BCS suggest Gender and Minority Quotas be Reviewed in Businesses

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

Female Entrepreneur in meeting

Young people still see IT sector as industry for men


The IT sector is still very much seen as an industry better suited for men according to new research from O2 revealing the attitudes among young people. Female Entrepreneur in meeting - IT sector

A study of 2,000 young people aged four to 18, by the communications provider, revealed that industry stereotypes are still very much alive.

47% of respondents aged between 11 and 18 said the tech sector is more suited for men. Only 4% thought that women were better suited to tech jobs. Half of children aged four to 10 believe men are better suited to engineer roles.

Just under as third of those surveyed said men make better scientists. 10% said women were better suited than men for the role of scientist. In addition more than a quarter of said the role of UK prime minister was better taken by a man.

The research found that parents plays a significant role in how children perceive careers, with 84% admitting to asking their parents for career advice. 73% of those surveyed said they would like to hear from businesses about jobs in local industry sector. More than half said they have not heard from local businesses in the past year.

“It is worrying to see just how deeply ingrained gender stereotypes still are, with many young people still impacted by the archaic ideals that may have held back their parents or grandparents from rewarding roles.”

Ann Pickering, O2’s HR director and a female board member of the company, said: “It is worrying to see just how deeply ingrained gender stereotypes still are, with many young people still impacted by the archaic ideals that may have held back their parents or grandparents from rewarding roles.”

Pickering drew attention to the fact that more than half of the four to 10 year old boys surveyed thought girls were more suited to jobs such as hairdressing, nursing and being a nanny.

O2 recently partnered with charity Speakers for Schools, which works to give UK children access to talks given by industry leaders. Robert Peston, founder of Speakers for Schools, said: “These are shocking findings. It is vital that gender should have no bearing on what our young people choose to do in life.”


Sarah Thomas of Accenture takes the "wild card" job in tech and it pays off

Sarah Accenture Image featuredSarah Thomas always knew she wanted to work in medicine and science but after taking a “wild card” job application at Accenture she found herself in a position to take advantage of the transferable skills STEM (science, technology. engineering and maths) had to offer.

Now Managing Director, Marketing and Communications, Accenture Operations, at IT giant Accenture her career has taken her from technology to medicine and back.

She said it was the science side of medicine that first interested her at a young age: “My career wasn’t planned from an early age, but I knew I wanted to go into medicine and science and decided on pathology. I knew I didn’t want to be a doctor, so I decided to go down the science route as I had a fascination with viral diseases specifically HIV.

“It was a wild card job application at the time when I went into consulting at Accenture. That’s where I learnt about coding and programming, at Anderson Consulting, which later became Accenture.”

After a few years at Accenture ,Thomas said science was still calling her: “I went back to science and to Vienna to do my doctorate, and I worked on HIV and gene therapies at Novartis. I have always been fascinated by the way viruses evolve and the devastating impact they have on the human body.”

She later came back to London to take her Postdoctural Research Fellow specialising in cancer research at Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research and then worked at the Medical Research Council.

“Then I was looking for something with a bit more of a dynamic environment and I had experience of the business world, so I ended up back at Accenture,” she added. “Networking was a big point there, as I had stayed in touch with past colleagues who let me know about available opportunities.”

Thomas said the bonus of working in STEM is that “you’re not judged in science for your gender. All that matters is that you’re an expert in your field. I haven’t found it a challenge being a woman in technology or sicence, as I’ve had some strong advocates and mentors in my career along the way.”

Accenture’s women’s network is called Accent on Gender which offers support for its female community. Accenture’s diversity agenda also features a Women’s Mentoring and Maternity Programme, a Connecting Women in Technology (CWIT) programme and International Women’s Day events.

Accenture has been working hard on increasing the amount of females in senior positions at the company, with a record 723 new managing directors and senior managing directors as of December 2015. Women now account for more than 28% of new managing directors and senior managing directors, a figure that is up from 21% in 2014.

There are now more than 130,000 women at Accenture, with the firm having pledged to grow the percentage of its new women hires by 40% worldwide by 2017.

