Recruiting Women in Male-Dominated Industries

As founder and CEO of Hireology, Adam Robinson is a big proponent of hiring best practices — and that includes gender-balanced recruiting.

But Robinson doesn’t just talk the talk. Hireology’s own leadership and engineering teams are made up of 50 percent women, despite engineering being a notoriously male-dominated industry.

Robinson spoke with Diversity Executive about how employers can better attract and retain a gender-balanced workforce, even in traditionally male fields. Below are edited excerpts from his interview.

Why do you think women are underrepresented in STEM fields?

Women represent nearly half of the U.S. workforce but earn just 18 percent of computer science degrees and make up only 25 percent of the computer and mathematical science workforce.When I ask successful women in tech the question, ‘Why aren’t more women in technology?’ the answer I most commonly receive is, ‘Because our field lacks visible, public role models.’ In other words, the relatively small number of high-profile female leaders in these fields means that young women considering career paths have limited role models in STEM fields. The data show that they’re choosing other paths as a result.

Adam Robinson, Hireology
Adam Robinson, Hireology

What can be done to increase the number of women working in STEM jobs?

The good news here is that the gender gap in tech is closing. It’s closing too slowly, in my opinion.

I believe that teams are much better off when they’re made up of a diversity of ideas and backgrounds. Leaders in technology have an obligation to promote success stories of women in this industry, but the fact is that gender balance is powerful, force for innovation and a positive company culture. It’s 100 percent in our industry’s best interest to address this problem head-on.

At your company, Hireology, engineering teams are equal parts men and women. How did you achieve this gender balance?

Half of our company’s leadership team is female, including our VP of product, a critical tech-centric role in our company. The majority of our UX design team is female. Critical members of our engineering team are female, and our longest-tenured lead engineer is female.

But here’s the thing: We didn’t set out with a mission to have a gender-balanced workforce. We set out to build our best possible team. Gender balance was never a topic of discussion; it was never a stated strategy. It just happened. And, frankly, that’s probably why it happened. We hire the best person for the job, period. We live our company core values, first and foremost, and we evaluate our candidates based on a core values match, and based on their qualification for the role.

Why was it important for you to have a gender-balanced workforce?

A balanced workforce results in better ideas, better decision-making and better execution. We’re in business to provide value to our customers, and we’re able to do that much more effectively when we surround ourselves with people who have differing points of view and life experiences.

How can other companies in male-dominated industries better recruit women?

It all starts at the top. The CEO has to create a culture that promotes and encourages diversity.

Companies are, in most cases, a reflection of values of the founder, CEO and leadership team. If there’s a “fraternity culture” at the company that makes women feel marginalized, that’s on the CEO. It’s that simple.

I believe that our HR policies have had an important positive impact on our ability to hire and retain a diverse workforce. Half of our company spends all or part of their time working from a home office during the week. We offer paid paternity and maternity leave. Family friendly benefits policies ensure that when team members at Hireology decide to start families, they feel like their needs are being met.