women on boards, diverse boardroom

Women hold only ten per cent of board positions in top Cybersecurity companies

women on boards, diverse boardroom

Women hold only ten per cent of board positions in top cybersecurity companies, according to a new study.

The study, conducted by cybersecurity specialists, Eskenzi PR and Marketing, also found that women only hold 16 per cent of management positions within the world’s leading cybersecurity companies.

The study looked at the websites of 138 companies from the Cybersecurity Ventures Hot 150 to understand the ratio between males and females in senior positions. It uncovered that out of 609 board positions, only 60 are taken up by females, while out of 1700 management positions only 271 are taken up by women. This highlights a major gap in the industry where companies could be missing out on the specialist skills women can bring to cybersecurity.

The study also looked at the types of management roles women hold within cybersecurity organisations and it revealed that the majority hold senior roles in either marketing or HR. There were only eight female CEO positions held and only one security company has an entirely female management team, compared to 19 companies that have entirely male management teams.

Speaking about the findings, Yvonne Eskenzi, director and co-founder of Eskenzi PR and Marketing, said, “I have worked in cybersecurity for over 25 years and watched it evolve throughout this time, but one thing that hasn’t changed is that the industry is still swarming with men.”

“The industry needs more women in driving seats and companies need to understand the traits women can bring to security roles to improve our overall defences.”

“Today is International Women’s Day and I want our study to stand as a call to action for cybersecurity companies to make a conscious effort to recruit more women and encourage more women to get involved in this fast-paced and exciting industry.”

female leader, women leading the way featured

New Year, same old story

Article by Cordy Griffiths, CEO of tech agency Ballou 

female leader, women leading the wayAs we approach International Women’s Day it is very disheartening to write, at the start of the 2021, that one third of Britain’s biggest companies have missed the target set by a government-backed review to increase the number of women on their boards. 

The Hampton-Alexander review, launched in 2016, which called for 33% of board seats at FTSE 350 companies to be occupied by women at the end of 2020, has announced that a third of those companies have failed to meet, what is surely not, an ambitious target.   The independent report of the gender gap in the FTSE 350, produced by The Pipeline, the organisation that serves FTSE 100 companies across all sectors to promote hundreds of female executives, also makes depressing reading.

33 companies in the FTSE 100 have boards in which women make up less than a third of its members.  Only four companies in the FTSE 100 have more women in leadership positions than men.  When we get to the FTSE 250, things get even more pessimistic in terms of female representation.

At Ballou, we have a healthy gender representation within the organisation, as you would expect from a company with a female founder and a female CEO.  This puts us in the minority; only 3.7% of companies have female CEOs, down from 4.6% two years ago.

The old “male, pale and stale” stereotype of British company boards and executive committees is proving hard to dislodge, despite the fact that companies with 25% or more women on their executive committees achieve an impressive 16% net profit margin, 10% higher than businesses without a woman on their executive committees.   So, if we know that gender diversity makes sense on every level, what is stopping companies from stepping up and making the change?

Putting women on boards and executive committees is not egalitarian lip-service.  Companies fare better with more women in senior roles.  And if you think gender-parity can wait before you start to take action, think about this; at our current rate of progress, it will be almost 2090 before executive committees achieve gender parity.  Is this what we want for our sons and daughters at work?

History shows us that the only way to achieve parity is by monitoring, mentoring and promoting women out of the middle management tier and obtaining male buy-in to doing so.  Gender parity has to be kept front of mind.  An “oh well, it’s just turned out like that” attitude with a shrug of the shoulders just maintains the status quo.  It’s only by making a conscious effort we can change this situation.  The increased visibility of women in international politics must surely start to adjust any lingering negative perceptions about women working at a high level. What puzzles me is why the body of evidence pointing toward greater success with more women involved at board level is not enough to motivate companies to change?

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Tech Talent Charter seeks Director to support its board

Tech Talent CharterThe Tech Talent Charter (TTC) is a commitment by organisations to a set of undertakings that aim to deliver greater inclusion and diversity in the tech workforce of the UK, one that better reflects the make-up of the population.

This covers both organisations in the technology sector itself, and organisations across all other sectors, who have employees in tech roles. While its initial focus is on gender, the goal is to ensure that the sector is fully diverse and inclusive. Signatories of the charter make a number of pledges in relation to their approach to recruitment and retention.

