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Ways companies can close the gender gap in tech

Recent pay gap data shows that some tech companies still have a long way to go until they reach gender pay equality. So, what can be done to close the gap?

In our recent report on Women in IT, we surveyed 300 key decision makers in the UK’s IT and tech sectors. We found that most respondents (87%) agree that there is a gender imbalance weighted in favour of men in IT and tech roles.

We’ve previously written about the benefits of diversity in the workplace and we’ve had female recruitment consultants share their own experiences of gender diversity in IT, so these recent figures, although concerning don’t come as a surprise.

The UK Government’s recent pay gap data showed that in the tech industry, some companies still have a long way to go until they reach gender pay equality. According to Wired’s tally of 18 UK technology companies, women earn an average of 85 pence an hour for every pound that men earn.

Facebook and Microsoft were shown to have relatively small pay gaps, with female Facebook employees earning an average of 99 pence for every pound that men earn and female Microsoft employees earning 92 pence. At the other end of the spectrum however, Wired’s report shows that Amazon Video pays women just 44 pence for every pound that male employees earn and Intel pays 67 pence respectively.

According to PWC’s Women in Tech report, only 3% of women say that a career in technology is their first choice. Only 16% of women have had a career in tech suggested to them, compared to 33% of men and only 5% of leadership positions in the technology sector are held by women.

Some of the biggest tech companies are already actively working towards closing the gender gap. In the UK and Ireland, Hewlett Packard has committed to hiring a minimum of 50% female interns each year and is part of the Tech Talent Charter, which aims to build diversity in the tech industry.

CWJob’s own gender equality report found that respondents agreed that it’s down to organisations (50%) to drive change, ahead of the government (37%), universities (34%) and schools (30%). So, how can companies follow the lead of firms like KPMG and Hewlett Packard and help close the gender gap in the IT industry?

Build diversity into your company culture

According to investment research firm MSCI’s 2018 Gender Diversity Data report, a gender balanced workforce is more productive. The report found that employee productivity was higher in companies that had three or more women on the board of directors compared to those that only had one or no female directors.

For companies to build diversity into their culture, they need to proactively promote and recruit women into senior roles. Leadership development designed specifically for women can provide the opportunity to discuss aspirations and challenges that can be addressed as part of a company’s culture. Men should also advocate for a diverse culture and be aware of the underlying gender bias that can lead to men being promoted over women in leadership roles.

Diversity can be built into a company’s culture from the very beginning of the recruitment process. Rather than relying on unstructured face-to-face interviews where conscious or unconscious gender bias is more common, companies can use skills-based assessments to find the top tech talent. Using performance data on specific tasks can accurately and fairly assess a candidate’s suitability for a role.

Offer workplace flexibility

Advertising flexibility in job ads and offering it to existing employees can help attract and retain female staff. Offering full-time roles as part-time job shares, or with the option of remote working, can benefit both men and women, enabling them to balance work and family.

Similarly, providing the opportunity for men and women to share childcare can help reduce the gender gap. Shared Parental Leave and Pay allows working parents to share up to 50 weeks of leave and up to 37 weeks of pay between them until their child is 1. Making future parents aware that they have a legal right to Shared Parental Leave can influence the career decisions they make.

By actively promoting Shared Paternal Leave through case studies and guidance documents, companies can openly demonstrate their commitment to building flexibility into their workplace and reducing the gender gap.

By ensuring that recruitment processes are ‘returner’ friendly, women who have taken a career break will be more likely to re-apply for positions. By advertising roles in publications where returners are likely to be job searching and by supporting them during the recruitment process, companies will attract women back into roles for which they are already qualified.

Be transparent about salaries and working hours

The publishing of gender pay gap reports has helped identify the need for companies to be more transparent about their employee’s salaries. Having structured pay grades in place and publishing the information alongside job ads can encourage more women to apply.

Additionally, if companies advertise a role and the salary is negotiable, they should clearly state this on the ad to encourage more women to negotiate.

Provide access to external women’s networks

By providing women with access to external networks, they will have more resources and information to get ahead. Whereas typical networking events in the IT industry are male-dominated, women-only events can be more welcoming and provide more opportunity to discuss shared experiences and career goals.

They also provide access to women in senior leadership roles and help others find mentors to guide them. Likewise, women-only networks can help establish partnership opportunities and generate new business.

Appoint a diversity manager

Diversity managers help monitor the recruitment process and reduce biased decision-making by reviewing recruitment choices. When diversity managers occupy a senior position in a company, it instils trust in employees, knowing that the company is pro-actively trying to reduce gender balance.

Diversity managers typically have access to internal data, which can help identify biased recruitment patterns. Their role enables them to question business practices and request more information on how decisions were made.

They can also ensure that diversity strategies and policies are in place and adhered to accordingly.

Download the “Gender balance within IT” report

Find out what 300 IT key decision makers and senior professionals across the UK think about the gender balance in the industry in our latest report on women in IT.

Download our Women in IT report.