The banking and financial services sector is the industry most keen to attract female coders into their workforce. Starling Bank and Lloyds Banking Group become the latest major finance companies to actively search for female tech talent with Code First Girls.
They join 26 other banks and financial services companies, including Blackrock, Morgan Stanley, NatWest, Goldman Sachs, and Bank of America, in partnering with Code First Girls. Code First Girls is a UK provider of free coding courses for women. The financial sector is the largest and fastest growing proportion of Code First Girls’ hundred-strong client list, with fintechs and traditional banks alike keen to hire more women.
Meanwhile, new analysis of the latest ONS Labour Force Survey reveals that women make up only 18 per cent of computer programmers and software development professionals, web design professionals, and data analysts in the UK. There is also a significant gap in the finance industry with new analysis showing women make up just 30 per cent of UK brokers, financial analysts and advisers.
Guiding employers to make progress
This news comes as Anna Brailsford, CEO of Code First Girls, joins the Advisory Panel for the Women in Finance Charter – a commitment by HM Treasury and signatory firms to work together to build more gender-balanced teams across the financial services sector. In this role, Brailsford will play a vital role guiding the UK’s biggest employers on best practice to recruit and progress women.
Female-founded business Code First Girls is seeing an increasing number of women looking beyond roles offered by big tech firms, with organisations across all sectors needing tech talent. A recent survey by Code First Girls of more than 1,200 women showed that Goldman Sachs, NatWest, and Barclays feature in the top ten companies that female coders most want to work for. However, they still remain behind the dominant tech companies – Google, Spotify, Apple, Meta, Microsoft and Amazon – in popularity.
Anna Brailsford, CEO of Code First Girls
“There is a glaring gender gap in both the tech and financial services industries, which becomes even worse when you look at senior teams. These industries are critical for the UK’s economic competitiveness and innovation, but they need to diversify to better reflect the UK and benefit from female talent.
“Through partnerships with companies like Starling Bank and Lloyds Banking Group, we are helping women break into the industry by linking amazing talent with businesses globally.
“Our mission is to close the serious, long-term gender gap in the tech industry by giving women the opportunity to learn to code and get jobs in tech, at no cost to them. Finally, we’re growing at an incredibly fast pace, with businesses, government and universities across the country getting on board.”
Amanda Blanc, HMT’s Women in Finance Champion and Aviva Group CEO
“The Women in Finance Charter is now six years old and, in that time, the representation of women in senior management roles in financial services has increased by just 1% every year and in 2021 it was 0%. Progress is just too slow.
“There is no quick fix and it’s not just about recruiting at the senior management level. It’s also about the financial services industry developing its future talent and providing environments where women can thrive.
“That is why I am pleased to welcome Anna Brailsford to the Women in Finance Advisory Panel. Anna’s experience at Code First Girls and understanding of what motivates women in tech will be invaluable as we take urgent action to improve diversity in the sector.”
Teresa Ng, engineering lead at Starling Bank
“We have lots of brilliant women in our engineering teams at Starling. Technology is only ever as good as the people that build it, and if your engineers don’t have diverse backgrounds, genders, and ethnicities, you risk building a product with limitations and unconscious biases.
“The more women we can recruit into tech and finance, the more girls and women will aspire to enter the sectors, dismantling stereotypes of tech and finance as a ‘male space’ and improving the outputs of these sectors overall.”
Alison Rose, CEO at NatWest
“There’s never been a more exciting time in the UK’s thriving technology industry, yet women are still seriously under-represented.
“Despite widespread initiatives underway, data shows that the number of women working in the tech sector has remained consistently low over the past decade. This is in part attributed to smaller numbers of girls pursuing STEM subjects at school and lack of access to educational resources and role models for women looking to take up a career in tech.
“NatWest Group recognises the need to continually attract and retain a talented and diverse technology workforce. A diverse workforce ensures a variety of skills, insights, and experiences to draw upon as we innovate and offer our customer base the quality digital products and experiences they are looking for. Therefore, early-stage investment in diverse talent pipelines with partners like Code First Girls are helping us to proactively build this workforce.”
Sharon Doherty, chief people and places officer at Lloyds Banking Group
“We need diversity of all kinds across our team, so that we can fully represent the many different customers and communities we serve.
“At Lloyds Banking Group we’re committed to our aspiration of 50% of women in senior roles by 2025 and we’ve made great progress – but there’s still more we can do. Our aspiration becomes more challenging in some of our more technical areas, where the industry is still not attracting female talent into the pipeline in the same way that we are able to attract male talent.
“Partnerships with companies like Code First Girls are incredibly important to help the industry to encourage and support females into tech careers, so that we can ensure our technologists fully represent our incredible customers.”