Lucy Heron, People & Talent Manager at OnePlan looks at how to create a more inclusive workspace for working mums in the tech industry.

It’s estimated that about three million people are employed in the tech industry in the UK, and of these three million, women constitute just over a quarter, at 26.7%. While this figure is rising year on year, there are ways to help bring more parity to the industry more swiftly, and an industry as innovative as the tech one should be at the forefront of those efforts.

Why has the tech industry not been welcoming to mums?

Why have women have historically found it difficult to align their family commitments with their career aspirations? I have worked in tech HR for 10 years now, and the most common narrative I have come across is that new mums feel they need to juggle their family life with their careers, and many women feel they need to choose one or the other.

According to research by Work, Me and the Baby (WOMBA), many working mums across sectors have felt forced to limit their careers as a result of their employer’s inflexible and outdated working policies and cultures. Add to that, the competitive and ever-changing nature of the tech landscape, and we are faced with working or new mothers choosing to stay away from the sector.

What can be done to make tech more attractive to mothers?

Fortunately, there are a number of steps that can be taken to help remove the barriers that prevent new mums from entering the industry. The pandemic has shown the world that there are a wide range of jobs that can be done as effectively while working remotely as they can whilst in the office. Companies should, therefore, consider developing more flexible working policies for all their employees to promote well-being and nurture creativity.

Part-time roles, job-sharing options, and flexible hours can all make it easier for new mums to balance their work and family lives. Furthermore, offering longer contracts can help create a sense of security for new mums and motivate them to deliver their best work.

As a mother of two young children myself, I have experienced first-hand the benefits of flexible working. I find I am more productive on both the professional and personal fronts – finding the time to successfully implement forward-looking policies at work, and contribute meaningfully to my children’s upbringing, which has been very rewarding.

Make a commitment to tech returnships

Returnships also continue to be a hot topic for HR managers as more programmes are rolled out by UK businesses to enable better access to women returning to work after an absence, often for maternity leave. Women, or men, shouldn’t be punished for a break to have a child, and the extra support that these programmes offer can be crucial for new returners juggling a new work-life balance.

These measures will also help address another prevailing issue for the sector. According to a study commissioned by ISACA, the common challenges experienced by women in  tech  is the lack of mentors and role models present in the field, gender bias, and unequal growth opportunities and pay. By introducing flexibility and inclusive programmes, women will be more likely to have longer careers in the industry, inspiring others, and normalising diversity.

Inclusive, remote, hybrid

At OnePlan, we take pride in being a remote-first technology company even before the pandemic made it necessary. As part of the decision-making team at our fast-growing company, one of my areas of work is tackling unconscious bias and promoting inclusivity. Our gender ratio stands at 43% for women and 55% for men, and we believe that gender parity is not only beneficial for the workforce but also contributes to the company’s bottom line. Research conducted by McKinsey has found that the most gender-diverse companies are 48 percent more likely to outperform the least gender-diverse companies.

The onus to restore a gender balance is on the companies and HR teams that support our industry. Removing barriers and creating a more inclusive, diverse and productive workforce will help foster greater innovation and creativity, as well as keep the UK tech scene as the envy of much of the world.


About Lucy Heron

Lucy Heron is the People & Talent Manager at OnePlan with over a decade of experience in recruitment and HR. Having taken a career break herself to have children, she is a passionate advocate for working mothers and is committed to changing the perception that motherhood is a barrier to women in the workplace. Lucy is a strong supporter of flexible and remote working, believing it helps women find the right balance between their professional and personal lives. She is also a promoter of DEI in recruitment.