Last year 39% of Accenture’s 100,00 new hires worldwide were women.

Thomas said it is not just the women at Accenture that are in support of diversity: “There are a lot of male champions at Accenture. Having male and female mentors is great, if you can secure them, as males will always tell me how it is whether I want to hear it or not. For example, if you’re over thinking something or you are not ready for a promotion.

“You need someone who has your back and who has your best interest at heart, but will tell it to you straight too. You need both strong women and men as support as both have different tactics.”

She has also on the board of not-for-profit Dress for Success and believes that you do not have to “box yourself in” when it comes to defining your role or career.

“You have to go out and grab what’s available to you. If opportunities are there and you think you have strengths that would be suited on a particular project then you should get involved, whether it’s on your own team or across the company,” said Thomas.

She advised making a plan: “I take time to map a ‘relationships map’, which is where I make a line graph to detail people you want to meet or get to know better. I don’t immediately call them all up, but I try to make a point to sit next to them at a dinner or event or I get involved in a project that I know that person will be working on. If you make a map then it’s more front of mind.”

TeenTech holds event to inspire next generation of scientists, technologists and engineers

Over 500 year 8 and year 9 students descended on London’s Olympic Park for the TeenTech City event this week.TeenTech week

200 scientists, technologists and engineers gathered to showcase the rich and fulfilling careers available in science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem).

Challenges were set for the students by organisations such as Barclays, BBC, Cisco, National Grid, Atkins, JVC and Samsung.

Speaking at the event, founder of TeenTech, Maggie Philbin said: “There’s a huge amount of young talent all over the UK, and yet a generation still sits in the classroom convinced subjects like maths and physics are irrelevant. TeenTech City captures the imagination of those who at one time would have dismissed a career in science – allowing them to walk away with a real understanding of how they can make a difference to the world of tomorrow.

“We owe a huge amount to the brilliant companies and universities who came together to make today an outstanding catalyst – helping students see how creative and exciting this contemporary industry can be."

Mark Boleat, policy chairman of the City of London Corporation, sponsors of the TeenTech City Event, said: “The capital is really leading the way when it comes to digital innovation, and in particular, financial technology. There are currently more FinTech employees in London and the southeast than the whole of California.

“To maintain our global position as the leading financial centre, it is vital to develop and maintain a high-skilled workforce. Events like this really help educate young people about careers in the technology and science sectors and hopefully inspire them to become the innovators of tomorrow.”

Ms Feione Cooper Art & Design Teacher at The Urswick School said: “Our school first participated in TeenTech in 2011 and ever since we have never looked back. STEM workshops are an opportunity to push the boundaries and create new initiatives in an explorative and exciting way – and the students leave thinking of different ways they can execute ideas collectively.”

The students were surveyed when they arrived at the event, with 57% saying they would consider a career in engineering. At the end of the event this figure had rose to 71%. Only seven per cent said they were considering an apprenticeship after school.

What does the IT industry look like for women in the US?

It’s no secret that the technology sector is male dominated, but there are some areas of the industry that need more work than others to increase diversity.

SurePayroll and design agency Ghergich teamed up to create the infographic below, which reveals gender biases, job placements, job satisfaction, college degrees, and more. It also looks at the benefits of technology companies hiring more women in tech positions.

The graphic delves into the world of women in technology in the US, by looking at the decline in tech positions held by women, the challenges women in the industry face and how organisations can help women make more of an impact in the tech sector.

In the UK women currently make up 17% of the IT industry, a figure which has been decreasing steadily overtime. See below for an overview of that the IT sector looks like for women working the industry in the US.

Companies need to widen the net on STEM talent to attract more females

shield-1020318_640Companies need to widen the net on Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) talent if there are a lack of female Computer Science graduates coming through the pipeline, according to Christine Flounders, London R&D Manager at Bloomberg Technology Labs.

Speaking to WeAreTheCity during the WISE Conference 2015 at The Mermaid in Blackfriars last week, Flounders said: “Businesses need to figure out how to widen the net on talent in Stem. In the US you can change your mind about your studies and be hybrid. I didn’t know what I wanted to do at first and it’s not until university where you find out what you want to do and what your course actually means.”

