Quick-Fire Chats with Booking.com: Making the Tech World More Female-Friendly

The technology sector has not been famous for promoting a diverse, unbiased work space, but with with brave women like Sheryl Sandberg, Ellen Pao and Tracy Chou deciding to step in and share the brutal truth behind Silicon Valley, a change in mindset has started to happen across the industry.

For Oana Iordachescu, Technology Recruitment Team Lead at Booking.com, driving diversity and inclusion in the tech space is an ongoing challenge that starts with education and continues with ongoing support both inside and outside the workplace. She joined us to talk about troubleshooting the gender gap in tech recruitment at the London In-house Recruitment Conference on 21 March. But before that, we found out a bit more about the work she does for women in tech.

Oana was born in Romania and has worked in technology recruitment for international organisations for 10 years. Her passion for gender diversity in tech started three years ago, while working as a senior technology recruiter for Facebook in Dublin. She introduced a diversity champions programme, encouraging her staff to speak at events for women in tech to raise awareness of unconscious bias in workplace.

Three years later, as part of the Booking.com team, Oana continues to explore new ways to encourage more women to join the tech space, using data to determine the best sourcing strategies and working with her team to promote a non-biased assessment of candidates.

“Promoting diversity and inclusion at Booking.com started off as an informal, ad-hoc effort, and has now expanded into an inter-departmental collaboration,” Oana explains.

This year, the travel booking giant will launch the Technology Playmaker Awards to celebrate women who have disrupted businesses, industries, and communities through the use of technology. “We hope these women will become a source of inspiration for future generations who are looking to embrace the opportunities the world of technology can offer,” Oana says.

Last summer, Oana and her team have also organised an all-women hackathon that saw 40 tech developers from 20 countries join the Booking,com offices in Amsterdam for three days, to create a digital product to help travellers find the perfect place to stay. Following the hackathon, Booking.com also went on to recruit some of the successful participants.

Meet some of the female techies that help make Booking.com the world’s largest accommodation site:

Oana is determined to encourage more of her female staff to speak up. “We’re encouraging all women with a go-to personality to talk not just about their experience as women in the industry, but about the industry itself, its trends and best practices.”

“This initiative has quickly snowballed, with more and more women from our team choosing to be in the limelight, which is fantastic. Last year they spoke at the Ada Lovelace Festival in Berlin and the European Women in Technology Conference in Amsterdam. Booking also supported a Women in Tech Mentoring lounge at Websummit in Lisbon.

“If you look back three or four years, the conversation about women in tech was not even open in the EU yet. We’re still a long way to go, and need more mentoring programmes, but the results are starting to show.

At the London In-house Recruitment Conference, Oana shared some of Booking.com’s tried and tested methods of hiring diversely, including some empowering tips on how to address the lack of diversity with managers and get their buy-in.

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