The Lioness Effect: can the tech sector create a more inclusive workplace for women?

England Women's Football Team - Lionesses

By Amina Begum, director, strategic projects and GTM, Xandr

Following the success of the England women’s football team at the recent Euros tournament, many media commentators have been asking why, traditionally, were women ever discouraged from playing football.

Given the skill, passion and talent on display, why was it ever considered acceptable to make football less accessible to women than to men?

Other traditionally male-dominated industries and sectors, including the digital technology business, should be using this moment of national celebration as a cause for reflection. After all, technology plays a role in every aspect of our society and affects us all. It follows that there should be diversity across roles in big tech companies to make sure the products and services being delivered cater to all audiences.

While this sounds straightforward, in practice, there’s still a lot of work to be done to achieve equity for women in the tech-oriented workplace. Post-pandemic, women have more options than ever when deciding which workplace is best for them. As such, tech companies need to make sure they are set up to retain and recruit female talent and deliver a more inclusive workplace.

Transparency and flexibility

Pay transparency continues to be problematic in some tech firms, suggesting a continued disparity in pay for men and women in the same roles.

This is an important step, because data shows that not only are women less likely to negotiate an offer they are given, if they do negotiate, there is a ‘social cost’ (essentially a negative perception) associated with that negotiation which is not an issue for men.

From a retention point of view, transparency over pay makes sense. Too often, great employees move on because it’s easier to negotiate salary for a completely new role than to get clarity on their existing situation. Companies should look to do regular internal reviews, ensuring all staff working across the same areas are paid equally regardless of gender and race.

The pandemic introduced new norms and ways of working: hybrid working being one of them. As companies formalise their long-term hybrid and remote working options, including women into these conversations is crucial. With 26.7% of women holding tech-related jobs, a key objective should be to design workplaces where women not only feel comfortable but see themselves able to stay and grow their careers.

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Leaders and lionesses

While we have more women in leadership positions in technology than ever before, the further up the leadership chain you go, the less representation there is. Having women in leadership adds diversity of thinking, gives others role models to aspire to and ultimately has a positive impact on the bottom line.

Companies need to actively make space for women at leadership levels and ensure career planning to retain the women already there. If they haven’t already, they should be implementing business goals within their organisations to hold themselves accountable. This is the only way to tell if positive change is happening.

The technology industry like all others requires diversity in its workforce to drive innovation. Following the success of England’s ‘Lionesses’, now is a great time for companies to start acting on some of these changes so they can make for a more inclusive workplace that allows women to reach their full potential.

Amina BegumAbout the author

After almost ten years in the adtech industry, Amina Begum is now Director, Strategic Projects and CTM at Xandr. Since joining the services organisation, she’s worked with both the buy and sell side of the advertising ecosystem, notably leading the Solutions Consulting teams in Northern Europe responsible for Xandr’s Publisher Ad Server client business. Most recently, Amina is responsible for Strategic Project and Product Go To Market in Northern Europe, working on initiatives critical to Xandr’s continued success. She is also a leading voice for diversity in tech and spearheads working groups for women in media.