International Women’s Day has been celebrated annually on the 8th March since the early 1900’s. During this time, the world’s opinions, attitudes and behaviour towards gender equality has changed significantly. Progress is made every year, but unfortunately true gender equality has not yet been reached. Women are still paid less than men, with the average gender pay gap in the UK standing at 8.3% for full time employees. Some studies say it will take approximately another 52 years to close the gender pay gap in Western Europe alone.
This is where International Women’s Day comes in, it’s a day which is designed to both celebrate the achievements and advancements which have been made, but also to raise awareness of biases which still occur in everyday life, whether they are unconscious or not. Each year, International Women’s Day comes with a theme, which for 2023 is ‘Embrace Equity’. The Culture Practice, a site run by experts in cultural transformation, have created a website where they’ve come up with 100 actions we can take all year round to reduce gender bias in the workplace. To mark International Women’s Day 2023, we worked with our employer partners to share examples of how these actions can take place in a real work environment.
Capco understands the importance of employee recognition and reward, especially when it comes to supporting and improving gender diversity. They place a huge emphasis on ensuring that employees are recognised for their work both internally and externally. CapcoKudos, for example, is an initiative which was set up to allow people at Capco to recognise and show their appreciation for their colleagues and shine a light on the incredible work they do day-to-day.
As well as an internal rewards scheme, Capco encourages their employees to nominate colleagues for both internal and external recognition awards. In 2022 alone they saw 2501 nominations submitted internally from 1045 nominators. Sarah O’Callaghan, Capco’s UK recognition lead, says: “Recognition at Capco is ingrained in our culture and everyday working life. Recognising and giving #CapcoKudos daily is encouraged, and we also run UK wide initiatives to spotlight our fantastic people and give everyone the opportunity to thank those that are making a difference to both our clients and Capco teams!”
Employee resource groups or networks are an amazing way to connect women from various teams and enable them to share experiences, advice and find allies. Experian created their Women in Experian (WiE) network to help both women and allies in tech and non-tech roles to take the next step in their careers. The network aims to provide personal development, as well as an environment to network, celebrate and give back to the community. As a network, WiE strives for 50% career moves (including promotions and lateral moves) for women. To support this, the network has four pillars of focus:
Each of these four pillars is designed to galvanise the confidence of women to achieve their next step. The group hosts regular events and gives access to resources such as external guest speakers, podcasts, playlists, networking opportunities and much more to support women and allies across Experian.
Some examples of the work the WiE group have achieved include:
Another area employers need to consider in order to support women is women’s health in the workplace. Under-recognised health conditions can affect women’s productivity and damage their careers and potential to grow. For this reason, CGI created their Women’s Health Network as an extension of the Women’s Network, to provide emotional and practical support for women in the workplace through a community of shared experiences, advice, and education. The network delves into all things related to women’s health and wellbeing and has provided an invaluable resource for the many women and men who engage with it across CGI.
The network provides a safe space to connect with others online or in person, grow networks, and find support and information on a range of women’s health issues. As a group they also actively contribute to fundraisers and awareness campaigns for female-related topics, from ovarian and breast cancer, to menopause and endometriosis, and domestic violence, to name a few. It’s not just for women though. The CGI Women’s Health Network is open to all members irrespective of gender, because it’s also geared towards educating everyone, and building a more understanding and inclusive environment all round.
One of CGI’s female employees, Maxine, has told us about her experience of the Women’s Health network:
“Whatever stage of life you are at, knowing there is guidance, help and support there for you is very reassuring. Personally, as I get older and reach a different stage in my personal life, knowing that CGI is supporting women going through the menopause is a huge benefit. Being able to talk about my situation openly and share with others how this affects me at work has made a big difference for me. Menopause is no longer a subject that people can’t (or won’t) talk about.”
One of the biggest barriers to improving gender diversity in technology is the lack of female role models in senior positions. A study by PwC found that almost 80% of students cannot name a famous female working in technology, but two thirds can name a male. These figures reinforce the need for more strong female leaders, especially when it comes to inspiring young girls to pursue and succeed in a career in technology.
Women conquering a male-dominated world, challenging the norm and rising up through the ranks is a familiar story at Starling Bank. When Anne Boden founded Starling in 2017, she set up the UK’s first digital-only bank and became the first woman in the UK to start a bank. Her aim? To disrupt an archaic industry and build a business with equality at its heart. In 2017, women made up 27% of their leadership team. Fast-forward and this number had jumped to 41%, smashing the target of 30%.
Inclusivity and equality is at the core of everything Starling does, and the team have been working hard over the last year to ensure that its gender diversity initiatives kept up with its growth. In 2022, Starling became an official sponsor of the UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 tournament. The bank has continued its commitment to elevating women’s football through a partnership with Gift of Kit, a project that enables grassroots football clubs and schools the chance to apply for free football kits and coaching vouchers for their girl’s teams.
Find out more about Starling’s gender initiatives and work culture.
When working to be a more inclusive employer, it’s important to step back and look at the bigger picture. Inequality can stem from many different areas of a business, and by taking a holistic view a company can identify specific aspects which can be improved on and amended.
Jaguar Land Rover have embraced this action as they have partnered with D&I experts to conduct a yearly audit of their diversity and inclusion efforts. The audit will aim to shine a light on what is being done well and areas where they can improve. They have committed to this external audit for the next five years, and will publish their results, encouraging accountability of not just the positives but the negatives too. Jaguar Land Rover will use the results of this D&I audit to inform and shape their strategies and action plans, as well as allowing them to measure their progress.
It’s important to recognise that being truly inclusive as an employer takes time, dedication and a lot of effort to achieve. There is no easy or quick fix, and employers will need to have clear goals and measurements to ensure they’re supporting all colleagues in an inclusive way. Intent HQ recognises the importance & value of being an inclusive employer. They’ve taken steps to ensure that this vision is ingrained throughout their company & people vision. In 2020, they created a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion team, now called Connect with Intent, focused on developing a DE&I strategy and implementing supporting initiatives. Today in 2023, this passionate team has quadrupled from 4 to 13.
First, the team reviewed the company’s demographics and surveyed individuals, enable them to measure progress & acknowledge areas needing improvements. Initial results highlighted that they needed to focus on gender diversity. To address this and to attract more female talent, they reviewed recruitment strategies and implemented the following:
The results speak for themselves, as Intent HQ managed to increase their percentage of female hires; in 2020 they had 25% female hires, in 2022 that figure had jumped to 47%!
The employers above are all demonstrating how they are taking measurable actions to support females in the workplace and encourage a truly inclusive environment. By improving and aligning gender diversity initiatives with the 100 actions for equality, we can show our commitment to supporting women in tech, not just on International Women’s Day 2023, but beyond.