Four young strong women or girls standing together. Group of friends or feminist activists support each other, women supporting women

What does International Women's Day mean to leaders in the tech industry?

Four young strong women or girls standing together. Group of friends or feminist activists support each other, women supporting women

International Women’s Day celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.

The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity – a particularly relevant issue in the tech industry which continues to have a noticeable lack of women at every organisational level from Board members to new recruits.

Vice President of Sales at CDW UK, Penny Williams has worked all her professional career in the technology industry and has experienced both progress and setbacks towards the ongoing goal to build a more equal and inclusive industry.

Here, with input from other team members at CDW UK, she shares insights on what #breakthebias means to individuals and what businesses need to do to encourage diversity and inclusion.

Penny Williams CDWInternational Women’s Day (IWD) isn important way to celebrate women’s achievements, giving everyone a voice and a seat at the table is an essential part of sustainable social and economic development, but it also creates room for diversity of thought which leads to greater innovation. In other words, gender equality means progress for all.

However, simply recruiting more women to fill tech roles is not enough. Change must come from company practices and policies, that can, often unintentionally, be biased toward one group of employees. Companies need to create and foster an inclusive and diverse workforce that respects each individual regardless of factors like their gender, religion, age, background and personal beliefs.

I’m proud to work for CDW UK, which has women in key roles across the business. From the top-down, women are championed, and our wider DE&I strategy aims to foster a diverse, fair and inclusive culture across the business to build pipelines of talent that focus on capability. But I know we, like many in the tech industry, still have a long way to go to achieve full gender parity. That’s why we invest in programmes to improve diversity and inclusion in the business, such as our Women’s International Network (WIN). WIN is an evolving and inclusive group for all employees that promotes equality, agility and personal development while also establishing a community and culture that supports women in their progression – both personally and professionally.

I have been incredibly fortunate in my career to have strong role models that have helped me to find my voice and believe in myself. Over to my coworkers to let them highlight what IWD and #BreakTheBias means to them.

Talent is everywhere but companies need to make more of a proactive effort to look outside the usual places. To change this and create opportunities for the many, companies should take a chance on those who may not necessarily fit the job description. This includes young, aspirational women with limited experience, those from different industries but have transferrable skills, or those who may not have had the “conventional” career path so far.

— Jessica Poulter, Apple Partner Development Manager

It takes courage to address biased and offensive language and conduct in the workplace. Key to this is creating a safe space for workers to have candid discussions around social injustices. Not only does this promote self-awareness, so that people can recognise and combat the biases they hold, but it also allows us to make the necessary changes for future generations of women in IT. We can all #BreakTheBias, but it will require involvement from every individual of the organisation.

— Hannah Hodkin, ITIL Principal

Organisations must provide equal opportunities for development and progression, not just in empty words but in policies and systems. In instances where individuals disregard these policies and continue to be influenced by bias, finding an ally, or a community of these, can help to support with the escalation and correction of this behaviour.

 

The saying ‘strength in numbers’ resonates strongly here as a unified challenge of discrimination, conscious or unconscious, becomes incredibly difficult to ignore and will lead to senior intervention designed to #BreakTheBias. Taking the first step may seem daunting but the faster that education to harmonise company culture is conducted, the faster behaviour leading to prejudice, and discomfort will be eliminated.

— Rajiv Narayan, Product Manager

#BreakTheBias is about creating a level playing field that does not marginalise any groups or individuals. This means allowing room for everyone to show up as their authentic selves, without any fear or second guesses, and recognising that our differences are what moves us forward.

 

However, we cannot build for the future without having everyone in the room, this goes for all genders, races, religions, cultures and backgrounds. Senior leadership teams must be aware of the position they’re in and the power they have when it comes to implementing change. Business leaders should take the time to get to know individuals across the business, listen to their needs and take the required action. Through this process, organisations can review their existing policies to ensure that they are meeting the needs of their employees. At CDW UK, policies around menopause and maternity leave, supporting women into leadership roles, flexible working, hiring processes and attracting diverse talent are constantly being evaluated within our WIN group.

— Jessica Whellams, Head of Community and DE&I

#BreakTheBias is about moving forward from antiquated notions that career paths and industries should be determined by gender. For me, this evokes an image of tearing something down and reconstructing it in a new and better way – I think the tech industry has a huge opportunity to do this, as do many other industries.

 

People are often inspired to do something when they see others like them do it which is why visibility and representation are key. For example, when women see other women in roles, they find it easier to imagine themselves in those roles and are more likely to put themselves forward. I was fortunate that my mom worked in IT and inspired me to explore the tech industry, and I’m so glad I did as it has led me to an exciting career path.

— Flannery Devine Gibbons, Category Lead – Cloud

#BreakTheBias goes beyond gender and women are leading the charge towards a more inclusive workplace across the board. To me, seeing a diverse world, where difference is valued and accepted and decisions are free of stereotypes and discrimination, is what it truly requires for the bias to be broken.

 

Considering my personal actions, I strive to listen, learn, and engage in conversations to challenge the status quo. In other words, I embody the change that I want to see at work, home and in the communities that I am a part of. But it takes more than a few voices, we all must come together in a collective effort to drive change.

— Mobeena Iqbal-Ahmad, Marketing Manager

#BreakTheBias involves slowing down the decision-making process to make sure that I can challenge my own thinking, dig into my initial responses, determine if there is bias influencing me and correct my actions accordingly. Even those individuals that embrace diversity and enjoy leaning about different cultures may still be engrained with unconscious bias stemming from their social upbringings. In many cases, this type of bias can be more challenging to break based on its hidden and seemingly harmless nature. Therefore, I believe that the first step is to accept that we all have some degree of bias as this will allow us to correctly challenge our thinking to ensure that it does not impact our actions.

— Mark Murphy, Head of Technical Operations and Physical Security

Achieving dreams is hard work but that ‘door or ceiling’ should be non-existent. I’m delighted to see this increasingly become a reality with women beginning to step into roles where they can help build environments free of resistance, discrimination, harm, and fear. As these barriers continue to be broken, I would advise all women to truly believe in themselves and their dreams. Having faith in your abilities, your drive, and your determination to succeed will go a long way to empower the next generation of resilient female professionals who recognise that the views of others shouldn’t, and won’t, impact what they want to do in life.

