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As a woman who’s spent a decades-long career working for technology-focused companies, I’ve taken a personal interest in the rising women-in-tech movement. While it’s brought to light many personal stories about women’s negative experiences and struggles working in male-dominated tech firms, the movement has also presented the technology community with an opportunity to take constructive action that’s spawned many positive outcomes.

At the macro level, some of this change has come through the efforts of groups that support and spotlight women—, Girls Who Code and scores of “Women in…” organizations come to mind. These groups offer networking, mentoring, education and more to help their members build their skills, confidence and careers. They also drive awareness of women’s issues and inspire the advancement of women through coordinated PR campaigns that tell the stories of both our challenges and our successes.

At the micro level, scores of companies have adopted diversity and inclusion programs aimed at driving positive change and measurable results by tackling tough issues like gender diversity, pay gaps and harassment, to name a few. In addition, many have created employee resource groups (ERGs) to help women and other historically underrepresented groups advance their careers.

In our little corner of the world at Trading Technologies, what started as a grassroots effort with a small group of women to talk about issues they face in the workplace is becoming a corporate-sponsored initiative we’re calling TT Women in Tech. Today, on the eve of International Women’s Day, we’re officially launching our group.

Driven by a cross-department steering committee that includes women in both leadership and more junior roles, we’ve set our objectives based on a survey of the women who work at TT. Our initial goals are to:

  • Foster an inclusive environment that empowers the women of TT and recognizes their contributions.
  • Provide our female employees with an avenue for internal networking and mentoring.
  • Offer training and development programs to help TT women build key skills. Some topics flagged by our team for consideration include public speaking, assertiveness and negotiating, skills for new managers, time management and productivity/life skills.
  • Further help our female coworkers develop their networks and expertise by encouraging them to leverage professional women’s organizations. This might include sponsoring memberships or reimbursing registration fees to attend panels, workshops and other events.
  • Participate in local initiatives that promote STEM careers to young women who are still in school.

From a broader, longer-term perspective, we also want to:

  • Educate our male coworkers, from leadership down, about the specific challenges women at TT sometimes face so that everyone can be part of our effort to ensure an inclusive, progressive work environment.
  • Create a formal diversity and inclusion plan to drive more hiring of women, people of color and other traditionally underrepresented groups.

We’ll start ticking the boxes tomorrow when we team up with the Illinois Technology Association’s philanthropic arm, TechForward, to participate in a city-wide job shadow day. Several young women who are currently attending Chicago public high schools will spend the day at TT shadowing some of our female employees. While at our office, the girls will also:

  • Attend a panel featuring TT women from various departments who will discuss their journeys to TT, their roles, career advice and more.
  • Participate in informal networking over lunch with many of our employees.
  • Get a demo of our ADL® visual programming platform followed by a hands-on exercise where the girls will use the tool to develop their own trading algorithms.

Other near-term initiatives that our group has committed to include:

  • Hosting an interview prep workshop for Launch U, a Chicago-based organization focused on helping Chicago high school seniors learn about college and career opportunities
  • Sponsoring WomenHack’s upcoming recruiting event in Chicago, which is aimed at creating more inclusive and diverse workplaces.
  • Conducting an “Improv for Women” workshop at TT for our employees.

I’m excited to be part of this group. Not only do I believe the programs we’re planning will positively impact all of us at TT and enhance our personal job satisfaction, but they will give us an important competitive edge. For more on what we’re doing through TT Women in Tech, follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.