It’s no secret that the tech industry’s lack of gender diversity is deeply rooted in its culture. But this isn’t something that women are willing to wait for until it resolves itself. Buoyed by a wave of #MeToo awareness, community activism, and empowered engagement, women are challenging the status quo to encourage equal representation from the boardroom to the user experience.

Instead of blaming a decades-long “brotopia” mentality and limited availability of talent, a growing segment of women are putting their know-how, inventiveness, and creativity on full display. In fact, according to The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), “[information and communication technology] patents featuring at least one woman in the team of inventors has increased more rapidly than the average of all patents” in G20 countries.

Although this finding is the only glimmer of hope that the digital gender gap is beginning to narrow, it’s a clear indication that female innovators are setting a new standard by leveraging the equalizing power of digitalization.

Digital innovation: Empowering a community of equals

Digital technology has opened up a wealth of information and opportunities available to anyone who wants it. Hard work, perseverance, and ingenuity are the rules for achieving economic empowerment. However, as every woman in the upper echelon of tech leadership can affirm, a community of peers that fosters equality and personal betterment – without the threat of competition – is a necessary part of succeeding in a male-dominated setting.

With organizations such as Global Digital Women (GDW), female digital pioneers are championing women in technology across all industries by providing an open platform for collaboration, increased visibility, and inspirational support.

“To be successful and innovative in the digital age, we need a mindset change and agile ways of working. Sharing ideas is never a one-way. Often we need a small glimmer to inflame great ideas and innovations,” said Yvonne Pfeifer, project director of the Program Management Office of the Swiss Management Team at SAP. “Initiatives like GDW brings together the valuable and inspiring inside-out perspective of women of different branches, career levels, and generations and enables them to make a real impact.“

Advocating industry change with aspiration, boldness, and impact

Without a doubt, digital innovation will continue to drive significant social, cultural, and economic progress worldwide. And for this reason, tech businesses cannot afford to ignore a portion of its workforce that represents half of all technology users – women.

Fortunately, more and more tech companies are doing more than just listening; they are also advocating the importance of an inclusive and diverse workforce. As part of their efforts to energize a deep cultural shift in the industry, companies such as SAP are working with GDW to uphold their commitment to building a strong pipeline of women leaders and talent. Together, SAP and GDW are using a variety of social channels to promote and inspire women, ranging from filmed interviews and Instagram takeovers to profile features.

While some people may dismiss such efforts as lip-service, SAP, for example, is proving otherwise. In 2017, the company reached its goal of 25% women in management and became the first tech company to be EDGE certified. The company has also implemented a portfolio of valuable programs, which includes the Leadership Acceleration Program (LEAP), job sharing, and part-time management positions.

For companies, taking on the digital gender divide is more than just unlocking the diversity of opinions, experiences, and abilities reflected in our world today. Ultimately, all of these initiatives amount to a culture where attracting and promoting the best talent in the tech industry is a top priority. And for the bottom line, this shift towards inclusion is creating a foundation for the profitable delivery of highly competitive solution offerings and services for years to come.