While STEM fields are slowly shifting to accommodate more diversity, we still have a long way to go. The tech industry in particular is historically male-dominated, and the gap between women and men in these spaces is still very wide; only 14.3% of management and board level executives in Silicon Valley are women, while almost 40% of women who earn engineering degrees either never make it into the field or quit the profession due to workplace harassment and hostile environments. But the tech industry needs women – so how can you make your company a safer environment for them?

Why You Need Women in Your Tech Company

What’s the big deal? More and more studies are showing that diversity matters in the workplace – it affects a company’s workplace culture, their innovations, and how they relate to their customers. A 2013 study performed by the Lehman Brothers Centre for Women in Business found that teams where gender is equally represented perform better in creative tasks, thinking outside the box and sharing knowledge. Additionally, more diverse workplaces have a larger pool of different perspectives to work with, making it easier for them to innovate and communicate more effectively with a wider customer base.

Recruiting Women

The most common factor that causes women to leave the tech industry (or never enter it in the first place) is mistreatment or harassment from male colleagues and bosses. The first step to attracting women to your company is to establish a no-tolerance policy for these behaviors – after all, you can’t claim to be a diverse, equal-opportunity workplace if your existing employees are going to make the workplace hostile for new female talent.

The second step is to provide equal benefits to all employees regardless of gender – equal pay, equal parental leave, and equal consideration for advancement. Further, you need to let people know that this is how your benefits are structured. Be careful, though – don’t make promises that you don’t intend to keep, or word will travel quickly.