£70,000. That’s the turnover premium for a director who sits on a diverse board in the technology sector. Combine this with the fact that diverse boards attract 453 per cent higher investment and the case for ensuring diversity is not only strong, but vital for success.
So why are we still grappling with serious inequality in the tech sector?
Indeed, according to a report by Tech Nation, only 22 per cent of tech directors are women and an incredibly low 19 per cent of overall tech workers are women. Compare this with the fact that the overall UK workforce is 49 per cent female and the issue is clear.
With the phenomenal growth that the tech sector has seen over the past two years, the need for the sector to plug skills gaps and strengthen its offerings is great. The UK’s booming technology sector now accounts for one in eight vacancies that are live – that’s 13 per cent of the job market. Without diversity and inclusion in technology, the innovation potential of the sector will ultimately be stunted.
How can the technology industry work harder to welcome more women into the sector in 2022 and beyond?
Make change from the start
Diversity and inclusion efforts in technology – and all other sectors – must start from the beginning of the recruitment process. Research has shown that when businesses use male-coded language in posts for vacancies (think ‘tech guru’ or ‘strong leader’) women are deterred from applying. Businesses would do well to ensure that job descriptions and application forms focus on using neutral language to ensure there is less chance of implicit bias.
Additionally, interview processes must also be as bias-free as possible. From standardising questions to implementing skills-based assessments, it’s crucial that all applicants have the same opportunities to showcase their knowledge, skills, and abilities.
Advocate for and give access to upskilling opportunities
The pandemic has created huge turbulence in the workplace, especially for women. From taking on a greater share of home schooling to being a larger proportion of workers in the sectors that were hit hardest by the pandemic, it’s been an incredibly difficult two years. By the end of February 2021, 2,337,900 women had been furloughed in comparison to 2,144,700 men.
Even without the pandemic at play, women are more likely to see the gap between their career growth and their male counterparts begin to slowly widen because of career gaps, such as taking time out to have children. Research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies highlights the severity of the issue:
The arrival of children is a crucial moment in the evolution of gender differences in careers over the life cycle. Women’s employment rates jump sharply down from about 90 per cent to 75 per cent, and average weekly hours of work for those still in paid work fall from around 40 to less than 30. This also marks the start of a long period over which women’s hourly wages stagnate – partly because working fewer hours tends to shut down wage progression – and hence is key to understanding the gender wage gap.
Career gaps of any kind, especially in the technology sector, can make re-entering the workforce a challenge. Where employers can help to not only encourage individuals to come back to work, but ensure that any spaces are filled in efficiently, reducing issues such as the gender pay gap, it’s vital that investment is placed in upskilling and training.
You can’t be what you can’t see
Role models are crucial in any line of work. They help junior members of the team to seek ambition in their work and look up to someone who they can connect with on a personal level. According to a PwC study, 80 per cent of people cannot name a famous female role model in STEM, but two thirds can name a male.
Representation is key in enabling, supporting, and encouraging younger generations to fulfil their ambitions. Our gender biases, especially when it comes to employment, start as young as age five. If we don’t have strong women at the top of our technology industries, how can we expect other young girls to reach for the stars and desire to become the next CEO of a technology firm?
Bettering diversity and inclusion in technology needs to be a core focus for teams up and down the country over the next year and beyond. The pandemic has halted, and in some cases reversed, any progress that was being made – it’s time to ramp efforts back up again and make vital change happen.
If you are looking to find technology-based jobs in the South West or need help refining your vacancies, please talk to myself or another of our brilliant team members who will be more than happy to help.