Women in Tech Gaining Ground in Leadership Roles, Encouraging Report Finds

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Though women have lagged in leadership roles, they could be gaining ground, according to Deloitte.


Getty/Klaus Vedfelt

In the tech industry, women are gaining momentum in leadership positions, according to a report out Thursday from consulting firm Deloitte. 

The report, titled Women in tech are cracking the industry’s glass ceiling, achieving double-digit gains in leadership roles, says about one in four leadership roles at large global tech companies will be held by women this year. That’s a gain of about 20% since 2019. What’s more, growth in these leadership positions is outpacing other roles. The shift is notable, the report points out, because the percentage of women in leadership roles, as well as tech roles, has tended to lag over the years.

Gillian Crossan, one of the report’s authors, says ongoing diversity efforts have created an environment where women have been able to join leadership ranks in growing numbers. 

The report comes as the tech industry faces scrutiny over its mostly white male demographic. Since tech giants like Google, Facebook and Twitter started publishing diversity and inclusion reports over the last decade, progress has been slow. And since the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020, women in the workplace have taken a significant hit, often having to leave their jobs or scale back to care for their families.

Deloitte created the report after studying and analyzing diversity and inclusion reports from large global technology companies  averaging more than 100,000 employees.

Crossan cites a few reasons women seem to be gaining steam. For one, amid the Great Recession, where workers are leaving their jobs for better opportunities, some women could be following suit and seizing the opportunity for better-titled jobs. Crossan also said companies may finally be waking up to the mounting research that shows diverse teams are more successful. The Harvard Business Review, for example, found diverse teams tend to be more creative, innovative and even better positioned financially.  

Another factor, specifically when it comes to the number of women sitting on boards, is legislation in California and Washington requiring companies to have a minimum number of women directors. Though, as Crossan noted, this hasn’t necessarily ensured a swelling in the ranks of women of color on boards.

“That diversity [is] absolutely critically important for the growth of our tech companies,” Crossan said. “But it’s not just women. We can’t forget intersectionality, we’ve got to make sure that it is our non binary community, trans community, but also Hispanic, Native American, and Black women. We need more diversity of women, as well.”

More women in leadership roles could impact the industry’s wider efforts toward diversity and inclusion. When discussing the value of mentorship, it’s common to hear the adage “you can’t be what you can’t see” among diversity advocates. One study found 63% of women had never had a formal mentor. 

The report made several recommendations for tech companies as they try to diversify going forward. One in particular is goal-setting and transparency. The report cited companies like Intel and HP, which have publicly committed to specific goals. Intel, for example, said it will have 40% women in technical roles and double the numbers of women and underrepresented minorities in senior roles by 2030.

As Crossan put it, “If you don’t have a target that you’re aiming for, how do you know you’re there?”

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