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How Visma is tipping the scales for women in tech

When people talk about closing the gender gap, too often the conversation stops with how to spark women’s interest in tech. But, what do we actually do to help women get through the door and thrive within organisations?

One of our core values is that we’re inclusive – and everyone at Visma takes that to heart. We’ve built our business around the idea that we’re better together, which means making sure everyone has both a seat and a voice at the table. That’s why we continue to fight for gender equity and balance within our industry – with some ambitious goals we’ve laid out below.

The fact is, there are still significantly more men than women in the tech industry today. The good news is that we’re making strides to close the gap as the number of women within our organisation continues to grow.

As of 2022, 40.9% of our employees are women. (The industry average is 27%.)

Now, we’ll be the first to admit that we still have a long way to go – but we do think our efforts are helping tip the scales. Let’s break down what’s worked so far and where we’ve set our sights for the future.

Intentional recruiting

A big part of successful engagement is partnering with schools and other organisations to get women and girls interested in technology as a career path. But, we also have to show potential recruits that we walk the talk. Here are a few ways we turn our words into action:

1. Specific recruiting targets

Measurable goals are our bread and butter. While the main criteria to fill a position is competence, having a specific gender-balance target drives us to explore a larger pool of candidates to find the perfect fit. We find a lot of our talent through our summer internship and management trainee programmes. So, we aim for 40% women in both of these programmes.

In 2022, 30% of our Summer Interns and 35.7% of our Management Trainees were women.

2. Genderless job ads

If a job ad feels like it’s targeting a specific gender, we might miss out on qualified candidates – and everyone loses. So we try to avoid words commonly used to target men or women. For example, some male-coded words are assertive, headstrong, outspoken, and fearless. Some female-coded are sensitive, nurture, feel, and compassion.  

We also try to eliminate requirements that aren’t essential, and point out which qualifications are “must have” and which are “nice to have”. Research shows that women tend to apply only for jobs where they meet 100% of the requirements listed – and this is one barrier to entry that’s easy to remove.

3. Diverse representation at Visma events

We attend and host quite a few events throughout the year, specifically at schools and organisations where we hope to engage the next generation of talent. Our ultimate goal is to make attendees feel welcome. We make sure that people see themselves represented in all groups that represent us at events.

Leadership by example

Our organisational structure is relatively flat, and our goal is that everyone from top management to teammates is accessible. That’s why we focus on inclusion and balance in all parts of our organisation. Here are a couple of ways we lead by example:

1. Specific leadership programme targets

We have a 6-month educational programme for leaders who are handpicked by their company and approved by top management. This programme helps develop their personal and professional skills, as well as build their network. Because this is one of our most valuable ways to grow the candidate pool to fill future leadership positions, we aim for a 50/50 split of women and men.

In 2022, we had 32.6% women in spring and 54.3% women in fall. For 2023, we have 46.7% women for the spring session. (Nominations for fall will open later this year.)

2. A wide range of diversity and inclusion efforts

So much of employee happiness relies on what happens in day-to-day interactions, which is why we’re keen on a culture of openness and respect. By focusing on diversity and inclusion on a larger scale, everyone in our organisation can feel safe and supported. In departments or teams where women are significantly outnumbered, we know that these efforts go a long way in helping them feel more confident in the workplace. 

In 2022, our HR teams lead open discussions about everything from gender equity to LGBTQIA+ topics to mental health. They deep-dived into one focus area per month, for the entire year – and all employees were encouraged to join. 

For 2023, they plan to update their approach and provide even more meaningful opportunities for growth.

How we foster a diverse and inclusive culture

Looking toward the future

We’re proud of our efforts so far – and excited for our plans to move the needle even further. One of our top priorities is continuing to recruit and build the competencies of our future women leaders as we work toward more balance in management teams. This includes more targeted outreach to encourage women to apply for our summer internship and management trainee programmes. It also includes increased efforts to motivate companies to nominate more women for our fall 2023 Visma Management Academy, to reach our 50/50 goal.

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