Tag: workforce

More women in tech can grow the economy

Despite decades of progress towards achieving equality in the workplace, women remain significantly under-represented in emerging tech. The imbalance between men and women in the technology sector is unlikely to be remedied unless organisations, schools and universities work together to change entrenched perceptions about the tech industry, and also educate young people about the dynamics and range of careers in the technology world. This is according to a report issued by PwC’s Economics team.

The report, 16 nudges for more #WomenInTech, analyses the behavioural measures that bring gender equality to emerging tech.

Women currently hold 19% of tech-related jobs at the top 10 global tech companies, relative to men who hold 81%. In leadership positions at these global tech giants, women make up 28%, with men representing 72%.
In South Africa, the proportion of females to males who graduate with STEM-related (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) degrees is out of kilter. Women are underrepresented in maths and statistics (4:5), ICT and technology (2:5), as well as engineering, manufacturing and construction (3:10), according to WEF statistics. As a result, there is a significantly smaller pool of female STEM talent, restricting the potential of South Africa’s technology sector.

Lullu Krugel, Chief Economist for PwC Africa, says: “The technology sector is an exciting, fast-moving sector, but disappointingly many women prefer to steer clear of careers in technology. Part of the reason is the low number of girls pursuing STEM subjects at school and in higher education. Our research shows that unless we change various cultural and behavioural drivers within organisations, the matter is unlikely to be resolved any time soon.”

Economic benefits of advancing female workforce equality
Overall, the lack of female representation in the workforce and especially in leadership positions is a barrier to gender equality. Our economists estimate that if we close the gender gap in both representation and pay gap by just 10%, South Africa could achieve higher economic growth. Our calculations suggest economic spin-offs of an additional 3.2% in GDP growth and a 6.5% reduction in the number of unemployed job seekers. Closing the gender gap also helps to alleviate poverty: low-income households will receive an estimated 2.9% more income than previously. “Enormous economic opportunity lies in promoting gender workforce equality,” Krugel adds.

Although some strides have been made to advance women in tech, more needs to be done. To change the way talent is developed and deployed in today’s world requires the undoing and relearning of age-old thought processes and the formation of new norms and values – especially in the education system and labour market. Maura Feddersen, PwC Economist adds: “Biases are ingrained in our cognitive processes and undoing them is difficult.

“Behavioural measures, or ‘nudges’, are one instrument in our collective toolbox to correct for gender imbalances in education and at work. Nudges change the context in which we make decisions to help us achieve our goals. They can offer low-hanging fruit to promote female representation in emerging tech and establish new foundations for inclusive economic growth.”

Does education hold the key?
The answer is complex and education is one in a multifaceted interplay of drivers that will bring more women into skilled jobs, especially in STEM fields. Cultivating an interest in STEM fields must start as early as possible, at school and in higher education, for example. From an early age, behavioural design can help through de-biasing classrooms, changing how our children are taught, as well as through celebrating counter-stereotypical role models.

Why do we need more women in emerging technology?
Emerging tech is a critical field for women to help shape, as everyday our dependence on the speed and efficiency of new technologies grows. It is notable that in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), a linchpin of emerging tech, women only hold one fifth of executive positions. If only half of the population designs technology, users are missing out on the insights, innovations and solutions of the other half.
Feddersen adds: “Fostering inclusivity, and bringing more women into emerging tech and the workforce in general, will help introduce new viewpoints and ideas to emerging tech.”

16 nudges to advance #WomenInTech
The report outlines some biases and countervailing nudges to assist organisations in the endeavour to correct gender imbalances, with a lifecycle view from school and higher education to hiring, career development and progression.

