Here at Mondo, nearly 62% of our executive and management teams are made up of women. We understand the impact and importance of gender diversity in tech, which is why we prioritize it internally. While we place female tech professionals with our clients every day, we also see the stats that prove the tech gender gap is getting worse, not better. In fact, female representation in professional roles at tech companies is expected to decrease from 34 percent to 31 percent, according to Mercer. Gender parity will take around 170 years at the current rate, 52 years longer than previous estimates in 2015, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF).

Why is the tech gender gap getting worse if it’s being talked about more than ever before? It’s partially attributed to the rise of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, referring to the rise and incorporation of automation and AI, but it’s also credited to the lack of creative and innovative solutions to the crisis. Companies are being told they need to step up their gender diversity and probably want to, but they are at a loss over what solutions will provide them with the results they need.

In honor of International Women’s Day, here’s a look at a few creative solutions your company can implement today to empower your female employees and help solve the gender diversity conflict in your workplace:

1. Expand Childcare Coverage

Numerous tech companies have come out and said they are committed to gender diversity in their offices. However, this often solely means they will prioritize females over males in the hiring process, but fails to identify or solve the reasons why women leave the workforce earlier than their male counterparts and the gender-specific challenges they face that keep them from entering the tech sector.

One of these elements is a lack of affordable childcare. Most families can no longer afford to operate on a single-breadwinner salary. Most times, both parents need to work, or they are a single parent and are forced to explore extremely expensive childcare options. Providing childcare as a part of your benefits package will help attract more female tech professionals and will increase retention of the female employees you do have if they decide to start a family at some point in their careers.

One component to consider is expanding childcare coverage to conferences and other professional development opportunities, like the NoSQL leader, MongoDB has begun doing. By providing childcare at work conferences or other work-related events, you eliminate the need for female employees to choose between work and family and encourage them to grow professionally. By implementing benefits packages and initiatives that take on and solve challenges predominantly impacting females like expensive childcare, you prove they can have both.

2. Lengthen and Expand Paid Maternity/Paternity Leave

A key component resulting in the current tech gender gap is that new mothers often never return to the workforce after giving birth. This is attributed to a variety of reasons, like women feeling pressure to be on call while on leave or receiving only two-weeks worth of leave. They find that it’s often not worth it to return to a company and industry that fails to value them and their well-being.

At first, lengthening and expanding paid maternity and paternity leave seems like it would be detrimental to your bottom line. However, real world examples at major tech companies, including Mondo, prove this belief wrong. Providing generous paid maternity and paternity leave has been proven to increase retention.

At Mondo, we recently extended our paid maternity and paternity policies to 8 weeks and saw a positive impact on employee retention, satisfaction, and recruitment efforts. When Google lengthened their paid maternity policy from 12 to 18 weeks, they saw the rate at which new mothers quit fell 50 percent. Since then, tech giants like Netflix and Microsoft have begun offering more generous paid maternity and paternity leave.

Solving the tech gender gap means focusing on problems that adversely affect a woman’s ability to pursue and be successful in a career in tech. Men are not expected to forgo starting a family in order to have a career in tech, so why are we telling women through measures, like non-existent maternity leave policies or unrealistic expectations post-birth, that they must choose?

3. Build Connections to Develop Empathy & Change Workplace Culture

A common complaint regarding the tech gender gap is that the culture and workplace setting at many tech companies are not welcoming to females at best, and are extremely ostracizing at worst. This is a complex problem stemming from various causes like a primarily male workforce, a bro-centric atmosphere (Think networking events solely revolving around sports and office dialogue that excludes women), and a lack of empathy for the realities women face in these environments.

One way to change your workplace culture to be more conducive and welcoming to female tech professionals is to build connections between male and female employees which leads to the development of empathy. Some tech companies, like Atlassian, have incorporated this through storytelling initiatives and mentorship programs. Having employees share life or gender-specific experiences that have shaped their lives or careers through internal blogs, videos, or 1-on-1 interviews can be extremely beneficial in expanding empathy between genders in the workplace and lead to higher retention and employee satisfaction rates.

Mentorship programs also provide females the opportunity to connect with male executives they otherwise would have been unable to, and vice versa with male employees and female execs, due to a lack of shared interests or overlapping work responsibilities.

Looking Ahead

Female representation in tech used to be higher in the mid-’80s. It’s time tech companies move beyond simply addressing the issue and hoping that remedies the crisis they will continue to face as skilled tech talent becomes harder and harder to find. These are just a few creative solutions to the tech gender gap. The key to closing the gender gap is understanding the underlying causes of the lack of female representation in tech and then providing tangible and actionable ways to solve them.

If your tech teams are lacking the gender diversity you need to drive innovation and continue to provide customers with the solutions they need, contact Mondo today. We have the skilled, female tech experts you’re missing.