The Chartered Institute for IT is recommending that minority and gender quotas in businesses be reviewed and refreshed.

Gender and Minority Quotas be reviewedThis is to ensure that more women have to opportunity to reach executive positions.

Gillian Arnold, Chair of BCSWomen, says: “We believe that companies should be encouraged to put more thought into recruitment policies and target planning for success to ensure an equal pipeline of female talent. While we’re not advocates of quotas, not having quotas has not changed anything. We know they are a blunt instrument and can have unwanted consequences, however, they do force change.”

“We feel that could be room for some kind of quotas which focus not on the number of women on boards or executive leadership but more on the elements that will bring about lasting change for example, parental leave policies, balanced recruitment pipelines, transparent recruitment processes, educating children to appreciate and embrace diversity and ensure gender parity when it comes to pay and opportunities.”

A BCS survey shows that the top three barriers preventing women achieving executive positions are:

– Male executives recruiting in their own image
– Unconscious bias
– Returning to work after a career break

Rebecca George, Chair of BCS Public Affairs and Policy Board, adds: “As our survey results show there is a big difference between men and women’s attitudes to these issues. The disagreement about the causes of the limited numbers of senior women in technology based roles highlights why we make so little progress. Since males make up by far the greater number of those who can make a change, and given that many of them have a poor understanding of the real cause of the problem, little will change without further (external) input. It is vital that we address these perceived barriers for the sake not only of women, but for the benefits that companies get if they have a diverse workforce with women at executive level.”

Companies with more women in executive positions exhibit improved organisational and financial performance, and begin to show an increase in opportunities for women at other levels of that business, studies show.

Andrea Palmer, Treasurer of BCSWomen and writer of the submission says; “We need more positive role models to inspire and nurture the next generation and this is not going to happen whilst the senior and executive positions are filled with white men. Companies’ upper echelons must start utilising diverse talent pools and reflect the image of their customers.”

To increase the number of women in careers at CEO level, BCS is recommending several measures such as development programmes that are specifically for women to create a diverse interview panel. The idea is that this with establish a more encouraging inclusive culture at the workplace, that will therefore welcome diverse leadership styles and performance models. This will enable women in particular to progress at every level of the chosen company.

Gillian concludes: “There is so much that can be done by companies to prevent the brain drain from women who see no alternative but to leave as they don’t see an immediate future in the company. We’d like to encourage companies to ensure that they have processes in place to support parents whilst they are on maternity/paternity leave so that they see a skilled role they can return to that is compatible with the required child care and family commitments.

“In addition, when recruiting for new positions managers should be cognisant of how they write the job specification – evidence shows that women will not apply for a role if they feel they can’t do 80% of it. Simplify the specifications and only include what is really necessary. Recruiting managers need to look beyond their own likeness and insist that head-hunters look beyond their traditional male-dominated networks and widen the talent pool.”

This article is accredited to Ellie Bridger