Knocking down workplace obstacles for women in tech

Article by Charlotte Bella, Senior Product Manager, Booking.com

Charlotte is a Senior Product Manager at Booking.com Rides, a specialist team that develops global consumer products to hire and book transportation services as part of a customer’s trip. Charlotte leads Booking.com’s front-end web team to deliver seamless experiences for their free and paid airport taxi products.

She is based in Booking.com’s 1,000-strong Manchester team, which is preparing to move into a new £100m HQ for the group’s Trips division.

Charlotte found her passion for building great web products later in her career. After working for eight years in the financial and shipping industries as an IT Trainer she made a bold decision to switch roles and joined a large digital agency in London.

After discovering her enthusiasm for product technology, Charlotte spent a year travelling with her husband before going on to join at a startup in Berlin where she worked alongside some of Europe’s brightest minds in the e-commerce sector curating exclusive designer sales. Since then she has worked across the non-profit, ecommerce and travel industries, leading teams of digital experts to deliver excellent web products and campaigns for well known brands such as holidaycottages.co.uk, The Shard and Young Lives Vs Cancer.

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Charlotte is a long time advocate for female talent within the tech sector, as the industry looks to increase representation and retention (currently only 30% of UK tech roles are held by women).

At Booking.com, she leads a range of diversity initiatives through both the group she co-founded, Women in Tech and Product, and as an active member of our Employee Representative Steerco for B.equal. Both groups are designed to remove barriers to women’s success, accelerating growth and wellbeing in the workplace, while attracting and retaining female talent.

Talent acquisition has been vital to Booking.com’s rapid growth, including creating a culture where everyone has equal opportunity and can be open and transparent. By co-founding groups like Women in Tech & Product, Charlotte is championing female role models and mentors while contributing to a positive working environment where women can be their best selves.

Commenting on female workplace obstacles, Charlotte said: “I’ve worked across a variety of organisations and sectors, and see the challenges women face every day. Our vision and drive is for Booking.com to be a force for equal representation at all levels, and to challenge the status quo within the industry by raising awareness and calling out the gender bias that is still happening.

“We’re taking an innovative approach to attracting talent not only in Manchester but the wider tech industry as flexible working broadens our recruitment pool. For example, partnerships with the likes of digital skills accelerator, Tech Returners, are helping us tackle the skills gap while providing women with a route back into the sector following a career break. We’ve created 12 new software development roles through the programme this year and hope to take on more in the future as our Trips HQ comes online and we continue to invest in inclusive benefits – be that enhanced maternity and paternity leave, flexible working or family-focused healthcare and holiday provision.”