On April 12th, 2015, Stephanie Leffler joined JJ Ramberg on the MSNBC program, Your Business, to discuss the importance of gender diversity in the tech industry. As a female founder of CrowdSource, Leffler is well-poised to speak on the gender imbalance in technology, and to offer solutions that may remedy it.
“It is important to have gender diversity in all departments,” said Leffler, “but in technology departments, this hasn’t always been the case.” Ramberg and Leffler agreed that most business owners acknowledge the fact that gender diversity is valuable, but run into difficulties when sourcing female tech talent.
In the following video interview, Leffler provides tips for identifying, attracting and winning over female tech leaders.
JJ Ramberg: I speak to owners of companies that have tech teams all of the time, and one thing that I often hear is that they wish they had more women in that department. Our next guest is a big proponent of gender diversity — as well as other diversity — amongst your engineers. Stephanie Leffler is the CEO of CrowdSource, a cloud-based platform that helps companies find, curate, train, manage and pay freelance contractors across multiple talent marketplaces. It’s so good to see you.
Stephanie Leffler: It’s good to see you.
JJ: Let’s start with what is kind of an obvious question, but let’s get it out there and have you answer. Why is it important to have women on your tech team?
Stephanie: I think it’s important to have gender diversity kind of in all departments, but particularly in the technology group, I feel like that hasn’t always been the case. It still isn’t because I think a lot of girls don’t take that direction, but at the end of the day it comes down to communication. I feel like adding a female perspective sometimes just changes the dynamic enough that better communication ensues within that team, or if it’s just a single person or a couple of people running technology for a small business, it sometimes helps people feel more comfortable or more willing to communicate about the problems and really ask questions.
JJ: Where do you find them? I hear this over and over again which is, “I would love to have more gender diversity and otherwise in engineers, programmers — but I cannot find women to hire. I would if they came through my door.” Where do you find more women?
Stephanie: Yeah, it is a challenge. I would say in the candidate pool women are not always equally represented. You have to go a little bit further. Some of the things I would recommend would be to go to a local college. A lot of the career training-type universities are a great place to start. Meet with professors. Let the career department know that you’re looking for a diverse group of candidates, and often they’ll send people directly to you.
Another good technique is to train people from within. A lot of people assume that technical roles are, sort of, you must know when you walk in the door. The truth of the matter is that you don’t have to know, and there are a number of technical roles where you can be trained relatively quickly. If you find somebody with great communication skills internally, consider offering them the ability to train. Aside from that, just continue to develop relationships with your internal team, and ask them to reach out to their network. I’d say that’s another great way to target a particular type of candidate.
JJ: If you follow the news out of Silicon Valley, there’s been lots of stories recently about companies that are not very friendly to women, and particularly technology teams that are not very women-friendly. What can you do as a company to make sure that you are a welcome place for women to come work in the tech team?
Stephanie: I’d say one of the things you could do is make sure that your benefits package speaks to women and at least acknowledges some of the things that women in particular are going to be most concerned about, just things like maternity leave and certain types of healthcare coverage. In addition, I think when you interview female candidates, it’s not a bad idea to have a female team member in the room because it just helps put the situation at ease, rather than having three male developers sitting there sort of as the firing squad. It’s always nice to have a familiar face in the room. I think that can also help.
JJ: Stephanie, it’s so great to see you.
Stephanie: It’s nice to see you as well, thank you.
JJ: Thanks so much.
Like what you saw? Follow us on LinkedIn for more great content.