Events such as International Women’s Day is a great opportunity for businesses to promote what they’re doing towards equality and diversity. But well meaning messages are easily made clumsily.
Let’s take Liquid Web’s blog post, which they heavily promoted on their social media channels. On the surface it looks great – promoting women in the first place is a priority for them and have increased the women in their organisation by over 200%. What’s not to like?
First of all, I see this kind of communication, particularly when it’s to say that you’re doing something right, as less of a time to brag and more of a time to share and teach what you’ve learnt. And this falls firmly into the first camp.
Secondly, scratch the surface of what they’re saying, and it reveals large number of unknown answers about what they’re telling us.
Let’s take that 206% figure first. Which, for those bad with figures, means they’ve increased the number of woman by a factor 2.06. It’s since 2016, so this is a 5 year figure, just to bear in mind
But what are the figures behind this? If they had 1 woman for every 100 men, then 3 woman for every 100 is still, well, terrible. Because, when it comes to male/female hiring, it’s all about ratios. And because they’re not relating their figure back to the number of men, it means they could have increased the number of men, in the same time frame, by 400% and made the issue twice as bad as it was. Do you see? Figures here are everything.
I asked Liquid Web and got this response…
Before the new leadership took place, there were only 33 women in the entire organization. We have grown that by 206%.
Which, by my estimate is 68 women now in the organization. But, as I say, without a figure for the men… what does this mean?
The best I could come up with is based on their LinkedIn page, which says they have 394 employees connected. If that’s correct (and I’m assuming they don’t force all employees onto LinkedIn, so this may be a low number) then that’s… 17% employees are women.
And when you visit their website…
Yes, that’s 2 thirds of their executive leadership being men, which is fair – when it’s a small, odd number, you’re not going to get gender balance. But it’s below that you should concentrate – NOT ONE member of their board of directors is a woman.
Gender representation is not about ticking boxes for the sake of it – it’s about ensuring that the decisions your company makes is properly representative. 50% of people are female so why, at every level of your business, should it be any different?
The next question, though, is how did they achieve their touted increase? As I said, passing on experiences is vital to helping others achieve what you have. If this is the business puffing out their proverbial chest and boasting about the great thing they’ve done then, in my opinion, they should share the “how”.
Again, I asked them as their post was not forthcoming…
While we always look for the best employee for the role, we have gained more exposure to our job openings by getting involved with local tech organizations, volunteering in STEM programs, and promoting the job openings heavily online. We have also opened up many positions for remote work to get a broader pool of applicants.
And this is… great. This is EXACTLY the information that should have been in their original blog post in the first place.
But, again, more context is vital. This occurred over a 5 year period but it’s noticeable that opening up remote work has been one of the key initiatives – something that the pandemic in the last year has forced. There’s nothing to say, particularly when you take into account the low female numbers, that nothing has happened for the first 4 years and then, because of COVID, it’s naturally increased as they’ve been forced into home working. Which begs the question as to what they really have done?
I have asked Liquid Web further clarifying questions but, as yet, have not received a response.