Workingmums.co.uk has published a white paper on women in technology.
Getting more women into the tech sector, particularly into technical jobs, requires a range of initiatives, policies and practices with multiple partners, from outreach to schools and universities to retraining to fill skills gaps, according to a workingmums.co.uk white paper.
The Women in Technology white paper is based on a recent roundtable of 15 progressive employers hosted by Santander and is part of a workingmums.co.uk series on issues related to diversity and flexible working.
The roundtable heard that many employers were having to think creatively about how to address skills shortages generally and diversity was an important element of this.
Participants mentioned many initiatives such as returner programmes and internal retraining programmes aimed at upskilling the workforce and giving women the technical skills they needed to plug gaps. Joint partnerships and sharing information on best practice were seen as an important way of making progress.
The white paper covers everything from outreach, recruitment and culture to returners and partnerships.
On outreach, employers emphasised the need to widen the pool of universities they recruited from and draw on a wider skills set, to work with schools on technology initiatives and to ensure initiatives were UK-wide. They also spoke about the need for internal training programmes to upskill a more diverse body of people.
Due to the shortage of women in senior positions in tech, participants spoke about how women in the industry faced overstretch as they were asked to attend outreach sessions, sit on interview panels and so forth to encourage more women into the industry.
Recruitment issues included paying attention to all aspect of job adverts, from language used to the titles of jobs, encouraging candidates to apply if they do not meet all the criteria in a job post, ensuring diverse interview panels, training hiring managers about flexible hiring, being proactive on social media and stating jobs are open to flexible working.
On culture, there was an emphasis on initiatives that get managers to ‘live and breathe’ diversity, such as reverse mentoring, setting clear expectations on hours worked, the importance of role modelling flexible working, ensuring flexible working is not just a head office issue and encouraging open conversations about issues relating to flexible working and diversity through setting up networks and using internal communications/social media.
Participants spoke in detail about their returner initiatives and how support such as mentoring and buddying were needed to boost confidence in the same way that maternity returners and new graduates are supported.