Diversity in the tech sector has long been recognised as a challenge but despite widespread recognition of the issue we are still a long way from resolving it. Gender balance in particular is still a major problem with women only accounting for 23% of the workforce in digital technologies roles.
In order to identify ways of addressing this ScotlandIS consulted with a range of members to gather ideas and create an ‘Action Plan’. The consultation engaged with women across the membership from large and small companies, including a focus group and follow-up consultations with individuals.
This generated a number of actions focused on what ScotlandIS can do and influence to support employers in increasing the diversity of their (technology) workforce, without duplicating existing initiatives. Updates on progress will posted in due course.
Gender Equality is Good for Business
Improving equality and diversity in the workplace is widely recognised not only as the socially responsible thing to do, but the economically beneficial thing to do.
- Skills shortage – if you are struggling to recruit, you need to appeal to all parts of the talent pool, not just the usual suspects
- without inclusiveness and diversity around the production table, there is a risk that technology will not meet the needs of its diverse consumer base.
- positive impact women’s inclusion on profitability, company reputation and productivity, shows research from recognised sources like McKinsey
Women in digital tech – where are we now?
For some years, the proportion of women in digital technology roles stalled around 17%, in Scotland the rest of the UK. Workforce statistics from 2017 , however, have shown an increase to 23.4%. This is encouraging but there still is much more room for improvement, not just in the workforce but also in the talent pipeline. From schools through to colleges and universities, girls and young women are under-represented in STEM subjects. More facts about women in Scotland’s digital technologies sector and the talent pipeline are available here.
What can employers do?
Digital Scotland, in partnership with Equate Scotland, developed a best practice guide for employers in the digital technologies industry that want recruit, retain and develop more women in their organisations. The guide includes practical advice for businesses of different sizes and with different levels of experience in gender diversity. Case studies from ScotlandIS member companies FanDuel, Simul8, BT and Sky illustrate how this advice is put into practice and how easy it is to get started. Have a look at the guide here.
Various tools and support mechanisms are available to take actions towards gender diversity, for example:
- Workshops on unconscious bias, inclusive leadership and other topics, by Equate Scotland
- Self-assessment tool to assess your current employment practices and provide tailored advice and guidance for SMEs, by Close The Gap
- Advertise your vacancies on the Equate Career Hub which specifically targets women in STEM and offers advice on how improve your job advert to get more female applicants
- Inspire the next generation and become a STEM Ambassador that speaks to school children and shows them how exciting a career in digital tech can be, STEMNET can help to get involved
- DigitalXtra Fund supports young people to get involved in coding or digital making activities, regardless of gender, background, or location. Learn how you can support this to grow the talent pipeline.
Many more ways to take action are described in the best practice guide.
Women in Tech Groups
Networks of women in digital technologies can contribute a great deal to a feeling of belonging by women to their employers and the wider sector. This is crucial to retain and develop more women in the industry. We are currently aware of the following networks of women in tech in Scotland:
- Scotland Women in Technology (SWiT)
- Girl Geek Scotland
- Women Who Code Edinburgh
- Ladies of Code Glasgow
- PyLadies Edinburgh
You can support them by encouraging your staff to attend, offer meeting space or sponsorship.