In 2017 the TTC made the transition from an informal campaigning group with volunteer working groups into a not for profit Community Interest Company with a board of directors, supported and advised by a Steering Group composed of a mixture of representatives of around 10 signatory employers and individuals who had personal and professional interest in gender diversity in tech. Through a combination of seed funding from the government and both pro bono support and sponsorship from employers on the steering group, the TTC was able to actively recruit more signatories and create a platform to both recruit members and to share best practice. By the end of 2017, it had secured over 100 signatories, begun piloting its annual benchmarking report and staged a sponsored launch event at the Gherkin. A growth and sustainability strategic plan were agreed in January 2018 as the government funding came to an end.

For the TTC, 2018 was a year of growth across the whole of the UK, having staged its first regional events in addition to its annual event. January 2019 saw the full publication of the benchmarking report at an oversubscribed second annual event and imminent expansion of its “best practice” content online. Growth in active signatories has continued to over 300 and further regional expansion is scheduled. The governance structure has also been evolved to include an employer-driven Strategy Board and the first meeting of a wider Advisory Group is in hand. This is the year that will see the TTC establish itself as a scalable and sustainable organisation; maintaining a “minimum viable organisation” approach as well as securing a balanced mix of sponsorship and pro bono support from its members. Discussions continue with Government and sponsors regarding funding for 2019-20.

With that in mind, one of our existing directors is stepping down (due to promotion in role/work commitments) and TTC is therefore looking to replace this individual and to consider increasing the size of the board to reflect the strategic evolution of TTC, with consequent broadening of content expertise needs and the increasing workload it is undertaking in the diversity space.

All board members are expected to contribute effectively to the overall aim of TTC, which is to increase and improve the recruitment and retention of a more diverse workforce in technology. While technically a Non-executive role, TTC Directors are committed to support operationally as well as strategically through the commitment of their own time and/or via the resources of their organisation.

In addition, you will need to demonstrate:

  • an understanding of TTC’s work and a commitment to its aims and objectives, and of the wider environment in which TTC operates;
  • an ability to think strategically and exercise sound judgment;
  • strong communication, influencing and persuading skills, including demonstrating how they are active in wider industry communities;
  • an ability to work constructively with fellow board members and wider stakeholders;
  • an ability to represent their own area of expertise in the full range of advisory council discussions;
  • an ability to challenge as well as to support the directors and executive team on the full range of issues, taking a corporate view beyond their own areas of expertise;
  • strong strategic, business, analytical and leadership skills;
  • an action-oriented personality;
  • an understanding of financial impacts with an eye for opportunity for growth that encourages and supports the exploration of new business ideas;
  • independent insights and ideas from a third point-of-view

Please note that while many meetings are held in London, the majority of our Directors live and work outside London; travel costs can be covered and many meetings/activities are possible and even desirable across the UK.

Board member expertise sought:

Currently, TTC has a key focus to encourage women to move into tech and to support employers to enable them to develop careers through deployment of best recruitment and development practices. Increasingly in 2019/20, TTC will also come to address wider diversity issues (BAME & Disability) as well as needing to develop a deeper regional focus (including Scotland).

Tech Talent Charter are looking for directors with some of the following expertise:

  • Running a not for profit/third Sector knowledge,
  • Business development
  • Sustainability for not for profits,
  • PRexpertise/contacts
  • Graphic/Web Design
  • Wider diversity initiatives and stakeholders

If you meet the above criteria, candidates are asked to send a CV with a short covering letter highlighting the skills the individual will bring to [email protected] by COP 10 May 2019.

Cat O'Brien

Women in tech: Work pressures, working flexibly and awareness of social media


Cat O’Brien, Editorial & Social Media Manager at TickX shares her experiences of working in the tech sector.

I guess I’ve always been pretty tech savvy, even as a kid I was into gadgets. I think most millennials are into learning about new technology. From the days where Tamigotchis and Nintendos were the games of choice and Nokia the phones, technology has been laced in our blood since birth. There’s always something newer, faster, smarter. Now kids are playing with Apple technology and the Internet and it’s simply too big and prevalent in society to try and hide it. Kids are too smart.

