Mind the gap

It is no secret that there is a gender imbalance within the technology sector. From getting children involved in STEM subjects to celebrating the successful women within the industry, there has been a big push within the UK to encourage more women to get involved within the industry. But how do tech firms stack up when it comes to pay?

The difference in pay has been highlighted time and again, with the recent gender pay gap reports bringing it into the public consciousness. A survey earlier this year revealed that women earn up to 28 per cent less than their male counterparts in the UK for tech-related occupations. 

The survey by Emolument.com found that the biggest pay gap is within small companies (fewer than 10 employees) with women paid 28 per cent less than men in the same roles. In SMEs, the pay gap was between 19-20 per cent, highlighting the fact that this is an issue which runs throughout the entirety of the technology sector.

Alice Leguay, co-founder and CMO at Emolument, believes that the gender pay gap goes against its innovative principals: “It is not intuitive that the technology sector, a trailblazing, forward-thinking industry, should be lagging in terms of gender pay gap. The financial sector has shown that regulation and co-ordinated action can make a systemic difference from graduate applications to board of directors ratios.”

She adds: “Media pressure may well encourage the sector to mind its current discriminatory practices, though there may be blood on the walls as it happens, as with Uber. More transparency is needed when it comes to pay, and not only for companies with more than 250 employees, as currently required; not only either for the Financial sector, which is facing up to its failings.”

And while the survey found big discrepancies at smaller firms, things don’t get much better when looking at by the bigger players within tech.

Facebook, for starters, is among the better companies with women paid just 0.8 per cent less than their male counterparts in the UK based on mean hourly rates. Women make up 39.2 per cent of Facebook’s lowest-paid quartile, and 29.5 per cent of the top quartile. However, when it comes to bonuses, women only get around 40 per cent less than the social media giant’s male colleagues.

Microsoft is a little behind Facebook, with women earning an average of 93p for every £1 that men earn when hourly rates are compared.

Google is further behind again with women earning just 83p to their male colleagues’ pound. Meanwhile, Amazon’s UK Services has recorded parity, however within its Video department women are paid just 60p for every £1 that men earn. And Amazon Web Services pays women a median 82p to every £1 an hour earned by men, while their median bonus is 47 per cent lower.

Likewise, chip designer ARM pays women 84p for every £1 that men earn and credits women with bonuses that are around 30 per cent smaller.

However, there are a few companies bucking the trend with the UK technology sphere. Bristol-based cloud distributor intY’s gender pay gap report shows that female staff are paid 3 per cent more than their male counterparts. In addition, 40 per cent of Board members at the cloud distributor are women, 57 per cent of the management team are female and 31 per cent of women at intY hold senior positions. When comparing like-for-like jobs, women and men at intY are found to be paid exactly the same. However, the government standard for gender pay gap reports was to take the median wage of all jobs.

CPO of intY, Becky Hunt said that the salaries reflect the role, not gender. “At intY we remunerate people for the skills, knowledge and experience required for the role and gender bears no relevance.

“We also provide a very generous package including enhanced maternity, paternity and shared parental leave. We do this because we understand and believe that equal pay and childcare flexibility is important for families to be empowered to decide what works best for them, and does not rely on a stereotypical breadwinner or primary caregiver role.”

And intY is not alone in trying to level the playing field. Companies both within the Channel have been throwing their weight behind the Tech She Can Charter. Designed to boost the number of women pursuing tech careers, the charter has been backed by leading industry figures. The original signatories consisted of PwC, British Science Association, Business 3.0, Digital Jam, everywoman, FDisruptors, Girlguiding, InnovateHer, JP Morgan, Modern Muse, money.co.uk, NatWest Markets, Sophos, Smoothwall, TechGirls, Tech Talent Charter, Tesco, T Systems, and Zoopla Property Group.

Onecom is among the latest Channel partners to join the charter, with head of Human Resources Parysa Hosseini-Sech highlighting the need for greater initiatives to encourage women into the industry. “Onecom is committed to ensuring that all young people, regardless of gender, have the opportunity to pursue and progress in a rewarding career in communications technology,” she said. “We are delighted to be actively supporting the Tech She Can programme. The gender imbalance in technology roles is a key issue of our time that we need to work together to address head on.”

Technology is disruptive, forward-thinking and before the curve. For there to be such a disparity in terms of pay and workforce makeup is not good enough. If the sector fails to reflect society then it runs the risk of missing out.  

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