Vanessa Vallely OBE
Managing Director, We Are Tech Women
If companies wish to develop, attract and retain their female tech talent, they need address the known barriers.
The number of women working in technology globally is 16%, in the UK it is 17% and these numbers have not changed in the past 10 years! Over the past five years many organisations have introduced internal development programmes and a number of not-for-profit organisations have sprung up to try to attract, retain and develop women in the industry. However, we are not seeing any results in terms of the percentages shifting, nor are we seeing women rise to the top in our organisations.
Barriers to accelerating careers
There are many surveys that have looked at the barriers women face in terms of accelerating their careers in tech. These include access to on-the-job training, visibility of role models, access to senior leaders, internal opportunities not being shared fairly, sexism and lack of opportunities to build their network or forums to share their ideas. Some of these barriers are easy to address, whereas some may require culture change which invariably has to be led from the top.
Companies need to be a little more innovative with the initiatives they put in place to support and accelerate the careers of their women in tech.
Some of these barriers are easy to address, whereas some may require culture change which invariably has to be led from the top.
Some ideas of how they could do this include:
Introducing a sponsorship programme.
Companies should be looking to align a cohort of their women in tech to a senior leader. The senior leader’s role is to get to know their cohort, help with any development needs and then actively seek opportunities for these individuals across their organisations.
The sponsor should also consider how they can allow their cohort to shadow them to meetings, introduce their cohort to their network and to provide examples of work that will allow them to understand what it is like to be in the sponsors role.
Setting up a women in tech network.
This gives companies the opportunity to hear from their women in tech at a grass root level. It gives companies the opportunity to provide visibility to their senior leaders, address the barriers to progression plus it is a great way to help your women in tech grow their network across the organisation.
The important thing about setting up this network is that it should be seen as an opportunity for organisations to communicate both ways in terms of development and networking needs.
Look at your data.
It may be uncomfortable reading, but you must start somewhere. How many women do you have working in tech? Is this number increasing or decreasing year on year, if so, why? What’s your pay gap in that area? Who is getting promoted? Why are the women leaving? How are you attracting talent? What organisations are you aligned with to show you as an employer of choice for women?
What external opportunities are you providing for our existing women in tech in order to retain your talent.