Closing the gender gap in the workforce is a big task for any inclusive leader.
There are a range of considerations. Where do we start? Do we try to tackle the wage gap first? Or should we first address the number of women in leadership roles?
Though the options to begin closing the gender gap are seemingly endless, and frequently challenging, there’s one strategy that could be pretty easily implemented into the workplace: increasing digital fluency in women.
In Valentina Zarya’s Fortune article “The Best Thing Women Can Do to Close the Gender Pay Gap,” she explains that digital fluency is determined by how much a person embraces and uses digital technology, and whether an individual tries to enhance, or increase, his or her technological knowledge.
This definition may imply that women need to become more involved in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs. However, being digitally fluent can actually be as simple as having access to computers, tablets and smartphones. It’s about having Internet access so women can create and learn more about social media platforms. It’s using computer programs such as Microsoft Office and the Adobe Creative Suite.
It seems too easy, doesn’t it?
However, there are plenty of schools in the United States that don’t have updated computers and technology. Also, some individuals can’t afford the cost of technology on their own, meaning that they can’t improve their skills on their own time. This, in turn, puts women at a disadvantage when applying for jobs and promotions.
According to Julie Sweet, the North American group chief of Accenture, “Being tech savvy has a positive effect on women’s career prospects, and the benefits for women are even more profound than they are for men.” Sweet even goes so far as to say that, if we double our efforts to increase digital fluency in our female employees, we could completely close the gender gap by 2040.
So what can we do as inclusive leaders? How do we increase the digital fluency of women in our workplaces?
One way to improve digital fluency is to hold regular training sessions. This could be as basis as offering training on new Microsoft Word functions, or how to use Mac computers. These sessions might also focus on teaching basic HTML skills. Whatever the focus of your training, what’s important is to cast a wide net to make sure as many of your female workers as possible are engaged in the training. Increasing education about technology will help make the women in your office more confident and ready for promotional opportunities.
Keep in mind that, although Zarya’s article focus on women, you may have other populations within your workplace that could also benefit from digital skills training including employees from various minority groups, older employees and, yes, even your male employees. Don’t assume that any one group is more or less astute than others.
Inequities exist in the workplace for a variety of reasons. Skills gaps shouldn’t be one of them. Make sure you’re assessing for gaps and introducing options to help close those gaps. Be inclusive!
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