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What role could AI play in tackling workplace gender disparity?

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ARTICLE SUMMARY

Unleashing the power of AI for gender equality in tech! Louise Newbury-Smith, UK & Ireland Country Manager at RingCentral, explores how AI can be a game-changer in breaking gender barriers in the tech industry.

All businesses are racing to implement AI and many are quickly seeing the benefits of it – from increased productivity through to levelling up business operations.

gender disparity

In fact, in the Autumn budget announcement, the government introduced a £500m investment to support AI innovation across various industries.  

Beyond innovation, I believe AI can play a critical role in the technology sector, particularly supporting tackling gender disparity. At present, women make up 27% of roles in IT and new research even suggests that women are naturally less suited to working in the sector. Upholding these harmful beliefs will only deter women further from the sector when there is a real opportunity for them.  

So why is AI fundamental to solving this crisis? Further to its involvement with innovation, the democratisation of AI has lowered the barriers to entry for businesses. This means that they now have an opportunity to implement this technology to support employees and create equal opportunities. I believe AI is uniquely placed to tackle some of these workplace challenges and level the playing field for all to develop fruitful careers within the industry. 

With 45% of our new starters at RingCentral UK being women, we are always looking to further enhance our ways of working to suit everyone.In this article, I will explore how AI can support breaking down barriers to careers in the tech industry and how businesses can look at implementing this technology. 

Understanding the gender disparity 

In order to tackle the issue of gender disparity, businesses need to understand the impact that this inequality has on growth, retention and revenue. Providing clear reasons that explain why tackling this issue needs to be a priority, can help teams to have difficult conversations and put support in place that can help resolve the issue of gender disparity within a business.   

Gender inequality is rife in the IT sector. Lack of equal representation within a business can have real implications on reputation. At a time when DE&I (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) is a priority for workers, two-thirds of employees say that they will look for a new job if DE&I is not prioritised by their employer. This can also impact revenue, with companies being 15% more likely to perform better when their teams are made up of a gender-diverse mix of candidates.   

It’s clear from the data that there are significant ramifications if businesses don’t address gender inequality within businesses. However, it can be difficult for businesses to know how to invest their budgets in order to find the best way of tackling the disparity. If businesses are to choose AI as a tool to support this effort, they need to be clear on how their employees view its ability to support their careers at work. 

gender disparity

AI as a piece of the puzzle 

Our own research shows that 49% of women view AI as something that could help them in their job, yet 69% aren’t currently using it at work. This untapped potential could be the key for businesses to create fairer and more equitable work environments. 

Productivity is a key area in which AI can support. Though the solution to the issue of disparity is more complex than increasing productivity, helping with this aspect of a job can enhance the confidence of women in the tech sector. Our research also highlighted that 33% of women viewed AI as something that could help with meeting transcriptions, a critical way to boost productivity.  

Beyond support to manage day to day activities, implementing AI in this way can in turn support women in balancing other aspects of their personal lives. For example, working mothers may benefit from the time freed up in the day to focus on childcare responsibilities. The flexibility provided with AI can enable schedule tracking, allowing workers to build out blocks of time during the day, so that they can focus on specific tasks, shifting into deep work mode and producing better results for the business.  

Ensuring a level AI playing field 

As businesses look to invest in AI, its important people remain at the heart of the implementation strategy. Your employees know and understand what tools they need to support their day-to-day work, therefore taking a people-first approach to AI can help businesses to ensure they are using allocated budgets effectively. So, what could be a good return on investment for today’s workforce?

Businesses can implement unified communication platforms that naturally embed AI tools. This means solutions like meeting scheduling and task management empower employees to take greater control over their day and give them time to focus on delivering items that deliver greater business value.  In selecting tools that are already harnessing AI and are easy to use, businesses become more attractive to potential female candidates,with 49% of women viewing AI as a technology that can help them.  

What next? 

Number five of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals is to “achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.” If we are to achieve this goal by 2030, businesses should double down on their efforts to support women in the workplace. AI is poised to support several facets of our lives in years to come and if implemented, will play a strategic role in supporting women in the tech sector. This is one piece of a larger issue to tackle. However, we all have to start somewhere, and I believe the IT sector is primed for AI adoption and supporting women in tech-centric careers now, and for years to come.    

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