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Five Ways to Attract, Engage and Retain Women in Tech

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As tech businesses boom across the UK, FDM Group, whose mission is to bring people and technology together, has given their top tips on attracting, engaging and retaining women in the industry. 

With this growth, it is imperative businesses start taking action to improve gender equality within the industry in order to see its continued growth. At the current rate, the gender gap is not expected to close until 2120 – which demonstrates the need for proactive change and significant strides to be made. 

In fact, according to the European Institute for Gender Equality, improving gender equality would result in a 3.5% increase in GDP per capita by 2025, equating to a huge one trillion euros in financial gains.

FDM, comments: “Women make up some of the most skilled professionals in the industry and by failing to attract, engage and retain women in tech, businesses are losing out. 

“It should be every business’ priority to address its current practices and make the appropriate changes to attract and retain more women. 

“Making these changes not only leads to financial gains for organisations – but aids in closing the gender pay gap and filling the huge demand for digital skills.” 

Here are five ways to attract, engage and retain women in tech: 

  1. Take action to address the gender pay gap in your organisation

A staggering 91% of tech companies pay their male employees a higher salary than female employees, resulting in a significant 16% gender pay gap – 11.6% higher than the national average! 

To address this, it’s imperative businesses focus on tackling issues such as implicit bias in the hiring and promotion processes. While this will vary depending on the type of organisation, to begin, identify the gender pay gap at your company and look at the areas needing the most improvement. From there, you can take steps to reduce this. 

Having an annual report to document any findings can be effective in keeping track of any progress – and holding the company accountable. This report should also be available to the public, for all employees and prospective workers to view. This way, your organisation is able to provide transparency, while being held responsible for making any necessary changes. 

  1. Create an inclusive work environment 

Inclusivity in the workplace should be a priority for businesses, as it not only has implications for employee happiness and job satisfaction but also has legal obligations to treat all employees fairly and impartially. 

Workplace discrimination and unfair treatment are some of the leading reasons for women to leave the tech industry, meaning inclusivity should be a top business priority for all organisations. 

To ensure a truly inclusive workplace, gender-neutral language should be used in marketing materials and job listings, as well as impartial hiring practices and merit-based appraisal processes. 

Incorporating gender inclusivity into the workplace will create a sense of belonging for your employees, leading to increased levels of satisfaction and happiness, as workers feel more valued. With this, studies have shown that happier teams are 31% more productive, which in turn leads to increased job satisfaction and reduced employee turnover. All of these will benefit the business in various ways, such as cost savings on hiring and training costs. 

  1. Implement representation at all levels

Advocating for female representation in senior leadership positions is a key part of creating an inclusive and successful work culture. One of the main contributors to such a large gender pay gap in tech is the lack of female representation in senior and higher-paying roles.

In the UK, only 22% of directors are women, yet research shows that having more women in executive and C-level positions can lead to an increase in business performance, and often outperform businesses that do not provide these opportunities to women. 

Furthermore, having female role models in leadership inspires junior female teams, who have reported that role models are important to their career success. 

Additionally, increasing female representation will help reduce the ‘only’ experience felt by many women in the professional world, which can lead to feelings of alienation,  having their ideas challenged or receiving derogatory comments. Ultimately, having more women in higher-paying, senior positions will foster a healthier work environment for everyone and help reduce the pay gap. 

  1. Provide family-friendly work benefits

In today’s job market, employees seek more than a decent salary; workplace benefits hold greater value. Remote work, private healthcare, and flexible hours are popular benefits, but preferences may vary depending on demographics. 

To attract and retain female employees, it is crucial to understand their desired policies and benefits, particularly those that address unique challenges such as maternity leave and family responsibilities. Family-friendly benefits, including breastfeeding rooms, maternity leave and pay, flexible hours, remote work, and childcare facilities or expenses, can improve job satisfaction. 

Sociology experts have termed the “motherhood penalty,” which highlights working mothers’ disadvantages compared to childless colleagues. Issues related to pay and perceived competence can lead to fewer commitments and dependability. Thus, family-friendly benefits should be an integral part of a company’s job offering to appeal to candidates choosing between companies.

  1. Invest in mentorships, internships and apprenticeships

Programmes such as mentorships, internships, and apprenticeships can be valuable tools in encouraging women to pursue careers in the technology industry. Given the gender disparity in STEM education, offering alternative entry routes is particularly important.

Having a mentor can provide much-needed support and guidance, especially for minority groups who can benefit greatly from having role models to learn from. Studies also show that mentorships can boost job satisfaction and confidence among employees – with 91% of workers who have a career mentor saying they are happy in their jobs, and 89% stating they believe their contributions are valued by their colleagues.

Internships and apprenticeships can also help women gain a better understanding of what a career in tech entails before committing to full-time education or a job in the field. Similarly, apprenticeships present an excellent opportunity to enter a specific industry and gain practical training. 

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