Women in Tech

We Need More Diversity in Tech Companies. Finance Roles Are a Good Place to Start.

Let's make a conscious effort to find and elevate qualified women, especially in tech finance roles.
We Need More Diversity in Tech Companies. Finance Roles Are a Good Place to Start.
Image credit: JGI/Tom Grill | Getty Images
Guest Writer
CEO, Nvoicepay
5 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

We need more women leaders in technology companies. Having personally experienced gender bias during my career, it's hard for me to say this because the last thing I want to do is advocate for bias of any kind. The goal should always be to hire the best person for the job, and I don't think having an x or y chromosome has anything to do with that.

Related: Why Leadership Is at the Crux of Closing the Gender Pay Gap

However, when you look at the makeup of the workforce today, it's hard to draw any other conclusion than we need more gender diversity in leadership. Making a conscious effort to find and elevate qualified women, especially in tech finance roles, is a good place to start.

Women hold more than half of the accounting and auditing positions in the U.S., but just 12.5 percent of CFO positions in Fortune 500 companies, and only 11 percent of executive positions in Silicon Valley companies. The need in the tech industry is acute.

Valuable qualities

Despite the scarcity of women in leadership roles, there's no shortage of research on how women leaders are enabling businesses perform better across a wide variety of metrics. Why is that? What are women leaders bringing to the table that's helping them drive better performance?

I think there's an argument to be made that those who have experienced bias -- be they women or any other underrepresented group -- are likely to have developed some distinctive qualities in response. Some of these qualities are particularly valuable in a finance leadership role in a tech company.

Strong financial leadership is every bit as critical to a fledgling tech company as engineering, sales or operations. One of the most important things finance does in an organization is use data and analysis to help business leaders see things they might not see otherwise. These are the folks who keep you grounded in the world of reality, instead of the world of hope and hype. Timely, accurate, unbiased financial information is important to understand the realities of your business and make changes quickly.

Finance becomes even more critical as your business grows and founders are not involved in every funding meeting or sales call. The finance team needs to step in and apply data and analysis to operating, sales and business development decisions.

Related: Women Job Seekers Should Target Small Employers That Can Better Offer Work Flexibility

Trial by bias

I think there are four qualities that make someone really good at finance: the ability to listen and learn in an unbiased way, to look at things from a lot of different perspectives, to stay calm in stressful situations and to withhold a bias from analysis.

The biggest challenge to overcoming bias is ourselves. Most of us are unaware of what our biases are and may even see ourselves as unbiased, which of course is not the case. We all have biases. I believe people who've personally experienced bias are more aware it exists, even in themselves, and are better equipped to guard against bias creeping into their thought processes. If you haven't had a lot of experiences with bias, it's less likely you're going to recognize it when it's happening.

Women in finance, tech or fintech witness plenty of bias. We are almost always greatly outnumbered by men wherever we go. In such settings, I am often aware that not only does the group perspective differ from my own, but that it also comes as a surprise to the rest of the group that anyone would see things differently.

In these situations, it can be very challenging to offer a differing opinion. You have to have courage, your facts down cold and do a good job of listening and understanding other perspectives. All while acknowledging you've considered other points of view as you articulate your own. These are great qualities for a finance leader to have.

People who rise from groups experiencing systemic bias have excelled in the face of greater challenges. It's a kind of trial by fire. They're often high achievers, because succeeding under those circumstances takes more determination. You have to be so good that you simply cannot be ignored.

Related: 4 Ways to Attract and Retain Top Female Talent in Tech

Twice as good

One study of applicants to fellowship programs in biomedical sciences found women had to be 2.5 times more productive than the men to be seen as equally competent. A 2015 paper by the National Bureau of Economic Research found black workers get extra scrutiny from bosses, often leading to worse performance reviews, lower wages, and job loss.

So, if you're considering hiring a candidate from a group that has experienced bias, recognize the person sitting in front of you may have had to work harder, overcome more obstacles and achieved quite a bit more just to be in contention for that leadership role.

I'm not saying the qualities that make for a successful tech finance leader are exclusive to women, or that all women possess them. Also, women are not the only group we should be making efforts to elevate. But, they are the largest group, encompassing a whole range of demographic, experiential and cognitive diversity, making them a damn good place to start.

If companies want to innovate and differentiate, they need to start thinking differently about their workforce. Challenge your ideas about how leaders look, speak and act. Focus on the qualities that make a person good in a role. Just about every industry claims to be facing a talent shortage, but there are large pools of talent right under their noses that are simply being omitted. In the hunt for the next generation of talent, overlooking large segments of the population is going to catch up with you. I'm betting on it.

More From Women Entrepreneur

Podcasts

(Podcast) How This Wife and Husband Founder Team Is Putting Smiles on Babies' Faces

Melissa and Trevor Schill, founders of Baby Teething Tubes, discuss the origins of their product and how they're growing the brand.
Workplace Diversity

How to Launch a Specialized Diversity and Inclusion Program (That Your Company Can Actually Follow)

Fixing the persistent problems women face goes beyond hiring efforts -- it's about constructing an environment that retains top talent, one that is all-inclusive and collaborative.
Gender Gap

How to Address Gender Inequity at Work

Acknowledging gender inequity is the first step. Here is an action plan for what to do next.
Women in Business

4 Ways Working Moms Can Fight the '3 p.m. Disadvantage' at Work

Someone has to leave work early to pick up the kids from school, and that someone is often a mom.

More from Entrepreneur

In as little as seven months, the Entrepreneur Authors program will turn your ideas and expertise into a professionally presented book.
Apply Now

Are paying too much for business insurance? Do you have critical gaps in your coverage? Trust Entrepreneur to help you find out.
Get Your Quote Now

One-on-one online sessions with our experts can help you start a business, grow your business, build your brand, fundraise and more.
Book Your Session

Latest on Entrepreneur

My Queue

There are no Videos in your queue.

Click on the Add to next to any video to save to your queue.

There are no Articles in your queue.

Click on the Add to next to any article to save to your queue.

There are no Podcasts in your queue.

Click on the Add to next to any podcast episode to save to your queue.

You're not following any authors.

Click the Follow button on any author page to keep up with the latest content from your favorite authors.