Cat O'BrianTechnology and social media, like most things, can be used for good and bad. Being totally saturated by the media on our personal devices means we become addicted to finding out new things. The start-up I work for now is very fast-paced which mirrors the culture of today’s hi-tech environment. Because we’re small, we have to learn things quickly and really work around the clock to get results. I think if I was working for a different type of start-up I might resent this, but because we’re all passionate about the app and enjoy the work we do, it doesn’t feel too tasking. You pick stuff up or you let people down and that is an incentive to stay on your toes and continuously learn. You’re speaking with different people everyday, senior management in the entertainment industry, partners, students, press, tech guys, sales guys – it’s a constant flow of information. In this immersive environment it is difficult to pass judgement on people, treat people unequally and create stigmas. Everyone is constantly busy and focused, you don’t have time for inequality: you just have to get stuff done.

At university I studied English with Creative Writing and throughout my course constantly worried about what career I might pursue. I wanted to incorporate the two things I love: writing and art. I had to tailor these skills towards technology and business. I guess you could say that is one benefit of doing a course that is not too specified – it’s easier to apply it. My course at university was predominantly female, as most arts courses are. Similarly, in the world of tech the female to male ratio is very unbalanced. This does cause a stir in offices and for young women who are unaware of the issue of glass ceilings when joining a big corporation it can inhibit innovation and openness. It’s a myth in many people’s eyes, but in certain establishments it is very current. This is where the unfortunately negative association with the word ‘feminist’ comes into play. It means nothing more than the pursuit of equality in all walks of life for women and men. However, if a woman speaks of these things online or in the office it’s often thwarted as feminine propaganda and is not taken seriously.

There are more and more companies signing up for schemes and corporate memberships to tackle this, because their culture does not know how too. Women on Boards was used at my last company, with the aim to put a spotlight on women to join exec or non-exec boards, thus increasing their employability and leadership skills. Their sessions were really thought provoking and encouraging, but one thing that wasn’t encouraging was the lack of men in attendance. What was even less encouraging was the lack of women. Its title being selectively for women had put off their key audience, who saw it as negatively, feminist and elitist.

The nature of the company I work for now is collaborative, trusting and open. We help each other and ask for feedback when possible. In a way, we mentor one another, without patronising our fields of interest or expertise. We are all ready to try new things and work together to find a solution. We are based all over the UK but stay in contact over email, Facebook, Whatsapp, calls and text.

I think there are some really important things to understand when pursuing a career in technology. The standout for me is social media. If you harness it correctly, you can really boost your online profile and help potential employers find you for the perfect role. You have to have a good LinkedIn profile, updated picture and engaging summary about yourself. Get the app on your phone too. So you can reply instantly to messages. And if you’re looking to become a thought leader in your career, creating conversations is key to showcasing your knowledge. For our social strategy we use three main platforms: Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. For a start-up with a good community and network of followers, knowing these platforms and understanding each individually well is essential. It’s the same for self-promotion. Even if you’re not looking to move on to a new role, having a good ‘online persona’ will work wonders with your employer and potential future recruiters.

Male-only boards missed out on £430bn of profit in 2014

Publicly traded firms with male-only executive directors on their boards missed out on just over £430bn ($655bn) of profit in 2014, according to accountancy firm Grant Thornton.

Grant Thornton conducted a report called Women in business: the value of diversity which found companies in the UK, US and India with at least one female executive on the board perform better.money

The UK’s share of this number was £49bn, the US amounted to £373bn and in India it was £9bn.

The report is based on the Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) which is an American stock market index, India’s CNX 200 and the UK’s FTSE 350.

In the report Francesca Lagerberg, global leader for tax services at Grant Thornton, said: “Do companies with diverse boards really perform better than those run purely by men, which currently dominate the corporate landscape? The answer is yes: they perform better. Materially better.”

484 of the S&P 500 companies were found to have a woman on the board. Of the Indian CNX 200, 176 companies have a female board member and the FTSE 350 has 330.

Discussing male-only boards Lagerberg said: “This is progress but for the most part, these women are employed as non-executive directors. Just 127 of the 1,050 companies we looked at in India, the UK and US employ women as executives

She added: “Perhaps businesses have simply not been aware of the value diversity brings. So it makes sense to invest in your high-performing junior women now to make sure they are ready and willing to take the step up into senior management.”

In 2011 Lord Mervyn Davies set a target of 25% of FTSE 100 companies holding board positions by 2015. In March this figure stood at 23.5%. Despite nearly all FTSE 100 firms now having female directors only 8.6% of women hold executive roles a figure which has slowly risen from 5.5% over the last four years.

Recently Davies targeted Hastings and Worldpay for not having women on their boards saying he was surprised that the companies had not taken the issue more seriously. Both companies responded by saying they will be looking for women directors.