women powering technology, part four

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The fourth installment of our Women Powering Technology series features Chandelle Fairley, Managing Director, Randstad Technologies, which takes a closer look at the challenges of recruiting women in technology. Chandelle joined Randstad Technologies in 2009 and has over 17 years experience in the recruitment industry.  Starting as an account executive, she was promoted to Managing Director for the Atlanta-based Randstad Technologies office in July 2013. Chandelle is a multi-year President's Club winner, was named the 2012 Producer of the year and has been a top producer throughout her tenure at Randstad.  Chandelle has experienced great success in this industry through developing solid relationships with her clients internally and externally, which has carried over well in her new leadership role.  Along with her success professionally, Chandelle has been a key player in launching Randstad's most recent corporate social responsibility program.  She has assisted in building the pilot program to prepare ex-victims of human and sex trafficking for the workforce, with the ultimate goal to give victims the opportunity to earn an independent living. 

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-Kimberly Fahey, Vice President, Global Client Solutions at Randstad

 

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Chandelle Fairley

KF: A recent Slate article noted that one of the greatest challenges to diversifying extremely male-dominated fields is getting "women to work for you when women do not work for you." From a recruiting standpoint, do you agree with this statement? That same Slate article described the isolation of being a lone woman IT worker: “Don’t change [your company culture] by hiring or promoting just one woman,” according to the article. “She’ll be isolated and surrounded by the status quo and will have to adapt to it, and she won’t be able to make a difference." Have you seen women IT workers face this isolation? How is gender balance in tech companies tied to the ability attract and recruit female talent?
 
CF: From a recruiting standpoint, I have not seen this to be a major issue.  I do not think women make hiring decisions based on the gender of their manager, or if there are other men or women on the team.  I believe that most women, and individuals in general, are going to make choices for their career based on the current opportunity at hand and the chance for growth.  I personally would rather work on a team that is male-dominated for multiple reasons. I believe I have a better chance of advancement being one of a few females on a team, rather than on a team full of females. I also believe that if  you are driven and keep up with your male colleagues, they can be easier to work with. I think the greater challenge is: what we are doing at the collegiate level to educate women about the technology industry and how they can progress quickly within this industry?  With less women in this space compared to men, I think it gives women who are hard-working, dedicated employees a better chance of quick advancement, especially with all the current strategies within organizations regarding empowering women.
 
KF: Another challenge for women in IT is retention. A Center for Talent Innovation report found that women working in science and high-tech fields are 45 percent more likely than their male peers to leave the industry within a year. Globally, there appears to be a departure of women workers in IT. More than a quarter of U.S. women in these industries say they feel stalled in their careers, while in India the rate is 45 percent. Thirty-two percent of U.S. women in such companies say they are likely to quit within the year, and the rate is nearly the same in China. Why are so many women opting out of the tech industry? "Their intent to leave these companies clearly isn’t because they’re afraid of hard work, they feel stalled in their careers," according to The Washington Post, What advice can you give to women IT workers who are currently working in the industry, but are contemplating leaving?
 
CF: STAY!  My advice to women: don't let the statistics get you down.  Make opportunities for yourself through continued education, mentor relationships and networking.  As women, we have to ensure that we are seen as equals to men, and the only way to do that is to cultivate relationships with the “right” people. Also, stay educated on the latest and greatest technologies.  I have always been the minority in my industry. I've found that if I build relationships both above and below my pay grade and keep up to date on our company and what's happening in the industry, I can outsmart any man.
 
KF: According to the Center for Talent Innovation study, women are leaving the tech sector due to a variety of reasons, including exclusion from social networks, perceived biases in performance evaluations and being judged against male leadership standards. How can companies fix this inability to retain female IT workers; how can they stem this exodus of female talent?
 
CF: I think that at the executive level, organizations need to realize the importance of diversity in the workplace and ensure they are building an environment that supports this.  Many organizations today have programs geared towards women to entice them to stay in the workplace, as well as position them properly for growth. The community must also step in and provide organizations for women to get involved for furthering their education, networking and mentor relationships.  One of the best organizations in Atlanta we have worked with is Women in Technology. They provide numerous avenues for the above.
 
KF: CIO.com recently offered some practical ways that tech companies can attract women workers, including offering mentoring programs, professional development training, and being open about employee classifications.What are some other ways IT companies can change in order to attract women workers?
 
CF: IT companies can attract women in a number of ways and I think one of the best ways is to provide flexibility.  A young woman just out of college may get a position in an IT company and be performing very well and then she decides to start a family. I feel many women can't have the same opportunities for advancement at this point. Companies need to provide guidelines and milestones -- if a woman attains them, then they should be able to work flex hours as long as they continue to perform at optimum levels.  I also think providing a clear career path is critical to keeping women in the workplace.  If women feel that there is not a clear path to move up in the company, they may become discouraged and choose to leave.
 
KF: When Google, Yahoo, Facebook and LinkedIn recently released their workforce and leadership diversity data, the lack of female representation was made clear. As a San Jose Mercury News column noted, “the first step in solving any challenge is recognizing there is one … if we don't measure where we are, we are unlikely to get where we need to go.” In your opinion, are tech companies making the first step toward gender balance by being candid about the current state of their workforces? Is this a positive step for the future of IT women workers?
 
CF: I think tech companies are more aware of the issues at hand with diversity.  However, as a general statement, I am not sure that I believe companies are taking the first step towards gender balance in the workplace.  We recently started providing an Emerging Talent program to one of our top clients here in Atlanta, and we still find that many of the individuals that come to us for this program are male and we have to work very hard to find females to join this program.  I feel this is a topic that continues to get a lot of press, but I am not sure I see anyone doing anything to truly move the needle on this topic.