July 8, 2021
Diversifying the workforce with more women can help ease the staffing shortage faced by data center operators. It can also provide other benefits as well, including more innovation, less groupthink, increased productivity, and greater profits.
Women have made inroads into nearly every corporate department, including human resources, finance, and marketing. However, women are still underrepresented in IT, according to a recent InformationWeek article. In fact, Gartner estimates that women comprise only 31% of IT employees, the story said.
Within the data center market, the workforce is also dominated by men, according to the Uptime Institute. While women make up 47% of the overall workforce, 25% of organizations do not have any women as part of their data center design, build, or operations staff, according to the 2020 Uptime Institute Data Center Survey.
In half of all organizations, 52% to be exact, females comprise 10% or less of the data center staff. In only 23% of organizations do women account for 25% or more of the data center staff, the survey found.
“Increasingly, data centers cannot find qualified candidates for open jobs. Companies that commit to diverse and inclusive workplaces are more likely to have better financial performance; greater innovation and productivity; and higher employee-ambassador recruitment, employee retention, and employee job satisfaction rates,” wrote Rhonda Ascierto, Uptime Institute’s vice president of research in a blog post.
In 2020, 71% of IT and data center managers surveyed believed that women have the same opportunities for a data center career as men, the survey found. Clearly, there is a disconnect between what IT and data center managers believe versus the true state of gender diversity in their workplaces.
How to Add More Female Talent In Your Workplace
Organizations should develop strategies around recruiting and retaining women for data center jobs – and that includes career development programs.
Today, only about a quarter – 27% of data center operators – have a plan or initiative in place to boost the hiring of women. Of the remaining, 21% plan to develop programs to increase women hires, but 52% have no such plans.
Gartner VP Christie Struckman told InformationWeek that there are several tactics top-level IT leaders can take to create a more gender-balanced workforce. That includes recruiting female candidates through internships, ensuring pay equity, and expanding the pool of applications by offering work flexibility, such as remote work or flexible hours, the story said.
"If I were trying to increase female representation, I'd be trying to get a whole bunch of female interns," Struckman told InformationWeek. "I think that's a more comfortable space for a woman to say that I worked there, I enjoyed my experience, I'm happy to take a job there. We underutilize the internship program."
She also suggests creating alumni groups within LinkedIn and continuing to have relationships with workers even after they leave.
"When a woman exits a company, we kind of just let them go," Struckman said. "Why not treat them like alumni? If I had a great experience at a company, I could be your best recruiter."
Many leading data center operators have developed programs to recruit and retain female workers. For example, in 2018, Digital Realty launched a Women’s Leadership Forum to bring women within the company together to provide professional and career development.
In addition, during the 2020 fourth-quarter earnings call in February, Digital Realty executives said they had joined leaders across 85 industries to sign the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion, an initiative aimed at advancing diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Other signatories among data center-centric companies include Equinix and Legrand North and Central America.