Retaining Women in Tech: Meeting their Needs - Niki Allen

The pandemic changed a lot about the workforce, and opened up the world of possibilities in flexible work. Professionals are no longer accepting the ‘status quo’ when it comes to their job, they want to be valued and accommodated. Women in tech are no exception to the trend and have been leaving their positions for better opportunities. The influx of new employee demands are causing retention issues for companies who cannot keep up.

Deloitte Insights featured me in their article ‘Cultivating diversity, equity, and inclusion: How CIOs recruit and retain experienced women in tech.’ I spoke on two things that will aid in the reversal of this trend: DEI efforts and flexible work.

Read my feature below.

“As the COVID-19 pandemic shifted a substantial percentage of the US workforce to remote work overnight, executives found that worker effectiveness and productivity remained stable, if not increased. Of course, meeting the company’s mission is a top priority, but nontraditional work arrangements, such as remote work that offers caregivers and others more flexibility, may be more viable than previously assumed. In this sense, the pandemic has been a proof of concept of sorts. This new way of working offers a tremendous opportunity for companies to reimagine their strategies and policies to recruit and retain women technologists.

“Niki Allen, senior vice president of technology at Kohl’s, reiterates the opportunity, ‘There is a problem across the tech space in diversity, equity, and inclusion, and you have to admit where improvements can be made. Take a step back, be honest, and remove ego.’ She points out that her goal for the technology team at Kohl’s is to be a microcosm of the societies in which it does business; they work to be representative of the communities they serve. She’s optimistic as she partners with HR to bring forth opportunities to rethink traditional work models to appeal to a broader range of candidates.

“After 18 years in aerospace, Allen was looking to broaden her industry experience in preparation for a future CIO or CTO role. She was attracted to Kohl’s as a fast-moving retail company that provides everyday value to diverse communities. ‘When I left my previous IT organization, I had an extremely diverse, inclusive team, and Kohl’s gave me the platform to build one here, too. The opportunity to make a difference in DEI was the №1 reason I came to Kohl’s; №2 was the technology work.’

“With caregiving responsibilities falling primarily on women, having flexible work schedules is another key to retaining and attracting women technologists in mid-career. ‘Perhaps not everyone has to come in 9 to 5,’ Allen explains. ‘Perhaps we have some split schedules. Others may return to work with a phased-in schedule, starting part-time and eventually transitioning to full-time. When companies release all the traditional boundaries of what a workday looks like, they really open themselves up to attracting and retaining top talent.’”

About Niki: Niki Allen is the Chief Information Technology & Operations Officer at Boeing. Niki emphasizes that technology is the basis of all successful organizations. She uses her background in data and analytics to strategize how to help businesses operate more effectively through the innovation of new technologies. As a transformational thought leader, she actively works to use technology to create a more diverse and inclusive future with greater opportunities for all.

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