1. Work and school environments must be designed to moderate risk, as gender differences in risk seeking can bias outcomes. Provide frequent feedback on how well we are doing compared to others. Feedback can encourage the most capable people to participate in competitions and frequent feedback has been shown to encourage women to compete.
2. Furthermore, clues that trigger performance-limiting stereotypes should be done away with. For example, relocate the tick boxes where candidates are asked to select their gender and ethnicity from the beginning to the end of a test.
3. The tech industry boasts many exceptional female leaders. It is crucial to celebrate these role models and bring attention them, especially for girls at a young age. Initiatives in which female maths teachers or engineers, as well as male nurses and primary school teachers speak to schoolchildren can be powerful in the formative years for both boys and girls.
4. Further increase the fraction of counter-stereotypical people in positions of leadership, through quotas or other means, such as targets. While quotas or targets in themselves are no nudge, they can change men’s and women’s beliefs about what an effective leader looks like and address many of the biases that hinder gender equality.
“It is particularly hard for young girls to aspire to what they cannot see – seeing is believing. People need to see counter-stereotypical models for beliefs to change,” Feddersen adds.
5. Students’ attitudes can also be affected by subtle and simple changes. Organisations should consider diversifying the portraits on their walls.
In hiring
6. In the job market, many companies do not harness the full talent pool available. Prevailing gender biases limit both men and women, albeit in different industries. Gendered language in job ads and other organisational communications can ‘sort’ applicants before they have applied. It makes sense to purge gendered language from job ads and other company communications. This is especially important since women consider more factors than men when screening jobs – in particular, cultural fit, values and managerial style.
7. First impressions also matter in recruitment sessions. The importance of relatability extends across various platforms of recruitment activities, from job ads to recruitment events.
8. Furthermore, to unveil real talent, organisations can discover talent using ‘The Voice’ approach. This means circumventing gender and other biases and anonymising the hiring process as far as possible. Various tools in the market, including GapJumpers and Talent Sonar, have shown that blinded applications help companies successfully discover untapped talent.
9. Organisations should use predictive tests and structured interviews to evaluate candidates. Score answers to questions and score immediately after the interview. Furthermore, evaluate candidates in batches. By using comparators, the evaluators’ attention focuses on skills and experience, rather than stereotypes.
10. Ultimately, it is about changing norms. We should apply smarter messaging that celebrates successes in increasing gender diversity. Instead of describing the small fraction of female representation, focus messaging on the large fraction of companies with gender diverse leadership. This idea is rooted in ‘herding’. Descriptive norms, what many are already doing, turn into prescriptive norms, just by virtue of telling people about them. People are more likely to adopt a new behaviour if they know that many others are already doing it.
11. Panel interviews should be discarded: the ideal is independent, uncorrelated assessments, not influenced by what other interviewers think.
12. Gender differences in self-confidence are not only a concern in school and higher education, but also in performance appraisals. Self-assessments should be done away with wherever possible.
13. Research suggests that women are less likely than men to negotiate on matters such as compensation. Given the negotiation dilemma women face, external legitimisation helps them overcome the hurdle to negotiate compensation. Organisations should consider inviting team members to speak up and explicitly invite negotiations.
14. Legitimise negotiations through enabling people to negotiate on behalf of others.
15. The relative numbers of socially and culturally different people in a team can be critical in shaping a team’s dynamics. In teams dominated by one social group, members of the minority group can be tokens among peers. As a result, they may be unable to contribute their full potential. Organisations should include a critical mass of women in teams to avoid tokenism. Both ability and diversity are required to maximise collective intelligence.
16. Same-sex networks are also particularly important for women due to the relative scarcity of female role models.

Building the workforce of the future
Nudges are powerful weapons in an organisation’s armoury to advance female representation and achieve workforce equality. Feddersen adds: “Organisations can embrace insights from behavioural design through fostering a culture of data collection. Armed with data, organisations can measure which initiatives work and which do not.
“If we believe the future lies in STEM, we must train ourselves, and our daughters, in the relevant skills. Whatever our profession, let us rethink the way we apply our capabilities in light of the future of work.”

The future of work could be in freelance

Today freelancers present 35% of the workforce in the United States, 16% in the European Union and – while South African figures are harder to determine – the number is thought to be about 10% and rising strongly.

Linda Trim, Director of FutureSpace, said: “The data shows that freelancing is on the rise worldwide.

“And that’s partly because of the ‘gig economy’, people working independently for companies like Uber which is a relentlessly evolving phenomenon.”

In OECD countries, studies show that freelancers individuals work chiefly in the services sector (50% of men and 70% of women). The remainder are everything from online assistants to architects, designers and photographers.

A recent study called “A snapshot of today’s on demand workforce” by software firm Xero, showed that the majority of freelancers in OECD countries are “slashers”, meaning that their contract work supplements another part-time or full-time position.

These additional earnings can vary considerably. Those who spend a few hours a month editing instruction manuals from home may earn a few hundred euros (R3 to R4k) a month. Freelance occupational therapists may pull in ten times that working full-time (R30 to R40k/month).

Said Trim: “Perhaps the most glamorous face of freelancing are the ‘creative classes’ an agile, connected, highly educated and globalised category of workers that specialise in communications, media, design, art and tech, among others sectors.

