20 Mar 2024
by Olena Terzinova

Breaking Gender Bias in the Workplace 

Three years ago, we corresponded with the statistics of the Ukrainian IT market, which showed that the number of women in the company was approximately 15%. Like other companies, most of those roles were in administrative divisions such as finance, HR, and legal. 

Then, we reviewed and updated our framework, having chosen three fundamental company values: diversity, openness, and teamwork. This means respecting and accepting everyone's uniqueness and believing our differences make the team more mighty and adaptable to challenges. At the same time, readiness for open dialogue helps to maintain a high team spirit. 

By these values, we changed HR policies and leadership approaches, naturally attracting more women to the company. 

Today, the number of women at Intellectsoft has increased to 33%, and we are committed to further improving this representation. 

The New Approach 

Our HR strategy focuses on building comprehensively balanced teams, with gender balance being a primary consideration. We also strive for balance in experience, age, soft skills (using the Belbin methodology), and work-life balance. We strive to create international teams geographically dispersed. 

We achieve this through: 

  • Flexible working hours 

  • Home office, hybrid model, or regular office is a team member's choice 

  • Possibility of choosing a standard or reduced workload 

  • Up to 35 days of personal time off in a year 

  • Three months of paid maternity leave 

  • Gifts for children on St. Nicholas Day 

  • Psychological support  

  • Women's events, such as a yoga retreat in the mountain-based resort and workshops with industry professionals 

We also implemented an individual holiday calendar, allowing each team member to celebrate what truly matters to them, regardless of public holidays. We offer everyone the same number of days a year, with the opportunity to distribute them at personal discretion, and team members can celebrate New Year's Day or their birthday - whatever they like. 

With our team being distributed across 21+ countries, English is the primary language for business correspondence, general chats, and meetings. 

Therefore, our working conditions are equally suitable for women and men with any social status and cultural background. We provide freedom in which everyone can decide whether to build a career or have a stable work routine.  

Results and Future Aspirations 

We have managed to move away from archaic stereotypes that the passion for making a career is not for women and that they should be more focused on family and housework than men. Moreover, our practice shows that women are equally effective as men in conditions connected with stress factors like workload peaks associated with project phases, business trips, or situational overtime.  

We are developing a new company code of conduct to promote diversity and inclusion further. This code will help us identify and eliminate outdated habits and language from our behavior and communication, fostering a progressive environment focused on achievements and teamwork. We have also noticed that women are more humble in their income requirements, and therefore, there is a gap between the income levels of men and women in the same positions. We aim to remove this gap and equalize income levels relative to the grade structure. 

Today, women comprise 60% of our company's management team - including PMs roles and our new CEO.  

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Olena Terzinova

Olena Terzinova

CHRO, Intellectsoft

Olena Terzinova, CHRO at Intellectsoft, brings 17+ years of experience in building & leading talent management strategies.