— Julie Marsh, Head of UK Coworker Services

Too often, women are hindered by self-doubt therefore reiterating the crucial role that mentors can play in encouraging career progression. Building on from this, it is important to have visibility of senior women role models who take a proactive approach to knowledge and experience sharing – after all, ‘You Can’t Be What You Can’t See’.

 

It is vitally important that assumptions about women’s personal lives stop characterising decision-making. These private factors, such as backgrounds or relationships, should never play a role in professional career decisions or restrict a woman’s opportunities. People need to break down barriers and stop forming assumptions as these generalisations are currently leading to the denial of opportunities for women.

 

I’d encourage all women to embrace big steps in their career. If you don’t believe in yourself and don’t seize chances when they arise, you’ll simply be holding yourself back. You’ll never know your real potential unless you take the next step. Be bolder.

— Susan Cotton, Head of Brand Marketing

Meet our 100 incredible leaders breaking the bias & calling for societal change this International Women’s Day

As part of our #WeAreBreakingTheBias campaign, we will be sharing the thoughts of over 100 leaders who are calling for societal change for women. We hope you will join us so we can amplify why we should all #BreakTheBias for gender equity.

VIEW OUR 100 INSPIRING LEADERS

London Tech Week

"UK tech is booming" | Nadine Dorries MP celebrates the UK tech industry at the opening of London Tech Week

London Tech Week 2021 banner

Nadine Dorries MP, the newly-appointed Digital Secretary today celebrated the UK tech industry at the opening of London Tech Week.

London Tech Week is taking place all week until 24 September 2021. The week provides the tech eco-system with a platform to come together to drive change. This year, the agenda supports economic recovery in a sustainable, inclusive and resilient manner and addresses challenges, from bridging the digital divide to battling the Covid-19 pandemic.

London Tech Week’s mission is to build a better, more inclusive, digital world by gathering the world’s most inspirational founders, global leaders, senior investors and rising stars to collaborate and discuss the vital role of technology on society.

Nadine Dorries MPDorries was appointed Digital Secretary in Boris Johnson’s recent cabinet reshuffle. Speaking at the opening of London Tech Week, Dorries said, “It’s been a baptism of fire. I only took over the role of Digital Secretary on Wednesday – and I’m already here amongst you, three days later, kicking off the biggest tech event in Europe.”

“That’s just quite amazing.”

During her speech, she praised the UK tech sector, saying, “Year after year has seen record-breaking growth – and this morning, my department has just released new stats that show we’ve just smashed all previous records for unicorns – billion dollar tech companies – and for venture capital investment in 2021.”

“It took us 24 years to create our first 20 unicorns. We’ve already matched that in the first six months of this year.”

“We now have more than France and Germany combined.”

“And the UK tech industry has raised £13.5 billion in the first half of the year – almost three times what was invested in the same period last year.”

However, Dorries said more was to be done. She said, “I want all of those businesses to stay in the UK, to grow in the UK, and to become global brands, based right here in the UK.”

“We’ve cracked start-ups.”

“Now it’s time to go big, and to begin paving the way for a new generation of British tech titans.”

She also spoke about changing attitudes towards the tech industry. She said,”…I know that amongst tech entrepreneurs, the UK can still be seen as a bit “stuffy”.

“Some institutional investors continue to treat the tech industry with suspicion, or balk at the amount of change the industry is driving.”

“Well, that era is officially over.”

“To this government, it doesn’t matter what you look like, it doesn’t matter where you came from. What matters is who you are. You are the entrepreneurs of today.”

“And we’re on your side, and we’re ready and waiting to celebrate your success with you.”

GET INVOLVED WITH LONDON TECH WEEK

Technology-community-feature

Overcoming bias in the tech industry

Technology-community-feature

Article provided by Emma Sayle, Founder and CEO Killing Kittens, Safedate and Sistr

It is a stark fact that the tech industry – like so many industries linked to science, technology, maths and engineering (STEM) – remain disproportionately represented by men.

Just 16 per cent of computer science undergraduates in the UK are women, which means there is an automatic gender bias on graduates reaching the big tech companies. This bias continues deep into the economy, with only one fifth of UK businesses currently run by women and only a third of all UK entrepreneurs are female.  Balancing the books on gender is one of the most important challenges facing our society today because without equal opportunities, we put creativity, growth and diversity at risk.

The lack of female business owners and entrepreneurs is not due to lack of talent or aptitude.  Sistr – an all-female dedicated networking site for women in business – is proof that there are plenty of exceptional and talented women who have launched careers and defined new businesses with phenomenal success.  The long-standing bias towards men in the tech industry makes the achievements of these female-led ventures even more remarkable, especially when you consider only one per cent of investment funding goes to women.

But times are changing and whereas women still are very much the minority in the tech and STEM world, more women than ever before are taking advantage of the digital economy and the fact that anyone can start a business from anywhere, anytime.  The traditional playing field has already changed beyond recognition and the old rules no longer apply, which can only mean more opportunities for women as they start to populate male-biased industries and deliver new business models.

Whilst it will take a long time for more equal representation in tech industry and STEM, there is now a wealth of talented and influential female-led communities that are committed to helping women access all areas of business, as well as launching their own ventures.  This support and inspiration is key to helping today’s business-women push past attitude and gender barriers to reach their full and rightful potential.  What is remarkable about these communities, like Sistr, is the number of qualified mentors who have willingly agreed to give up their time to talk to women and share their own experiences of female leadership in business, helping them to navigate the challenges and bias they face in their careers today.

Perhaps one of the most obvious bias that many women will face is that of parenthood, a bias that is prevalent not just in male-dominated sectors but from society as a whole.  Subconsciously or not, there is an assumption that younger, childless women will want to have children and will therefore stop working at some point; whereas women with children are doubted on their ability to manage their career successfully alongside their parenting role.  For older mothers who have decided they want to launch a business, there is an undercurrent of it being seen as little more than a hobby now that they have children and are not in full-time work.

