According to a selection of major tech companies’ 2018 diversity reports, women made up between 26% and 43% of employees, with a much lower percentage of women in actual tech roles.
Living between both the music and tech worlds, BMAT is working on changing the tune of the gender disparity typically found in both of these industries.
After taking a long hard look at ourselves, we saw that just believing in equality and diversity isn’t enough. We are now working on doing more to ensure that the changes we want actually happen. Like music, diversity is our fuel. We value each other’s quirks, obsessions and rarities – and this has worked out pretty well for us so far. BMAT thrives on a medley of different perspectives and expertise, and we would love for this to be better reflected in our gender stats.
We had a chat with Eva, our Client Manager, Marina, our Software Developer and Wan Yin, our APAC Director, to see what their take on the matter was.
How has the amount of female employees at BMAT changed over your time here?
Marina: I was the only woman working in the tech department when I joined. Now there are more BMAT women, but we don’t see as many of them applying to our tech positions as we would like. It can still be hard to find women in technology, so that is a shame.
Eva: When I started in February 2009 at BMAT I was the only female in the company. Nowadays, around a third of us are women. What I did notice was that over the years, as more women joined, team interactions became more fun and easy-going—diversity matters at all levels.
Wan Yin: The percentage of women has increased steadily over the 7 years that I have been here, no doubt as a result of the attitude of the company. We have many more BMAT women now, including more female VPs and Heads.
Have you ever been very aware of your gender while working at BMAT?
Marina: I feel very comfortable working at BMAT. There is no gender discrimination or even gender distinction. However, the men bathrooms always seem to be busy, while the women’s aren’t. That’s a strange thing that I notice. Outside of the company, most people don’t believe me when I tell them that I’m a software developer, but I like that.
Eva: In 2010, I attended my first Mobile World Congress and my first MIDEM. It was hard to spot a woman among all the men at both of these events back then. Well, there were women at the Mobile World Congress, but only as hostesses – as some kind of decoration. MWC is an extreme reflection of the lack of women in the tech industry. Over the next 9 years I definitely noticed a change at these events, aligned with the increase of women these industries. Now the music industry is more business orientated, and less old school, there are significantly more women working in it.
“Most people don’t believe me when I tell them I’m a Software Developer, but I like that.”
Wan Yin: I always feel like my opinions and recommendations are valued by others within BMAT. Dealing with clients from all over the world in the currently male-dominated music and technology industries however, means it is unavoidable. I once had a client tell me that I should start having babies soon because my biological clock was ticking – at a business dinner full of partners. After one board presentation, a manager told me that if my male boss did not attend the presentation, it did not reflect well on the sincerity of BMAT. A potential lead also once made me feel very uncomfortable during a meeting. At that time, we didn’t have all the connections with the Asian market that we have now. I told Alex, our CEO, and he had my back immediately: No matter how much potential the lead may have, if they do not respect women, we do not deal with them. Putting values and respect above business is unfortunately rare – that’s one of the reasons why I have been with BMAT 7 years and counting.
Diversity and equality are no doubt present at BMAT. But our stats show us we still have a long way to go. What do you think the company could do in the future, to keep closing this gender gap?
Marina: The company values female presence, and it goes without saying that we have equal salaries. It is beneficial for all workplaces to have men and women – we bring different qualities and can balance each other out nicely. Over the last few weeks, we’ve been going to tech talks by women to meet of this environment. I would like to see more things like that at BMAT – we could contribute by organizing some talks or meetups.
Eva: At times, it can feel that the way to have your voice heard is to have more of an ‘executive’ attitude and a firm voice while saying the same thing in a sweet way wouldn’t be taken ‘as seriously’. This mindset is something ingrained in society, and sometimes colleagues might not even be aware of it as consciously as they should be.
The policy for new parents is an area where BMAT could make a difference, as it already does in so many other aspects, and be ahead of a majority of other companies. For example, extended parental leave (Spain is far behind with its 4 months maternity leave while some of the most productive countries in the world – e.g. Sweden – have significantly more generous parental policies.) would give an employee that extra time, and would make women feel even more appreciated, valued and welcome to come back after having a baby.
Luckily, the founders are the kind of people who do not see gender, but a person and their skills, and among many other things, this is what makes our team and company what it is – it’s a culture that propagates very organically. The atmosphere is great and even though it’s a tech company, luckily it dodges the stereotype. It helps that the culture of BMAT has never tolerated any sexist, offensive or intimidating behaviour towards anyone.
Wan Yin: If you ask me, we are already doing well. There is of course the risk of becoming too focused on gender and these good intentions can backfire – but BMAT really chooses their team based on desirable qualities and always has.
What advice would you give to a perhaps apprehensive woman considering a career in the tech or music industry or a position in management?
Marina: Never give up. Being a woman in a man’s world is not easy, but everybody has the power to turn it around, and create a more gender-balanced world.
Wan Yin: Although gender differences are very real, beyond biology and hormones, I think a lot of what are defined as ‘female’ or ‘male’ tasks are nothing more than social construct. It’s silly to think women just don’t get technology. It’s like saying men are unable to be outstanding nurses or nannies. The only person who can stop you from achieving your full potential, in the end, is yourself.
“No matter how much potential the lead may have, if they don’t respect women, we don’t deal with them..”
We currently offer tech training, flexible working hours and remote working opportunities, and hope that our culture of workplace flexibility keeps attracting and retaining highly skilled women and tech professionals to our ever-growing company. There’s still far to go to close this gender gap, but we are on the right track.
Kelly, StorytellerWhat is music to your ears?