Creating a Woman-Inclusive Team
I have a theory… As a woman, there is an unspoken role to follow where other women flock, it guarantees the space is safe and accepting. So, when I first met the team at Control Concepts and interviewed with three other women, I knew that I had found where I wanted to start my career in the AV industry. I came to find out that the team is composed of almost half women, which proved my hypothesis.
There are levels to team diversification. Too little diversity results in tokenism, a term coined in business to describe a performative effort in hiring minority groups in the workplace. In reality, tokenism prevents the sharing of new ideas. Low numbers of women in the work setting does not create a comfortable enough environment to share various perspectives. Instead, it is crucial to have a team that is balanced. This way all members of the team feel comfortable enough to share their opinions and feel as though their voice is heard. That is the kind of team that my employer has created.
I commend the Control Concepts management team because it is particularly difficult to build diversity as a small company; it is even harder to build diversity that surpasses tokenism. There are only so many opportunities to hire in a small company which means less room for potential diversity. However, Control Concepts has certainly found a way to do it. This can be attributed to their incredible hiring style. The whole team has the opportunity to meet with interviewees, and all members of the team have a say in bringing on new hires. This gives more opportunities for various voices to be heard.
There is not just one member of the team making decisions based on their preferences. Even when I was an intern, I was sitting in on interviews and getting to know the people I would potentially be working with. When we would have our post-interview debriefs, all employee opinions were taken seriously and greatly determined whether the interviewee was a good fit for the company.
With the recent addition of Jen Edelstein, we now have two female developers on our team, which is certainly worth boasting about. What makes this addition feel even better, is the team seemed to have a shared understanding that the next developer we wanted to hire not only fit the job requirements but also contributed to the diversity of the team. Some may argue that being purposeful about hiring a woman is performative feminism, but I argue that it is, at its root, pro-women, and pro-business.
Businesses may take the approach, “We are not hiring on the basis of gender, we are hiring the best person to get the job done.” That is fair thinking and, quite frankly, should always be the priority in hiring. However, when looking at your team you could be missing out on a fresh perspective or certain qualities that could be fulfilled with new kinds of people. At what point does making sure your team is challenged and growing in new perspectives take priority over just “getting the job done”? If a company can hire both someone who fits the job description and also brings in a new perspective, why not choose both?
With my limited experience in the industry, it is clear to me the hiring practices I described should be the standard when considering female diversity within a company. Through their hiring process, they have proven that even small businesses can be committed to creating a space for women in the tech industry that fights tokenism.