Improving Gender Equity In the Workforce With Paula Bratcher Ratliff of Women Impact Tech

Are you tired of hearing that there aren’t enough women in tech? On today’s episode of the RecruitingDaily Podcast, Paula Bratcher Ratliff of Women Impact Tech joins William Tincup. They discuss strategies for improving gender equity in the workplace. With only 28% of tech roles occupied by women and a measly 16% in more sophisticated technical positions, we dive into the challenges these women face, including the concerning trend of two directors of tech stepping out for every one that advances to an executive level.

Together, we explore the harsh reality of women in tech, from the disproportionate impact of layoffs to the difference in job search outcomes between men and women. Paula sheds light on how the ‘bro culture’ in tech companies can lead to a lack of diversity in thought and the unique opportunity provided by the pandemic for women to work in more equitable virtual environments. Don’t miss this eye-opening conversation as we discuss the need for tech companies to be more transparent about their hiring and gender equity efforts. Let’s start to value the importance of allyship in promoting change.

Stay tuned for the isolved podcast miniseries, People Heroes Rising, coming soon.

Listening Time: 20 minutes

Enjoy the podcast?

Thanks for tuning in to this episode of The RecruitingDaily Podcast with William Tincup. Of course, comments are always welcome. Be sure to subscribe through your favorite platform.

Listen & Subscribe on your favorite platform
Apple | Spotify | Google | Amazon

Paula Bratcher
CEO and President Women Impact Tech

Entrepreneur and Global Executive with a 23+ years demonstrated experience in architecting workforce solutions, leading staffing, recruiting, RPO, MSP, and consulting along with SaaS/CRM management. Experienced in managing multiple business disciplines and having significant P&L responsibility, $1B in Rev. Organization size of over 200 team members. Strong results orientation, solid understanding of the (Global) market landscape, and analytic acumen. Solid network at the F500 C-level and ability to build collaborative relationships both internally and externally. Executive Sponsor and Leader of Supplier Diversity initiatives for over 20 years. Open Minded leader appreciative of others ideas and perspectives. Commercially savvy sales leader with reputation of exceeding expectations and holding teams accountable.


Improving Gender Equity In the Workforce With Paula Bratcher Ratliff of Women Impact Tech

William Tincup: [00:00:00] This is William Tincup and you are listening to the RecruitingDaily podcast. Today we have Paula on from Women Impact Tech, and our discussion today is improving gender equity in the work in the workforce or workplace. However we end up taking it, but Paula, would you do us a favor and introduce yourself and women impact

Paula Bratcher Ratiff: tech.

Yeah. Thank you so much William for the opportunity to be with you today. So my name’s Paula [00:01:00] Brater Ratliff. I’ve been in the industry of talent and talent solutions for over 25 years. I spent 22 amazing years of my career with manpower Group. Great. In various roles from global sales leadership to North American sales leadership.

But driving innovation and talent solutions has been my passion for the majority of my career. And the last couple of years, William, I had the honor of coming to an organization that was shut down during pandemic. Rebuilding our business strategy and our business plan where I could focus, I call it my leave, a legacy part of my career in really making an impact towards women in technology and change in the workplace.

And so our mission at Women Impact Tech is to elevate women in technology so that we can create environments and find environments for them to not just survive the tech industry, but [00:02:00] to really thrive in their careers. And we also partner with organizations to propel their passion and their culture towards diversity, equity, and inclusion for women in technology within their organizations.

William Tincup: So gender equity, we can take this in the 70th in different directions, we’ll just start, we’ll start with some of the basics. When you say gender equity and you’re working with a customer or what their definition of working, definition of gender equity, what does it look like?

What’s, what is gender equity to them? Yeah, so

Paula Bratcher Ratiff: For the statistics today, we know that about 28% of the roles in technology are occupied by women. And unfortunately, as you go across the segments of roles and you get into more sophisticated development roles software engineering roles, that statistics starts to begin.

It starts to dwindle. So in the more sophisticated technical roles of tech we’re, our percentage of women in technology drops [00:03:00] to about 16%. And as you get into executive leadership for females and women in technology, that number drops to 10%. So we know, and we’ve studied. The, how the progress is going, and we’ve really, over the last 10 years seen very small numbers of improvement of the number of women that are in tech.