“They are architects, web designers, bloggers, consultants and the like, whose job it is to stay on top of trends.”

Freelancers constitute a diverse population of workers – their educational backgrounds, motivations, ambitions, needs, and willingness to work differ from one worker to the next.

“In addition to the rise if the gig economy, the search for freedom with income is another huge motivator. Freelancing is increasingly a choice that people make in order to escape the 9-to-5 workday.”

Trim added that many of the clients that have signed up at FutureSpace work for themselves and are developing their business or have worked for big businesses for years and are now independent consultants.

“We have also noticed that many large corporates are hiring freelancers and are wanting to use shared spaces like FutureSpace for specific projects or innovation drives rather than have them in the established where they will be exposed to how things have always been done.”

Trim noted however that full-time, company-based work is still the standard for employment in most countries, including South Africa.

“But with the rise of telecommuting and automation and the unlimited potential of crowdsourcing, it stands to reason that more and more firms will begin running, and even growing, their businesses with considerably fewer employees.

“This does not necessarily mean an increase in unemployment. Instead, it likely means more freelancers, who will form and reform around various projects in constant and evolving networks,” Trim concluded.

Hire local or pay the price

The department of labour has begun a countrywide crackdown on South African businesses, in an effort to ensure that companies are not employing more than 40% foreign labour.

According to a report by the Cape Argus , Home Affairs has already visited 85 places of employment in the last two months, including chain stores, farms, hotels and other businesses.

Home Affairs highlighted that the regulations requiring no more than 40% foreign labour in a company’s workforce were not new, but had been “significantly tightened” in the last few months to flush out companies breaking the law.

It said non-compliant companies will be fined heavily and have their licences reviewed, while managers and owners could be jailed for up to two years if the department decided to take legal action.

“This is not a one-off, but an ongoing activity which is achieved through inspections to ensure companies comply,” said Home Affairs minister Hlengiwe Mkhize.

“The role of the department is to continuously enforce compliance and there’s no limit on the number of times a place of employment can be inspected.”

Newly-appointed minister Mkhize’s actions stem from a similar message started by his predecessor, Malusi Gigaba, who warned in February of this year that he was coming for non-compliant businesses.

“Companies, businesses: Be warned. We are coming for you. We will charge them, there’s no doubt. The manger will be charged. Often times, we focus on the undocumented employee and not the company,” Gigaba said at the time.

“We are not saying businesses should only employ 60% of South Africans. Go higher.”

Source: www.businesstech.co.za

With South Africa’s economy under intense pressure and the fallout of socio-political uncertainty impacting significantly on investment, the business climate is volatile to say the least. However, while most companies are holding back on spending and are looking to save, the reality is that it is a mistake to overlook the critical importance of workforce management solutions to optimise processes and optimise businesses in tougher times in particular.

This is the view of Guenter Nerlich, MD of AWM360 Data Systems, the leading provider of Human Capital Management (HCM) focused workforce management solutions.

Nerlich agrees with the broader market sentiment that the economy reflects stagnant to no growth (0%) and this is has put a block on investment. He also agrees that many international businesses are reluctant to invest further ‘on home soil’ and are looking to rather extend their operations and businesses abroad.

The air of apprehension that has engulfed most sectors is beginning to smother industry, strengthened by political infighting, discourse and disharmony between key stakeholders including Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and President Jacob Zuma.

There is also growing concern over the country’s ability to avoid an official financial downgrade by global rating agencies.

So as complex as the situation may be and as serious, the reality facing businesses is that they cannot afford to hold back on investment in technology. “

“You must spend money first to save money,” says Nerlich. “A major part of the problem is that many companies are on a knife-edge – they feel trapped by the economic difficulty and become immobile, which is very dangerous. The fact is that during times of difficulty and volatility, businesses must be proactive and not sit back… sitting on the proverbial fence is not an option,” Nerlich says.

Investment is the backbone of an economy and when there is restriction, there is contraction – it squeezes the life out of investors, according to AWM360 Data Systems and this is very worrying.

“Effectively South African companies are sitting on capital that would otherwise be spent on investment. What we are advocating is that businesses free up their capital and commit to investment in solutions that boost workflow and reinforce HR and systems and directly contribute to the bottom line earnings, that is an investment in the future,” Nerlich continues.

