How Businesses are Putting Gender Equality Back in the Tech Sector

Kombo Magara, Senior People Partner, EMEA, SafetyCulture

It’s certainly no secret that the technology sector is still an incredibly male-dominated field. With only 27% of female students saying they would consider a career in technology, compared to 61% of males, the facts betray the truth no matter which way you look.

Many people are passionate about changing these shocking statistics and contributing to an equal future – for an industry built on strong foundations for championing women in the workplace in the early days of computing.

All too often, however, the focus is on recruitment rather than championing, supporting and celebrating the women in your business. However, companies can adopt a few key steps to ensure the male/female split equalises – and that your female staff stick around for the long-term, building an equal workplace for good.

Implement meaningful policies

With more significant roadblocks in the way of success, businesses should start thinking about implementing policies that matter to female employees and enact real change. Menopause or family leave policy, which can empower senior females to continue working in the industry, are just some examples. SafetyCulture has also implemented a miscarriage leave policy in the UK to recognise women’s struggles while working and starting a family. This leave policy has introduced ten days of fully paid miscarriage leave per year for all female employees.

We launched the global miscarriage leave policy in line with Kin Fertility’s #WeNeedMoreLeave campaign. Kin Fertility, an Australian telehealth start-up, is leading the movement to encourage businesses to raise the bar to create supportive and safe environments for women in the workplace. Since starting the #WeNeedMoreLeave campaign, Kin has welcomed companies, including the likes of Canva, Blackbird, Gritty Pretty, LinkTree, Milkdrop and Simply Wall St, to the initiative, providing more than ten days of miscarriage leave.

Host female-led events and take part in initiatives

By hosting female-led events, businesses will attract female talent and give their female employees a platform to share experiences. Relatable role models are invaluable, and companies should ensure they’re showcasing the talent they have while attracting new talent and even new clients at the same time.

Outside your own four walls, there are numerous female-led initiatives to empower and champion women in your workplace. For example, we’ve been nominated for the Northern Power Women Awards for several years now, which aims to accelerate gender equality and social mobility from the North of England – and it has become a cornerstone of our approach.

We have also committed to building a more equitable ecosystem in our local tech community by hosting Women in Tech events. Women in Tech is a nationwide group supporting women to break into the tech industry. We work specifically with their Northwest chapter to host events, with the most recent attracting over 70 attendees. We aim to change the under-representation of women in tech, where only one in ten IT workers in the IT industry are women and women are paid 16% less than their male counterparts doing the same job. By partnering with these communities and initiatives – whose sole purpose is to better represent women in tech in the Northwest – we can enact real change.

One such example is Women In Tech North. WIT North is a volunteer-led community, which over the past seven years, has grown to 2,500 members – and is committed to building an inclusive community to drive diversity in tech better.

Co-Lead Kate Wood described the impact that is partnering with like-minded organisations, such as Safety Culture, has had on the community: “It’s fitting that I am hosting a panel celebrating Allyship on IWD, as the team at SafetyCulture have demonstrated the true meaning of the allyship over the past 18 months. Many of our members come to events alone which can be daunting if the location is different each month. As a volunteer-run community, knowing we have a regular venue with refreshments where our members feel comfortable and confident, is invaluable to us. This allows us to focus on the imbalance of diversity in the sector, and supporting, mentoring and promoting careers.”

Address underrepresentation head on

In the last year, we’ve also worked with Prince’s Trust to support young women from underrepresented backgrounds to see a route into a tech career – we facilitated an advisory course in our Manchester SafetyCulture office with a representative of Prince’s Trust to showcase how to start a career in technology – including public speaking coaching and the opportunity to shadow SafetyCulture staff. We’ve also worked with Smart Works, who support unemployed women in Greater Manchester to access interview skills and garments. We’re proud to partner with these charities, especially after achieving a 50:50 gender split in 2022 and a strong representation of LGBTQ and women of colour in the Manchester office.

As a result of implementing welcoming policies, improving workplace culture and championing women in your business, staff will likely feel motivated and empowered to bring their best ideas to work or raise issues hindering them. In addition, some of the best workplace policies come from employees who push for change and voice their concerns – technology can make lines of communication streamlined, quick and accessible, providing employees with a voice to speak about what matters the most: workplace culture.

Kombo Magara, Senior People Partner, EMEA, SafetyCulture.

Kombo Magara is Senior People Partner – EMEA at SafetyCulture, a workplace operations platform serving some of the world’s largest organisations. She’s a tech talent expert with over ten years of people operations experience with established and emerging organisations such as Fujitsu and Wejo. Her areas of interest include managing organisational change and driving meaningful diversity and inclusion in workplaces.