International Women’s Day is here once again. Celebrated on March 8th every year, IWD is a focal point in the movement for women’s rights.
This year’s campaign theme is #BalanceForBetter. “A balanced world is a better world. How can you help forge a more gender-balanced world?” asks the organisers. “Celebrate women’s achievement. Raise awareness against bias. Take action for equality.”
While the PC and tech industry has come a long way in recognising the need for more equality in the workplace, there is still a way to go.
Below, an array of people working within our industry talk about the great work their organisations have been doing around equality, their own experiences in the industry, and the hopes they have for change in the near future:
Barbara Schretter, Senior Data Scientist at global enterprise software firm Celonis:
“Generally speaking, there is a perception that you won’t find many women in machine learning and data science roles, yet the opposite is true when you look at the people working for Celonis. The tech industry as a whole is still male-dominated.
In my spare time, I talk to lots of young women and girls about what I do and how fascinating it can be to be part of this industry. I tell them about what it’s like to work in the tech sector and show them that there is a lot of potential for them in this field, as well as different routes to getting into the industry.
I definitely think it is a good idea to involve companies into such projects as there will be more and more people needed in the future in tech. I also think the sooner young people start with coding, the better it will be for their future career. Even if they don’t program on their own, to have a basic understanding of coding can’t do any harm. Having companies involved in such projects might also help them get excited about building their own scripts or solving various problems through scripting.
For young girls to be encouraged, especially, it’s important to encourage more women of all ages, backgrounds and experience levels to explore working in technology. Hopefully by making them more visible, the next generation of female technology professionals can find role models and become inspired to pursue a career in technology.”
Deborah Exell, Global Head of Human Capital and Business Transformation, Getronics:
“Women have historically been undervalued and underrepresented in business, even more so in ICT. At Getronics, we want to change that by supporting women, providing role models for girls aspiring to a career in ICT, even if they lack the right references or information, and backing them to defy the existing stereotypes.
In line with our strong belief in human capital and people as the centre of business and success, equal opportunities for women aren’t something special we should aspire to, but self-evident and a daily standard – be it in terms of recruitment, training, promotions or compensation.”
Nana Baffour, Chairman and Group CEO of Getronics:
“In our mission to become the world’s preferred partner for business transformation, it’s only logical for us to showcase the benefits of transformation ourselves, by role-modelling the future of work and evolving towards a less male-dominated, more diverse company.
This approach is completely in line with our views on diversity, which to us has always been a strength: we embrace different perspectives and points of view, as they are an enrichment, both personally and for business, that can only help us in delivering the exceptional user experience we want for our clients.”
Patricia DuChene, GM EMEA at collaborative work management platform Wrike:
“International Women’s Day is a good reminder for all of us in the technology industry to think more about the gender pay gap and the current strategies we have in place to address it. Being a woman in tech, a woman in sales, and now a woman leading an office, I am acutely aware of my industry’s lack of diversity, and therefore it was (and is) on the forefront of my mind when building the team in Dublin.
“If the first step to bridging the gender pay gap, or any other diversity issue within an organisation, is awareness, then all leadership must recognise the importance of diversity and bringing unconscious biases to the forefront of conversations. Talk about the issue, and keep talking about it, so that it is top of mind for everyone involved in the decision-making process.”
Carolyn Horne, Global Vice President of Northern Europe and South Africa at Workday:
“It’s been well publicised that the technology industry needs to do more to improve female representation and encourage the next generation of women to pursue careers in technology. Within the industry, female CEOs represent just 5% of the Fortune 500 and just 1 in 5 computer science graduates are women.
For the first time, technology is helping businesses to measure the effectiveness of diversity programmes rather than relying on gut instinct. Advanced analytics allow businesses to ask the right questions of employee data so they can focus on potential issues such as patterns of attrition and the promotion of underrepresented groups. They can also spot where bias may be playing a role in the recruiting process, better understand their organisation’s pay parity, or configure succession planning reports to factor in gender to help improve female representation in leadership positions.
Technology is also helping to connect people to opportunities. In many organisations, career prospects are impacted by a “who you know” mentality, but modern, digital platforms are changing this. By highlighting the skills of individuals and the internal opportunities available to them – and their managers – you can create a far more transparent and dynamic environment for all employees. Fundamentally, technology is helping organisations to get the data they need to make effective real-time decisions about diversity, but it cannot solve the issue alone. Companies need to develop a culture that values diversity and prioritises it.”
Jill Morris, Senior HR Business Partner at Hitachi Vantara:
“On International Women’s Day, UK businesses must recognise the ongoing gender imbalance as a major concern. While we’ve certainly made positive progress over the last couple of years, there’s still a long way to go until the technology sector is truly diverse.
Breaking down established gender biases and empowering young women interested in STEM – no matter their level of expertise – should be made a primary concern for any modern business. Why? Diversity is proven to increase workplace creativity, performance and ultimately a business’s bottom line.
We must encourage women in positions of leadership to inspire their peers and the future generation of those working in STEM. It’s about breaking-down misconceptions, educating women about what a career in STEM might entail, and reassuring them that their voice is valued and heard.
It’s important to use International Women’s Day as a platform to highlight the progress we’ve already made; however, this progress is slow and more still needs to be done. These issues should be tackled at a grassroots level, ensuring young women have access to the right mentors and given the opportunity to view STEM as a ‘normal’ – rather than ‘alternative’ – career path.”
Bola Adekoya, Software Engineer at Civica Digital:
“International women’s day (IWD) is a day when every woman in the world regardless of age, status, achievement, colour or background should be celebrated. On this day, workplaces, friends and family should take a moment to appreciate women who are working hard to thrive and who are making a positive impact in their homes and workplaces. Encouragingly, lots of companies have already put flexible working measures in place to help women find a balance between their family and work life.”
Jacqueline Mayhew, Chief Operations Officer, Civica Digital:
“The diversity conversation has focussed a lot on gender. As a woman in the technology and financial services space, I’ve definitely seen a positive shift in female representation over the last ten years. Imagine an office area the size of half an airplane hangar with only four female technologists on it, surrounded by men – that was me just over a decade ago.
Things are certainly changing, for example, the other day my daughter bounced over to me, telling me that ICT is her favourite lesson of the week. However, I am also conscious that at six years old, she is at the age when school girls are ‘put off science’ according to ongoing research into STEM. We must do more to encourage girls to continue with STEM education at GCSE level, A-level and then on to university level.”