Since its founding, Diversity Collective Lanka (DCLK) has been committed to increasing women’s and girls’ educational attainment contributing to women’s economic empowerment and more inclusive economic growth. This is achieved through education, upskilling and re-skilling over their life so that more women have the choice of work which will grow economies. The economic empowerment of women boosts productivity, increases economic diversification, and improves income equality, in addition to other positive development outcomes. Conversely, it is estimated that gender gaps cost the economy some 15% of GDP.
Needless to say, economic equality for women is good for business. Companies greatly benefit from increased employment and leadership opportunities for women, which is shown to increase organizational effectiveness and growth. It is estimated that companies with three or more women in senior management functions score higher organizational performance, in both financial and non-financial metrics.
Today, we stand on the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another. In its scale, scope, and complexity, the transformation will be unlike anything humankind has experienced before. Sri Lanka’s IT and BPO sector grew 3X in exports and 2X workforce in a little over five years. This rapid and continuous growth is only possible with more women contributing.
Diversity Collective Lanka launched a Tech Voices Spotlight to encourage more women in tech to share their stories with the aim of encouraging more young girls to understand what a career in technology can look like. Over the course of 2021, the initiative has featured women engineers from member companies, showcasing women in technology while serving as a platform to evangelise and discuss their work. In doing so, DCLK highlights women in technology and offers more visibility to these roles in technology companies such as Wiley, London Stock Exchange Group and Gapstars.
Entrepreneurship is another area of focus for DCLK. Hence, it has collaborated with Hatch and SLASSCOM to provide training and investment opportunities to support tech ideas and promote and support startups launched by women. Further, the efforts of DCLK are not limited to spotlighting women in technology. The organisation has also been giving a voice to all voices on the messages of diversity and inclusion. These video messages along with many other stories and messages on the DCLK YouTube channel with 50+ messages shared so far. The organisation aims to get the community to continue sharing such stories and messages highlighting the importance of diversity and inclusion to empower and inspire others.
Already several companies in Sri Lanka have joined this conversation by joining public panels and also starting internal programmes for their employees. DCLK has been part of these efforts and delivering workshops along with panel discussions to deliver these learnings and awareness to companies.
The key messages through these efforts have revolved around understanding diversity, but more importantly, understanding what inclusion looks like in an employee and how management behaviour translates to culture. The importance of realising inclusion is a mindset and how everyday people decisions are made is what inclusion actually boils down to. Such decisions include how to decide your recruitment, promotions, training and giving your employees a voice is what makes change happen. Ultimately, an inclusive Culture is when leaders, as well as employees, behave with empathy and acceptance.
DCLK also believes in building this talent pipeline and helping this inclusive mindset needs to start as young as possible. The organisation is working with schools both girls and boys supported by companies with their women tech engineers who role model and encourage these students on what is important to focus on if technology is their passion and how to start on a career in the industry.