5 Agile ways to engage women

Wet boots_Mumintrollet

Flickr Commons, Mumintrollet – Wet Boots

We know that women make up only 28% of the digital/tech workforce, with even fewer in pure technical roles. Here’s five ways an Agile culture can help you attract women to your organisation and support them.

1. Meet and greet to find good fit

Invite a potential candidate to meet her team. Sure, it’s a bit like a first date, but that means people smile a lot, act nicely and try to make a good impression. Research tells us that women value community. If you say your workplace is friendly, then giving a woman a glimpse of that friendliness and community may encourage her to join your organisation. Meet and greet to find good fit is inspired by Agile principle #5 – giving people the environment and support they need.

2. Team self-selection to give her choice

Sandy Mamoli’s awesome book Creating Great Teams: How Self-Selection Lets People Excel, explains that we’re happiest and most productive if we can choose what we work on, and who we work with. Choosing a team where you’ll feel valued and able to contribute, taps into the co-operative collaborative style of working that many women seek. Team self-selection to give her choice is inspired by Agile principle #11 – that the best designs emerge from self-organising teams.

3. Buddy up to find support

It’s baffling to start a new gig and learn the ropes. A buddy who’ll support you beyond your first day, by introducing you to others, helping you understand the organisation and translating the job description from aspirational to real, can be incredibly helpful. It’s been demonstrated that women sometimes don’t put themselves forward, due to fear that they don’t have all the requisite skills. A buddy is someone dependable, who is thoughtful and supportive when you need it most. Buddy up to find support is inspired by the Agile manifesto that values individuals and interactions over processes and tools.

4. Mentor her to help her grow

My blog post Words that keep women from applying for jobs lists the top 20 inclusive words that attract women to job ads. It’s unsurprising that curiouscreative and thoughtful are on that list. A mentor is someone who shares knowledge and wisdom to support your career growth and aspirations. A great mentor connects you with others who can grow your thinking, your dreams and potentially your salary! If you want to support a woman in your workplace, extend the generosity of mentorship. Mentor to help her grow is inspired by Agile principle #6 which values face-to-face conversation.

5. The right pace, so she can hit her stride

When my kids were little, a 9:00am arrival in the office, felt like midday! This was because of the 5:00am start required to read the same picture book three times, and ready kids for childcare and school. Those days are behind me now, but the memory of busy beyond belief persists. Agile principle #8 describes promoting a sustainable working pace. If we support women achieve this at work, they’ll be better able to manage the chaos that is life, and they’ll stick around.

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