WiCipedia: Google employees protest and unionize.)

  • Bumble, the dating app made for and by women, has filed for its IPO. The app was founded in 2014 and quickly ascended as the "female-focused dating app," in contrast to competitors, and recently expanded to include networking for friends and women in business as well. Founder Whitney Wolfe Herd, formerly of Tinder, will become one of the youngest female founders to bring a company to IPO. Wolfe Herd hasn't been shy about creating a company with women's best interests in mind, unlike most tech companies, especially in the dating app world. A News-Daily article states, "Wolfe Herd has worked to set her company apart – from publicly slamming and blocking a misogynist user to banning gun photos and flagging lewd images sent through direct messages on its app. She's also used her profile to throw her weight around issues pertaining to women and the digital world. In 2019, she and Bumble successfully advocated for a new Texas law outlawing digital sexual harassment." We hope this IPO shows other companies that advocating for what is right and just can bring major successes. (See WiCipedia: Rad Projects, Femtech Entering Heyday & CES Confirms Diversity Changes.)

  • We can complain about the "pipeline," advocate for moms to join the tech industry through returnship programs, and lambaste companies for having low ratios of female employees, but the real work to be done is helping underprivileged girls and women have access to education and entry into the tech industry. The Last Mile Education Fund is doing just that, Technical.ly explains. The fund, founded in 2019 and led by notable tech founders and investors (such as tech inclusion advocate Ruthe Farmer and investor Melinda Gates, to name drop a few), provides funding for women who are in the middle of completing degrees in tech-related fields and also in need of financial support. Applicants must be within four semesters of graduating and can seek funding not only for tuition but also for basic life needs. "We believe that if you've made it this far in a computer science or engineering major, you're worth our investment," Farmer said. If you or someone you know is in need of financial assistance in order to complete a degree, you can find out more about Last Mile here. (See WiCipedia: Should tech jobs require college degrees?)

    — Eryn Leavens, Special Features & Copy Editor, Light Reading. Follow us on Twitter @LR_WiC and contact Eryn directly at [email protected].

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