5 Reasons to #BreaktheBias
by Charlotte Cain, Head of People & Culture at PDMS
The latest statistic published by STEM Women was that in 2019, only 24% of the STEM workforce in the UK are women. Source: Women in STEM
Despite increasing marginally each year there is certainly a shortfall of women in the STEM workforce and noticeably in technology. Having personally worked in the technology sector for the majority of my career, women have always been in the minority, particularly within the most technical positions.
So why should we #BreaktheBias when it comes to gender equality in the tech sector?
- Greater diversity of thought
- Digital Skills Gap is an issue, women are an untapped resource to fill that gap
- Creating a fairer and equitable workplace which in turn will create better engagement and retention
- Creating a wider and deeper talent pool of skills and experience
How can we achieve this? We can all play our part by implementing the following five points into our lives:
1. Start from the very beginning and teach women from a young age
Skills and interests are often formed early on when girls are growing up. I’ve been involved in Love Tech, an Isle of Man-based charity aiming to inspire young girls to undertake careers in STEM. It focuses on providing mentorships and real-life examples of women in STEM careers through regular events, awareness, and interactive sessions. It’s important to expose young girls to the variety of potential careers that are out there, nurture their interests and spread that awareness from an early age to provide knowledge, opportunities and decisions to help set them on their future career path.
2. Employ more women in the workplace
Enable a more flexible environment to encourage women to work at your company, take down those barriers which prevent women from being successful in those roles. Thinking about policies for example, concerning family, maternity, shared parental leave and menopause will all enable flexibility to allow women to thrive in the workplace. Additionally, the more examples there are of successful women in the workplace, the more role models there are for other women to follow in their footsteps, particularly if they are in senior positions. Looking at recruitment practices and ensuring there isn’t any unconscious bias is pivotal to ensure that women are assessed fairly in the first place is also an important step.
3. Acknowledging, appreciating and understanding that having women in the workplace is essential for a successful and diverse business.
Actively being aware of how women can add a different perspective into a situation or environment can help to enhance productivity, creativity and encourage these opportunities to have an input. Women have different perspectives, thoughts and experiences which can all add to a more inclusive workplace, we should be making efforts to embrace this and providing platforms for women to demonstrate this alternative approach. Actively promoting diversity and inclusion has a positive effect on the bottom line and is a powerful depiction of how inclusivity underpins successful business.
4. Offering women support in the workplace and ongoing training to retain them
Ensuring there are sustainable pathways for women to progress into. Offering training and retraining where necessary to encourage development. This is paramount when women are returning to the workplace after, for example, maternity leave. Additionally, it’s important to create a supportive environment and network for women. When you’re perhaps the only woman in a group of men, it can be lonely and intimidating, so by creating opportunities and forums for women to speak to others in the same position, and building a network of support is incredibly important to combat issues such as self-doubt, imposter syndrome etc which are often experienced by those in this situation.
5. Create awareness
International Women’s Day #BreaktheBias is bringing the issue to the spotlight, to educate us, and encourage us to self-reflect on our thinking, our actions, our decisions and make us conscious of those bias’. Actively creating awareness within your company will create discussions, debates, and ultimately change people’s understanding and thoughts around this. It’s important that everyone is welcome to the table for this important discussion and that it creates a truly equal environment where everyone understands and recognises the role they must play. This will then help people to feel that they can challenge any bias’ that exist and help to correct our actions.
PDMS has been strong supporters of Love Tech, with both myself and PDMS’ COO, Jayne Hartley holding positions on the committee, in addition to many staff members of PDMS attending their events over the years.
We are continually analysing our processes, our thinking and our decision-making to #BreaktheBias and making efforts to eliminate gender bias specifically. We all know the answer as to why it’s important to not have bias within our businesses, but we must actively ensure those unconscious bias’ are being addressed in our day-to-day life.
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