The world of eCommerce has experienced exponential growth over the years, and women have played an essential role in the success of the industry.
In Australia, one needn’t look further than businesses like THE ICONIC, Canva, Showpo and Adore Beauty to see the impact female leaders are having in the eCommerce space.
Most recently, Megantic, a leading Organic Search (SEO) specialist agency in Australia dedicated to eCommerce, saw an opportunity to provide pathways into the workforce for future female leaders and acted on it, creating Megantic Mentors in 2021.
In this article, Emily Bencsics, marketing and digital coordinator at Megantic looks at the critical need for diversity in technology, eCommerce and digital transformation, and why mentorship matters to champion change.
Lack of female representation in technology
Despite the positive impact women continue to make, the technology sector remains largely male-dominated not only in Australia, but across the globe. In the ICT (Information and Communications Technology) industry as a whole, just one in five leadership roles is held by a female.
This underrepresentation is fuelled by many variables. A significant factor is the ‘unpleasant environment’ women can find themselves in once they get too close to ‘the boys club’. Recent Tesla headlines only further highlight the long road ahead towards achieving a more equitable workplace culture.
Beyond harassment, women also grapple with gender bias, the weight of work-life balance and a lack of representation and role models to look up to, making it difficult to aspire to leadership positions.
Whatever the reason, the underrepresentation of women comes at a high price to pay for both society at large and the economy. Research indicates that ICT’s lack of female representation could cost the economy AU$11 billion over the next two decades unless it accelerates towards gender parity.
As the tech sector’s explosive growth and the demand for jobs continue, it’s critical that greater diversity, training and mentorship programs remain high priorities. There’s compelling evidence that the companies that embrace gender equality and diversity are not only more likely to report growth and better performance, but they also have an increased competitive edge in saturated markets thanks to the flourishing of innovative ideas.
It’s something the eCommerce industry can’t afford to ignore. In today’s tough economic environment, Australia’s eCommerce businesses have been advised to “dig deep in order to stand out from the crowd and grow”, with household spending forecasted to remain weak. Online retailers must continue to adapt their products, website and delivery experience to meet customer demands and keep up with their dynamic behaviour.
Making the case for mentorship: Future-proofing and addressing the digital skills gap
Digital skills are becoming increasingly necessary in almost every industry. To ensure the prosperity of the next generation of talent tomorrow, it is critical to educate and future-proof their skills with the right guidance and mentorship starting today.
Despite this urgency, a recent Dell Technologies study finds that Gen Z feels like their education has failed them, with almost half saying that school only taught them very basic computing skills and more than a third revealing that school education failed to prepare them with the technology skills needed for their intended careers. As a result, 40 per cent of Gen Z are considering learning new digital skills essential for future career options.
Given the jobs of the future will undoubtedly be driven by technology, and Australia’s technology workforce is forecast to exceed 1.1 million Australians over the next five years – more than four times faster than the broader labour force numbers – this collaboration is the need of the hour.
Mentoring the next generation of talent
To help foster budding talents’ success in the current fast-paced digital landscape, mentorship programs have emerged as an avenue of hope. Gen Z believes that educators and businesses should work together to bridge the digital skills gap.
Patricia Ikari, Data Analyst at Megantic, couldn’t agree more. In her role, Ikari performs exploratory data analysis for management activities and produces dashboards to identify opportunities to continue to grow the business. She credits her current success to the mentors that have helped her along the way and is proud to ‘pay it forward’ through Megantic Mentors.
Megantic Mentors gives students with an interest in digital marketing, technology, web development, eCommerce, SEM (search engine marketing) and SEO (search engine optimisation) an opportunity to grow their skills and discover the inner workings of a digital-marketing agency.
“I love being able to share my experience with data and how it can be used in digital marketing,” she said. “I genuinely believe that no course can teach what an experienced professional can share from their real life. That’s why having a mentor is so important. For me, being an inspiration for the next generation and seeing their engagement is extremely rewarding.”
