Jessica Tabinor gender bias
DIVERSITY & INCLUSION | 5 MIN READ
Diversity, equality and inclusion are three codes that the tech industry is yet to crack. Currently, just 17% of tech roles are filled by women, with the sector.
We take a look at some company-wide culture changes that will set the standard of what tech companies can be doing to address and stamp out the issue of gender inequality.
Diversity, equality and inclusion are three codes that the tech industry is yet to crack. Currently, just 17% of tech roles are filled by women, with the sector suffering a lack of representation from hard to reach groups and communities, including different races, sexualities and those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Last year, Morson hosted a ‘Gender Balance in Tech’ (GBiT) event in partnership with the University of Salford. The event brought together professionals and innovators from Manchester Airport Group (MAG), Siemens, BBC, Women in the Law UK and Think Money Group. The discussion panel concluded that gender imbalance in the tech industry is affecting most UK businesses, with all parties in agreement that diversity is a present-day issue and that if we don’t make big changes today, the UK PLC will decline from a dip in productivity, profits and commercial ability.
This is particularly true of the ongoing issue of gender wage inequality, so we decided to investigate this further…
Getting technical - the gender pay gap differences
A report from Wired last year highlights the big tech companies in the UK and how what they’ve achieved for wage clarity.
Meanwhile, in America, job site Glassdoor reported on the problems in its gender pay gap report. As the latter notes:
“With global attention on the gender pay gap over the past three years, has progress been made to close the gap? This research examines how gender pay gaps have changed in the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Australia since our initial study in 2016. The 2019 study offers new gender pay gap data on Canada, the Netherlands, and Singapore and leverages hundreds of thousands of salary reports.”
So, as you can see, this is a global issue. It’s also an essential one to address longstanding industry inequality.
That’s an outlook not helped by Wired’s April 2019 report, as it confirmed: “Apple’s figures from last year revealed that women earned a median of 76p for every £1 men earned.”
Clearly, enough isn’t being done to challenge this issue. Although tech companies are often thought of as progressive places to work, the industry needs to address the ongoing issues of wage inequality.
Addressing the problem
Organisations can take practical steps with regards to talent attraction to start addressing the issue:
- Recruitment practices: Develop a hiring strategy to address the understanding of the gender pay gap issue. Businesses can then show what they’ve done about it.
- Train your staff: Ensure that line managers are aware they need to treat their subordinates equally.
- Salary transparency: Have an open policy in departments about who earns what. It can also make it clear a business doesn’t tolerate wage disparity.
A word on culture…
Improve your company culture: Have a policy of openness that encourages employees to see each other as equals, rather than based on who earns what.
At the GBiT event, Chris Joynson, talent & resourcing partner at MAG explained that in the industry technology has evolved quicker than commerce and many businesses still expect certain standards.
“All organisations want superstars and not enough are taking chances on excellent candidates with plenty of ability and will, who can be taught the required technical skills. There are lots of capable and unemployed developers, for example, who are being overlooked by organisations. At MAG, certain departments still look for candidate backgrounds, for example, finance requires its team to have experience in one of the ‘Big Four’ accountancy firms; something we’re working to address.”
Implementing company-wide culture changes such as these will set the standard of what tech companies can be doing to address and stamp out the issue of gender inequality.
Encouraging women to start up in tech
It is clear that diversity fosters greater success and profitability and that the lack of women in tech roles is an issue that needs addressing today.
At GBiT MBE Leanne Cooke, CEO and founder of Evolve-IT Consultants examined gender bias and how the root of the problem begins at birth.
“Boys are more inclined to be interested in STEM subjects because they tend to grow up with scientific toys, whereas girls are given kitchens and pink things,” explains Leanne. “As soon as they reach primary school, they already have an awareness of gender bias because of the toys they’ve grown up with and these perceptions are rarely challenged by their teachers.”
“We need to change the mentality of young people to embrace technical interests and aspirations, which requires more input from teachers. Young people learn about IT and technology in schools, but they don’t see what careers are available beyond the games and devices.”
However, whilst apprenticeships are great and more must be done to promote the benefits to young people, their parents and businesses, there’s still the immediate problem of the present-day skills gap. Several techniques can be applied quickly and easily by tech businesses to encourage greater diversity within the workplace.
Mentoring and role modelling: Coaching employees through a business can start with apprenticeships. Training women from a young age can bring about employee loyalty and encourage
Offer mentoring programmes to encourage women to engage with the tech industry at an early age. The concept of ‘seeing is believing’ is extremely powerful, with studies showing that female students are more likely to choose a particular career when they have been exposed to scenarios where they can imagine themselves in their shoes. By providing relatable role models to the younger generation to look up to, and take inspiration from, organisations can break down barriers and encourage more women into the field.
Advertise appropriately: The way businesses phrase job specs should aim to encourage inclusivity, click here to access Glassdoor’s guide to removing gender bias from job descriptions.
In addition, don’t let age be a barrier—the business world should encourage all ages to apply for tech roles.
Contributors: This article was written in partnership with Peninsula Group