A provider of leadership advisory and executive search services to the UK’s tech sector is calling for a shift in thinking to help address the industry’s current gender imbalance. Amrop UK is urging senior male leaders to take greater ownership of the current issue and to consider whether they can do more to attract females towards a future in the digital space.
David Bell, a Partner in the Digital Practice for Amrop UK, explains: “According to a global gender gap report compiled by the World Economic Forum in 2021, women make up just 14% of the workforce in cloud computing, 20% in engineering, and 32% in data and AI. Looking specifically at the UK, a report by Tech Nation revealed that 77% of tech directors were men and that only 19% of the tech workforce were women.
“Despite the well-document benefits that diversity can bring to any business, there is clearly a lack of it in IT today. This seems surprising for an industry where innovation and disruption can be the key to significant commercial success. Employing people who see the same problem from diverse perspectives – whether that’s because of their gender, ethnicity or life experiences – is vital to challenging convention and to keeping the ideas tap turned on.”
Amrop UK has a strong track record of partnering with mid-market tech companies to help them resolve specific talent challenges including those relating to succession planning, digital transformation and diversity, equality and inclusion. It’s this hard-won expertise that the business is drawing on to make its current recommendations.
Amrop UK fully recognises that the most, if not all, companies are trying to address gender imbalance but believes that too often their efforts are focused on increased training and support for existing female employees. Experience has shown that this is frequently insufficient to bring about change.
In addition, the focus of this activity is too narrow and essentially segregates the issue to being a female-only concern rather than positioning it as a broader company-wide performance problem.
Instead, Amrop UK is advocating that as part of their greater ownership of the issue, male leaders, who are currently prevalent in the industry, must ensure the education of everyone in their organisation on the need for diversity regardless of their seniority or role. This is especially important for start-ups where the pace of change is rapid, and leaders are often inexperienced in managing their diversity situation.
Amrop UK also champions the need to ‘break the bias’ and for businesses to consider recruiting from talent pools they may have not considered previously. This could entail looking at female professionals who are neurodivergent as well as those returning from career breaks or who are seeking part-time or job share roles.
According to Amrop UK, an openness to hybrid, remote and flexible working can also help to redress the balance. Plus, the company supports the notion that you don’t have to be ‘techie’ to work in the tech industry. The sector requires many transferrable skills, some of which are often more pronounced in females such as an aptitude for critical thinking, collaboration and communication.
Another important step businesses can take is to create a mixed sex team to not only lead and implement their gender inclusion strategy but also to secure buy-in from all stakeholders by explaining the strong business case that supports diversity. For example, Debbie Forster MBE, the Founder of the Tech Talent Charter, has stated that diverse companies have a 45% increased chance of growing their market share and a 75% increased chance of capturing new markets.
Finally, Amrop UK recommends tech businesses actively facilitate the fast-track progression and development of a high potential woman within their organisation, enabling her to become an important role model for others.
Summing up, David Bell adds: “We know that many tech companies are addressing their diversity gaps, creating more inclusive work environments and providing employees with the resources they need to work effectively and grow. The industry is also trying to help itself with initiatives like the Tech Talent Charter, but the current pace of change is too slow and more needs to be done.
“Data clearly indicates that managing diversity and inclusion effectively results in improved operational and financial performance. This type of success can only occur though if the entire organisation is engaged and specifically, if men are willing to take ownership of the performance improvement and join their female counterparts in owning the equitable workplace.”