How the tech industry could do more to attract and retain top female talent 

In this article we hear from Annika Albert, Head of People Operations at Scoro, a software company with an equal ratio of men to women across its global workforce.

Why every tech company needs more women

We often hear about the need for more women in the tech industry, and there’s plenty of advice out there targeted at those women looking to carve out a place in the tech workforce. But, what about the responsibility of tech companies to improve this diversity? There’s a lot of things we can do as thoughtful employers to ensure we are not only attracting, but also retaining, top female talent. With research from academics at the Universities of Glasgow and Leicester showed that companies with more than 30% female executives were more likely to outperform companies that don’t, it’s a no-brainer.

Another report from McKinsey also revealed that diverse companies perform better, hire better talent, have more engaged employees, and retain workers better than companies that do not focus on diversity and inclusion. That’s why we at Scoro are proud to have maintained our 50/50 gender split throughout our growth as a company to 160 global employees; we know that the diversity of our team is also the power of our team.

Being conscious of gender diversity, from the top down

We are proud to be the kind of company where our extended management team consists of 15 women out of 31, so the culture of gender diversity really comes from the top down. We have made sure that being female in our software company is not unusual. And more broadly, I believe it should not feel extraordinary to be a woman applying for a job in tech, it should never have been. In fact, it should be something that women naturally consider as an option for their career, as there are a great number of fulfilling and varying roles across the tech industry.

Tech companies need to hold up their end of the bargain in making this a reality, by actioning meaningful change in their culture and practices. There are a few specific ways companies can attract and retain top female talent, for example, at Scoro we have a 4-day work week. This might enable those who have small children at home to continue to pursue their full-time career in tech, or for those where part-time may never have been an option; this completely free Friday with no reduction in salary means, for just one example, those that might need the extra time after maternity leave to still be able to focus on family while maintaining a full-time job. More than this, it could encourage men to use flexible working in a way that creates a better schedule for parents, restoring a more balanced home-life in general.

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Aside from a 4-day work week, which is a big commitment and takes a lot of operational upheaval, there are of course more immediate and quicker wins companies can implement to attract and retain female talent. For example, making sure their brand is consistently representing its female employees. Whether it’s the career page, about page, social channels, etc; they should all reflect the diversity a company has so that when candidates first find that job advert and do their due diligence, they can see themselves working there. This means pictures and examples of females in every type of role, from technical to sales, marketing to HR. When it comes to retaining this talent, it’s important to ensure there is no pay gap; constantly evaluating pay ranges and being aware of, and correcting, any imbalances so that women know they are rewarded in the exact same way for their hard work. This applies also to reviewing salary after returning from maternity leave. The support system created at the workplace is also paramount to successfully retaining any talent, but being aware that the needs of individual employees will vary, and catering to these needs with true flexibility is key.

Building a positive environment for women in tech

Beyond what we can do as a company to attract great female talent, there is also an onus on the tech industry to be part of the movement from the ground up. When giving women the confidence to pursue a career in STEM a lot of it is grassroots, to have the opportunity early is a game changer for boosting the amount of female role models we see in the software space.

When we talk about making change, and taking real action, we should be seeing this play out with companies taking on an even split of male and female interns, in the hope they will start to build a track record of successful, diverse internships that turn into full-time roles within the company. Similarly, it is why businesses should consider taking their engineering team members along to different career events and have them participate in evaluation committee work at universities. Any tech company should be proud to be part of the movement towards better gender diversity by taking action in their community; from initial opportunity, and through to hiring, training, and promoting female tech talent.

There is still work to be done

With one report revealing that  the tech workforce more broadly is made up of 81% men, and 19% women, there is much to be done in the industry to improve gender diversity. Being conscious of hiring patterns, rethinking how the company is outwardly presenting its culture and employee diversity, introducing flexible working schemes, and being active in the local community are just some of the ways tech companies can ensure they have an equal split of talented women and men across their teams.

Whether a tech company is looking to hire a new senior management position, a HR role or a software engineering role; it should never be unusual to interview and hire as many women as they do men. It’s about time the tech industry showed everyone that it’s not extraordinary to be a woman here. But, it’s clear that there is still  some work to be done in being purposeful about, and conscious of, gender diversity before the tech sector can reach that point. We are proud of our company for being part of the movement towards greater equality in tech, and we are continuously looking for ways that we can do better.

