via We Are The City : Tech leaders share their advice on closing the gender gap this IWD 2017
To mark International Women’s Day 2017 several technology leaders have shared their comments on why diversity in the workforce is so important to business.
Below they share their views, tips and advice on what industry can do to close the gender gap.
Mandi Walls, Technical Community Manager EMEA, Chef Software, said: “Greater diversity has consistently been found to lead to greater organisational performance – from a profit, market share and customer retention perspective. Embracing inclusivity makes your workplace more attractive to a wider range of people, thus expanding the potential pool of talent you have to call on. It also leads to better products and services because a more diverse team is more likely to create solutions which address the needs of a wider range of users.
“More still needs to be done to pique young people’s interest in technology from an early age, in order to promote and educate a more diverse potential workforce about an industry that has, traditionally, been dominated by men.”
Barnaby Parker, CEO of Venquis, said: “Culture is at the root of the lack of diversity. The technology industry has essentially been designed, developed and implemented by men. Even the language used in training material is rooted in masculinity and it doesn’t exactly create a welcoming environment or allow female professionals to know that technology is even an option for them.
“Too few organisations make a real, concerted effort to target female professionals effectively and create a culture where they might actually want to work.”
“We have to accept that male and female professionals generally look for different things from an employment contract, they’re attracted by different factors and can offer different skills. It therefore makes clear business sense to make an actual effort to specifically target women, rather than just carrying on doing what you’ve always done. The evidence is very clear that a diverse workforce is a strong force for good in organisations.”
Venquis recently hosted its ‘Women in Business Transformation’ breakfast, where Phil Pavitt, CIO at Specsavers, said: “The benefits of a diverse workforce are almost endless and there is significant evidence that suggests female professionals can bring broader and more considered decision-making. They may also be calmer, less likely to take dangerous risks, make more profitable decisions, be better communicators, more innovative and contribute to increased morale among work-forces. So why are so few women working in the sector? Culture. Yes, it takes effort and some investment, but improving diversity levels makes clear business sense. Rather than doing the same old thing over and over again and expecting different results, why not look to reach out to schools and get involved in personal mentoring and sponsorship.
“That way, you’re not only developing a pipeline, you’re also promoting your business. Firms should also put considerably more effort into the types of job specifications that they’re advertising. Instead of focusing only on technical skills, they should also promote attributes such as adaptability, creativity, collaboration and innovation, that are also likely to appeal to women. After all, if you told most people the minutiae of what you do, it would probably sound very boring. However, if you told them that you were part of a team that changed millions of peoples’ lives, or developed the next game-changing medical device, it would sound considerably more exciting and therefore more likely to catch the attention of someone who may not previously considered tech as a career choice. The time for talking about doing something is done, it’s time to start doing.”
Victoria Grey, CMO at Nexsan, said: “Although the gender gap is closing, there is still a lower proportion of women who opt for careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
“According to WISE only 21 per cent of these workforces are women and the male dominated nature of these industries can make it hard for women to progress.”
“Technology is one of the most forward thinking and innovative sectors and it is imperative that more women are encouraged to enter this space, bringing with them their background, creative ideas, expertise and experience so that the industry can continue to flourish.”
Encouraging more women in to STEM
Lynn Collier, COO UK&I, Hitachi Data Systems, said: “The question of how to encourage young women to study STEM subjects is nothing new, but it has never been a more prominent issue than it is today. With the recent digital strategy published on 1st March, it seems that the government has taken a step in the right direction by promising to deliver digital skills to the people who need it the most. Certainly, the impressive list of businesses who have pledged to help make this happen is promising – but this is just one step on the long road to achieving true diversity within the tech industry.
“At the core of this problem is the fact that women simply don’t have enough role models to look to in the industry right now – women to inspire them to persevere with STEM subjects and pursue a career in technology. Women in the technology industry remain atypical, not the norm. Of course, this isn’t something that can change overnight, but it is the responsibility of the government and businesses to work together to make gender diversity the standard.”
“In order to pave the way for the next generation of women in technology, we need the women who have already made it here to lead the way, to showcase the opportunities available across the industry today and bring to life the opportunities there are likely to be in the near future. There are extraordinary women already working in industry at every level and across varied job roles – a fact which should not be downplayed; but there is still a way to go. If school and university-age girls are going to pursue a career in technology, they will need inspiration, insight into the art of the possible and a network of contacts to ensure opportunities are within their field of vision and within their reach. I firmly believe that this is the next step to achieving diversity in our industry.”
Commenting on gender diversity in the tech industry on International Women’s Day, James Smith, Managing Director of Networkers Technology Recruitment, said: “As specialist recruiters within the technology industry, we see first-hand how few women choose careers in IT and telecommunications. Improving gender diversity within the tech workforce is a key part of addressing the overall digital skills deficit and so today we are supporting International Women’s Day.
“In our recent survey of over 1,600 technology professionals – the Voice of the Workforce survey – 54 per cent said they believe gender diversity is improving; however, worryingly 43 per cent are unaware of what their organisations are doing to address the lack of gender diversity in their organisation.”
With this in mind, International Women’s Day is a good opportunity for employers to showcase what they are doing to address gender diversity and equality within their organisations, and to consider next steps. In order to encourage more women to the tech sector, businesses can also consider adopting strategies such as flexible working and return to work schemes.”
Marianne Calder, VP EMEA, Puppet, SAID: “The tech sector is notoriously hard to break into for women and although there have been improvements, there is still a long way to go.Even today we only see just five percent of leadership positions in the industry held by women. This is concerning to say the least, and here at Puppet we’re focused on building opportunities for women and supporting an inclusive environment where all employees are able to thrive.
“As the VP and ME for Europe, I see it as an essential leadership responsibility to inspire future generations about the future of tech and the possibilities available to all people, regardless of their gender, race, background or preference. Having spent many years in the industry, both here and in Silicon Valley, I personally love the dynamic environment and the strive for innovation in all company functions. My advice to any young women who have an interest in the technology world is to seek out STEM activities (Science Technology Engineering and Math) and then couple this with internship to get a good sense of the industry culture. Both can be a great way to learn, progress skills and develop a path toward achieving goals. Everyone can impact positively affecting a shift in the gender gap.”