bias corporates, International Women's Day, #breakthebias

By Jody Robie, SVP of North America, Talent Works

Although there’s been a focus on attracting women to tech roles, according to our new research, the working environments in many organisations are toxic and women aren’t confident that enough is being done to support them.

Did you know that 77% of women have experienced a toxic work culture in the tech industry within the last five years? Our study, which surveyed women in technology on their experiences on recruitment and employment in the UK, found that 21% cited it to be a frequent experience in their career.

Tackling diversity issues should be top on the agenda for tech companies all year round, not just on International Women’s Day or during Women’s History Month. With this in mind, this article will look at three ways tech businesses can show their commitment to calling out bias, unravelling stereotypes and fixing inequality in the technology working landscape.

Fix the gender pay gap to make women feel more supported

According to the Office of National Statistics, in 2021, more women than men in the UK were furloughed with a loss of pay. Beyond this, the gender pay gap reported to the government by Britain’s biggest firms is widening, according to analysis by The Guardian.

Three years after a new law compelled companies to reveal the difference between male and female wages, data shows that eight out of 10 organisations with more than 250 staff still have a gender pay gap. The most recent set of government data shows women are being paid a median hourly rate 10.2% less than their male colleagues.

It’s not just mid to large enterprises with the problem. According to Sifted, in 2021, more than half of UK scaleups had a gender pay gap worse than the national average in 2020. Twelve out of 20 reporting companies fell below the average UK pay gap of 15.5% for full and part-time employees — meaning women are paid 84.5p for every £1 men earn — some significantly.

There are many starting points to solving the gender pay gap, and thankfully many of them are simple. Companies need to be transparent about salaries, and need to commit to paying women equally. Training and advancement opportunities also need to be made intentionally equal, and companies need to be looking to promote women actively at the same rate as men.

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Ensuring women are in tech leadership roles

It’s important to look at the gender pay gap critically however. In the UK, it is illegal to pay women less for the same job. The gender pay gap points to the amount of women (or lack thereof) in senior and higher-paid positions.

In our survey, seeing a positive and recognisable example of inclusion at a prospective company was important for 65% of respondents, while 73% said they would be more likely to join a tech firm that had female leadership.

Supporting women in technology needs to be an ongoing and intentional effort. It needs to start at the top, and include a clear commitment to ensure women’s success consistently at all levels of your organisation.

Companies may be getting better at recruiting female talent, but there is still quite a bit of work to do to ensure the employee experience and road to success is an equal commitment.

The application process also has a considerable impact on whether women in technology apply for a role, with 65% of respondents being confident that they can spot a toxic work environment during the application process. 52% of women also feel that companies create gendered job adverts (for example, using masculine and feminine words).

Create and promote a healthy working culture for women

On top of the toxic working environment findings from our survey, a fifth of respondents stated that little or no progress has been made over the past five years to attract women into tech.

Companies all need to do their part in actively encouraging women into the tech sector and creating conditions for them to thrive. This is critical, especially against the context of the UK skills shortage, where we need that talent in the tech industry.

If a female comes into an organisation that is 90% male and that office environment doesn’t make her feel included, chances are she’ll take a job elsewhere, where she feels more welcome and comfortable.

It all starts with differentiating through hiring strategies that support diversity and inclusion. We need to be creating job descriptions that appeal to females. In our experience, female candidates often won’t apply unless they feel they meet 90-100% of the criteria, whereas studies have shown that male candidates may not be so concerned and may apply regardless. Companies should be working to ensure their criteria isn’t alienating women.

Creating core values that are reflective of diversity and which are continually communicated to existing employees will encourage unity within the business. It will also ensure that the candidates entering your organisation are the best fit for your culture.

Jody RobieAbout the author

Jody Robie has been running disruptive recruitment provider Talent Works in North America for eight years. Talent Works offers an intelligent and agile approach to hiring talent through flexible Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO).

Jody is helping scaling companies to source great talent and build standout employer brands. She is dedicated to changing the recruitment conversation, challenging conventional thinking and propelling organizations to new heights in the race to deliver the best talent. She helps clients leverage Talent Works’ team of brand and insight specialists, creative marketers and global recruiters to help companies source the talent they need to scale.

Meet our 100 incredible leaders breaking the bias & calling for societal change this International Women’s Day

As part of our #WeAreBreakingTheBias campaign, we will be sharing the thoughts of over 100 leaders who are calling for societal change for women. We hope you will join us so we can amplify why we should all #BreakTheBias for gender equity.