Women in technology: Stronger together
Women in Tech The technology sector has a wealth of organisations, networks and individuals who are striving for more women to enter the industry, and due to growing research we are becoming more aware of the benefits of a diverse workforce.
According to research from McKinsey companies that are top for gender diversity are 15 per cent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians. In addition, companies that have at least one female on the board reduce the chance of bankruptcy by 20 per cent.
So if we are starting to understand the strengths of diversity and the benefits that come from a mixture of ideas and experiences, why are we not collaborating and joining forces more as an industry?
Understandably, people want to keep their competitive edge and are reluctant to share ideas out of fear that they are giving another company or individual a competitive advantage. However, when people do not work together it creates cliques and fragmented agendas and the same applies for the tech sector’s mission to close the gender gap.
When the industry is not working together we are all creating our own agendas and that can hinder us rather than help. If organisations do not share their ideas, knowledge and findings then the dial on gender will never move.
Besides, working together fosters creativity and innovation that in turn creates that all-important competitive edge. The exchange of knowledge and expertise can only strengthen relationships between companies, networks and individuals who share a mutual passion for change in the tech industry.
A whitepaper from techUK, last year, summed this up perfectly. The whitepaper entitled: We’re just not doing enough: Working together to meet the digital skills challenge stressed the need for better collaboration to address the digital skills gap in the UK.
According to the whitepaper the UK economy is losing a potential £2bn from unfilled roles that require digital skills. Yet as an industry the tech sector is tackling the issue disjointedly.
A few months ago I was at a tech event where a panel of speakers called for more females to step forward as role models, however they failed to offer any support on how to actually do so. I was left thinking that I would love to help but what can I do? How do I connect with local schools? What do I say when I get there?
I started to piece together all of work that I have witnessed from passionate not-for-profits in the industry and I realised that I could answer all of these questions. However not everyone gets to experience the industry from a birds eye view, so I started to think of a way that would bring all of these organisations together to promote their work and in turn support future role models on their journey to inspire the next generation. Not just a single voice calling for more role models, but a united force actually creating them.
Based on this idea WeAreTheCity collaborated with Morgan Stanley to hold an event that enabled 15 not-for-profits to share their joint mission, of closing the IT gender gap, with 150 women who were keen to step forward as role models. Through working together the event’s message was stronger and the future role models were made aware of all of the options available to them to volunteer and make a difference.
I truly believe that if we do more as an industry to work together towards the common goal of more women in tech - to collaborate on ideas, leverage resources where possible and share best practice - then we will be a greater force for change instead of a fragmented sector of single voices.
Vanessa Vallely, founder of WeAreTheCity who also sits on the Government Digital Services committee, said: “I have always been a true believer that together we are stronger, especially when it comes to change.
“Through the joint efforts of so many organisations who share the same purpose, we must attract more women in to the tech industry and retain our existing talent. We also need to ensure that the women in the middle feel equally supported by their organisations and able to see a clear path for progression.”
“If we aspire to a future where there are an equal number of women in senior tech roles as there are men, we must focus on how we build a robust pipeline of women who will progress into senior positions. I don’t believe this can or will be achieved over night, however through the collective efforts of so many, over time, it is achievable”