Building a Team with Gender Diversity

At Bixly, it’s important for us to have a culture where any person of any background can succeed on our team. That means cultivating a culture of kindness and respect, making sure that once someone has been hired they are treated like they are a team member, and making sure new people you bring on continue carrying your culture in that same direction.

Full Transcript Below:

Alexandra:

Hi, everyone. Welcome back to another Bixly Tech Tuesday. My name is Alexandra and I’m the Director of Marketing here at Bixly. I’m actually going to be in this next episode, along with Cris, because we’re going to be tackling the issue of women in tech. So, let’s take a look at that conversation.

Cris:

Thanks Alexandra for jumping in and talking with us today. So, we’re obviously talking about women in the tech industry, and I think a good question to start off with is, why do you think, because I think there are, fewer women in tech?

Alexandra:

Yeah, and the numbers and statistics really do bear that out, and I think it’s a really good question, and it’s an important question that I think a lot of people are talking about, and I think the answer is really complex and multifaceted.

Alexandra:

So, from our experience just as a tech company trying to hire women and have a diverse workforce, I just don’t see as many female applicants coming through, and I think even at the collegiate level, we’re not seeing as many women in computer science programs and getting that education and training in this particular field, as much as we’re seeing men come through those programs. So, whether the ultimate cause is more sociological, cultural, personal preference- And even myself, I come from an education background and I worked for an educational company before I transitioned over to working from Bixly. So, tech really wasn’t even on my radar or and doing a computer science program for me personally, it wasn’t even on my radar as something that maybe I would be interested in and maybe I would enjoy. So, even from personal experience, I would say so.

Cris:

Is that a marketing thing, maybe? I mean, I’m interested in your insight because you obviously do marketing for us. How is marketing overall for women in the tech? Is that something that, we’re seeing more of it, but…?

Alexandra:

Yeah, and I think it’s a double-edged sword because you want to obviously be inclusive.

Cris:

Sure.

Alexandra:

And, you want people to feel comfortable no matter who they are or what their background is, to come into a professional working environment and succeed and build their career here, and that’s definitely our goal. But, you also don’t want to make it so explicit that it then becomes offensive.

Cris:

Right.

Alexandra:

So, I think there’s that common meme where, I don’t remember the pen company, but it was like, “A pen: for women”.

Cris:

Oh yes, right.

Alexandra:

And it became a thing on the internet.

Cris:

Sounds like an Office episode.

Alexandra:

Right, exactly, except for it happened in real life.

Cris:

Happened in real life.

Alexandra:

Yeah, and so you don’t want to be like, “Tech: but for women”.

Cris:

Right.

Alexandra:

Because, it doesn’t really matter. Women are smart. Men are smart. Women are equally capable of doing this job, so you really want to make sure that when you’re talking about women entering in this space, it’s just an open and honest conversation that’s respectful and kind to anybody who wants to participate.

Cris:

Yeah. That’s good advice for employers that are trying to obviously, like you said, be more inclusive in general and also towards women.

Alexandra:

Yeah.

Cris:

So, what else can employers do to help bring women into the industry, be inclusive?

Alexandra:

Yeah. I think one of the things is, make it a conscious decision. So, when you see female applicants come through, maybe there’s some unconscious bias that might be entering into it and say, “Okay, pause, let me just assess this person without thinking about what their gender is, and do they have the skills and the requirements to do this?” And, give them an equal and fair shot at the job, and in your assessment process. And, since I happened to be the main recruiter here at Bixly, I think that makes it a little bit easier for us because the first gatekeeper- That’s probably the wrong word for it, but the first person who’s going to really be assessing-

Cris:

Right.

Alexandra:

The next phases in this interview process is a woman.

Cris:

Sure.

Alexandra:

And so, I think that makes it, you can avoid maybe any unconscious bias problems that you might have in your recruiting process, so that really helps. And I would say also, building a culture, and we touched on this a little bit, but building a culture that is welcoming to anybody no matter what their background is, that it is a place where they can feel comfortable, they can come in, they can succeed, they can build their career, is really, really important. I think there are horror stories from the past 10 years, the Silicon Valley startup culture where we’re like, “Oh no, there’s like keggers going on” or whatever, and it’s got that frat boy-

Cris:

Well, women can drink too.

Alexandra:

That’s true.

Cris:

That was a bad joke, I’m sorry.

Alexandra:

But it’s got, sometimes there’s the reputation of having a frat boy culture.

Cris:

Right, exactly.

Alexandra:

And that’s not going to be comfortable for a woman to come in for a professional environment.

Cris:

Sure.

Alexandra:

I think it starts with just hiring the type of people that you want to work with. So, for Bixly, that means, and we put it in every job posting; no jerks, no punks, no know-it-alls, because nobody wants to work with those types of people, whether you’re a woman or a man or anything in between, no matter how you identify as your gender. So, at the end of the day, you want people on your team who already are aligning with that culture of respect, of kindness, of just treating everybody the same way and equally as you approach your job and as you’re working as a company. And, I think we do a really good job of that here.

