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Code First Girls and Tech Talent Charter Partner to Tackle Tech Diversity Crisis

Tech diversity champions Code First Girls has partnered up with Tech Talent Charter (TTC), a government-supported group of over 775 leading UK businesses and organisations. Through the partnership, the two entities hope to identify and provide recommendations to address the UK’s tech talent shortage and diversity crisis.

In a new collaborative report, Code First Girls and TTC have drawn on data from the largest community of qualified female software engineers and employees of TTC businesses across the UK including Gymshark, the Scottish Government, GCHQ, Transport for London, and Shell. Currently, around half of all women in tech drop out by the age of 35, adding to worries about growing digital skills, gender gaps and a tech diversity crisis.

Microsoft has estimated that, globally, there will be 149 million new jobs in software, data, AI, machine learning and cyber by 2025. UNESCO also revealed that by the same year, 5.8 million newly skilled graduates will be qualified for these roles, 20 per cent of which will be women. Based on these stats, in the near future, there will be one qualified woman for every 128 roles in technology globally.

Maternity leave, double standards between men and women, and family-life balance were found to be key blockers for female progression, top recommendations to retain women in tech include flexible working, enhanced parental leave policies, and reproductive healthcare, such as benefits for infertility disease, menstrual health and menopause.

Margaret Black, ambassador for Code First Girls, discussed her own decision to leave the workplace: “My reasons for leaving the workplace have been due to being offered a more comprehensive package that suits the needs of myself and my family better. I’ve often found that in male-dominated companies, a lot of the benefits around parental leave are very sparse, and leave new parents at a disadvantage.”

Finding an approach ‘fair to all workers’

TTC found that offering job flexibility upfront in job ads can increase the volume of applicants by around 30 per cent. Upfront flexibility also increases the proportion of female applicants. TTC’s data of over 210,000 tech employees in the UK shows that 88 per cent of tech employers reported offering flexible hours, with other flexible work options including:

  • Part-time working (83 per cent)
  • Job sharing (76 per cent)
  • Condensed hours (65 per cent)
  • Remote working (47 per cent)

Other examples of policies offered by tech companies include a four-day working week during the summer and uncapped holidays.

Emma Stewart, CEO of flexible working consultancy Timewise, commented on the importance of flexible policies: “Trying to attract diverse talent without offering flexible working is like going fishing without a net.

“To ensure diverse and inclusive workplaces, employers also need to offer flexible working from day one; consider all forms of flexible working (not just hybrid); and make sure that their approach is fair to all workers”.

‘The tech industry has for too long been a boy’s club’

Anna Brailsford, CEO of Code First Girls, discussed the collaborative report and the tech diversity crisis: “It is no secret that the tech industry has for too long been a boy’s club – but the dial is shifting and we want to accelerate that progress. With the UK continuing to suffer from a glaring skills gap, improving family leave and reproductive healthcare policies should be a first step to helping retain women in this vital industry.

“To get women into the industry – and crucially keep them there – we cannot ignore their needs. Through these recommendations, we hope that the industry can speed up its efforts to narrow the gender inequality gap and bring the tech industry into the 21st century.”

Lexie Papaspyrou, co-COO at Tech Talent Charter, also said: “If we are to make a difference in the fight for better gender diversity in tech, we must go beyond ‘just hire more women’. Tech workers are looking for companies that understand their desires around career development, flexibility, work-life balance, family forming, well-being and inclusion.

“We have a fantastic opportunity to grow the tech talent pipeline by tapping into new sources of talent and harnessing the skills already available, but businesses need to be informed on what this looks like in practice for their talent strategy. Our new report sets the bar for what it takes to attract, develop and retain women in tech, based on the efforts of hundreds of companies going through these challenges right now.”

Author

  • Tom joined The Fintech Times in 2022 as part of the operations team; later joining the editorial team as a journalist.

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