Flounders said Bloomberg launched an enhanced bootcamp course for new employees that are not from a computer science background: “We have set up a bootcamp for new recruits to get up to date on Bloomberg and we have created an enhanced bootcamp for those who are not from a computer science background. When we go to universities, to recruit, we bring women with us.”

She studied Computer Science in New York and started at Bloomberg after graduation: “I came to London to build the London team. We’ve grown to 550 employees in 13 years with 70 different products.

“Two years ago we were at about 330 staff and I was expecting us to have employed more women by that point. I was in a position where I could do something about it and it was clear what the aspect of diversity could do for us. We had a good mix of people, but most of them were men.”

Flounders noted that a lack of women in front-end developer roles can put a company at a disadvantage when designing products: “The business case for diversity was not quite realised until about a year ago – it’s about making better products and being more competitive.

“The amount of decisions developers make are humongous, so ownership and decision making are key skills. We also have a lot of R&D initiated products so if there aren’t enough women in those roles that creates issues too.”

Fiona Shepherd

Why we should recognise gender bias progress before setting new UK boardroom targets


Fiona Shepherd, CEO of April-Six, shares why we need to recognise the tech sector’s progress on gender bias within UK boardrooms before we set new targets for success.

Outside the entrance to Swansea station there is a quote from Dylan Thomas that simply reads – ‘Ambition Is Critical’. I couldn’t agree more. A constant sense of ambition is what drives so many of us to succeed. For me, it’s been central to everything I have done during my time in the technology sector.

Fiona Shepherd, CEO of April-Six, CompTIABut what about recognition for what we have already achieved? Is it OK to keep pushing for more without a nod to the progress we have made? This week’s figures from the Davies Report into ‘Women on Boards’ have shown that almost 25 percent of all executives in the boardrooms of the FTSE 100 are now female. It’s immediately led to claims that this doesn’t achieve the targets set out by Lord Davies when he began his review; and a series of calls to make this more than 30 percent or consider it a failure of British business.

I agree that balance is required and a more even ratio should always be the target. But I can’t help sense that we’re looking at these numbers in a vacuum, and when you consider them in a broader context, we seem to have missed a real opportunity to recognise how far we have come and celebrate change.

Take the technology sector for example – the sector where I have always focussed my time. A report earlier this year from Ernst and Young showed that when you break down the number of female board members in the FTSE 100 by sector, technology shows that female board level representation is at 24%. A similar report covering the top US 100 technology companies from the Korn/Ferry Institute, an American recruitment research specialist, showed female representation at 14%. This is a huge gap – far bigger than you would expect given the comparative sizes of our economies and technology sectors.

In reality, technology leadership in the UK is booming for women. If we start to pull apart the sector we can see the considerable impact women are now having on the progress of technology in this country. At the Government level key strategic roles are now held by female leaders including Sarah Wilkinson at the Home Office, Baronesses Martha Lane Fox, Pauline Neville Jones and Joanna Shields. These people are defining the pathway for how UK society will experience technology in the coming decades. Within industry, key positions of authority are held by Trudy Norris-Grey, GM at Microsoft; Jane Moran, CIO at Unilever; Susan Cooklin CIO at Network Rail; and Catherine Doran, CIO at Royal Mail to name but a few. And of course we can identify a considerable female entrepreneurial base in the innovation space, including Maggie Philbin, Sherry Coutu, and Dame Wendy Hall.

We have achieved some extraordinary changes in the UK when it comes to the balance of power in the technology sector. The gender bias so often associated with technology is starting to fall back. I agree entirely that we have to strive to do more and ensure that we are making the most of the fantastic cadre of female leaders in the space today but pushing forwards. But whilst we must be ambitious; let’s also recognise how far we have come. Ambition is critical; recognition is vital.

Fiona Shepherd is the CEO of April Six, a global technology marketing agency and sits on the board of the AIM-listed Mission Marketing Group. She has worked in the technology sector for more than 25 years and now leads a global team supporting the B2B marketing needs of some of the world’s largest technology brands.

