What Can Employers Do?

Getting the best out of female talent

What do women want in the workplace?

- Sky has a women in leadership program - sponsor women to move into leadership roles

CodeFirstGirls: teach women to code and corporate arm which does conferences etc and now have 'working women who code'

Natasha Zelem - runs WiT events in Leeds

WHY get more women into tech?

  1. Decrease turnover. Why? Inclusive cultures have increased morale, opportunity and equality; so a change in mindset is what it offers
  2. Improve Retention: Reputation is more impactful than ever before. Note - study by PwC states that 83% of women seek careers w/businesses who demonstrate strong records of diversity and equality. 
  3. Increase Engagement and Performance. Inclusive workforce = higher satisfaction levels = increased employee engagement = increased performance. 
  4. Act as a true representation of your diverse customer base. Engaging and retaining a diverse audience requires a diverse approach and workforce. Women influence >85% of retail decision making so alignment representation in the workforce is imperative to retain and to continue to capitalise on this. 
  5. Widened talent tool.  Reflecting the diverse customer base and better able to develop, adapt, innovate and present; because without diverse workforce you have no diverse set of perspectives, input or outcomes and competition against others that do serve a larger demographic. 

Well, why not? Shouldn't really need to be having the conversation

- Value that it adds - perspective - bring something to the table

- Desperate business need - need 1m tech workers by 2020 - talent shortage

- Companies need to think about how they recruit, train etc and stop screening people out because they have unconventional backgrounds

- there are girls out there who like 'geeky' stuff but don't have the confidence to own it - stereotype fear from a young age

Barriers to entry/progression:

- don't see the pipeline, don't have the volume

- change how tech is perceived/messaged as a sector/profession

- only 8% of women completing computing A levels were women

- talk to people (pre-GCSE) about the benefits of working in tech

- we need to make sure that our leaders and everybody is constantly reinforcing barriers so that you can get rid of them. IT's not worth it anymore to have individuals who are unsupportive of gender equality.

- it matters when the individuals feel like an outsider (in an non-inclusive environment) and this is having an effect on their performance.

- those doing something about the problem, are doing so from the top-down and need to be championing the problem in order to show them/encourage/gain trust which will result in change.

- coding community

- moving up management chain: are we giving them the right opportunities, exposing them to the right opportunities?

- Women in leadership positions are 'unicorns'

What can we do?

- work shadow programs

- digital girl of the year (A levels) = 1 week work experience at laterooms.com

- mentoring

- anything you can do to increase the profile of women in tech will help

Most of our employers are men and so men need to be a part of this

Train recruiters: "Join us to create something different" rather than "do you want to be a Java Dev" gets a much bigger hit rate. Talk about building/creating/growing

- flexible working to work around family arrangements

- remote working: encourages flexibility for working parents

Loads of initiatives:

- Publishing pay-scale and GPG reporting

-progression scale

-quota / target for women in senior positions.

- offering money, scholarships

- redefining promotional structures and having a clear understanding of how you interpret the word 'meritocracy'. 

What initiatives don't work:

Talking and not doing anything about it: e.g. Sky doing it from top-down.

Need mentors/mentees to lead the change; its wonderful to have someone to sponsor them and talk to them; confide in; get their advice on how they can handle things. This equips women with skills to make clearer action toward the change.

Its not to make it patronising: e.g. Hairdryer ad; painting the venue pink; this is disillusioned. While intentions are good, there is much more to it than that.

Need to remain committed to the scheme and buy in to it, never giving up on it; really stick with it. its a longer term commitment and to stay committed all the way through.

Having expectations of women that are consistent with gender bias/stereotypes are dangerous.


Not going to create new ones... at graduate level perhaps; but the skill is often; Imposter syndrome; if they got the job just because they are women; even more discouraging; quotas are dangerous. No one wants to be the token individual there to fill the gap superfluously

Recruitment and candidates: have to work slightly harder to find the talent; but it is a way forward. Driving forward on 50:50 split in candidates; this could be a way forward.

Are you noticing the difference from when you don't have women/quota/balance: if there are women in the mix, you get a lot more done.

Any mixed environment is a healthy environment as you are better prepared to create products and services that are a fair representation of the community.

How you develop teams: tribes of the business; all teams should aspire to be diverse as it allows people to be themselves within their teams, and thats when you are putting in the right ingredients to see something successful.

Development teams: men are slowing down in gung-ho attitudes, because they are being challenged to think before they speak and say things with more sensitivity.

more innovation, better solution thinking

Loads of research that says that mixed teams are 20% more productive (Unilever); start to see results in terms of sales within those teams that they are developing. Logistically speaking being in the workplace as a women is more challenging, pair programming; really need you to be in the office to get things done; this is making things more difficult. All logistical challenges are individual challenges; I need this person in the business rather than in the office.

If they lose someone because they can't be there at 9AM; cost him £30k because of the lack of flexibility. This takes the lead of those teams, what is the cost of NOT having women in the business. Its not just having women in the business; but also having women and men in the business who are comfortable around one another and supportive of one another. A lot of people struggle to keep a work-life balance, which predisposes them to offer the same to people in that team.

PP: they have to be in the office; that doesn't work for women. A lot of these challenges are surmountable; Shelley 60's; 95% of people in the company were working part-time, from home, on their kitchen tables; so it shouldn't be an issue, but it doesn't require companies to think about what they really want to achieve and how important that is from not only a P&L point of view; but try to get the best out of your employees and be flexible to find a middle ground if you value them enough to do so.

What is working; what is not; get feedback . People are shy at talking about diversity; where are your strengths; what works in which companies; speak to people about how to deal with the challenges; join them, share stories with one another which provides a platform for how these problems can get solved.

Pair coding; flexible working hours; company facilitates that; they dial in; web-x; use technology to make it work. If you have a good functional team that work well with one another, you will find a way to solve the problem. That is the key to a successful organisation.

1. Treat people as individuals and look at the value that they can give to your company.

2. Everyone is involved in the tech community; go get someone excited about it

3. If you can be a role model; do be

4. Establish a team culture that shows mutual respect and flexibility

5. Shout about what you've done, find someone to mentor, get involved, spread the word

6. Demystify technology; inspire people to know more. 

Nicole Pretorius