Celebrating International Women’s Day 2024 in the Tech and Marketing World 

By Yogeeta Chainani

The business landscape both at the enterprise and startup level has been steadily progressing towards creating favorable growth opportunities for women. Having embarked upon the new year, businesses must evaluate their strides in the last 365 days about gender equity in the workplace.

As the global theme of International Women’s Day 2024, ‘Inspire Inclusion’ is a powerful, clear and focused call to not just put together a stronger all- encompassing, bias-free ecosystem impacting women’s experiences at work but also a call to inspire each of the workforces to recognise and appreciate women’s inclusion. Through my personal experience as a woman in the tech industry, I’ve discovered a profound sense of belonging, relevance, and empowerment whenever my organization and its leaders prioritize creating a more inclusive environment for us. No wonder, this became one of the core pillars on which I began to build my tech venture as an entrepreneur in 2020.

I believe that ‘Inspire Inclusion’ as a theme strongly resonates with the remarkable achievements and progress women have made in the world of technology and marketing. This is noteworthy of an ovation especially when as a precursor, we examine the current standing of women in this space.

From a female participation perspective, India’s IT sector witnessed a 30% rate in 2021-22 (Source- CFA institute). Even in Martech, 21% of women are likely to join the field. Despite progress, the gender gap in this industry persists. Women represent only 28.8% of the global tech workforce (source- 2023 report by Women Tech Network). This statistic underscores the need for concerted efforts to bridge the gap and create a more inclusive environment. The data figures stand at a meager 28% when it comes to women holding leadership roles within tech companies (source- McKinsey & Company). All this has a ripple effect during scenarios of business reshuffles especially in growing ventures. This industry experienced significant layoffs in 2022, with WomenTech Network’s research revealing that 69.2% of those affected were women. At a remuneration level as well, women continue to face a sizeable gender pay gap worldwide.

MarTech enterprises and startups in India can certainly execute some strategic actions to create more equitable opportunities for women. Inspiring inclusion as a philosophy should resonate in openly embracing women irrespective of the diversity of race, age, ability, faith, body image, and how they identify. Here’s my take based on my personal and entrepreneurial journey…

  1. Recognising contributions and making time to acknowledge women and their progress in an organization may be the simplest act to do but no one can undermine the innate sense of encouragement it provides to them by making them feel valued. The marketing landscape benefits from diverse perspectives which further fosters innovation and creativity.

  2. Mentorship programs that support women employees in their career path in the martech and tech industry should be established and highlighted (if already in existence). Women often juggle multiple roles on both professional and personal fronts, hence it’s important for HR heads to also encourage C-suite and team leaders to become mentors in earmarked areas. Their knowledge and personal experiences could play a pivotal role in shaping the mindsets of women team members. Brands should leverage their clientele by inviting speakers from the industry to be a part of structured coffee meets at work. Such sessions help industry women leaders share their professional journeys and address common roadblocks often met by fellow women in the workplace. These gestures go a long way in celebrating women’s achievements in the martech/tech industry.

  3. Reviewing, learning and implementing – when combined act as a strong tool. Businesses must re-evaluate their HR policies pertaining to diversity, equity and inclusion on an annual basis. This helps in spotting disparities, if any and helps HR teams to realign practices favoring the professional growth of women employees.

  4. Businesses must create and nurture a strong ‘Speak Up’ culture. Training employees the freedom to ask questions needs to be a core corporate value. They should have the freedom to ask, ‘Why not?’, when women’s participation is negligible or low in a project or a program. They must be given the freedom to call out if they believe that their organization isn’t creating an equitable environment for women. Instilling the value of unconscious bias should be a continuous process. Giving every employee the confidence that they can voice their opinion goes a long way in changing mindsets and nurturing an inclusive workplace culture.

  5. There is a gender pay gap of 28 percent to 30 percent as women climb up the corporate ladder and 8-10 percent for junior management in India’s tech sector (source- Aon’s 2023 report). Globally, the gap further expands for women of color, immigrant women and young mothers on maternity grounds. Some industry experts also believe that the gender gap in tech begins much earlier during the time of education, with only 20 percent of engineering students being women. The World Economic Forum (2023) estimates that it will take 135.6 years to close the global gender pay gap at the current rate of progress. Companies committed to pay equity contribute to dismantling this disparity, promoting fairness and equality.

  6. Remote and flexible work arrangements will continue to be instrumental in promoting gender equality. 80% of women believe that remote work options would make them more likely to stay with their current employer, contributing to increased retention and satisfaction (source- FlexJobs

  7. Women are leading the charge in social media, a critical aspect of modern marketing. They are more likely to engage with brands on social media, making up 58% of social media users (source- Hootsuite). Analysis of social media usage by gender reveals that, although there are more male users globally (53.6% of the population) compared to female users (46.4%), females consistently spend more time daily on social media, regardless of age. Brands should undeniably create targeted and inclusive marketing campaigns that resonate with diverse audiences.

March 8th is an annual reminder for businesses to acknowledge and take stock of their ongoing commitment to gender equity and the fact that this journey is ongoing. Corporate leadership must utilize the year 2024 by embracing equity more strongly and tapping into a wider pool of talent, points of view and ideas to foster innovation and success. They must question norms, confront biases, and take strategic steps toward creating a workplace of the future where women thrive. Let’s collectively champion the cause of gender equality, making every day an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women in tech and marketing.

(The author is Yogeeta Chainani, Co-Founder and CEO, Swaarm, and the views expressed in this article are her own)