In a SIG at the CHI 2016 Conference, Carol Farnsworth and Karen Holtzblatt shared the initial qualitative and quantitative research and the resulting Action Framework. Participants then broke into groups to review the field data for each factor and generate possible interventions. We’ve organized the ideas into categories below.
In addition, you can access the Career Values spreadsheet tool created by Aruna Balakrishnan, who was a member of the CHI panel Beyond The Pipeline: Addressing Diversity In High Tech.
Go to the Discussion Forum to add what you think will help or what works for you in your life.
Factor: A Dynamic, Valuing Team That’s Up to Something Big
I’m valued, feel connected, lead and partner, have a dynamic exchange of ideas; a results focused, straight talking culture without drama.
Be explicit about team values – raise awareness of what they implicitly are and then agree on what they should be and continuously improve, self-monitor and discuss, especially with new hires. For example:
- We all treat each other equally, with respect and value.
- We celebrate success and achievement of every person and the team’s accomplishments.
- Women can be strong and speak up, and will be valued for it.
- Men will not sexualize interactions and male team members will call them out on inappropriate behavior; the same happens for aggressive behavior.
- We will all do the challenging work and the grunt work – even if we have to monitor it explicitly.
- Work-life balance is supported for parents and single people alike; we will work as a team to make sure life and work co-exist for us all.
- We work as a team with everyone – no cliques. It is a goal to be a tight-knit team. Consider creating a metric or periodic measure to see how you are doing.
- We push each other into challenges and support one another to do them excellently.
- We focus on and depend on each other’s strengths – we ignore, work around or support our weaknesses.
Have agreed upon processes and roles for work and have fun together – we know what we need to do to be successful and the expected practice of the team. Consider gender and diversity pitfalls when setting them up.
- Have an explicit front-end design process that includes research, design thinking, and collaboration between user researchers, designers, and developers as part of one team. (Know how the work proceeds when it moves into Agile or development explicitly).
- Have explicit values, roles, and procedures when teams come together to work. For example:
- Let everyone lead a meeting for at least 20 minutes – foster leadership in all.
- Have a procedure like round robin where everyone has to speak out on a topic.
- Make sure everyone on the team – each job role — has visibility and the right to offer feedback on prototypes and work in progress. Give access to ongoing work in a shared folder.
- Encourage half-baked, unformed, ideas explicitly; make it a safe place to explore and ask questions.
- Acknowledge achievements of each person’s accomplishments that week in regular stand-up meetings. Present the value of the project work individuals are doing and the impact of the overall product.
- Let people communicate their ideas by white-boarding and more informal means, not just formal slide presentations. Working meetings should not be formal or status but real exploration of ideas.
- Make sure the challenging and boring work is shared equally:
- Random assignment of hard tasks with “supporters” to help.
- Manager and team tracks who does what so that good and grunt work is shared by all.
Socialize outside of work – but make sure that the activity is appealing to all, not just going to a bar or other “male” activities. Maybe let each person taking a turn planning something that everyone will like.
Interpersonal sensitivity – help people see and intervene in their own bias.
- Post examples of micro-sexual harassment.
- Provide interpersonal training experiences to help quiet people speak up and dominant people release the floor.
- Address hidden age bias of older to younger and younger to older about their skills (especially older men).
- Use personality surveys to raise awareness of gender style differences as well as cognitive, cultural, and communication style.
- Reveal double standards for judgments of work attire and communication style; teach people how to see their own judgmental statements and go beyond them.
- Make sure women are clear when they have a significant other; intimate connection in work can be confusing for men.
- Create a way (Yelp for teams) to rate teams for overall support, sexual harassment, and other issues. Encourage good rating as part of team success.
- Create fun courses on interpersonal issues like: emotional intelligence, conflict resolution, decision making and negotiation. Deliver it at the team level to help the team increase awareness and commit to some change as a group.
Team construction – The company, division, and manager should think about how the team is constructed at the start and when adding members.
- Commit to and reward financially the hiring women and creating a more diverse group – look beyond the San Francisco/San Jose Bay Area for those tech companies.
- Encourage all members of the organization to recruit to widen the pool of applicants.