Taking on a male-led industry requires grit and determination because the fact remains that women continue to be unfairly judged on many variables that have nothing to do with their competency and ability to lead a business.  Re-balancing the gender equation in tech is key to creating a work environment that celebrates and supports diversity, rather than making women feel they have to be more ‘male’ in order to succeed.  Women need to have more self-belief in their ability to succeed and this is where a supportive mentor and access to like-minded female-networks can make a powerful difference.

Ultimately, in order to really tackle gender disparity, we need to start from the grass roots up to help educate the next generation that gender is not a barrier to any industry.  There has to be a deliberate and conscious change in dialogue, from the earliest of ages in our homes and schools, to stem the flow of gender-bias reaching the workplace, because if a young woman starts to doubt if she has got what it takes to launch her own business, the damage has already been done.

Emma Sayle featuredAbout the author

Emma is the Founder of Sistr, a platform that enables professional businesswomen to network, offer advice and mentor each other.

Find out more at sistrapp.com. You can also sponsor Emma and the rest of the Sisterhood for their Channel Swim.


mental health featured

Women lead wellbeing in tech

mental health

By Haley McPherson, Global Marketing Director, & Samantha Hackett HR Manager, ProLabs

Working for a company that supports the wellbeing of its employees has really enabled me to grow professionally and develop my career as a woman in the tech industry.

People in the industry, but also in general, do not talk about mental health and wellness enough. From socials to break-out time or through creating open discussion, it is very simple for a company to support and foster wellness in the workplace and so important too!

Working my way up to become a Global Marketing Director of a tech company has not been an easy ride for me. Working in any industry, there are factors which could affect a person’s mental health and their ability to perform at work.  Working in the tech industry, there are certain challenges women in particular face with it being such a male orientated industry. Women can feel pressured or unrecognised in this environment which can affect confidence, mental health and career prospects. Having been a long-term sufferer of severe anxiety and other mental health issues for many years I had a rocky patch in my early career which could have led to two outcomes in my professional life; throw it all away or pull through and give everything I have. Whilst easier said than done, pulling through was the best thing I could have done and it got me to where I am today, leading the marketing of a global tech company at the age of 32. I feel very lucky to have had the support networks around me to help me achieve my career in the tech industry. All in all, this enabled me to find the strength to work hard and continue my passions for marketing and communications. Without this, I would not have been recognised as Marketing Leader of the Year at the recent Tech Marketing and Innovation Awards.

Having felt so grateful for the support networks around me in my earlier career, I have been working with our HR Manager, Samantha Hackett to encourage our tech company ProLabs, to integrate new workplace activities and initiatives to improve wellbeing in the workplace. Working with Samantha, we decided to make this year Wellness 2019 – a year in which we focus on mental health and wellness in the workplace. In doing so, we have educated the business on simple ways to improve personal wellbeing. Both Samantha and I believed that working in an environment which supports the wellbeing of its employees is empowering and I would encourage any company to take small, but simple actions to support workplace wellbeing.

For example, everyone across our company is invited to participate in Fit Fridays which take place once a month, which are hosted by our Office Manager Maggie Abellan-Charlton During Fit Friday everyone is encouraged to take their lunch hour on that Friday to carry out an activity or exercise, whether that be a walk in the Cotswolds, playing basketball in the warehouse, roller blading, using the onsite gym or playing football. Everyone who participates is rewarded with a team healthy buffet after exercise and over the year we have had many fun and exciting activities that have not only helped with personal wellbeing but also encouraged team spirit within the company.

To raise awareness within the company of mental health, we support a mental health charity this year called Twigs Community Gardens which gives people the chance to regain confidence after experiencing mental health problems. We hosted a charity football match to raise funds for a mental health charity whilst simultaneously engaging the team with healthy exercise and team building. We also placed posters and branding in the office which gave tips on improving mental health and wellbeing in the office environment. Samantha developed a presentation on advice and help on wellbeing and she also introduced quarterly massages days to staff to help them relax and eliminate stress. In addition, we relaunched our employee assistance program and Samantha delivered satisfaction surveys to extend the openness and communication across the board from activities and socials to the office which was an effective way of creating wellbeing throughout work. For employees to be recognised for their achievements and successes we also shared Customer First awards to recognise individual performance to encourage morale and positive esteem in the office.

While these things are only small actions to recognise wellbeing, we feel the office environment has seen an improvement since we began our Wellness 2019 year. Employees began to engage in new activities and communication and office morale has improved as well as people’s fitness. So many people suffer in silence and are embarrassed or see mental health problems as a weakness. Whilst speaking about my mental health to colleagues was admittedly tough and not easy to do, everyone at my work was supportive and I am so pleased I did. I would encourage others to do so too and even if they are not experiencing mental health battles personally, I would encourage people to begin wellness initiatives in their workplace as it may bring some relief to someone suffering in silence. All it takes is a few dedicated people to run it and any business of any size can. It just requires some time and effort with very little funding necessary. It’s easy and there’s lots of online forums and tips to help. Doing just one wellness activity in the workplace creates an open working environment for everyone to perform at their best and reach their full potential.

Haley McPhersonAbout the author

Haley McPherson, Global Marketing Leader of ProLabs is an experienced brand expert, marketing strategist and is skilled in: internal communications, analysis, promoting education and communication in the industry and social media.

Aged just 31, Haley has created a new era for vendor ProLabs, implementing and leading a complete global rebrand just six months after assuming the role in 2017, and has significantly improved internal communications and brand confidence, shifting ProLabs’ position in the market from an “average compatibles vendor” to a “high quality connectivity expert vendor”. The new messaging and positioning introduced by Haley challenges industry norms by looking to disrupt the OEM market by creating a new tier of expertise, quality and value.

While she excels at marketing and communications, she’s a keen advocate of promoting ProLabs’ people and team’s expertise and has pushed Thought Leadership as a key PR tactic, along with creating the CHOICE concept. Broken up into two segments: ‘CHO’ refers to the simple fact that they should “Choose ProLabs”, while “ICE” represents ProLabs as the “Intelligent Connectivity Experts” that they are.

