Women In Tech – Taking a Campaign to Action


IWD2021, womxnintech

When we started this campaign, we wanted to focus on creating proactive solutions for gender diversity and supporting women in technology.

When actually, the solutions we started talking about were relevant for everyone. 

We want to start by discussing what the challenges are for women in tech.  

Gender pay gaps and unequal pay, unconscious bias, sexual harassment and a lack of equal maternity paternity support. Statistics prove that women leave their careers at a much higher rate than their male colleagues. 

Now, we want to talk about the gender pay gap. 

The equal pay act came into place over 50 years ago. However, according to a recent study, this gap is still at 15%.

More recently in the UK, we’ve seen a lot of news about the gender pension pay gap, with some studies stating this is as big as 40%.

The legal requirement for gender pay gap reporting was suspended during the pandemic, and whilst we know a report is never going to fix everything, it does create accountability. 

Mothers and fathers returning to work, university graduates offered differing packages based on gender and various biases equate to gaps in salaries across the board.

So, in an attempt to break the ongoing issue, we suggest paying people for the job they are coming to the business to do, instead of basing salaries on past rates.

Role models and mentors are important for women in tech.

We need to step away from the idea that networking needs to be done in our own time and instead encourage teams to attend events or connect with people over a coffee, for instance. Encouraging people to grow their networks and join community groups.

We asked one of our recent audiences if they feel that there are enough role models for women in tech, 79% of the votes came in as a no.

But how do you set up a mentorship scheme if we’re lacking in gender diverse talent within our organisations?

You can either look at setting up schemes with male leaders or you can partner with external communities or partner with other organisations.

The key is to remain logical; it will be a process of trial and error. After all, it’s better to start something than not start it at all.

Female and family-focused benefits can have a positive impact on attracting women to businesses, but they can also aid overall retention.

Whilst we are talking about inclusive benefits, we can’t skip the topic of flexible working. 

We all know that the pandemic has changed how we work, and many businesses have seen just how effective flexible and remote working can be.  

Flexible working policies allow employees to work wherever and whenever they want – whether that’s sometimes in the office, sometimes from a coffee shop and sometimes from home. They enable people to optimise their productivity and bring their best selves to work.

Flexible working benefits everyone. Giving people the freedom and trust to work wherever and however they want will absolutely help your business to retain the best talent – this includes women.  
At Orbis, we are completely embracing this policy. Our flexible working policy allows people to work how, when and where they want – we won’t just be encouraging people to choose their location for work, but we’ll also be encouraging them to choose the hours that best suit them too.  

Let’s move on to promotions and career progression.  

Imposter Syndrome isn’t just a buzzword, it’s real. We use it to describe the perception of not being as competent at something as others think.

It’s self-doubt of your own skills and you have a constant internal fear that you’re going to be outed as a fraud.

If people are suffering from Imposter Syndrome, it’s unlikely they’ll put themselves forward for promotion. So, to help with this, it’s beneficial to set up clear and transparent promotional criteria. 

However, you want to avoid putting people in boxes and creating checklists. For promotions, review people on their performance, but also look at their behaviours and overall contribution to the business.

This ensures the right people are rewarded, not just those that shout the loudest.  

Employers can get hung up on experience. Unconscious bias comes into play and they favour people who have been to X university or have worked at X company or believe they should be worthy of a large disproportionate salary.

As a consequence of thinking like this, you automatically dismiss people from different backgrounds. 

People with a growth mindset have a love for learning. This will not only make sure you’re creating a diverse team, but your business will stay ahead of the competition too.  

Let’s look at the bigger picture. Women are leaving the tech industry and businesses are struggling to retain them.

In America 35-40% of computer science graduates are now women, which shows things are beginning to move in the right direction. However, businesses are still struggling to retain women.  

This same study from Accenture and Girls Who Code states that half of the young women entering tech jobs will leave tech before the age of 35, primarily due to non-inclusive company cultures.  

Creating an inclusive environment and flexible working policies might offer some productive solutions, but to build an effective strategy, look at employee engagement and exit interviews.

Listen to your people but listen harder to the females slipping out the back door. Dig into the issues and analyse the data. Continue to measure this feedback and see if new initiatives are having the desired positive effect on your retention levels.

Of course, businesses can have all sorts of initiatives in place to tackle diversity, but we believe that it’s all pointless if you don’t create an inclusive environment.  
Recently we interviewed
John Furno at General Assembly as part of our Inclusion Interviews blog series. We spoke about the importance of people feeling valued and listened to.

He believes this encourages his colleagues at GA to bring ideas to the table and feel valued for the positive impact they’re creating.  
This will have a positive impact on retention, especially for talent from underrepresented groups that may not always feel that they can speak up.   

Want to join the discussion? Join us at our next community event, Connecting Women in Tech. We’d love to see you there and hear your thoughts. Everyone’s welcome here.