- Look at individual team composition at the job type level; a user researcher on a team of all male developers is not adding gender balance. Let teams elect to drive their hiring by balancing the gender/diversity mix knowing it adds creativity.
- Create technology competitions outside of normal hours on upcoming project topics – simultaneous educate people about new technology and let people choose to be on a team by doing. Make sure these competitive teams are women/diversity balanced.
- Set expectations during on-boarding that managers and teams should both push and support each other; we are all responsible for getting the best out of each team member.
Have more ideas for this factor or want to react to these? Go to the Discussion Forum topic for the Dynamic, Valuing Team factor.
Factor: Work that Matters and Is Right for Me
I need work that is engaging, not boring, a hard challenge, new technology, something important to the industry, the company, or to me. People need the right match between their interest or skills and what the job is really about.
Job descriptions should include more information
- Tags – theoretical vs. applied, research vs. design.
- Expected social, technical, company impact.
- What the expected tasks and methods will be.
- What the challenges will be in the work, not just what the company wants you to do.
Help people assess their skills
- Create a self-test and collect information from colleagues about what a person’s greatest skills are. Make sure they match the project; if not help them find a better project.
- Create a Love List – writing down every time you do something that you really love over a month; become aware of what matters to you to evaluate a job for skill fit.
- Create a job sampling or project sampling experience within a company – do a different job or project for a few days to try it out or shadow when considering what job to take or where you want to grow.
Make sure people get the real idea of any new job or project
- Create an anonymous website like Postsecret where applicants and job seekers can find out “the real deal” about the project work.
- Show explicitly where a product is on the roadmap, that it is funded, and that it will enhance a career not eventually be cancelled.
- Reward skunk work but be sure that the core challenges are in the project – not on the side project.
- Have women present the value of their project to others – to remind themselves why it is a great project.
Have more ideas for this factor or want to react to these? Go to the Discussion Forum topic for the Work that Matters factor.
Factor: The Push and Support
Women might not feel ready but they rise to the occasion if they are pushed into a challenge and have managers and colleagues who value them to strategize with and talk things over and they explicitly know what it takes to be a success.
Be explicit about how to manage women/underrepresented employees
- Set expectations that managers and teams should both push and support each other; we are all responsible for getting the best out of each team member.
- Let managers meet across the company to discuss push goals within the corporate mission and how best to challenge people.
- Be sure people know their responsibilities clearly when asking them to step out of their comfort zone – help them create a path to success. Don’t just tell them, “You can do it I trust you!”
- Be clear on the attitude to failure – is it tolerated or not. If not, women may not take up the challenge.
- Encourage managers to listen to employees’ presentations and work product overviews to support greater success within the team and company. Use a coaching and talent development eye, not a micro-managing judgmental eye.
- Separate evaluation from coaching for success. Consider the value of continuous feedback in the context of daily work as a value vs. formal evaluation for HR and bonus actions.
- Frame feedback and push to a new challenge as belief in the person’s capability and the value of holding everyone to high standards of success.
Measure managers and team members on how well they Push or Support
- Measure managers on the number of challenges/leadership positions team members take with a focus on women/underrepresented populations for reward when they succeed.
- Evaluate team members on how they promote and support the success of others – includes a way for team members to self evaluate.
Be very explicit about job expectations and support career stretch: Focus on talent development over evaluation
- Have clear descriptions, expectations of success at each promotion level and in work activities for your level and the next. Be explicit about what progress looks like and track movement toward it.
- Ask employees to self-evaluate in a conversation to foster awareness and introspection. Face-to-face should foster honest conversation and clarity on shorter term goals to get to the big ones.
- Track employees who started at the same time/same level of experience and intervene in a supportive way when it first looks like someone is lagging. Map trajectory toward the next goal in job performance mini-reviews that happen more often.
- Develop measures of performance; define clear data that can feed promotion verses depending on opinion or who is “loud”. This is also a way to make expectations.
- Post percentage of skills that matched the job description for each promotion to start to make it clear that women don’t need to be able to cover all skills (e.g. don’t assume you need 99% of the skills since the real percentage is lower).
Have more ideas for this factor or want to react to these? Go to the Discussion Forum topic for the Push and Support factor.
