According to recent ONS labour market report, there is a huge gender imbalance in IT and technology. Only 18% are female compared to 50% in other industries. Why is there such a gender imbalance in our industry and is this affecting our competitive advantage?
From a purely marketing point of view, having balanced and diverse teams, gives us a wide range of skills, helping us to develop products for a wider audience. The more we can understand the needs of our audience, the better our products will be, and the more we should sell. When developing new technologies and unique solutions, we need to ensure that we are connecting with all of our audience. McKinsey found that organisations with ethnic, social and gender diversity were 33% more likely to outperform their industry average. By hiring similar people, with similar skill sets, we will no doubt miss opportunities.
Speaking to business owners in the channel, there are a mixture of opinions that range from, ‘it’s not much of an issue’ to ‘I want to hire the best person for the job, but don’t see a diverse range of candidates to choose from.’ The issue seems to be that women and other minorities are not applying for vacancies or rising through the ranks quickly enough. So, what’s the problem?
Fewer females are taking STEM subjects than males from the age of 14 onwards. As parents we can try to keep career paths open and encourage STEM subjects. As individuals we can become role models to demonstrate what is possible. As businesses we can offer work experience placements, apprenticeship schemes and graduate placements. We can run mentoring schemes and personal development support. We can look at our recruitment communications and processes to make sure we are not putting off potential candidates with unconscious bias. We can look at career progression and development internally. We can look at making hours flexible and encourage working from home. We can share maternity leave and think outside the box to be more inclusive to all groups, using technology to help us.