When you begin to look at diversity of classification, women of color are actually less than 4% of the tech population of women in technology in the workplace. So we know there’s lots of strides we need to make. And so we attack this mission with clients to ensure that they’re creating environments where, it’s typically in tech, it’s been a lot of white men.

Yeah. And so helping them create a culture and an environment where they not. They don’t just focus on improving the number of [00:04:00] hires that are women, but they really have to focus on improving William, their entire culture. So creating benefit packages that are advantageous to women creating environments where you aren’t just focused on hiring the women, but you’re really giving them a voice at the table and helping impact your business.

Successes and your business progress towards market share through diverse talents and diverse teams.

William Tincup: So is the myth of there’s just not enough women in tech, is that, does that still, is that still permeate a lot of tech, like we just don’t have enough candidates. There’s just not enough women in tech.

We’d like to be at a place, but we can’t be at that place cuz they just, they aren’t available. Yeah. Is that’s

Paula Bratcher Ratiff: so permeate. So because I came from a background that wasn’t quite as focused on changing the landscape of women, and the landscape of the workplace for women in tech. I [00:05:00] will tell you my experience in talent is usually if you give a company an out, they’ll take it.

Got it. So if you say to them, Hey, I went and looked for the very best candidate that was available in the marketplace, and your best candidates are these five, right? Men. And they aren’t even diverse. They will take your word for it as a business partner and they’ll say, great thanks so much.

We tried done. Cause that talent’s been tight, William. It’s, yeah, it’s been a really difficult, market for hiring technologists for years. Like we’ve been in this place for over 10 years, so we know in the US talent’s hard to come by anyway, right? So especially in tech, our unemployment, even in a time where we’re seeing tech layoffs like crazy.

Tech unemployment’s still under 2%. Oh yeah. The dog report comes out Friday, so hopefully we’ll see maybe some progress in that area. But talent’s tight, especially in tech, they’re, we’re not getting a lot of women that are interested in tech, and then worse than that, what we’re seeing [00:06:00] is for every director level female that advances to this executive level.

For everyone that takes a step of advancement. We’re seeing two directors step out of tech altogether that are women. So for every female that we’re getting elevated in tech, two of them are stepping out. So

William Tincup: is that, what do you attribute that to? Is that just toxicity or is it change in priorities?

Like what? What is.

Paula Bratcher Ratiff: It’s an excellent question. So some of this statistics are tough, right? So 48% of women in STEM jobs report discrimination during recruiting and hiring. A hundred percent. 39% of the women say they’ve experienced gender bias as the primary reason for not being offered a promotion. And 60% 66% of the women that we survey say, There’s no real clear path forward for them.

In their career. At their current company. So when you think about those statistics, I will tell you my own personal conversations with [00:07:00] our network of women. They will tell me, Paula, if I could see female leaders in technology that are flourishing and. Thriving and they have it all.

They’re raising a family. They’re caretakers. They’re taking care of elderly parents or taking care of their kids. If I had more role models for that, I would be more confident in staying and advancing in technology. But two thirds of them say they don’t see the role models. They say it’s easier and more achievable to take a role in a different industry or a different segment where they can see a greater work-life balance.

And they just don’t see role models for that in tech. And it’s very frustrating. And I think

William Tincup: what I’ve seen is they almost have to create it themselves. Or the frustration gets to such a point, it’s okay. I think, we can change it from within. We can do that, or we’ll just build it ourselves.

Paula Bratcher Ratiff: That’s it. And William, it’s so frustrating to me because we advocate so strong [00:08:00] and so hard, and I still will have women that raise their hand, that are in good leadership jobs, that will take speaking engagements with us and they will lead thought leadership. But they still, you can tell there’s this edge of, I had to go through the.

Stars and the bruises and the pain to take my journey. Yeah. And they still believe that some of the women need to go through some of that because that was their journey. And we preach and go, overboard to say as women move into leadership jobs, we have to reach down and elevate other women Go through, yeah.

Yeah. We’re never gonna get or beat these statistics if we don’t begin to network and improve our ability to elevate women in technology through other female leaders that are coming up in the tech area as well.

William Tincup: And there’s a responsibilities for allies as well, right? Sure. So women, yes, need to pull through and pull people up, [00:09:00] but also every, all the allies that are, that exists are.