Factor: Local Role Models
Parents, siblings, teachers, and people more experienced than me at work show me what my work and home life can be – and they push, coach, mentor and support me. If the lives of managers and leaders don’t look like the life I want, I don’t want to advance: long hours, gender wars, power struggles, no family life, not making things.
Encourage presentation and sharing to help find role models and coaches
- Have women engineers train teams during on-boarding. This shows men and women alike that women do the work and are skilled.
- Routinely encourage people to present their work and how they partnered, overcame challenges, and solved hard problems to their department/larger group or other venues to reveal who might be a coach – and acknowledge the work of the person.
- Encourage team members to share personal achievements, skills and life stories to potentially become role models for new people and each other. Consider a life story session in a social setting.
- Champion the skill set of each person by asking them to present or work with someone new or of lesser skill – subject matter expertise values the worker and helps the new people.
- Create a weekly spotlight of successful women/diverse managers telling the story of how they get the work done and strategies for solving problems.
Measure managers on the quality of employee’s network
- Expect managers to help women/diverse people in networking and finding like-minded coaches within the company. Make a rich network part of manager and employee evaluation with help to achieve it.
- Understand the skills, talents, and life structure/challenges like having children when pointing an employee to a possible network.
- Incentivize managers to spend free time with employees to share life/work stories to reveal how they as managers make life balance work.
- Encourage one-on-one meetings to be bi-directional sharing of life and work challenges to foster relationships and even provide mutual coaching.
Create voluntary groups to support lifestyle challenges
- Create special interest groups like working mother support groups to both support and create ways to naturally bond with someone who might be a coach.
- Set up lunches with people of similar demographics and career goals when they start in the company. Create a support class and foster continuing conversation and activities. Leverage longer term groups to create programs and interact with the new groups.
- Set up a corporate matching system like dating to suggest coach matches and encourage coffees to explore jobs and build a network of possible advisors. Consider it part of the job for everyone.
- Encourage conference attendance each year for every team member so they feel part of a larger community. Facilitate and expect them to network, find industry coaches, and report back.
Have more ideas for this factor or want to react to these? Go to the Discussion Forum topic for the Local Role Models factor.
Factor: Nonjudgmental Flexibility for Family Commitments
Women with children worry they will be judged and excluded from challenging work because of home commitments. When the team and manager help find strategies to make any home challenge work for the family and the team, women stop worrying and succeed.
Provide services to help get life done
- Grocery shopping and delivery.
- On-site daycare.
- Emergency/sick child care on-site.
- A network of services to support all the needs of parenting.
Make flexibility in work part of team values and procedures
- Set expectations up-front about how home demands are handled.
- Create standard procedures and technical support so that work from home or off-hours is a real option and adds to the sense of team involvement.
- Allow everyone to “call for help” to get teamwork done and call everyone out if they hold up the team not just Moms – then invent a process to make the work happen.
- Make strategizing about how to make life and work function as part of continuous conversations.
Have more ideas for this factor or want to react to these? Go to the Discussion Forum topic for the Nonjudgmental Flexibility factor.
Factor: Unflagging Personal Power
I fear that I lack skill, am an impostor, feel judged, am unclear about how to succeed, and alone among techie geeks who judge, ignore, or treat me as dumb. When I have success and feel valued by the team my confidence grows.
Deliberately build confidence by expressing value
- Celebrate accomplishment and success at team meetings.
- Make it a value to champion self and self-accomplishment. Encourage women to practice speaking their own success to the group vs. downplaying their role.
- Encourage exploratory individual projects to hone new skills and remind women they are capable of valued work alone.
- When people visibly feel not good enough manager and team members remind them of what they are great at, listing their accomplishments and why they were chosen for the job.
- Encourage attendance at classes like MOOCs and come back and teach colleagues, both a Push and building confidence.
Have a place or community to express doubts and fears
- Create an anonymous place to share doubts and get support. Give a place to express it so they don’t express it to the team and look unprofessional.
- Host a town hall for women to express and deal with sexual harassment. Build them back up and create a community of support.
Have more ideas for this factor or want to react to these? Go to the Discussion Forum topic for the Personal Power factor.
Get involved! Now that you’ve read the ideas from CHI, go to the Discussion Forum and add your own thoughts for any of the framework factors.