Cris:

Yeah, I love our team. I think you’ve done a fantastic job with hiring and I’m excited to again, be a very inclusive company. So, you touched on other ways obviously that employers can help make sure that they’re staying that way, you even touched on some of the things we’re doing. Is there anything else that Bixly in particular is doing to really add to the culture of being a safe, inclusive place for not only women, but everybody?

Alexandra:

Yeah, I think so. Again, I can only speak from personal experience, but coming from other jobs and working in other places, I think Bixly was the first place where I came in and from day one, my voice was heard. Other workplaces were perfectly wonderful places to work, but there was a little bit of a sense where I felt like I really had to prove myself before people would pay attention to me, and I had to be twice as good as my coworkers to really be given that respect that I felt like I deserved, based on my expertise and based on my resume. But I really had to really step in and knock down the doors at the… What’s the word I’m looking for? You probably have no idea.

Cris:

Knock down the doors at…

Alexandra:

At the saloon and be like, “I’m here now.”

Cris:

Just knocking open the saloon doors thing, just making that grand entrance-

Alexandra:

Yeah.

Cris:

So, you’re saying sometimes you feel like you had to really be grandiose to even just be heard.

Alexandra:

Right.

Cris:

Yeah.

Alexandra:

Whereas when I came to Bixly, you guys hired me because you wanted me to be on the team, because you wanted my expertise and my input, and I feel like that’s an opportunity that we give to all of our employees when they come in, we don’t make you have to prove yourself or go through a gauntlet or anything like that. It’s like, “No, we already interviewed you. We already assessed you. We want to bring you on the team, and now you’re on a team. You don’t have to prove yourself.” So, cultivating a culture like that I think is really, really important.

Cris:

Where you just respect people for who they are as individuals, not even so much what they can do. Not to completely get off in the weeds, but it was interesting, I did read an article about that, that it’s very important that you respect people for who they are at the base level. And then, you can obviously give them accolades and awards, talk about achievements and things, but at the end of the day, people really, at their core, they care about, and I would care about, that you appreciate me for who I am as an individual, and that you would ask that I would do the same for you. So, that’s great.

Alexandra:

Yeah. I completely agree, and I think another pitfall can be worrying about so much of what we shouldn’t do. Don’t do that, don’t touch this, don’t talk that way-

Cris:

Sure, sure, sure.

Alexandra:

Don’t make this joke. Don’t- and you get into this weed of all of this legalese, and don’t get me wrong, I think those legal protections are absolutely vital.

Cris:

Very important.

Alexandra:

But sometimes we think about so much what we shouldn’t do, and instead we should be focusing on what we should do. And at the end of the day, if you have people on your team and their value is, “I treat people with kindness and respect”, you won’t have any issues.

Cris:

Right, yeah. You can go at it from the negative or come from the positive side and generally come from the positive side, it’s just going to be better for everyone.

Alexandra:

Absolutely. It’s not about what the least we can get away with and still be kosher, still be cool and fly under the radar legally. It’s like, “What’s the best culture that we can build? What’s the best way that we can treat everybody who comes into our office, whatever their background is?” And that’s our goal, that’s what we’d want to do.

Cris:

Perfect. Any other closing thoughts, culture related, regardless of whether man, woman, whatever it is you want to come work at Bixly, anything from a cultural standpoint that you think is worth noting?

Alexandra:

Yeah. I think one thing that I’m really excited about is because this is a conversation that’s happening, we’re seeing those points of encouragement and those points of opportunity happening early in the process. So again, because we’re a tech company, I can only hire people who are qualified and I am excited to hire those people, but we do see more and more that training, that educational opportunity, those internships opening up and having more diverse candidates in them. Bitwise is another local company here that’s really making an emphasis on that from the training and the building up perspective, and we’re so excited to see how successful they’ve been, and I know there are other opportunities like that across the country that are making strides in that area. So, I just wanted to note that because that’s an essential piece to what’s going on before-

Cris:

It’s a team effort.

Alexandra:

Exactly.

Cris:

Yeah.

Alexandra:

It’s all the way down the line, we’re transforming it.

Cris:

We can basically drop the stone, it makes a ripple, and the ripple is only going to go so far, but when it starts raining…

Alexandra:

There we go.

Cris:

There’s some pretty ripples.

Alexandra:

That was such a nice metaphor.

Cris:

I try. So, cool. Well, I appreciate the time. I think we’ve covered most of this.

Alexandra:

I think so, too.

Cris:

I’m really looking forward to, obviously what this year and continual years are going to bring, and how that gap between basically men and women in tech is narrowed over the years.

Alexandra:

I agree.

Alexandra:

Thank you so much for joining us for this episode of Bixly Tech Tuesday. If you have any questions about what we talked about today, go ahead and link those questions in the comment section down below. In addition, in the description to this video, you can find a link to our free custom software guide. You can also check out our website, Bixly.com, and even sign up for an hour long consultation for free with Cris about your next app idea.

Originally published at https://blog.bixly.com on March 23, 2021.

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