While the tech industry has come far since the garage-coding times of the 90s, we still have a ways to go before the gender gap is fully closed. Girls Who Code and other organizations have emerged to encourage and empower more young women to study computer science. Then there’s Women Techmakers and other events that bring together successful women in the tech industry to share their stories of success and pay it forward through mentorship and hiring.
But the onus is also on tech companies to push for real gender equality within the workplace.
At Unito, women represent 46% of the workforce — not an even split, but that’s something we’re working towards. Women also represent 55% of our leadership team, which is something we’re extremely proud of. While the effort is ongoing, here are some of the ways we’ve been able to push for greater equality within our business.
Unito uses pilot projects to test candidates for job applicable skills and team fit before we hire them. We see this as an opportunity for both us and the potential hire to see if we’re a good fit. It’s like a test drive before buying the car. And it has also helped us fight bias and stereotyping.
Research shows that gender bias, as well as race and age biases, are a factor in the job interview process. Most women working in technology have experienced gender bias and know how it can work against you in the hiring process. If hiring decisions are being made based on an interview alone, there’s a lot of room for interpretation and that’s why biases tend to creep in.
With a pilot, candidates are given the opportunity to put their skillset to work. You’re expected to come in and run a project that fits your role. If you’re applying for a copywriter job, that might mean writing a blog post and getting feedback from the content team. If you’re applying for a dev job, that could mean fixing some bugs or coding in a new feature. Not only does this force the hiring team (and yes it is a team, composed of both women and men) to make a decision based on more concrete data (your project), having candidates in the office allows them to see what the environment is like for women at Unito. This exposure adds pressure on us to make that environment one that any candidate would be excited to be a part of.
The skills matrix
Research shows that, while women ask for raises just as much as men do, we don’t get them at the same rate. It’s not because we’re less assertive or less confident. And it’s definitely not because we’re not as skilled. But entrenched biases play a major role in the discussion around raises.
That’s a big part of the reason Unito has been working on a skills matrix for each role in the company. The matrix lists every role in the company on a scale, typically from one to five or six. Each level of the scale is tied to a concrete set of skills and abilities. So, with this matrix, every employee knows exactly what they need to work on to hit that next level.
Employees and new hires, regardless of gender, are thus able to prove that they’ve met the company’s expectations for a specific skill level. That makes it easier for anyone at Unito to have the “raise conversation,” since they can just start with “I believe I’ve achieved every milestone I need to level up. Let’s talk.”
The wage gap is still a major problem in the tech industry. The boogeyman of all industries. Everyone’s always talking about it. We’ve figured out something to lessen that gap in our company.
Unito’s solution to fighting the wage gap is to remove negotiations from the hiring process. Basically, we decide on pay before we even start the hiring process.
It’s that simple. At Unito, every single person within the same role with the same skillset gets paid the exact same. You and your desk neighbor are both level 2 Developers? You’re making the same amount. No bonuses, no extras, no subjective benefits. We pay everyone the same.
We have some executive and management roles where that comparison isn’t possible. For these roles, we use market research to fight bias.
And we’re transparent about this. Our Google drive has a document in it called the “Compensation Matrix,” which shows the salary of every member of the company. Everyone knows how much everyone is making, and if they’re unhappy with their salary they can consult the skills matrix to see what they need to level up.
You need the right culture for something like this to work. At Unito, we care about radical transparency, and we’re honest with everyone, from the top of the corporate ladder to the bottom. So for us, being honest about all our salaries — including our CEO’s — fits within our culture. It’s just one of the benefits of our commitment to transparency.
Flexible work policies
The isolation forced by the COVID-19 virus has made it undeniable: most tech companies can accomplish just as much from home as in the office. Maybe meetings are easier if someone’s physically there, but video conferencing is here to stay. And, while having everyone in one physical location can help with team cohesiveness there’s so much to be gained with a little flexibility, especially for women.
Women are still overwhelmingly responsible for the bulk of child care. That can mean having to choose between a career and a family.
One of our commandments at Unito is “favor judgment over rules.” We trust our employees to make the right call, so we give them the flexibility they need to do their best work.
While Unito isn’t a remote work organization, we felt it was important the people be allowed to work from home when they need to and work flexible hours to accommodate family schedules. From snow days to sick kids, that flexibility allows women to choose both families and careers.
Everyone deserves a shot
Unito isn’t perfect, but everyone at our company works every day to try and create a positive and fair working environment for everyone.
Want to find out what it’s like to work at Unito? Check out our career page, because we’re hiring!
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