Companies discuss how to close the gender divide in the ICT sector

Date: Tuesday, January 22, 2019

A UN Women’s event ‘Advancing Diversity and Women’s Inclusion in the ICT sector’ brought together companies to share their practices for advancing women’s empowerment.

Robert Trnovec from Microsoft shared the company’s approach to gender diversity at the event
Robert Trnovec from Microsoft shared the company's approach to gender diversity at the event; Photo: CiDA 

“These days, women are better at using technologies than men…Diversity is not a hobby for us, it’s a business issue”, said Robert Trnovec, Regional Director, Enterprise Commercial for CEE Multi-Country Region at Microsoft, at the event ‘Advancing Diversity and Women’s Inclusion in the ICT sector’.

The event, organized by UN Women in partnership with the Civil Development Agency (CiDA) and Microsoft, brought together business sector representatives to share their practices for increasing gender diversity in the ICT sector. With the understanding that gender diversity is good for business profitability, Mr Trnovec explained Microsoft’s approach to supporting women’s inclusion and empowerment in the company. The promotion of a positive workplace culture that emphasizes a “growth mindset” and the participation of top leadership in gender equality efforts is part of this work. “The leadership sets the tone”, Mr Trnovec said.

Guest speakers Amiran Sherozia, CIO of TBC Bank, and Levan Akhvlediani, CEO of Orient Logic, shared their practices and achievements in advancing women in the ICT sector in Georgia. Mr Sherozia highlighted that TBC Bank has increased the proportion of women in ICT positions from 22% in 2011 to 44% now. In order to achieve this, the company has increasingly put more focus on recruiting highly motivated individuals who can be trained on the job, instead of only recruiting individuals with an ICT background. This flexibility is relevant in a context where girls are discouraged from pursuing studies in the ICT field due to negative stereotypes regarding girls’ skills.

Despite the prevailing stereotypes, the event highlighted that there is a great deal that companies can do immediately to advance gender diversity. Company practices to promote gender diversity mentioned by the participants include flexible working schedules, parental leave, gender-sensitive recruitment, employee satisfaction surveys, promotion of positive role models as well as internships and scholarships targeting women. The importance of taking negative behaviours such as harassment seriously, with appropriate punishments for perpetrators, was highlighted.

The event was part of the UN Women’s project “A Joint Action for Women’s Economic Empowerment in Georgia”, supported by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The project’s engagement in the ICT sector will continue with equipping young women with digital marketing and website development skills and supporting their internship placements at companies.