Why having a balanced workforce in the tech industry matters

Women should be well-represented in tech because they have much to offer and it's good business – and not just because it's politically correct

Why having a balanced workforce in the tech industry matters

A recent study by Mortimer Spinks, the employment agency, revealed that 40% of the UK’s female tech workforce is based in London. This was encouraging evidence that one of the world’s economic and business hubs is also leading the way when it comes to female representation in tech. However, it’s fair to say the industry as a whole still suffers from a distinct lack of diversity. The well-publicised gender pay gap certainly hasn’t helped the situation. Even though it’s illegal for men and women to be paid differently for carrying out the same work, it still happens.

I believe that in the tech field every organisation, regardless of scale, has a responsibility to treat people fairly, provide opportunity and nurture the best talent. After all, shaking up the status quo and offering a fairer alternative is at the heart of many tech companies’ propositions. So the question is, why would we do things internally any differently than we position ourselves externally?

It also makes good business sense to be diverse. There are countless studies which validate the benefits of bringing teams together who offer different skills, qualities and points of view and we’ve certainly found that to be true at carwow. We’re actively trying to ensure that our workforce is diverse and fairly paid, regardless of gender or any other factor. We hire people based on their skills and the cultural fit, rather than their gender or ethnicity. This isn’t just marketing spiel: women make up 25% of our employees and hold 30% of our senior management or leadership positions. We don’t have a specific diversity quota or checklist. Instead, we recruit the right people for the business. 

In fact, one of carwow’s three founders is a woman. Alongside myself and David Santoro, Alexandra Margolis has been at the helm from the start. David and I can’t imagine what our business journey would have been like without Alex working alongside us. Her contribution as our creative director also ensures that all users of our site have an excellent experience when they access our platform.

Alex is just one example of how women are enhancing our business every day but it’s not always been easy to attract women to our roles. Being both a tech and automotive company, we’re in two sectors where the phrase ‘male dominated’ gets used a lot. We’re consciously trying to buck that trend both internally for our employees and externally for consumers. For example, from a consumer point of view, 860,000 women in the UK are considering buying a car in 2016 and they’re a growing force in the market. With this is mind, it’s important to me that women are represented within carwow and have equal input into decisions. Having equality at all levels means we’re more likely to have a broader appeal. 

There are positive signs and several big tech companies have plans to expand their female workforce. For instance, Twitter aims to have a workforce that’s 35% female by the end of this year – slightly above Facebook’s current 33% figure. Meanwhile, Google’s female workforce made up 31% of its overall staff numbers at the last available count and Apple’s was 32%. Publishing these figures is an important part of spreading the message that tech is just as suited to women as it is to men. But it shouldn’t be a box-ticking exercise. No woman wants to be made to feel like she got the job to make up the numbers on the politically correct diversity stats. It’s about creating an open and inclusive attitude and a culture that invites, nurtures and celebrates the success of the individual, whether they’re male or female. 

Getting the tech sector to appeal more to women means we need to shout just as loudly about the successes of women like Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki. And we shouldn’t do this just because they’re women but because of the quality of their work and the value they add. As a collective industry, tech has a lot more work to do. 

James Hind
James Hind

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