On March 8, tens of millions of people in over 50 countries around the world will stand together in support of International Women’s Day.
Since launching in 1909, the annual event has honored the long fight towards universal equality for women, and despite the progress made over the past century, the fight remains as urgent as ever. Forecasts from the World Economic Forum predict that, unless progress accelerates, the gender gap won’t close entirely until 2186.
It was the sense that there was still work to be done that spurred the creation of Taboola Breet, a community that brings Taboolars together to discuss issues around diversity and inclusion.
Creating an alliance of equality crusaders.
“Not many tech companies have these sorts of initiatives,” said Qurat Khan, our Business Analyst in Taboola’s New York City headquarters. Khan initiated the group’s first meeting last year.
“In Hebrew, ‘Breet’ means alliance, and that’s how we think about our community. It’s a safe space to work through issues and challenges that can be difficult to talk about in a typical office setting.”
Taboola Breet’s first meeting in New York has inspired similar gatherings in offices across the globe. So far, nearly 100 employees have joined the community and participated in open discussions, case studies, role playing, presentations, and more.
While there is no typical Taboola Breet event, the gatherings often feature the story of an influential female entrepreneur or social justice advocate.
Khan opened her first meeting by asking the group why so few people have heard of Dame Stephanie Shirley, one of the UK’s most successful tech entrepreneurs?
By studying the examples of women from previous generations, these discussions provide an inflection point for thinking about which gender boundaries and obstacles still exist today, why that might be the case, and how we might overcome them.
Bridging the gap between 20th Century equality and 21st Century leadership.
Many of Taboola Breet’s early meetings focused on re-framing the debate around feminism.
“Women’s rights and diversity are no longer only about equality, as it was throughout much of the 20th century,” says Khan. “These movements are also about getting people to see that gender parity makes good business sense.”
Her insight echoes the theme for IWD 2017, which calls on people to #BeBoldForChange.
This is from the organization’s official statement: “Each one of us… can take bold pragmatic action to accelerate gender parity. Through purposeful collaboration, we can help women advance and unleash the limitless potential offered to economies the world over.”
Research continually shows that diverse companies outperform their competition. One widely-shared infographic from the National Center for Women & Information Technology analyzes the tangible “Inclusion Advantage” enjoyed by companies that prioritize a gender-balanced culture.
Teams with equal numbers of men and women are more creative, collaborative, and productive than those dominated by men, and also build products that more accurately reflect the customer base. Higher levels of gender and racial diversity are associated with increased sales revenue, customer growth, and market share.
Maybe most importantly, effective diversity initiatives must ensure that gender-equality spans the entire organization, including the C-suite, which too often remains stubbornly out-of-reach for women in many industries. The NCWIT studies found that successful tech startups have twice as many women in senior leadership positions as unsuccessful companies.
‘Taboola Breet’ as a blueprint for the broader tech community.
The call for equality rings especially true in the world of technology, where the talent gap is growing wider, not narrower.
The US Bureau of Labour found that the percentage of computing positions held by women — currently at 25% — has steadily declined since its peak of 36% in 1991. Members of Taboola Breet are optimistic that such communities can mobilize employees and push for gender parity from within companies and organizations, rather than waiting on government to step in.
“Grassroots groups like Taboola Breet are a big reason why Taboola is able to continually recruit the best people,” says Khan.
“Gender balance sends a message to the marketplace that we are in touch with the times, and that our teams reflect the diversity of the broader population. This helps us execute on everything from prospecting to sales to customer loyalty.”
In the coming months, Taboola Breet will be expanding its footprint with new local chapters and events in Tel Aviv, Bangkok, and London.
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