Championing change in eCommerce
More than helping to close the skills gap, the hugely successful Megantic Mentors, developed in partnership with Mac.Robertson Girls’ High School, is exclusively female-focused. It’s actively supporting the advancement of women in an eCommerce ecosystem.
“Technology is shaping our world, and we need to ensure that women have an equal voice in this process,” said Vandi Kumar, Technical Project Manager at Megantic.
“By supporting the next generation of females in eCommerce technology, we’re also supporting innovation, job creation, addressing the skills gap and most of all, diversity and equity in a largely male-dominated industry.”
How mentorship can minimise the gender-equality gap
Narrowing the gender divide in Australia’s eCommerce industry can be achieved in a variety of ways. However, mentorship offers a practical, hands-on solution that is fairly simple to institute. By providing support, guidance and opportunities for women to develop their skills and advance in their careers, mentorship can help:
- Build Confidence: Mentorship can help build confidence in women by providing them with guidance, feedback and encouragement. This can help them overcome imposter syndrome and other barriers that may hold them back from pursuing their goals.
- Provide Networking Opportunities: Mentors can provide their mentees with networking opportunities and introduce them to contacts in the industry. This can help women expand their professional network, leading to new job opportunities and career advancement.
- Enable Skill Development: Mentors can provide their mentees with valuable insights into the industry and help them develop new skills. This can help women enhance their expertise, making them more competitive in the job market.
- Break Down Barriers: Mentorship can help break down barriers to advancement by providing women with insights into the challenges they may face in the industry and strategies for overcoming them. This can help women navigate the industry more effectively and increase their chances of success.
“Mentorship paves the way to a more gender-equal future with guidance, support and opportunities, helping women advance in their digital careers and break down barriers to gender equity,” said Jeremy Hanger, General Manager at Megantic.
“At Megantic, we pride ourselves on investing in the next generation of female tech leaders through Megantic Mentors. Given its success, we’re currently exploring new ways to set up a similar program through our recent partnership with Deakin University, which aims to accelerate eCommerce growth.
“In this male-dominated field, it’s essential to make successful women visible to young women, providing them an example to follow and strive towards on their path to prosperity in STEM professions, regardless of any gender bias that may exist.”
Embracing equity for a truly inclusive world
Ahead of International Women’s Day (IWD), organisations across Australia, and the world at large, are reflecting on the strides they’re taking towards equity, realising “equal opportunities are no longer enough.”
Despite the similarity between the words ‘equality’ and ‘equity’, the two concepts are, in fact, quite different. IWD hopes to clear up the confusion with its 2023 campaign #EmbraceEquity by breaking down the differences.
Equality, IWD says, is about giving each individual or group of people the same resources and opportunities, whereas equity recognises that each person has different circumstances, and resources and opportunities are allocated based on their unique needs to reach an equal outcome.
Importantly, embracing equity for a truly inclusive world is not limited to solely empowering females. Everyone can pave the way for positive change, challenging gender stereotypes, standing up against discrimination, calling out bias and encouraging inclusion.
While one person alone can start a ripple effect, collectively, we can forge lasting, impactful change.
Emily Bencsics is the Marketing and Digital Coordinator at Megantic. With a strong background in the digital marketing arena, she’s highly skilled in organic social media, email marketing and copywriting. A passionate advocate for women in technology, Emily believes that everyone should have equal opportunities to succeed in the digital world.
She is a firm believer in the power of digital marketing to connect businesses with their target audiences and drive results.
Megantic is a leading Organic Search (SEO) specialist agency in Australia dedicated to eCommerce. A multiple award-winning global agency, Megantic has created a unique strategy for online retailers that enables them to target educated customers that are traditionally ignored by most SEO campaigns and substantially grow their online revenue.
With offices in the UK, Macedonia, Canada and a flagship office in Australia, Megantic is used by many of Australia’s top brands like The Good Guys, Repco, Forty Winks and Cargo Crew.
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