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More women working in the Tech Sector is a good idea for two reasons. Firstly, an organisation, whatever its sector, that reflects its users is more likely to understand the user needs they are meeting; secondly, with a shortage of skilled staff, excluding half the population as a possible source of talent for the sector makes no sense.
Those two business reasons are compelling, but Digital Leaders by definition lead organisations, so is there a business case for more women in the boardroom? It seems that that the evidence says yes.
Researchers discovered that shifting from an all-male or all-female office to one split evenly along gender lines could increase revenue by roughly 41 percent according to the Journal of Economics and Management Strategy.
Publicly traded companies with male-only executive directors missed out on £430bn of investment returns last year according to Grant Thornton, and companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians according to McKinsey.
Finally and not wanting to bore anyone, studies reveal that gender diverse companies are 45% more likely to improve market share, achieve 53% higher returns on equity, and are 70% more likely to report successfully capturing new markets according to the Harvard Business Review.
So we were hoping that our 2017 Attitudes Survey looking at current attitudes towards Women in Tech might show that times are changing! We asked members of the Digital Leaders Community for their thoughts, experiences and inspiration.
As always they stepped up and 1,221 of them responded from all ages and sectors – but mainly 35-55 and 50% at Director level and above. Pleasingly a third of responses were from men.
Our leaders told us that there is still discrimination against women across the Tech industry and across all sectors. 73% in total were seeing it and 63% felt the situation had not improved and some said had got worse in the last year. In stark contrast, men were the most likely to say they were not seeing discrimination by a factor of four.
Positively, over two thirds said the organisations they worked for has the issue on its agenda, with that figure being higher in larger businesses and Central government. Half of those replying from the Local Government sector said it was not on their orgainsation’s agenda. For those taking action, Diversity Training was the most popular activity, with a quarter having women returner policies and positive parental leave.
Old attitudes, that we might hope no longer have any traction, still remain. The Gender Pay gap is seen as particularly bad in the tech sector and despite 94% knowing their benefit, gender-neutral job descriptions when recruiting are not yet standard. The attitudes of men and women diverge again with 92% of men saying their women colleagues have the same or better promotion prospects than men.
The Women Returners agenda in the Tech Sector is seen as beneficial with calls for more women leaders, government support to bring women back into the sector after a career break and to offer them apprenticeships to convert and renew their skills. Studies show the benefits. This tallies with research showing that currently there is an occupational downgrade experienced by professional women returning to work with 40% of women returning to work full-time experience occupational downgrading compared to 70% of women returning to part-time work.
But Digital Leaders is about impact so we asked for everyone’s “big idea” to take action and move the needle on attitudes to women in tech. Here are the top 3 below. So with enormous thanks to our Digital Leaders for sharing their attitudes I hope there is inspiration for action here.