Six companies aiming to close the tech gender gap

Closing the gender gap in tech won't be easy, but these organisations are certainly proving it's possible.

Gender diversity is one of the most prevailing issues facing technology organisations today. Statistics from Tech Nation show that just 19% of the IT workforce are women and that 22% of tech directors are women.

While it's clear that this industry is largely dominated by men, many organisations are making great strides in closing the gender divide. From appointing more women at C-level to encouraging young people to pursue careers in tech, here are some of the things organisations are doing to improve diversity.

Park Place Technologies

When it comes to closing the gender gap, many would argue that it starts with education and more should be done in schools, colleges and universities to inspire girls and young women to pursue careers tech. Jennifer Deutsch, CMO of Park Place Technologies, says: "Encouraging girls into STEM at an early age, at home and at school, is one of the keys to addressing gender stereotypes."

Deutsch believes businesses can do this by providing young people with opportunities to get a taste of working in tech. "Businesses offering work experience placements give young girls first-hand experience in what a career in technology entails, and the opportunity to build the necessary skills before entering the world of work."

To help encourage more young females to develop careers in the technology industry, Park Place Technologies ran a national competition earlier this year. Two successful college students were provided with a ten-day internship programme at its US headquarters. Deutsch believes that such programmes are invaluable both for an organisation and students.

She says: "For the students it gives them first-hand experience of the type of work involved with that industry, and for the organisation, it can be used as a recruitment process to identify future talent who could one day join the business once they have completed their studies."

This strategy certainly seems to be working. Females make up 24.3% of the firm's global workforce, while the industry average is 16%. What's more, five female leaders sit on its executive leadership board.

Sitecore

In the tech sector, the majority of executive teams are still male-dominated. Research shows that less than 11% of women hold executive positions in Silicon Valley. Paige O'Neill, Chief Marketing Officer at Sitecore, says it's not uncommon for women to find they are the only ones in a meeting, on a panel or in the boardroom.

She tells IDG Connect: "We understand that to be a leading organisation you need greater diversity of people and experiences to make better decisions and be more innovative, and this is the environment we're striving to create for Sitecore."

As part of efforts to close the gender divide, Sitecore has built a C-suite that is 40% female. The firm also runs a support network and mentorship programme to ensure its employees are heard and to encourage women into senior positions.

O'Neil adds: "We've put measures in place to ensure a better balance is maintained across the organisation. For example, our CEO Mark Frost works with HR to ensure there is an equal number of qualified male and female candidates for consideration for all of his direct report positions, and I do the same for marketing."

Samsung Next

Samsung Next is another organisation that views diversity and inclusion as top priorities across its business. From an investment perspective, the company aims for diverse founding teams in at least 20% of the deals presented to its investment committee. It's also launched a pay practice initiative to make sure everyone is paid fairly. 

Christina Bechhold Russ, a director, says: "We recognise that diverse, inclusive teams with demographic, experiential and cognitive variety perform better. We're using third party analysis to help ensure no unjustified pay discrepancies exist within our team.

"This is important as more than just a means of ensuring gender parity. Any business that fails to recognise and support women will likely have other blind spots when it comes to supporting other groups too."

Hitachi Vantara

Renée Lahti, chief information officer of Hitachi Vantara, says making a real difference goes beyond simply advocating for gender diversity. She believes that organisations should be more flexible and agile when they recruit top talent and explore new avenues for attracting more people into the industry.

She tells IDG Connect: "The importance of inclusion has often been overshadowed by diversity, but if you don't listen to employee ideas and introduce these insights into the decision-making process, chances are your business won't achieve the type of social impact it hopes for."

Hitachi Vantara has taken a number of steps to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Lahti says: "We recently launched new initiatives designed to broaden Hitachi's gender diversity along with people of color, military veterans and LGBTQ+.

"Commitments like these enable us to deliver on our ‘double bottom line' that allows us to drive success on a business and societal level. And we are not alone - in a report titled, ‘Delivering Through Diversity,' McKinsey found that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on their executive teams were 21 percent more likely to experience above-average profitability.

McAfee

Security giant McAfee takes the view that diversity should be built into every single process, programme and initiative. To ensure male and female employees are recognised and rewarded equally, the firm has implemented an annual diversity study and a monthly review of gender statistics. And as part of its recruitment process, job advertisements use gender neutral language and interview panels include both sexes.

Last year, 27.1% of global hires at McAfee were women, there was a 12% increase in women being promoted to leadership roles, and 13% of US hires were underrepresented minorities. Adam Philpott, president of EMEA at McAfee, says building diverse teams should be a no-brainer for businesses as it has clear benefits.

He tells IDG Connect: "Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15 per cent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians, while having a wider bank of perspectives and expertise to draw on. Above all, diversity in the workforce leads to a stronger ability to both problem-solve and serve customers of all backgrounds and perspectives."

Nominet

Nominet is one of the companies that has signed up to the Tech Talent Charter to raise awareness of diversity and share best practices. Other practical steps Nominet has taken include targeted advertising to appeal to diverse candidates and the launch of a digital skills training programme.

Eleanor Bradley, Managing Director Of Registry Solutions and Public Benefit at Nominet, says: "Women make up just 16% of the technology workforce in the UK, and across the pond it remains a problem even at the biggest tech companies - with women holding under 30% of tech jobs at some of the world's leading tech companies, for example.

"It's crucial the industry demonstrates the breadth of roles and career paths for the women working in technology, ensuring those in the sector remain visible to inspire the next generations of workers to consider a role alongside us."