Haley has worked in the industry for almost ten years across intelligence, cyber security, media and TV, where she has gained key skills and has kept in touch with everyone who has ever worked with her. A keen advocate for internal communications and a “happy workplace”, she knows the importance of a happy work place to encourage motivation and continued learning for staff morale.


Diversity

Tackling the skills shortage in the tech industry: enabling diversity to thrive

Diversity

Article provided by Tara McGeehan, President, CGI UK

The growing skills shortage in the tech sector is common knowledge.

Last year’s STEM Skills Indicator found a shortfall of more than 173,400 workers and an average of 10 unfilled roles per business. As technology continues to develop and progress, and the demand for automation and digitalisation increases, the sector needs a stream of talented people who are able to keep abreast of developments and refresh their skills to adapt to working with new technologies.

Historically, women have been at the forefront of computing, with famous names like Ada Lovelace and Hedy Lamar, yet today they are an underrepresented group in the broader tech industry, especially in leadership roles. Facebook’s diversity report 2019 reveals that globally across all roles 36.9 per cent of employees are female, compared to 32.6 per cent across senior leadership and only 23 per cent across technical roles. So why aren’t we seeing more women in these roles? A report by Inclusive Boards found that there are several barriers to gender diversity in tech, including gender bias, stereotypes and the impact of motherhood. Entry into the profession is also thwarted at an educational level with fewer women than men opting for STEM related degrees.

Underrepresentation of any kind in the industry is a missed talent opportunity.  IT and technology companies need to take a more creative approach to recruitment to tackle the skills shortage and develop the workforce of the future. Restricting recruitment to one small pool of potential employees, who have followed a traditional path, creates unnecessary limitations.

Broadening the diversity of our leadership teams brings tangible creative outputs, as teams have a wider skillset when considering both commercial solutions and employee experience within a business. It’s a logical conclusion; diverse teams are better able to approach problems with their combined wealth of experience. Diverse teams also better reflect our clients and ultimately end-users in large companies and society in general.

Making tech more accessible

Encouraging more young people, including young women, into careers in tech and IT starts in schools, and organisations need to think about ways to inspire girls to consider a career in this exciting, dynamic industry. One way to give girls a glimpse into the tech sector is running a ‘Bring Your Daughter to Work Day’. However, we shouldn’t only focus on girls who are still in school. There are multiple pathways that lead to a career in technology, and although pursuing an education in a field such as Computer Science is one of them, it is by no means the only way. Tech companies need to support women with curiosity and analytical minds to make career moves into technology.

A career in the technology sector might seem intimidating for those who’ve never worked in it before, so we need to ensure people understand the breadth of opportunities that tech has to offer. One of the best things about technology is that it is always changing, meaning that as long as you are willing to embrace a learning culture, refresh your skills and maintain a problem-solving mindset, there is a career for you. Apprenticeships can be a great way to gain the skills necessary for a career in technology, as well as gaining real industry experience. As well as those who might be looking for an alternative path to university, apprenticeships are also a great way for people who are looking for a career change to move into the sector.

Empowering a diverse team

Retaining talent is just as important as recruitment. Companies need to make their workplace an environment where people want to be, and where they feel they are able to bring their ‘whole selves’ to work. This includes supporting employees with disabilities and health conditions, as well as initiatives such as unconscious bias training, to ensure equality and comfort in the workplace.

Empowering our existing members to upskill and take on more senior roles is also key to ending the skills shortage. This includes encouraging employees to reach their full potential and follow their passions. Depending on the career aspirations or preference of their employees, companies should help individuals make horizontal or vertical moves within the company as their career develops. Shadowing opportunities are a great way to give employees a taste of what other roles within the company involve and empower them to consider more senior roles.

It is important that employees feel that their careers are moving forward as they learn and grow in experience. Supporting those on maternity and parental leave by offering remote training courses and coaching before, during and after leave, contributes to creating a learning culture that enables skilled professionals to progress. In turn, this culture will make our sector attractive to new talent who will recognise the prospects and positive working environment.

In summary, tech companies need to embrace and actively seek out a diverse pool of talent externally and internally, including women, to find problem-solvers and leaders for the future in the ever-evolving technology sector.

Tara McGeehan - Main[1][3]About the author

As President of CGI’s UK operations, Tara leads a team of approximately 6,000 professionals and consultants who bring all of CGI’s end-to-end capabilities and industry and technology expertise to clients across these regions.

A CGI member for more than 17 years, Tara previously served as Senior Vice-President responsible for the North and Energy, Utilities & Telecommunications Business Unit where she developed business across commercial and government industries, including high-profile digital engagements such as the UK smart metering program. With 20 years’ industry experience, Tara has a detailed understanding of these markets and their implications and opportunities for CGI’s clients.


Men in Black featured

How Men in Black is giving us the chance to think about inclusivity and diversity in the tech industry

Men in Black

The new Men in Black film has just hit the big screens, with a recent premier on 14th June.

You may be familiar with the original story from Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones’ days – the Men in Black have always protected the Earth from the scum of the universe. And this addition to the franchise is no different; in this new adventure, they tackle their biggest threat to date: a mole in the Men in Black organisation.

However, there is a slight twist – this remake is the first time one of the Men in Black has been a woman, Tessa Johnson.  In the spirit of girl power and promoting more women to get involved in their passions, a variety of tech professionals have come together to share their journeys into the tech industry, discuss how to thrive in the industry and the importance of inclusivity and diversity in the workplace.


Liz CookLiz Cook, People Director at Six Degrees on how outdated stereotypes are being challenged:

“Working for a technology company, I am constantly inspired by the women I engage with across the business on a daily basis. I was recently privileged enough to present an award at the Women in IT Awards in London, and being in a room with so many brilliant women really drove home the great strides we have made in making technology a more diverse, more balanced industry.

I can see things changing for the better, with various initiatives helping to challenge outdated stereotypes and engage people in promoting gender-balance and driving a better working world.”


