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Women in Business 2022

Tech’s retention problem: women are leaving at worrying rates

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Lexie Papaspyrou

Chief Operating Officer, Tech Talent Charter

With tech vacancies skyrocketing, organisations are focused on hiring. But are they looking closely enough at retaining the women working for them?

The digital sector has grown rapidly over the last year, with over 2,000,000 vacancies advertised. Despite this growth, women continue to be underrepresented, making up 19% of tech workers and 22% of tech directors. Perhaps equally as worrying — women are leaving tech roles 45% more than men.  

Why are women leaving tech?  

Research from Accenture found that 50% of women in tech roles leave by age 35, citing non-inclusive company culture. A survey by Deloitte of women in global tech found that, compared to pre-pandemic, women have experienced dramatic drops in job satisfaction, work-life balance and feelings of loyalty to their employers. 

There is growing interest from organisations on how to retain women. There’s no simple solution, but adopting inclusive practices, addressing ingrained cultural problems and implementing schemes aimed at supporting the retention and development of women all have an important part to play.  

Look beyond salary: Paid leave and work-life balance are more important.

What does this mean in practice?  

Burnout culture needs to stop: Tech jobs often involve long hours and competitive practices. This creates a burnout culture and participation barriers for people with caring responsibilities (disproportionately women).  

Look beyond salary: Paid leave and work-life balance are more important. Work-life balance and good paid leave were found to be more significant factors in career decisions for women and minorities than salary. Organisations need to embed a culture of work-life balance and have senior leaders model the proactive use of flexible working. We also need to change the narrative around parental leave and flexible (part-time) working policies, normalising that people of all genders use these working arrangements.  

Training and mentoring are critical to ensuring women progress in tech. Our research with WeAreTechWomen showed that women highly attributed programmes like sponsorship and mentoring to aid career progression; however, access to these programmes is often limited.  

Improve tracking: Our survey found that 63% of companies in our sample were not tracking or measuring the progression or retention of their employees. Without better data, we cannot understand the scope of the retention issue and track effective interventions.  

Looking forward  

The positive news is that organisations are increasingly focusing on the retention problem. But there is more to be done, and cross-sector collaboration is needed to drive meaningful and inclusive change.  

The Tech Talent Charter is a government-supported, industry-led membership group that brings together 700+ signatory organisations and equips them with the networks and resources to drive their diversity and inclusion efforts.

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