Following on from International Women’s Day, we spoke to experts across a number of industries about what comes next, how obstacles can be overcome and what success looks like to them.
Fighting for the future
Each year, women make significant progress in tackling the issues they face every day, however, there are new challenges being identified all the time.
“The sector has battled a notorious reputation as a ‘boy’s club’ for decades,” says Bev Markland, Chief People Officer at Agilitas. “And whilst we have seen improvements in gender diversity over recent years – 25% of tech company board seats are held by women now compared to 17.4% in 2018 – there is still a considerable amount of work to do to balance the scales.”
This statement reflects what is frequently seen in headlines, with one recent article highlighting that gender diversity in tech leadership fell from 86% in 2020 to 59% in 2021. However, with female representation in tech workforces in 2022 up slightly more than 2% from 2019, technology businesses must continue to push and overcome these systemic issues.
Courtney Hopkins, VP, Strategic Partnerships, EMEA at Rokt agrees, with the company putting these efforts front of mind. “We are a hyper-growth community that embraces diversity within the workplace and strives towards unleashing the potential of people and ecommerce.
“Being mission-driven, Rokt embraces transparency as a cornerstone for fostering diversity across its business, building a people-first community and empowering all employees by embedding it in every aspect of the company, such as publishing salaries, weekly CEO reports and an annual conference. This transparency allows equal opportunities for all, regardless of gender, race, or background.”
What does success look like?
Success for women can mean different things depending on their experiences, backgrounds, and cultures. For success to be instilled in the female workforce, it needs to be encouraged from a young age.
“From an early age boys are encouraged to make mistakes that they can learn from,” says Debby Clement, VP of Talent at Pax8. “This naturally breeds confidence to try new things and gives boys the belief that they can push themselves to new limits and achieve success in all walks of life. This includes their careers, where they are actively encouraged – and feel confident enough – to take risks for professional success.”
However, an area that has seen significant achievements for women in recent years has been an increased representation in positions of power. Women have and continue to break down barriers in fields such as politics and business, and in industries ranging from retail to manufacturing.
“There have been some improvements but unfortunately I believe there is a long way to go,” expands Carmel Doyle, Operations Director, Europe & Asia, Teamwork Commerce. “I still see many times when men are held in higher regard than women in the same position or females are passed up on progressing in their career because of their gender.”
With dedicated support internally, businesses can build a culture that empowers women and pushes them to not just feel comfortable in their roles but creates somewhere where they feel they can flourish on rewarding career paths. This is something that we are already seeing in a number of technology sectors.
“In my role as Chief People Officer, I take pride in assembling and maintaining this diverse and inclusive workforce,” explains Markland. “This is not just the key to our own success as a business but also to the sector overall.”
Hopkins agrees. “Women who Rokt, is a group which is dedicated to empowering the women within our workforce. The group is open to all Rokt’stars and hosts multiple events throughout the year. Creating a space for groups such as this works to build a safe and open space for women to discuss what matters to them, share their successes and aid others in reaching their full potential.”
How do we go about breaking down barriers?
One of the main areas frequently discussed is how the industry can support those who have additional responsibilities outside of the working day that require them to operate differently to those around them. Despite this becoming a necessity in the current climate, many organisations aren’t always sure where to begin when it comes to implementing new ways of working.
“Looking at the working day structure and providing flexible working options to mothers,” says Doyle. “Also continuing to learn by reading about gender equity and equality issues. By providing access to resources that can help women achieve their career goals, companies can recognise the Gender Pay Gap issue and ensure that all positions are paid equally regardless of gender.”
However, in order for new requirements to take effect, traditional ways of working need to take a back seat. The workplace is a different place post pandemic and needs to continue to evolve and nurture its team members.
“These older ways of thinking provide a stereotypical view of a woman’s role in society, before new ideas and expectations became essential,” says Georgina Goff, Marketing.
Communications & Sustainability EMEA at Flex. “For example, a clear inhibitor to career progression was the view that, as the primary caregiver, women had to strike a balance between work and home life.
“Such a sentiment is backed by numerous studies which present the socially constructed difference between the sexes and how they approach careers, where men were free to focus on their careers while women ought to prioritise their family.
So what are the next steps for technology organisations?
“To overcome this, the challenges for equality and equity within a workplace are ongoing, regardless of the industry,” concludes Goff. “This, together with ‘maternal wall’ biases has led to an erosion of confidence in women who might otherwise aspire to hold a leadership position. It remains a factor that gives rise to the imbalance in gender still seen today.”