Estee WoodsEstee Woods, Director of Public Sector & Public Safety Marketing at Cradlepoint, looks at the importance of innovation:

“As a sector devoted to innovation and connectivity, the technology industry is uniquely positioned to help close the gender gap in the workplace. Yet, as recently as 2016, 43 per cent of the 150 highest-earning public companies in Silicon Valley had no female executive officers at all. As we celebrate the trailblazers of gender equality and women’s rights, we should also reflect on the differing and valuable perspectives that diverse voices bring to the table. We encourage everyone to celebrate the strong women in their lives, personally and professionally, and to empower the women in their organisations. Today, we encourage women in tech to own their voices, to value their intellect and skills.”


Joanna HuJoanna Hu, Principal Data Scientist at Exabeam, celebrates the many strengths of women and the perspectives they bring to technology:

“It’s important to remember that women bring a unique voice to the table, are naturally good at handling interpersonal relationships and help create a harmonious work environment. They should know their worth and not be afraid of advancing. Our communities and companies need diversity in leadership roles to succeed because every person’s individual background also brings a new perspective to the table that can drive the bottom line, culture and overall success of the business.”


Krishna Subramanian 1Krishna Subramanian, Founder, President and COO at Komprise, believes gender shouldn’t matter:

“Striving for a balanced workforce not only fosters gender equality, but it makes good business sense. Half our population is female, more than half of college students are female, so why should we not hire more of these talented individuals into the workplace? Not hiring women makes a business less competitive, because they are not tapping into a vital segment of the talent stream.

It’s essential to focus on hiring the best person for the job regardless of their gender – we have women in key roles across our company. For example, our first engineering hire was a woman, and we have women in key leadership roles across engineering, marketing and sales/channels.”


Bob DavisBob Davis, CMO at Plutora, assesses the power of differences in the workplace:

"Differences in the workplace can be a really good thing – the capabilities of people don’t vary because of their gender, but because of who they are."

"I believe the goal for any business should be to get people to understand that diversity is critical to their success; you will be far more successful if you operate under the notion that differences are powerful.”


Lucie SadlerLucie Sadler, Content Manager at Hyve Managed Hosting weighs in on why women should be encouraged into tech roles:

"Women make up 50 per cent of the UK workforce, but less than 15 per cent in STEM jobs."

Projects that encourage women into STEM careers, coding workshops such as Codebar and Girls Who Code, and mentoring programmes are all fantastic initiatives that nurture women into pursuing careers in technology.”


Caroline Seymour 1Caroline Seymour, VP of Product Marketing at Zerto, contemplates the need for greater diversity:

“Data compiled by Evia showed that last year less that 20 per cent of technology roles in the US were held by women. Shockingly it also found that women now hold a lower share of computer science jobs than in 1980.  

While companies have become more sensitive to the gender gap in the industry over time, there is still so much more to be done to change the industry’s culture to close this gap and encourage more women into high tech careers. I believe that, fundamentally, this culture shift needs to start in school - we need to do more to mentor girls and encourage them to study STEM subjects.”


Tara O'Sullivan 1Tara O’Sullivan, CMO at Skillsoft, considers how unconscious bias is affecting the gender gap in tech:

“The struggle to ensure a more diverse workforce comes in many forms – from gender to ethnic background. The bottom line is that diverse teams make better decisions – this is a proven fact.  They provide much needed differences in opinion, and having a more diverse team avoids the problem of ‘group think’.  

The challenge is we’re still dealing with a huge amount of bias in the workplace – both conscious and unconscious.  We need to treat these two areas separately. Conscious bias is easier to deal with. We can name-and-shame when it rears its ugly head, all while backing this up with facts and figures.  

Unconscious bias is harder to address, and will take longer to eradicate.  Often it’s still hidden, and those holding it are completely unaware.  Studies show that for many people in this situation, when their unconscious bias is demonstrated to them, they hate it – they fall apart at seeing their own prejudice looking back at them.  

The solution? When unconscious bias is identified in an individual, we need to address it across the entire team.  This makes it ‘palatable’ on an individual basis, and allows us to make the required changes.

At the end of the day there’s no excuse. Diversity in the workplace is a social norm, and just like wearing clothes, we need to treat it as such.”


Karina Marks, Data Science Consultant at Mango Solutions, encourages young women to develop a career in advanced analytics and data science:

“I work with a surprisingly high proportion of female data scientists, but can still find myself the only female in a meeting. I have never seen this as a disadvantage though because I have faith in my own abilities and what I can achieve, regardless of my gender. For me, passion and persistence has really paid off, and I am so lucky that the organisation I work for has helped support my journey and helped me to develop my skills and gain an understanding of the analytics industry. My advice for young women keen to develop a career in advanced analytics and data science is to invest in continuous learning and development, share your work build and your community, and develop a laser focus on value.”


Eulalia FloEulalia Flo, Country Manager at Commvault, champions a balanced workforce to reduce stereotypes:

“Gender bias, for both men and women, is more frequent in less diversified working teams. Having a balanced workplace helps reduce stereotypes, and encourages richer decision making, especially in the world of technology. Many companies and senior leaders want to attract talent, and being more aware of gender bias, are now better prepared not to cling to clichés and stereotypes.

As in any other industry, I would encourage women to know their own strengths and to not be shy. You should be open minded, ready to learn new things and be challenged often by new developments that present both opportunities and threats.”


Svenja de VosSvenja de Vos, CTO at Leaseweb, advises why girls should be encouraged into tech careers:

“It’s vital to get more women into the tech industry but I believe that if more women are to enter the tech sector, we need to start young, showing girls that tech can be fun.

“Being a female CTO today still makes me a bit of a unicorn. And, despite my background and position, some still assume I don’t have technical knowledge. And the worst part is that I find myself getting used to these comments. But my team respects me because of my technical expertise, not simply because of my title or in spite of my gender, and this is always how it should be.”


Sophia ZhengSophia Zheng, Product Manager at Bitglass, appreciates the support of her colleagues:

“In school, kids are immature and they don’t know what lasting impact words like, “she can’t because she is a girl”, might have.

I have been lucky that in the workplace, it doesn’t feel like it is that imbalanced.

There is still an imbalance, but the way people treat you can have a big impact and make all the difference.”