Cat O'Brien

Women in tech: Work pressures, working flexibly and awareness of social media


Cat O’Brien, Editorial & Social Media Manager at TickX shares her experiences of working in the tech sector.

I guess I’ve always been pretty tech savvy, even as a kid I was into gadgets. I think most millennials are into learning about new technology. From the days where Tamigotchis and Nintendos were the games of choice and Nokia the phones, technology has been laced in our blood since birth. There’s always something newer, faster, smarter. Now kids are playing with Apple technology and the Internet and it’s simply too big and prevalent in society to try and hide it. Kids are too smart.

Cat O'BrianTechnology and social media, like most things, can be used for good and bad. Being totally saturated by the media on our personal devices means we become addicted to finding out new things. The start-up I work for now is very fast-paced which mirrors the culture of today’s hi-tech environment. Because we’re small, we have to learn things quickly and really work around the clock to get results. I think if I was working for a different type of start-up I might resent this, but because we’re all passionate about the app and enjoy the work we do, it doesn’t feel too tasking. You pick stuff up or you let people down and that is an incentive to stay on your toes and continuously learn. You’re speaking with different people everyday, senior management in the entertainment industry, partners, students, press, tech guys, sales guys – it’s a constant flow of information. In this immersive environment it is difficult to pass judgement on people, treat people unequally and create stigmas. Everyone is constantly busy and focused, you don’t have time for inequality: you just have to get stuff done.

At university I studied English with Creative Writing and throughout my course constantly worried about what career I might pursue. I wanted to incorporate the two things I love: writing and art. I had to tailor these skills towards technology and business. I guess you could say that is one benefit of doing a course that is not too specified – it’s easier to apply it. My course at university was predominantly female, as most arts courses are. Similarly, in the world of tech the female to male ratio is very unbalanced. This does cause a stir in offices and for young women who are unaware of the issue of glass ceilings when joining a big corporation it can inhibit innovation and openness. It’s a myth in many people’s eyes, but in certain establishments it is very current. This is where the unfortunately negative association with the word ‘feminist’ comes into play. It means nothing more than the pursuit of equality in all walks of life for women and men. However, if a woman speaks of these things online or in the office it’s often thwarted as feminine propaganda and is not taken seriously.

There are more and more companies signing up for schemes and corporate memberships to tackle this, because their culture does not know how too. Women on Boards was used at my last company, with the aim to put a spotlight on women to join exec or non-exec boards, thus increasing their employability and leadership skills. Their sessions were really thought provoking and encouraging, but one thing that wasn’t encouraging was the lack of men in attendance. What was even less encouraging was the lack of women. Its title being selectively for women had put off their key audience, who saw it as negatively, feminist and elitist.

The nature of the company I work for now is collaborative, trusting and open. We help each other and ask for feedback when possible. In a way, we mentor one another, without patronising our fields of interest or expertise. We are all ready to try new things and work together to find a solution. We are based all over the UK but stay in contact over email, Facebook, Whatsapp, calls and text.

I think there are some really important things to understand when pursuing a career in technology. The standout for me is social media. If you harness it correctly, you can really boost your online profile and help potential employers find you for the perfect role. You have to have a good LinkedIn profile, updated picture and engaging summary about yourself. Get the app on your phone too. So you can reply instantly to messages. And if you’re looking to become a thought leader in your career, creating conversations is key to showcasing your knowledge. For our social strategy we use three main platforms: Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. For a start-up with a good community and network of followers, knowing these platforms and understanding each individually well is essential. It’s the same for self-promotion. Even if you’re not looking to move on to a new role, having a good ‘online persona’ will work wonders with your employer and potential future recruiters.

Making, not breaking, the new girl code: Young women get the job done with inventive mobile applications

Bita Milanian, Senior Vice President Marketing Communications at GENBAND, shares why she is in support of non-profit DIY Girls, which encourages young girls to code.

Who says girls can't code? I say, let's lose the saying "throw like a girl" and replace it with "code like a girl."

