Articles 5 min read

Womxn Techfixers – Berlin

Annapurna Recruitment and Taxfix proudly co-hosted ‘Womxn Techfixers’ – an event to promote conversations around women in leadership positions, especially within the industry of technology.

Previously, Annapurna has hosted this series of events with Wayfair and Zalando about diversity, inclusion and women in STEM with organisations. For this episode, we partnered with Taxfix who have an intuitive app which enables anyone, regardless of education or background, to file their taxes with newfound confidence- one small step towards financial wellbeing for everyone.

Our host, Becky Finnegan  from ERUPT at Annapurna Recruitment kicked off the event by welcoming Barbara Surmanowicz, Associate Group Product Manager at Taxfix.

Barbara discussed:

Empathetic leadership for healthy and high-performing teams.

Firstly she defined empathy – “to be able to feel your own feelings but also feel others at the same time, react on that and control your emotions.” Barbara talks about the 4 different zones that your team needs and requiring having the right balance, so that employees are challenged in just the right amount – a flow state!

She discussed that stress can also have a positive and negative side.

“It’s important not to cause negative stress on your employees but to help them through it.”

Different types of people react differently and leaders should split tasks in a way to fit an individual situation.

“See people as human as they are and try to adapt to that”

She left us with some key takeaways:

  • Create transparency so that people can predict what will happen and recognise tasks
  • Create involvement and collaborate to build trust and share control
  • Have honest conversations about risks and issues and discuss together what to  learn and how to improve

Our next speaker, Nikita Rathi, Head of Engineering Management at Uniform, discussed the topic of:

Fighting for fair ungendered feedback

Nikita has spent her whole career in tech and had some valuable insights from her position, being in and around such a male-dominated environment.

“Everyone regardless of our gender has experienced biased feedback”

But what does feedback do? It makes us learn and grow and create boundaries with our colleagues! But not all feedback is good feedback, it has been decisive in determining people’s career journeys. Feedback around communication styles can be unactionable – “be more confident and be more assertive”, are often used.

Nikita stated that countries that were led communally throughout Covid had better responses and outcomes.

“Regardless of gender, you can possess both agentic or communal traits or neither.”

She discusses that this can lead to a balancing act with various different traits that one is supposed to possess. The researched pattern called prove it again bias – the perceived potential of a women is always less than the perceived potential of male colleagues.

Women are encouraged to focus on delivery and network horizontally whereas men are encouraged to claim their space and set the vision.

She shared some tools and strategies when you receive bias feedback:

  • Receive feedback in writing
  • Frame the feedback into well-researched career frameworks and make sure its balanced and constrained
  • Solicit and share feedback proactively
  • Lean on frameworks
  • Build a community and build a network of people that you can trust
  • Be deliberate
  • Celebrate yourself and have a ‘brag sheet’

Women have to face systemic, organisational and cultural  barriers – Nikita herself grew up in Asia where she faced a life of being told to keep her mouth closed, not to raise her voice or let her opinions be known.

“The things we have in our control is that nobody can tell us what our own working identity is – you have intrinsic values that you shouldn’t have to let anyone try to compromise. You should only question your own assumptions about yourself.”

The key takeaways from Nikita are:

  • Build a medium, frequency and framework
  • Build a community
  • Be deliberate
  • And celebrate yourself!

The evening then led onto a panel discussion between Becky, our host, and four women within the industry:

How have you been supported in your career?

Rachel discussed how she originally started in consulting and felt imposter syndrome from early on within her job and felt like she had to prove herself. At this consultancy agency nobody questioned her and trusted her from the start.

Usha believed that nobody but herself supported her in her own career.

“People doubted me along the way but I never doubted myself”

Becky asked the panel, ‘does imposter syndrome fade or continue to evolve?’

For Rhiannon, it has faded as she has found that practicing and seeing patterns have helped to combat imposter syndrome. She believes that it can sometimes reappear when changing roles and going into a new position but as you get further on in your career, rejection stings a little less.

Do you feel a move into a remote setup will accelerate women into senior positions or will it be a step backwards?

Barbara believed that working remotely can be an advantage for women as men have territorial language within the office.

“I think it is detrimental for women”

Rhiannon said that things happen if you’re not there in the room, which is the main problem with working remotely.

“I think it makes you able to focus and create a balance between your career and your personal life.”

Usha expressed that she now has more time to learn, read and spend time with her family.

“Things are now more flexible and understanding without having to be in the office every single day, there is more life than just work and it offers flexibility”

Becky agreed and believes it is also very detrimental where you are at within your career.

So, this means that if a company is fully remote or fully physical then everyone has the same opportunity and circumstances. What is new to companies is the hybrid situation, so is it important to have an equal playing field?

Rachel believes that you physically can’t be across all teams so you have to be aware of what others are doing.

Usha however said that if a company is promoting or judging you because you’re not coming to the office regularly then that’s not fair as we have to get used to this new culture where we can all equally be treated regardless of how long we are spending in a physical office space.

“It should be fair game, these are biased chances, it is about showing what impact you are having on the business wherever you are.”

So what are the productive ways in how we can be loud and show ourselves?

The panel discussed that you should celebrate successes that you have done and show your colleagues. However, you need to take the extra mile and be active to show your work and encourage your team members to do the same.

Are there any policy changes or structures that businesses can be doing to level the playing field even more?

  • Coffee chats – people from different teams within the data organisation come together to chat
  • Collaboratively working on projects together
  • Companies should proactively ask themselves what formats you can offer to give employees a stage and support them further?
  • Women-led groups within companies so that they feel safe to speak up and bring ideas to the table.
What can you do if you’re a recruiter trying to hire women in tech?

Becky then spoke about the recruitment hiring process and how to hire women into a role. An addition to the process that recruiters should think about is introducing women to other women within the team so that they feel more comfortable. Recruiters should also make sure that you use ungendered adjectives in your job adverts.

QOTD: “If you don’t believe in yourself, how can you expect others to believe you”.

Thank you so much to all of our speakers. Please feel free to connect with them on Linkedin:

Becky Finnegan 

Barbara Surmanowicz

Nikita Rathi

Usha Devasi

Rachel Magasweran

Rhiannon White

Thank you so much to Taxfix Berlin for co-hosting this event with us and please follow us to find out more about the upcoming events hosted by Annapurna.

Written by Jasmine Mitchell, Growth Marketing Executive – Annapurna Recruitment

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