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office space HP dual monitors printer scanner
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football grass apogee Witham united football club
Apogee continues community investment with Witham United sponsorship
18 April 2023

Mirroring the customer: women in technology

Laura Bradley-Carter at Apogee Corporation explains why employee diversity should reflect that of end users.

 

This year’s International Women’s Day may have come and gone, but the gender gap within the tech sector continues to hold women back every day.

According to a Tech Nation survey of UK technology companies, only 23% of tech director roles are fulfilled by women, pointing to a significant gender imbalance at the highest levels of the industry. Reflecting the lack of female role models in the C-suite, women currently make up less than a fifth (19%) of the tech sector workforce.

This level of underrepresentation needs to be addressed – and not just because it denies women the opportunity to pursue careers in the field. The end-users of technology come from all genders and walks of life, and they are increasingly demanding products and services that reflect their specific preferences and needs.

By failing to mirror the diversity of its users, the tech industry risks alienating a large proportion of its customer base, as the technology provided may be solely designed by men, for men.

Businesses in the technology sector must now take steps towards creating a level playing field, where every individual has an equal opportunity to succeed and reach their full potential.

They can do this by ensuring fair and transparent procedures, supporting female progression into leadership roles, and involving women in designing, developing, and selling tech products.

 

Promoting inclusiveness

To attract a workforce that represents the full spectrum of end-users, tech companies should firmly embed diversity into their recruitment procedures.

This needs to go beyond using gender-neutral language in job adverts – which companies should already be doing as standard practice – and instead ensure a wider, more positive, and inclusive approach is woven throughout the recruitment process and into the full employee lifecycle.

Hiring more women into senior-level roles is a great place to start. Having visible female leaders not only helps bring fresh experiences and perspectives to the boardroom table, but also forges a clearer path for women and girls wanting to make their mark in the industry.

You can’t be what you can’t see – and a new generation of female tech talent will be looking to see their career paths in a company before they sign a contract.

Organisations must also make sure that all compensation and promotion procedures are fair and transparent. Across the UK tech sector, men’s mean hourly pay is 16% higher than that of women, putting the industry well above the national average of 11.6%.

This gender pay gap has been decades in the making and will not be easily solved. But every organisation can take steps to chip away at it, such as by keeping salary ranges tight and transparent, which helps to drive equitable pay for all workers.

Businesses should also create a culture of accountability in the workplace, with hiring managers taking ownership of their company’s diversity and inclusion efforts.

Shaping tomorrow’s leaders

Tech businesses can accelerate female career progression by empowering women to build on their expertise and skills. For young women taking their first steps in the industry, internships often provide invaluable access to knowledge, networks, and on-the-job training.

These programmes also help organisations to tap into a deeper and wider talent pool, reflecting the diverse make-up of society.

From prospective new recruits to long-standing employees, all women can be elevated in tech if companies deliver the right support and skills development. For example, some businesses offer compensation packages to help fund their employees’ higher education courses, while others have partnerships with local colleges or universities.

This enables female employees to diversify and hone their knowledge and skills whilst fulfilling their job role, helping them build the confidence to step into leadership roles should they wish.

The importance of role models

Role models can be a key influence on anyone’s career, but they are particularly valuable for women in tech. Hearing the experiences of other women who have trodden your path and navigated a male-dominated field can be transformational.

A strong mentor will offer empathetic and non-judgemental advice, helping women to take ownership of their personal and professional development.

As such, organisations should provide opportunities for women in senior roles to act as mentors to less experienced employees, helping them to build the confidence to put themselves forward for roles they might not have otherwise pursued. In turn, recruiting more women at every level of the industry ensures a healthier pipeline of female mentors for a new generation of diverse tech talent.

Continuing the conversation

Despite some progress being made, levels of sexism and misogyny in some areas of the tech sector remain unacceptably high. While International Women’s Day is an important initiative for bringing these challenging conversations to the table, the scale of the issue proves that these conversations need to be happening every day of the year.

This is why tech companies play a crucial role in empowering their female employees to speak out and challenge the status quo.

Ultimately, everyone benefits when women succeed in the tech sector. Not only does it widen the talent pool, but having a more diverse mix of talent reflects the diversity of end-users, who are the ones buying the services and products.

Involving women in the design, development, and sale of technology is just the first step – organisations must then implement a range of strategies to ensure women are more prominently represented in all dimensions of the tech industry.

- Laura Bradley-Carter, Director of Growth & Retentions, Apogee Corporation

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