One of the coolest, technology-focused non-profits I've come across recently is the DIY "Do-It-Yourself” Girls. This organisation's mission is to "increase girls’ interest and success in technology, engineering and making through innovative educational experiences and mentor relationships."DIY girls 1

This is a really great initiative. Women in technology are still outnumbered by men, even though we have so many amazing women driving software, mobile, and computing companies. Additionally, salaries for women vs. men in the technology field continue to fall way behind as they do in many industries, however one holds out hope that in the most modern fields there would be more natural equality.

Not only do the girls and young women in the DIY Girls world work on coding and software, they also work in the areas of hardware and emerging fields of 3D printing and interactive textiles using conductive ink technologies.

Since starting up in 2012 in Los Angeles, DIY Girls has:

  • Served nearly 400 girls through programs and workshops
  • Taken 103 5th grade girls through afterschool programs
  • Welcomed over 1,000 women to its Meetup group
  • Won Startup Weekend Edu in LA

Their "Fifth Grade" program was sponsored this year by the California Endowment with a special project asking the girls to design and build interactive games and exhibits that address community health issues. If you want to be truly inspired today, check out their blog on the results.DIY girls 2

My personal favorite from the many creative ideas the girls came up with is "Wheelchair 2.0." Wheelchair 2.0 gives people who can't walk a comfortable, fun and fashionable way to get around. This wheelchair features massage capabilities, a fan and storage. It is fashionable and even lights up when you are traveling at night, and above all makes you feel special, which is important for a person who has lost their ability to walk.

You can support DIYGirls through donations, volunteering, and programs and, for the grown up girls among us, you can join their MeetUp group if you happen to be in the LA area.

I look forward to personally meeting and mentoring DIYGirls and have signed up to spend three hours volunteering at a workshop since I'm an LA resident, and am looking forward to learning at least as much as I can teach - these girls sound amazing!

Rackspace tech lawyer speaks of invaluable mentors and risk taking

Technology lawyer Tiffany Lathe, VP & General Counsel International of cloud services provider Rackspace, says she owes her career to her mentors.

Lathe is a seasoned legal advisor and General Counsel with experience in guiding both public and private companies worldwide.Tiffany_APPROVED

Speaking to WeAreTheCity recently she explained how she was unsure of which direction to take after studying History and the History of Art at the University of York, when a mentor opened her eyes to the world of law.

“At the time I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do. When I was working in several sales and marketing roles I had a mentor that was a contract lawyer and he encouraged me to consider a career in law. I later decided to go to the College of Law in Birmingham to take my LPC Distinction,” she said.

After Lathe graduated she joined her first law firm where she met another mentor who inspired her to move into technology: “When I got to the firm I met an amazing partner who blew me away. He was so good at what he did and encouraged me to get involved in more training. He really inspired me in intellectual property and IT.

“The firm law firm I joined was very forward thinking in diversity. I had a six month old daughter then and they took me on and retrained me. I moved into the tech team at this company and never looked back.”

Lathe said having mentors throughout her career has helped her to get to where she is today: “My mentors probably don’t realise how much they’ve done for me and for women in IT in general.

“Careers advice from someone you trust and who knows what you’re good at is invaluable. Ultimately you have to still have the drive yourself.”

Lathe now makes a point of mentoring women inside and outside of Rackspace, because she realises the benefits that this guidance can have.

Lathe said enjoys her job as a tech lawyer because it is so varied: “In tech law you don’t just have to know law such as IP law, but you need to know how to write a good contract.

“If you find a job you love you never have to work another day in your life – this was suddenly true for me and now I feel like I get paid to do my hobby.”

She later made a move to Rackspace and made her way up through the ranks. Lathe was later offered a role as Vice president legal and HR, which she said was a challenge but a risk she is pleased to have taken.

“I took over the HR department which was a real challenge. I took a risk trying HR but I ended up really loving it, so I’m please I stretch myself at that point. I was then asked onto the leadership team. I was the first woman on this team and I felt like things were really moving forward,” she added.

Lathe is now encouraging her own 13 year old to learn skills in technology, such as coding, as she sees the value of understanding IT.