It’s Women’s Equality Day and to mark the occasion at Mend, we want to take a moment to applaud the awesome women Menders that we work with across the world.
We’re delighted to have so many talented women at Mend. From the get-go they have been front and center at the company, driving innovation, influencing our products and our strategy, shaping the way we operate, and taking a leading role in making Mend an exciting, fun, and rewarding place to work. So, today provides a platform from which to look at the opportunities for women at Mend, the efforts we have made to meet the equality challenge, and the benefits the company has enjoyed as a result.
Meeting the challenge of equality
It’s no secret that the world of software is often seen as a bit of a boy’s club, and here at Mend, we’ve made it our business to address this inequity.
What is true is that women in technology and software companies, especially in departments such as Product and Research and Development (R&D), were slower to emerge and have in the past been discouraged by the conscious and unconscious biases frequently found in these areas. This is because traditionally education mistakenly favored boys and men in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) subjects, and girls and women felt discouraged to take STEM career paths. Those that did found themselves in a significant minority, encountering both conscious and unconscious bias, negative assumptions about their knowledge, and skills, and many obstacles in the workplace, such as being interrupted extensively in meetings or being overlooked for promotions.
All of this is changing, and at Mend, we’re committed to ensuring these biases don’t occur and that parity exists, with women leading projects, and teams, helping to build the future of the company, and we created a program to support this.
How Mend promotes gender equality — Mend’s “Ready to Grow” Program
Firstly, a deliberate decision was taken by the leadership team to put diversity, inclusivity, and equity (DEI) at the heart of Mend’s company’s culture. With that intention agreed, we needed to make it happen throughout every aspect of what we do, from promoting pay equity and equality of opportunity to celebrating the multiculturalism and the multiplicity of identities of Mend employees; from advocating flexible and family-friendly working patterns to training and awareness campaigns and initiatives. So, we implemented DEI training and programs to empower underrepresented employee cohorts.
We work with the GrowthSpace talent development platform to provide a variety of learning and development options that maximize opportunities for our staff, irrespective of gender, sexuality, race, or identity. These options include coaching, mentoring, and learning that help employees upskill, work on personal challenges, and improve their core skills and competencies.
We piloted the platform with a small test group that quickly expanded once we saw how enthusiastically the initial programs were received and measured. The pilot program’s main objective was to facilitate employee growth for all by helping retention efforts and increasing promotion from within. The secondary goal was to drive diversity and inclusion — and that’s how Mend’s women’s program “Ready to Grow” was born.
The “Ready to Grow” program emphasizes the advancement and upskilling of women. It has enabled us to connect employees to external experts to support their career development. The initiative initially centers on women in male-dominated departments across the company. For the first cohort of “Ready to Grow” participants, 17 women from R&D and product development were selected for growth sprints, working with their managers to identify the skills they’d like to develop or boost their knowledge in and set expectations together.
“Ready to Grow” in action
One of the participants in our pilot program is Anya Grinberg, a senior software engineer at Mend with 20 years of experience under her belt. Before taking part in the program, Anya had mostly learned on the job. Nevertheless, her knowledge and experience are often sought by younger developers who turn to her for advice, guidance, and unofficial mentoring.
Anya chose the “Ready to Grow” Leadership track after hearing from her manager how beneficial her GrowthSpace program had been. She was matched with Lishai, an expert who had been a software engineer before switching paths. This meant that in her interactions with her assigned expert, Anya could comfortably use the technical language that other experts might not have. Her leadership sprint helped her learn, in her words, “how to nourish the junior engineers’ creativity instead of just offering answers — and that I have plenty to learn from them, as well — they have marvelous ideas, too.” Anya also learned how to create boundaries in her work relationships. She’s gained confidence in speaking and has learned how to support those she exceeds in experience — without stepping on any toes.
Anya appreciated the unbiased, confidential expert-participant relationship, as well. “I thought about why it’s so important to speak with someone outside the company — I needed an objective outlook on my work to get unbiased feedback,” she says. “Everyone should go through the program at least once a year — it’s very beneficial.”
Success for equality at Mend
The program has been a huge success so far, and Mend employees have already participated in 54 sprints. Fifty-eight percent of the women involved have selected a Management and Leadership skills track.
45 of those sprints have been completed. Those involved gave overwhelmingly positive feedback, rating it on average 4.6, with the women giving their programs a 4.8 average rating out of 5.
“We found that the women who’ve gone or are going through a sprint are more confident in anything they do,” says Galit Gold, executive vice president, human resources at Mend. “We can easily connect women or men to the right expert for their challenges, based on their manager’s feedback, and we immediately start noticing changes. Between increased confidence, especially for women, and the skills learned through their sprints, it has been a dream and a true win-win for all. We truly see that after five meetings, employees and their managers see the changes in the employee’s work, and for me, that’s the sweet spot.”
We now offer leadership sprints to all new managers to ensure every manager starts on the right track. And, by supporting women through soft skills programs in “Ready to Grow,” including those focused on communication, productivity, and leadership, the women of Mend are strengthening their talents and becoming more confident leaders.We’re thrilled with these outcomes so far. We continue to work to be part of the solution to gender equality by creating pathways for women to upskill and grow in their careers, and we’re delighted that at Mend we’ve grown our cohort of women by almost 28 percent in the last four years. We hope that our ongoing efforts pave the way for further initiatives that nurture the skills and cultivate the talents of our fantastic women and their colleagues from other, often traditionally under-represented groups.