Jeannie BarryJeannie Barry, Director of Technology Enablement at ConnectWise, agrees that young girls need people who can help inspire them to dream big:

“With social media all around us, girls are comparing themselves to other girls, causing a lot of self-doubt and lowering self-worth.  We need to make sure we’re constantly providing opportunities to grow their confidence and ensure they are focused on their own journey and not trying to be like someone else.

“Reshma Saujani, founder of Girls Who Code, and Karlie Kloss, model and entrepreneur who started Kode with Klossy, are inspiring women to have an interest in technology.  They understand how important it is to get girls interested at a young age and help them build confidence in coding and engineering.  It’s awesome that they are inspiring women to have an interest in technology and to be proud of how smart they really are – I wish I had something like this when I was growing up.”


Kanthi PrasadKanthi Prasad, VP of Engineering at WhiteHat Security is an advocate for mentors:

"The gender gap in the technology industry still exists. When I started working I did not expect equality, but instead started with the assumption that I have to try to work harder than people around me in order to gain equal footing. Nobody can stand up for you better than yourself, so learn how and when to verbalise what you need. Don't be the one who gets easily offended by things around you.

That does not mean it is easy, but choose to concentrate on the long-term outcome than the short-term pain. The right mentor or sponsor can support and guide you through even the most difficult situations. Make time for the women in your organisation to support, mentor and appreciate each other as much as possible."


Kate GawronKate Gawron, Senior Database Consultant at Node4, believes the main challenges facing women considering a career in technology are a lack of role models, and the perceived culture in IT:

“My advice is not to be afraid to say no to a job offer if it doesn’t suit you and your life. I’d never planned to become a Database Administrator, but it turns out I’m more than suited to the job. I believe it’s important to have the confidence in yourself to stick to what is important to you, and more often than not another amazing opportunity will open up.”


Theresa May

Theresa May celebrates UK tech industry at London Tech Week

Theresa May

Prime Minister Theresa May is today celebrating the UK tech industry at London Tech Week.

May will also make a number of ambitious commitments that will ensure the UK remains the largest tech hub in Europe.

These commitments include £153 million government funding, with an additional £205 million pledged by industry, to unlock the potential of quantum technologies, including accelerated drug development from quantum computing; 2,500 places available for the first time for AI and data conversion courses starting next year, to equip tech-driven businesses and people across the country with the skills they need; and launching a study into tech competitiveness to identify opportunities and support for digital businesses to ensure the UK remains the most attractive place to build a tech business.

Speaking about the British tech sector, the Prime Minister is expected to say, "Already we are one of the best places in the world to start and grow a tech business."

"British Tech is growing over one and half times faster than the rest of the economy, adding more than one hundred and thirty billion pounds to our economy every year..."

"But if we are going to maintain our position as a global leader, our challenge is how we develop British Tech and make it even better."

"We want this to be the place everyone thinks of - and comes to - first when they want to develop their world changing tech ideas."

"This is a challenge shared between industry and Government..."

"Today, as we sit on the cusp of the next great industrial revolution, we have the opportunity to work together and ensure that the advances we see transform our world for the better, and for the benefit of everyone."

"Government will back you all the way."

Later today, the Prime Minister will host a roundtable for leading tech companies, including Microsoft UK, Google and Monzo, where they will discuss opportunities to fully harness the power of technology to enhance competitiveness, boost the economy and tackle societal challenges.

This comes as thirteen businesses choose to invest in the UK as the top destination for tech innovation and talent. These include plans for a £1 billion investment by VMware over the next five years; a £12 million investment by Mastek in a new digital skills programme for graduates in Leeds; and a £150 million investment in a new data centre by Markley Group which will create 200 jobs.


Top tips for a job interview in the tech industry

Tech Interview FeaturedTop tips for a job interview in the tech industry

Getting a job in tech industry can be challenging. Currently it’s one of the least diverse industries in the world, and although female representation is increasing it’s still lagging far behind other sectors. At Mojo we pride ourselves on creating an equal workforce, ensuring we have a gender balanced team, as well a leadership full of strong women who are are in historically male dominated positions.

Nevertheless, making sure you stand out in the interview is the first step required to breaking in to the traditionally male dominated sector. Below are my top tips to smashing the interview for your dream tech job.

1 - Research your prospective interviewees and their company

It goes without saying that interview prep is a given for any job - researching the company, what they do, their competitors etc…will provide you with a holistic insight into life working at the company you’ve applied for. Researching the role should also be of prime importance, ensuring you have a clear idea of the responsibilities expected, in addition to showing your potential employers how you can add value - but why not take it a step further?

If you’re given the details of your interviewees, having a brief snoop of them may provide you with some knowledge into similar points of interests that you previously wouldn’t have known. Sharing interests such as hobbies or work relevant topics can build a bond, arguably one of the most important pull factors in getting someone on your side. Using social media tools like Twitter, or Linkedin can help with this.

2 – The right questions, not just any!

Asking questions is a given in any job interview, however it’s essential you ask the right ones to your interviewer. Prior to the interview, I’ve heard suggestions of noting down 10-20 questions that you think are appropriate to ask - I think this is a good idea, however questions should naturally occur during the interview if you’re listening and fully invested in getting the job, so it’s important to be flexible and not ask questions for the sake of it.

Intrinsically linked with my previous point is the need to ask the right questions - enquiring about topics such as technological developments within the company, or asking your interviewers opinions on such topics will outline several key personality traits to your employer. It will show your eagerness to learn, in addition to acting as a catalyst for building natural rapport with your prospective employer - everyone likes feeling like they’re being listened to!

3 – Gaining a wide understanding of the relevant industries accompanied by a shrewd insight into future innovation

Tech is a broad all-encompassing topic, ranging from food & drink to the property sector, or mortgages in our case. Exhibiting a wide knowledge of both the wider tech industry and (the one you’re applying for/involved in) will highlight your interest in the business, in addition to developments in a plethora of industries.