Annika AlbertAbout the author

Annika is an experienced HR professional passionate about creating an excellent employee experience and advocating for a healthy work-life balance. She believes that a work culture where people feel autonomous, trusted, and happy results in engaged and driven teams committed to delivering the best outcome.


tech entrepreneurs

Why is the path to success so much harder for women tech entrepreneurs?

female tech entrepreneurs, start ups

Article provided by Murray Morrison, Founder of Tassomai.com

For the past 20 years, I have been working in education and building an edtech company.

It has been a challenging journey, but I know that those challenges would have been all the greater had I been a woman. From the education perspective, I see endemic problems that make me fear we are still a generation away from the women tech entrepreneurs we need.

When our institutions do not nurture diversity, we all suffer.

Beyond the manifest unfairness of the situation, there is an opportunity cost to society as a whole. We currently live in a world where the things we use each day have been built by men. Because they have been built by men, they are - consciously or not - designed for men.

Changing this picture would mean more women in tech creating better products that serve all of our needs better. And a more balanced tech ecosystem will accelerate the virtuous circle - the more women tech entrepreneurs there are, the more there will be in future. 

But to do so means not only changing the way we hire staff, but the way we fund businesses, the way we develop and train our people, and the way we support our schools and teachers in developing a curriculum for the society we wish to see. 

Our education system is not set up for creating WTEs

The received wisdom is that, for anyone to forge new ideas in tech, they should have a background in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) subjects. 

Of students studying these subjects in the UK, girls are a disproportionate minority. Particularly maths and physics where, beyond GCSE, the number of girls attenuate heavily. In a subject like computing - of increasing importance to our developing workforce - girls represent around 20 per cent of exam entrants. This is perpetuated by the inevitably skewed gender balance of the teaching profession in those subjects.

We could blame the damaging cultural stereotype of maths or physics intrinsically not being “for girls”, but there’s another aspect: in subjects that depend upon the recall and application of facts to formulaic questioning, there’s a lingering perception of ‘maleness’ to the approach that I fear leads girls to think they don’t belong. Contrast with languages, literature or humanities: here, learning follows a more discursive, socratic model of discussion and development of ideas. It’s easy to see how, as a society, we falsely impose our constructs of each gender’s strengths to draw the conclusion that STEM subjects are for boys.

Finally, the reality of the mixed classroom environment too easily draws the teachers’ attention, for better or worse, on certain students. Those who have their hands up with answers - or cause trouble with disruptive behaviour - are the ones who get the most attention. It’s not surprising that girls suffer in that dynamic - though schools around the country are constantly striving to mitigate this issue.

At Tassomai, we provide a self-quizzing app as a means for any student to practise and improve their knowledge. Schools frequently tell us that the major beneficiaries are those who previously may not have felt they could succeed in STEM subjects. But while edtech may be helping, this is a tiny dent in a bigger problem - one that will only truly be fixed if we can review the curriculum to better suit more diverse learning styles and recruit women to teach subjects like computer science.

Too few workplaces nurture female talent

Beyond education, our workplaces are still not set up to pull through female talent, starting with recruitment, and continuing through company culture. 

Most job advertisements have long lists of requirements for the potential applicant. It is likely that a male applicant who satisfies more than half of those requirements will take a punt, but  women are less likely to apply if they cannot confidently tick all the boxes. 

In light of that, we changed our hiring process to list only the most essential requirements, and focus instead on attracting a range of applicants with our development-focused culture; the result was a far healthier recruitment process.

In tech-related companies, where women hires are the exception, it’s no fun being one of those pioneers. Whereas men are afforded flexibility to learn from mistakes, women have to be far more conservative in their approach if they fear an error will make them vulnerable in the eyes of their colleagues. Meanwhile, as in schools, the misguided assumption that men have more aptitude for logical, iterative and focused work draws them into emerging career paths like data science and product design but diverts female talent away.

Unfortunately, it’s entirely that approach - developing analytical skills, learning from mistakes and turning potential embarrassment into the next innovation - that fosters the entrepreneurial spirit. If we cannot improve the hiring and working practices of our businesses, we risk holding female talent back and reducing the success of our organisations - and the future organisations that spring from them.

