Frank Recruitment Group – Zoë Morris, President

We interviewed Zoë Morris, President at Frank Recruitment Group on her thoughts and experiences on women in tech.

1. What does your job involve?

I’m President of Frank Recruitment Group. We have seven different brands dedicated to delivering niche cloud talent around the globe. Specializing in technologies like Salesforce, AWS, and Microsoft, we’re helping businesses find talent in areas of tech that need it the most. My role as President is identifying new markets where our services can add genuine value to our customers, and in turn make the strategic decisions that will help us continue the remarkable growth we’ve enjoyed over the last few years.

2. What made you choose a career in technology?

My background was in recruitment, but I found the potential for growth within tech incredibly exciting. Before the events of the last 12 months, we have enjoyed over 35% year-on-year growth throughout my time here. And while the pandemic has hit a lot of businesses hard, it’s also forced them to overhaul their digital infrastructure as a priority, and those longer term IT projects have suddenly become much more urgent. That means there are going to be a lot of opportunities for us as a business as well as our customers and partners. I think tech is probably as close to a futureproof career as it’s possible to have at the moment, which is why it’s such an exciting area of work to be a part of.

3. Did you study an IT or technology related subject at GCSE, A-Level or University?

I studied Psychology at City University, London. I’ve always had an interest in tech, and am continuously fascinated by the increasing role it plays in all our lives. I’ve been fortunate here that because our brands focus on individual areas of tech, our training for consultants is unlike any other in the industry in terms of its depth. They’re expected to be specialists in the ecosystem they work in, and they’re given all the tools they need to achieve that. I’m naturally inquisitive and always want to know more and I’ve been able to apply that trait in this job. I think that curiosity is vital for anyone looking to transition into a career in tech. Most skills can be learned but that innate passion and thirst to increase your knowledge really can’t.

4. Did you get any work experience in IT or technology before this job?

I hadn’t worked in tech before my current role, but had a fairly in-depth knowledge of the industry and the sort of things affecting it before I joined. My job isn’t hands on with any of the stacks we operate within, it’s a much broader role that look at the trends in tech and the platforms we recruit for. What are the growth areas, both geographically and in terms of product, that will enable us to improve our customer offering as well as to grow as an organization? I’m speaking to businesses of all sizes, as we try to build strategic partnerships with those who can help us deliver the best talent in the world for our customers. That means being immersed within cloud technology in a way that is very different to knowing the nuts and bolts that make an implementation work on a practical level.

5. Do you think there is a lack of females in the IT and tech sector?

I don’t think there’s a single survey or study that has been carried out in the last ten years that would suggest there’s a healthy number of women working within the industry. Things are definitely improving, but there’s still a long way to go until we have true parity. However, I certainly think attitudes are changing, there are more allies looking to make a difference, and I do think we will get there.

6. Do you find there is a stereotype that a career in IT or technology is just for men?

I think society’s attitudes towards gender and roles have shifted for the better. In the 20 years since I left education there’s certainly a much healthier blur between who does what jobs. You have airline crews that are entirely female, we’re refereeing Premier League games and tech is just another area where we are beginning to win the battle. There’s still a long way to go, but I do feel like we are making inroads.

7. What would entice women to study technology related courses?

There still needs to be more women in positions of power that budding IT professionals can to aspire to, so that people see this as a career rather than a job. Someone looking to enter the industry needs to see a visible career path and know that they are able to grow, flourish and develop in the long-term. There need to be role models and mentors that can both inspire and guide, so just having more women in tech isn’t enough—we need them in at all levels of the industry.

8. Are there barriers when it comes to women getting into tech?

I think a lot of those hurdles that remain are unintentional. We’ve seen first-hand the amount of companies that post masculine-sounding job ads, for example. I think the intention, when asking for coding ninjas or warriors to build and smash, is to make your vacancy stand out. What it ends up doing is subconsciously putting off people who are perfectly capable of doing the job. Actually, what you want 99% of the time is a logical problem solver who is certified in X, Y or Z so I’m not sure there’s any need to ask for anything different to that.

Research shows that when you make a conscious effort to make the wording of your job ad more neutral, you improve the range of people applying for it. If you want to stand out as a business, you should be selling yourself and why people should work for you, including salary and benefits.

9. How could we encourage more women to start a career in tech?

Benefits are something that are a hot topic at the moment, due to the enforced trial of the remote office. Will we be home-based permanently? I can’t see it, but I think going forward most businesses will offer a hybrid when it comes to how much time employees spend on-site, with more forward-thinking companies looking to go beyond that to win the war for talent.

The quit rate for women in tech is alarming but, for example, if there’s an option to work remotely whilst you have childcare requirements, that’s removing one obstacle that can nudge people towards the door or even put them off a career in tech to start with. It’s incredibly reassuring to any woman looking at entering the industry that starting a family isn’t going to be the end of her career. Now that the world has forced us to change our perception of what the workplace looks like, I hope we can use that to do more to attract women into a career in technology and keep them in it.

10. What advice would you give to young women at the start of their career?

Don’t be daunted by the statistics now. It may look like you are on your own, but there are women and allies looking to make a real difference in the industry so that it’s a more inclusive place to be and progress is being made. We will get there!

On a practical level, look at areas you can specialise in where there’s a huge demand. At the moment, there’s a real shortage of cloud talent. Once you have a foot in the door, find a mentor who can help guide you. It’s amazing the difference it can make having someone that you can bounce ideas off, ask for advice and generally let off steam with. Some of your frustrations may be valid, others may not, and having someone that has been there and done it is a really good way to help guide your career in a positive direction.