Teaching allyship and not just in theory or academically, but actually in practicality. This is what this looks like. And having allies actually do the work themselves. If you’re going to say you’re an ally, then you need to actually be an ally. You explained a couple different things that I think are really interested.

One is the promotion, so if one’s recruiting, so we have to find the talent. And we know the town exists, we know it’s out there, so let’s just that done. But we’ve gotta recruit. And once we recruit, we’ve gotta actually say, we’ve gotta actually fulfill on what we promised. So whatever we promised in a recruiter, you know this more than I do.

We make promises in a recruiting process. Oftentimes we don’t back those things up once someone’s signed their offer letter and been onboarded. And so we can create a disjointed experience there. But I think that the. Pay if we actually have a transparent [00:10:00] model around pay and people feel like there’s true pay equity I think that helps.

But you nailed another issue is in terms of promotion, internal mobility and promotions. Again, that’s gonna be that’s gonna all of us own that. That’s correct. It’s, it can’t just be the women in an organization are gonna help the women in an organization. You, we’ll make sure it’s that way.

But we will, we won’t, we will, we won’t make the strides that we really want to make unless we increase the pool of people that are pulling folks up.

Paula Bratcher Ratiff: Yeah, that’s right. And I think, the more that we continue to elevate women and we share with companies, what it, what’s the. Return on investment if they make really hard, fast, strong decisions to change culture and to promote women.

And I think the statistics are out there. It, we know. Oh yeah. And studies show that there’s better performance with diverse teams. They’re [00:11:00] 35% more likely. To experience financial returns and 70% more likely to capture market share. Yeah. More markets innovate. Yeah. Innovation, that’s a huge one.

And in tech innovation is the name of the game. I, everybody always says to me give me a very specific example, and I love this one. Not cause I’m a gigantic fan of Google, but I am a gigantic fan of their mission and how. How like transparent they have been about their diversity initiatives and in their 22 annual report, Google said we co credit or we.

Credit improved diversity hiring practices as a major factor behind our very impressive 61.58% annual growth rate. It’s right in their annual report. Wow. So when you’ve got a company growing at like almost 62% over prior year and their [00:12:00] executives are willing to say, we attribute. This growth, certainly some of this growth to improve diversity hiring practices.

They’re telling their own story and they’re encouraging others to do it, and we’re seeing the right behaviors, but this type of change is really difficult to accomplish and it’s because a lot of companies put out the right. They put out the right mission statements. Yeah. They put out the right foot forward the window dressing.

Yeah. Yes, exactly. Will you know, their websites say all these great things, and then when you ask them to publish and be transparent about their numbers, they’re always so hesitant. Oh yeah. So few companies will put it out there and it’s astonishing to me because they’re all struggling. This is not a great number for.

Any company out there. So to just put a number and put a stake in the sand that says, Hey, I know I’m not great at it yet, but we’re making strides every quarter or every year. That’s where true progress will happen, and I’m a little heartbroken. Just to [00:13:00] be honest the data we are seeing is that a lot of the tech companies in fourth quarter, And first quarter that had layoffs.

Unfortunately, they didn’t lay off. Yeah. The big tech jobs, a lot of the tech impact was around recruiters. Yep. It was around their diversity talent, like their diversity and HR team, and I think it’s gonna have a profound effect, which was,

William Tincup: which was disproportionately women. That’s

Paula Bratcher Ratiff: Exactly. Yeah, exactly.

And then as if that wasn’t enough salt in our wound, as women went out into the marketplace, our data said that women that went out looking for jobs after this layoff, The men, their male counterparts were landing jobs. 78% of the men landed jobs within 90 days versus 63% of women. So if you think about that, it’s a 20% difference.

17% of men were still [00:14:00] looking after 90 days. 32% of women were still looking after 30 days. Wow. We looked at job title, we looked at geography, we looked at education level, the. Only impact that we could see between the two groups in how quickly they were landing jobs was gender. And it’s frustrating, but it’s not hard to understand.

Everybody says Paula, why do you think that is? It’s not difficult. Women don’t have the same networks and we don’t have as many women in technology, so our networks are naturally smaller. Even if we’re good at it, our networks are smaller, landing your next job is typically a dependency upon your network and getting your brand out there, showing that you’re looking.