Business creation is not (currently) for girls

It’s clear to me how much of what I have achieved was made easier by virtue of my being male. I’ve been given trust by employers and investors; I’ve been granted authority before I was ready and had my mistakes indulged as I learned how to do better. I’m reminded of Ginger Rogers’ remark that she did everything Fred Astaire did, but backwards - and in heels. I understand how fortunate I’ve been.

From my vantage point in education technology, I see the work beginning in schools to support more girls in pursuit of tech careers. Employers need to demand more from all of our institutions - and ourselves - to accelerate these initiatives. 

As an economy, and as a society, we will all benefit from more women entrepreneurs in tech, but to get there still requires sustained, systemic change. We must continually remind ourselves of our need to improve the world, to define a new normal, and to have the stamina to keep pushing, at every institutional level, for change.

Murray MorrisonAbout the author

Murray Morrison is a leading education and revision expert. He is an edtech entrepreneur and the founder of Tassomai.com, the UK’s leading online learning programme used in school’s.


Announcing WeAreTheCity’s Top 50 Rising Star Awards “Shining a spotlight on the female talent pipeline”

Rising Stars - Female talent awards

Nominations open 1st June 2015 - click here

WeAreTheCity is delighted to announce the launch of the WATC Top 50 Rising Stars Awards for 2015.  

These new awards are the first to focus on the UK's female talent pipeline below management level and will celebrate 50 female individual contributors that represent the leaders & role models of tomorrow.   We hope that by raising the profile of our short list and winners, we will also encourage organisations to consider how they strengthen the development of their female pipeline in the future.

Recognising that careers for women may follow different timescales, the Top 50 Rising Star awards will not have any age restrictions included within the criteria. We feel we have a responsibility to ensure that female talent regardless of age and background receives the necessary support and skills to transition into key decision-making roles within our organisations.


"The need for more women in senior leadership roles is widely recognised. At Barclays, we want to go further - we believe in cultivating a pipeline of female talent across all levels of the organisation, from the executive assistant right through to the boardroom. These awards recognise the considerable achievements of talented women and our sponsorship reflects our commitment to support the women that come through our ranks to stay until leadership." - Mark McLane, Managing Director, Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion at Barclays PLC


WeAreTheCity will use its extensive reach across the UK & Ireland to find 50 high-achieving women across 10 key industries and professions

The WATC awards will be officially launched on 01 June 2015 with support from organisations such as Morgan Stanley, Barclays, Lloyds, Societe Generale, Reed Smith, Ladbrokes & Twenty Recruitment.

The nominations process opens on 01 June 2015 for all categories and will take place online at wearethecity.com.   A shortlist of 10 for each category will be judged by WeAreTheCity and published during July. Judging of the final 5 winners for each category will take place with the category sponsors & independent judges during August. The 50 winners will be announced in September where they will be invited to celebrate their awards at a champagne reception.

Categories
  • Rising Stars in Banking
  • Rising Stars in Consulting
  • Rising Stars in Investment Management
  • Rising Stars in Law
  • Rising Stars in Technology
  • Rising Stars in Insurance
  • Rising Stars in Media & Journalism
  • Rising Stars Personal & Exec Assistants
  • Rising Stars in Recruitment & HR
  • Rising Stars in Sport

Sponsors of each category will be announced on the 1st of June

Criteria for entries
  • Open to all women regardless of age
  • Nominees must be below management
  • Nominees must be working within the industry of the category they are nominated for
  • Individuals can nominate themselves
How we define a rising star
  • Someone who is making a difference in their industry
  • Someone who demonstrates passion and drive
  • Someone who gives back or inspires others
  • Someone who is recognised by others as having the potential to become a future leader in their industry
The Process
  • 01 June: Nominations open for all categories
  • 26 June: Nominations close for all categories
  • 20 July: Top 10 short list from each category announced/public voting opens for all shortlisted nominees
  • 31 July: Public voting closes for all shortlisted nominees
  • 01 September: Top 5 Rising Stars for each category announced
  • Sept TBC: Top 50 Rising Stars drinks reception and awards for winners, guests and sponsors
Don't delay, visit us to nominate your rising star on the 1st of June

Rising Stars logo