More Gender Diversity Is Still Needed in Tech!

Last week we celebrated International Women’s Day on 8th March 2017. This got me thinking about how diverse our own workforce is at RiverSafe and whether we have become more diverse in recent years. We are in the tech industry, providing professional services and consulting to customers who are implementing cyber defense programs, security analytics using big data platforms, Smart Metering security and many other cyber-related projects. This is a sector that has traditionally been very male dominated.

I am pleased to say that this year we have witnessed a significant increase in women in the organization. As we have grown, so has the number of vacancies and as a result, we went from employing one woman last year to employing seven women now. We are a team of just over 20 so over a third of our workforce are now women and more importantly, these women are in critical client delivery roles.

I have to admit that I don’t think it was a conscious effort to employ more women but that we were simply employing the right candidates for the job and many of those happened to be women. That said as a business I think we have benefitted enormously with this change in dynamics and we are now committed to helping more women and girls achieve their ambitions. We challenge conscious and unconscious bias and we certainly believe there needs to be more gender balance in tech roles. We value women and men’s contributions equally and as such we are working to create an inclusive flexible culture here at RiverSafe.

While our organization has become gender balanced the World Economic Forum predicts the gender gap won’t close entirely until 2186 which to my mind seems a ridiculously long time. We all know that diversity matters. The idea of fair representation and equal opportunities should appeal to the fair-minded and human side of all of us. It is also, without a doubt, a key fact that diverse teams outperform their more homogeneous competitors.

For example, Mckinsey 2016 research found that gender-diverse companies were 15% more likely to outperform the industry average than their male heavy competitors, while ethnic diverse organizations were 35% more likely to beat the averages. Therefore, it is critical that as an industry we look to promote more diversity in the workplace.

Interestingly, last week the BBC felt the need to defend its representation of diversity on screen after Ofcom said the broadcaster needs to “become more relevant” to its audience. A BBC spokeswoman said, “significant progress” had already been made. That said Ofcom research showed that the public often sees representations of older people, women and ethnic minorities on the BBC as “neutral as best” and sometimes negative. This is a challenge for the whole country as broadcasters play a vital role in reflecting the values of our culture. At the same time, the BBC has a key responsibility to lead – it should strive to reflect all corners of the UK.

At the end of the day, I think there still remains a worrying shortfall of skilled experts in the tech industry versus a growing number of women uninterested in or unwelcomed by the sector. The latest estimates put the number of women in tech anywhere between 11% and 20% of the total workforce, depending on how you define their role and what country you’re in. However you decide to crunch the data though, the experts all agree that the ratio of women to men in the tech sector is actually declining, while the number of new jobs created continues its rapid growth.

I certainly believe that hiring a broader more diverse workforce helps to extend and develop the talent pool which can only be good for those organisations like RiverSafe who are looking to grow and outperform their competitors.

Written by Suid Adeyanju, Director, RiverSafe