As well it’s broad reach, tech is always changing and moving forward. As a result, it’s important to keep on top of the latest trends, and being able to see through the hype and identify what could be game changing for your business/industry, will put you at the forefront of the interviewers mind. There’s loads of cool tech out there but is it right for the business and their commercial goals? You need to demonstrate this understanding in an interview

I’d also suggest displaying a strong understanding of complex technological concepts and products, evidencing your intelligence and comfort when talking about things a small proportion of people can understand

4 - Personality is sometimes as/more valuable than experience

Within the tech industry, it’s a well-known fact that several companies employ people as much on experience as their do culturally. Don’t get me wrong, experience is incredibly valuable, and most employers will want applicants to have job experience in some capacity.

However, for specifically our start-up, we look for autonomous individuals who are happy to take on work and responsibilities outside of their remit. Relating to my previous point, we also look for people who are wanting to evolve, learn and develop their skills - showing evidence of motivation and a belief in your interviewees company, will go a long way.

5 - Be yourself!

Being true to your own personality is undoubtedly one of the most important tips I can give for someone looking for a job in tech. Despite the tech industry revolving around unsurprisingly, tech, we actually communicate and talk to each other regularly. As a result, if you pretend to be someone that you’re not in the interview it’s likely that, that will get found out relatively quickly.

Getting to the interview stage is great work, but it’s important to make sure you’re also a cultural fit for the company. I’m aware the traditional interview attire and attitude is professional; however, I’ve also heard of some tech firms being put off by people who seem like rigid out-dated applicants in suits.

Thus, check out the company’s website, social media channels and any press coverage they’ve received, to get a feeling of what kind of company they are. You can also look at job sites websites to see how past and present employees have ranked their companies, this should give you a good insight into whether current are enjoying their jobs.

Amy Lawson HeadshotAbout the author

Amy is a highly experienced marketer and operations specialist. She has held senior roles in both small and large businesses, including CO-OP Bank & Allianz Insurance. She has an outstanding track record of success in marketing, consistently demonstrating versatility, innovation and drive for continuous improvement. Operating in a dual role at Mojo as COO and CMO, she is responsible for the customer journey, operations, content marketing and CRM programs.

https://mojomortgages.com/


women-in-STEM-featured

STEM up - a case for encouraging women and girls to enter the tech industry

women in STEM
Image provided by Shutterstock

Anjali Arora, SVP and Chief Product Officer, Rocket Software

A recently resurfaced 1958 issue of an American magazine entitled 129 Ways To Get A Husband suggests searching the census reports for places with the most single men.

It’s 2019, and if you are in the market for a husband, you stand a good chance of finding him in a tech company. A Statista chart based on various tech companies’ diversity reports shows that women only make up 19 per cent of tech employees at Microsoft, and 20 per cent at Google, just to name two of the large industry players. With men currently holding 76 per cent of technical jobs, a lack of diversity is harming the tech industry in more ways than one.

Employing more women in tech is not just a question of ethics but, simply, a question of money. According to a study conducted by The National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) gender-balanced companies have a higher productivity rate and perform better financially, particularly when women occupy a significant proportion of top management positions. Furthermore, companies with women on their executive boards outperformed companies with all-male executive boards. The evidence is there as has been for some time – we need more women in the tech industry.

What’s the problem?

So, what’s holding women back? Firstly, there are simply not enough girls entering the world of STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths). Secondly, those who do are not progressing as much as their male colleagues. Female software developers in the 35+ age group are 3.5 times more likely to be in a junior position than their male counterparts.

We’re STILL not doing enough

Despite the fact that girls are outperforming boys in maths and science at GCSE, a recent study by the Institute for Fiscal Studies found that girls are deterred from taking these subject at a higher level due to a lack of confidence in their own ability compared to their male counterparts. Call it a self-fulfilling prophecy – if girls hear it long enough, this gender-restrictive way of thinking might just become their reality. It’s an attitude that continues into the adult world; many of us might still remember THAT internal memo, where James Damore, now ex-employee at Google, made the assertion that women’s biology is to blame for their lack of tech abilities.

The reality is, of course, different. According to the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), boys and girls performed similarly in the OECD science test, but more boys consider a STEM career than girls. And a report from the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution measured men's and women's digital scores and found that women had stronger skills than men do.

Yet schools and the industry itself are still not doing enough. The results of a PWC study suggest that most girls don’t even consider tech as a career. There is a lack of information about what jobs in the sector involve, and few are putting tech subjects forward as an option. When choosing A-level courses, a lack of confidence is a major issue preventing girls from taking Physics. A study by the Institute of Fiscal Studies revealed that over half of girls were worrying about difficult classes or poor grades, despite being predicted 7-9 (A or A*) at GCSE level. The same study showed that two-thirds of high-achieving girls believe STEM jobs are male-dominated – another factor that may be putting people off these subjects. By the time they reach university, just 30 per cent of female students are studying STEM subjects compared with 52 per cent of males.

If you can see it, you can be it

If the image of both STEM subjects and the careers they can lead to is addressed at an early stage in girls’ education, a real impact can be made to bridge the gender gap. The Campaign for Science and Engineering has published a new policy review on improving diversity and inclusion in STEM, with key recommendations for government to improve career guidance and a strategy to increase female take-up of STEM. Ideally, schools need programmes designed specifically to generate and maintain girls’ interest in these subjects if they are to make a real difference.

One way to increase the number of girls wanting a career in tech is to change the image of the industry by shining the spotlight on strong female role models. The PWC study reveals almost 80 per cent of students can’t name a famous female working in technology, while over two thirds can name a famous man. Women who achieve success in the tech sector can share their experiences by teaching a STEM or tech class in school, or by participating in careers events and providing a living demonstration of how rewarding the profession can be.

The Brogrammer culture

The second challenge is getting women into the right jobs and moving up the ladder when they get there. We aren’t going to have role models for young girls until enough people are getting their foot in the door of tech companies, and even this is no mean feat, according to a study by the American Sociology Review. The study revealed that hiring managers have a tendency to employ staff that are culturally similar to themselves, a trend known as “in-group favouritism” which is holding female applicants back and adding to the well-publicised “brogrammer” culture.

