I was excited to see the 2021 theme for International Women’s Day of “Choose to Challenge,” which implies we are still on a journey to achieve change and must challenge the status quo to do so. As the father of three daughters, this is my ideal hope that in their future, they truly have authentic equal opportunities based on their skills.
As the CEO of a company, I see the uphill battle we are still waging in the workplace – specifically in the technology sector – to achieve equal representation for women. In leadership positions in technology for example, the male-to-female executive ratio continues to be mostly male. According to the study “Gender Diversity in the Silicon Valley” by Fenwick & West LLP, only 11% of leadership positions in Silicon Valley companies are held by women. This is a tragic statistic.
Hiring for Skills, Not Gender
At JFrog, we value diversity but we don’t hire women because they are women. We hire based on an employee’s skills and experience. When you are agnostic to gender, as we were in hiring the women who continue to lead our company, then the result is the most authentic equality.
Of the three independent members of our board of directors, two are women. On our leadership team, we have five accomplished, talented women in C-level positions—CRO, COO, CISO, CMO and CHRO. Three of these are titles traditionally dominated by men. Our CRO Tali Notman is a sales leader in a category where tech sales leaders are only made up of 12% women, while our CISO Moran Ashkenazi is in a role where only an estimated 14% of Fortune 500 companies have a woman as their CISO. Our COO Orit Goren is in a category where only 30% are women. At JFrog, the vast majority of our operations are led by women; including our US operations head Yael Halperin.
And while 50% of the developer relations team at JFrog are women, the numbers of women working in software development roles worldwide in a Statista survey conducted last year, is only 8%! This is not a number from 10 years ago or five years ago. This is a number from 2020. In a digital era where software is everywhere, but only 8% of women are software developers, this is another dismal statistic.
We also have global female leadership with Kavita Viswanath, the GM of our India office. All of these women were hired for their skills, not because they were women or that our HR team wanted to fulfill a quota. And they all continue to thrive at JFrog with our strong culture that fosters and empowers leaders.
Education and Empowerment
That being said, we aren’t patting ourselves on the back because we have a C-Suite packed with women. Of our entire world-wide workforce at JFrog, 31% are women so we certainly can do even better on boosting that number. As the International Women’s Day edict goes, we need to “Choose to Challenge” ourselves in the tech industry by working to bring our numbers up overall and bringing more women into roles across the company.
So what happens where you are hiring mostly men for technical roles (such as software development) because there are not as many women applying for these types of positions? How does our industry balance the hypocritical position of hiring based on skills and not gender, yet still realize diversity?
I could write a separate article on how technical education and training and getting girls and young women excited about STEM careers and fearlessly pursuing them, needs to start early. This will allow us to have a truly proportional representation of men and women in the technical workplace, as it will provide a more proportional pool of prospects to hire from to begin with. So I cannot stress the importance of the following enough:
- As an industry, the tech sector needs to intentionally and consciously support and donate to programs and organizations such as Women Who Code, that empower the STEM education of girls and young women. All of us, including JFrog, need to be better at this initiative, as it invests in future leaders of all types.
- Make a conscious effort to SEEK out and hire from diverse talent pools, so that we give anyone who is qualified, the power of equal opportunity. This requires a proactive approach, not a passive one.
- Pay it forward. Create mentoring programs. Be a mentor to someone. An effective mentoring initiative in organizations builds equity and equality.
I’ve also always believed that you are as good of a leader as the people and teams you surround yourself with. Identifying leaders at your company, regardless of gender, and providing them with opportunities to them to lead their own teams is key to achieving true proportional representation as well as running a successful company.
But we all need to put in the work. As we celebrate the achievements of JFrog women and of women around the world on International Women’s Day this year, let’s not rest on our laurels but continue to “Choose to Challenge” ourselves towards changing the status quo of inequality of opportunities based on gender to gender parity and authentic equality for all.
To my Wonder-Women frogs, I’ll say: don’t ever stop leaping forward, keep striving for being the best at what you do and being the north star to the entire industry!