He believes while South Africa’s labour force continues to feel the pinch of economic hardship and resources become more scarce, the need for solutions that optimise work systems, help businesses handle data, analytics, cloud migration, the Internet of Things and digital transformation, will only increase.

According to an article from the World Economic Forum, 35% of the skills that are crucial in today’s workforce will have changed by the year 2020.

The emerging Fourth Industrial Revolution – characterised by an exponential increase in various digital and cyber technologies – will be in full swing.

The rise of smart machines and systems, our computational world, new media ecology, superstructure organisations and the reality of globalisation, are all key factors driving this era. Your current job may cease to exist; new jobs will grow in its place, and currently nonexistent jobs will become the norm.

The question is: how do you ensure your skillset is aligned with the pace of the future’s workforce?

A recent IDC survey, commissioned by Microsoft, shed some light on this question – identifying that although technical skills are valuable, employers of the future will place greater importance on soft skills:

Check out five of the soft skills you’ll need to impress your employer with in 2025, and how you can master them for maximum impact:

Social intelligence
Employers value this skill today and will value it even more in the future: the ability to adapt your behaviour to accommodate various styles of communication, different strengths and weaknesses, and a multitude of personalities.

If you’re in a position of leadership or looking to move into one in the future, this will be a key competency to develop.

Cross-cultural competency
Linked to social intelligence is the capacity to function in a multicultural setting – a soft skill which will be key for working in a world where globalisation is here to stay.

This means you’ll need to be able to adapt the way you communicate, collaborate and interact with people across cultures, as well as work with varying cultural beliefs, time schedules, and nuances. How will you identify, understand and accommodate different cultures in your future work environment?

Speak a universal language of visual communication – this is translatable across language and cultural barriers, so use images or video, as a way to train employees, or educate others in your workspace.
Ask your current co-workers questions – take the time to learn basic words, phrases and gestures from other cultures in an effort to identify with people you may work with in the future.
Make the effort to educate – cultivate an environment of learning, where you transfer the cultural knowledge you have acquired to those you work with. Maybe even teach your boss a thing or two.

New media literacy
As you might be aware, video and audio content are becoming even more prominent when it comes to the exchange of information. Within the next five years it will be even more present, in a wider range of industries. Whether your role currently has a direct relation to these forms of media or not, your ability to consume and understand visual content is going to be a highly desirable skill to your future employer.

Virtual collaboration
Globalisation has resulted in workplaces coexisting in different countries and time zones, meaning it’s almost impossible to have everyone in the same room. In fact, a survey of business leaders at the Global Leadership Summit in London found that 34% of executives said more than half their company’s full-time employees would be working remotely in 2020. And that number is only going to increase.

The only way to solve this problem is by using technology to communicate and collaborate. Virtual collaboration is here to stay, which means you need to be able to continue to engage and encourage productivity with a virtual team in the same way that you would if everyone was in the same building.

Master this soft skill by using tools like Google Docs, Skype, Time Doctor, Basecamp, Slack and Trello.

The ability to self-direct
The use of outsourcing, freelancers and telecommuting will increase in future workplaces, making it impossible to supervise every employee. What does this mean for you? You’ll need to know how to self-direct. This involves increased responsibility, being self-disciplined and accountable, making important decisions on your own, keeping your cool under pressure, and a high level of self-awareness.

In a study by Green Peak Partners and Cornell University on what determines executive success, it was noted that high self-awareness was the “strongest predictor of overall success.”

One popular way to develop this self-awareness is through an examination of the 6 leadership styles proposed by Daniel Goleman, in his publication: Leadership That Gets Results.

Conclusion
From robots to virtual reality, the future workspace may be nothing like we could ever imagine today.

But as founder of Google, Larry Page says, “Lots of companies don’t succeed over time. What do they fundamentally do wrong? They usually miss the future. I try to focus on that: What is the future really going to be? And how do we create it? And how do we power our organisation to really focus on that and really drive it at a high rate?”

As long as you’re willing to future-proof the way you approach your work, interact with people, and embrace technologies, you’ll have no problem keeping up with the changes to come – and make a massive impression on your future boss while you do.

Source: www.resources.getsmarter.co.za

Known as “digitarians”, or the superficial extroverts, Generation Z are seen as one of the most profound changes in business following the emergence of the post-Millennial generation. Perhaps we should pay more attention to those born in the ’90s – the ones who are about to flood the workforce and who already make p a whopping one quarter of the American population.

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