This culture persists once a woman does embark on a career in tech. The NCWIT research indicates women in the 25-34 age group are dissatisfied with IT career prospects due to unsupportive working environments and the necessity to make excessive sacrifices in their personal lives. With many women leaving the sector before they make it to the top it’s little wonder there are so few role models to inspire the next generation.

Closing the gap

The gender disparity in STEM is a reality and completely closing the gender gap will continue to be a tall order. But by addressing the image of STEM subjects and tech careers at an early stage in education, by encouraging strong role models to illustrate what a career in tech might look like, and by promoting open and supportive working environments, we might just start to bridge the gap and prove that we have left the mindset of the 50s well and truly behind.


Data shows women leaders still scarce in the tech industry

The latest Sunday Times Hiscox Tech Track 100 league table revealed that only 11 of the 100 fastest growing companies in the UK are founded or led by women. We’ve crunched the numbers to see what that tells us about the opportunities for female leaders in the tech industry…

Analysing some 750 [1] tech, media and telecoms companies that have appeared in the Tech Track 100 rankings from the last 15 years, we looked at how many director roles are occupied by women.

We found that while there was an increase in the number of women in director roles, the average percentage of women in these roles remained under 10% over the same time.

women-leaders-in-the-tech-industry

Looking at the data, one thing is clear. The growth of women in senior roles in the tech industry is not significant enough. So why does this percentage remain so low?

A tough climb to the top

One theory for the lack of women in top tech roles is that they’re overlooked when promotional opportunities arrive. Per Anne-Marie Imafidon, founder and CEO for stemettes.org, an organisation that helps put girls in contact with women working in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) industries, the struggle to push past the 10% mark is down to a lack of promotions at more junior levels.

‘[The number of women in director roles] has remained stable as women aren’t being promoted and given positions of responsibility in line with the proportion of women at more junior levels in the industry. As well as this, the number of women entering the tech industry has been declining in recent years, ‘says Imafidon.

So if Imafidon is right, when faced with a seeming reticence within the industry to promote women, it could be that fewer women take on the tough climb up the corporate ladder or choose to enter the industry at all.

To tackle the problem, Imafidon believes that biases within recruitment must first be ironed out.

‘Tech companies need to make sure that they have the right processes for promotion and recruitment which mean that they don’t have bias. Having balanced promotion and interview panels, as well as employing the Rooney Rule – a concept from American football, where a panel interviews at least one minority candidate for senior roles – can help with this.’

women-leaders-in-the-tech-industry

A reduced talent pool

As we know, the average number of women within top roles in tech remains low. But, according to the data, this low average is the result of a rise and fall in the number of women directors across different sectors each year, rather than consistent under-employment in certain areas.

Without enough women rising through the ranks in each sector, the tech industry can’t sustain any growth it experiences.

Theresa McHenry, HR Director at Microsoft, puts the lack of sustained growth down to a reduced applicant pool.

‘There are challenges for the industry. The market for senior female talent is increasingly competitive and companies are recruiting from a smaller subset of technical female talent.’

Per McHenry, only long term investment in female talent will have any transformative effect on its presence in top industry roles.

‘It needs sustained effort and investment, you can’t take a one-off approach to hiring or promoting women into senior roles. Companies won’t sustain senior female representation unless they invest in building a pipeline of talent for the future. That means, in the short term, developing and progressing careers of middle managers and, in the longer term, investing early in education and educational initiatives which nurture talent and show off opportunities available to young girls.’

In-roads in software development

While the overall picture of women in tech isn’t promising, what we can see from the data is that the software sector crops up several times as a field that regularly employs women in top roles, if only in low numbers.

Software covers a variety of disciplines and over the past five years, compliance, e-commerce and financial software developers have each employed the average number of women directors (8.73%). McHenry believes the lack of legacy issues in the software industry, in terms of gender bias, has contributed to a more inclusive environment for women.

‘Software development is a newer industry, made up of younger organisations and start-ups that have less history and cultural past to overcome. Our digital economy is driven by good ideas and good ideas can come from anyone, at any stage in life and whatever their background. The typical culture in this sector is dynamic and empowering, and the work environment offers autonomy, innovation and creativity.’

Meanwhile, Imafidon attributes the findings to the skillset of women who choose careers within the software industry.

‘In general, women who enter software development teams have a broad range of skills that they bring to the table. Some of these include communication and leadership skills that are invaluable for an organisation if they’re to have good software development teams. There is a natural progression from development manager to development director – this is what we’re seeing in the numbers.’

New markets, new opportunities

Featuring an abundance of ground-breaking technologies, software innovations and disruptive services over the last decade and a half, the Tech Track 100 has had to incorporate new categories for these tech companies, to reflect an ever-transforming sector.

The following graphic shows Tech Track featured industries from the last 15 years with the highest percentages of women in director roles. These sectors, such as payment software and digital marketing, reflect the arrival and rising influence of innovative markets in the industry over the years.

women-leaders-in-the-tech-industry

According to McHenry, the transformation of the tech industry has created new territories and, potentially, new opportunities for women to explore. But the problem of available female talent remains.

‘This data shows the diversification in the industry and the dynamic merging, divestiture and start-up environment in play. It’s an area of high employment and growth which creates more opportunities than there is a pipeline of women to fill. The culture and nature of the workplace is attractive to women, but currently we aren’t training enough women to fill the growing number of available roles.’

A long haul commitment

We can see some headway has been made in bringing women into software, but the tech industry has a long way to go if it is to tackle the 15-year low in top tech roles among women.

While the data merely outlines this trend, many place responsibility for the results on environmental factors within the industry. Both McHenry of Microsoft and Imafidon of Stemettes , attribute this low figure to a lack of consistent and committed support for women, including opportunities for career progression, investment in young talent and training opportunities.

Effectively resolving the gender imbalance in the workplace needs long term, dedicated effort on all sides, it seems, all the way from education to employment. Only then will it be able to challenge the perceived narrowness of women’s hold on the tech sector.

Find out more about Tech Track 100 and Women leaders in tech.

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[1] This is a representative sample of all companies featured in the Tech Track 100 league from 2001 to 2015. The sample consists of all Tech Track companies from 2001 to 2015 that are listed with Companies House.