And because our networks were smaller, it was taking us twice as long to land the roles So frustrating.

William Tincup: So other than I hundred percent agree with the network, why has changed so hard? Like the data that you mentioned I think most executives [00:15:00] know that data. Yeah, like the so it’s I think again, maybe 20 years ago, if people would’ve probably fought you on the data and said, oh, that’s not, that’s not true, this, that and the other.

But I don’t know of a person that wouldn’t say, yeah, totally get it. That’s absolutely, I’ve read the same report. Yes, we know this, but the actions don’t back up that they know it. So it’s, why is that? Is it. What, is it just still institutional, males prefer to work with males?

Is it that simple? Is it, or have you found other factors?

Paula Bratcher Ratiff: I think there’s bias for sure when you have such a dominated. Gender a bro culture as they call it, right? When you have a bro culture like that, I do think for them in their own environments, it’s easier to get the work done and completed faster when you don’t have to think and.

Present diverse thinking to accomplish your results. And so many of the women that we host for [00:16:00] our networking events will say to us, oftentimes I’m, one of three women in the tech department and we are basically told what changes are coming in our department versus really ask what we think about the changes or how we could impact the changes or how we could do them differently.

We don’t even get that. Courtesy, right in our department, and I do think there’s some of that, that bro culture is just, they think they can work faster, smarter, harder. If they don’t have to influence the opinions or thoughts of another gender. And godly, all that we’re seeing with the AI gender bias is because we’ve got tons of developers out there that are men.

That’s right. And we don’t have a lot of women. So now our AI technology is out there making great strides, but. Continuing this bias. That’s right. They’re just

William Tincup: perpetrating the same bias, the human bias is. Have you run into, or has anyone ever been honest with you about [00:17:00] men want to, men are, men wanna talk about things like sports and, sex and just all the stupid shit that men wanna talk about with their, when they’re together.

And it isn’t that they don’t wanna work with women, it’s just that they’re gonna have to change. Okay. Instead of us talking, 30% of the time about fantasy football, we’re actually going to have to create different conversations. Has anyone been honest about that?

Paula Bratcher Ratiff: Oh gosh. Every conference we have, we hear women share stories about, cultures that aren’t, yeah.

Yeah. Conducive for them to feel like they can be successful. And here’s the other thing. I think the pandemic brought us so much, but for women in technology, what the pandemic did is it gave them opportunities to not be. Wholly in an office, either in a hybrid schedule or a virtual environment, and they cherished that because a lot [00:18:00] of that talk occurs around the water cooler occurs in meeting golf course.

Yes. Where you’re all together doing team type of events and. Environment, but it’s in the workplace, in the physical workplace, right? And so when you remove some of that and it becomes far more focused on the work in virtual meetings and virtual groups, the women start to have a much, much more. Equal playing field, they feel right.

Because they can contribute in a way that’s a hundred percent work related, right? And not as, cultural or socially a social environment where they feel they have to modify or bring less of their whole self to the environment. And I’ll tell you, the women say to us, we keep surveying, we keep asking them questions.

And most of the women will tell you that. One in 10 will say they wanna go back to an environment where they work. Full-time onsite. Oh yeah. Almost all of ’em will say they [00:19:00] will make a decision about future employer or current employer based on hybrid or flex scheduling where they don’t have to be in that office environment.

So for that, because

William Tincup: office hasn’t been successful. Yeah. And they’ve been successful in a remote environment because it’s about skills and expertise and it’s about outputs. It’s about all these other things that don’t have all that other. Gibberishing away. Paula, I’m I, we’re, we’ll have to schedule another podcast because I wanted to actually talk to you about some other things, but this has been wonderful.

Thank you Oh, so much for your time.

Paula Bratcher Ratiff: Yeah, thank you. It’s great to be with somebody that’s in HR and an art lover. I’ve really enjoyed our time, William. Thank you so much for having me.

William Tincup: Absolutely. And thanks for everyone listening. Until next time. All right.

The RecruitingDaily Podcast

William Tincup

William is the President & Editor-at-Large of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He's been writing about HR and Recruiting related issues for longer than he cares to disclose. William serves on the Board of Advisors / Board of Directors for 20+ HR technology startups. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.


Please log in to post comments.