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Our thoughts on gender diversity in the workplace

In the lead up to International Women’s Day 2020, we heard from some of our team on their thoughts on the importance of gender diversity in the workplace.

We have some really inspirational women in the organisation and important male allies who champion them. This week provided the perfect opportunity to hear from our employees about what really matters to them when it comes to diversity in the workplace. We asked a few key questions and here’s what we learned…

Why do you think it’s important to have gender diversity in business at all experience levels?

“To represent a variety of views and opinions across the board and at all levels of an organisation. If there was no gender diversity, particularly at a senior level, an organisation would miss out on varying view points and their strategy would not necessarily represent their operational staff on the ground. They wouldn’t resonate with it, and therefore, not believe in its integrity.” – Lily Francis

“We are all individuals who bring something unique to the table in a commercial setting. Having gender diversity at all levels ensures that we have visibility of role models in the business and it is at a level that someone who is just starting their career, can easily visualise. I recall walking into my first conference in London where c.95% of the attendees were men. It was difficult to build up the confidence and ensure that my voice was heard for a period of time. Admittedly that was in 2000 and things have thankfully changed since then.” – Nicola Dunne

“It is not just important for companies to be gender diverse but to be diverse in all social groups at all levels of business. In order for businesses to be successful, to change and innovate, surely you need to have different viewpoints that were formed from different experiences that are from people with different backgrounds, upbringings and lives. Ultimately for a business be able to truly understand your customers and clients and provide them with right product, service or outcome then they need to be represented in all levels of your business.” – Amy Harrison

How does a gender diverse workforce impact the technology industry?

“Normalising gender balance in tech now is the only way our younger generation of women will feel it’s normal to be in tech tomorrow. It’s up to us.” – Ian Chaplin

“You have to be able to understand a particular culture to produce technology that will thrive and be successful. Similarly with a gender diverse workforce, having different individuals allows the development of new and exciting technology that can relate to and represent those individuals e.g. the development of contraceptive apps as an example. The technology industry has been male-dominated for a long period of time, and the increase in gender diversity will help to shatter these pre-conceptions that IT and Technology is not a space for females.” – Lily Francis

“Organisations need innovative thinking, communication, relationship building, influencing and listening – skills that a lot of women possess in abundance. Research has also shown that women are also better programmers, however gender diversity remains a stubborn problem with slow progress. Traditionally, many women seek careers in the caring profession, human resources and marketing or roles with a humanitarian focus. There is a multitude of ways that technology can be used for social good and impact on the world but it requires more education at an earlier stage to aid that decision process for young women. I am a mother of twin girls and their curious little minds are truly incredible in the way they simply embrace technology. I want to ensure my children are very clear on potential career paths in technology and it would be very exciting to see how they might positively impact on the world via the technology industry.” – Nicola Dunne

How can companies better attract and retain female-identifying staff?

“Fostering a culture which neutralises gender stereotypes starts with each of us reflecting on how we bring gender into our daily lives. Language, in particular, is a weapon we must be considerate of.” – Ian Chaplin

“Female talent is like any talent. We want access to opportunities, to be developed and to have the opportunity to be make an impact. In order to attract and retain more female talent, companies should start by demonstrating a proven commitment to doing these.” – Lola Abitogun

“By genuinely being diverse. Too many times I speak with hirinng managers or TAs who say “we need more women in the team”. Ok great but my first question is “Why?”. Most businesses realise this is because diverse teams are the most high performing but if it’s an answer of “because we just don’t have any women in the team” then you are going about it all wrong. Bringing women into your teams isn’t just a tick box exercise and if you are looking at it that way you may attract female talent but you will never retain it.

Diversity has to start at the top- does your business have a diversity agenda? Is your organisation willing to open up their talent pool in all areas by providing flexible working and working from home, allowing religious holidays that aren’t just Christmas, having accessible work spaces and toilets, create a company culture of acceptance and respect, provide training in more than one spoken language or sign language or braille? By having a genuinely diverse business that creates ways of working to accommodate for different social groups, employees will feel valued and will not just want to work for your business but continue to work for your business.” – Amy Harrison

“Culture is key. You can have the greatest reward and benefits package but without a supportive and inclusive environment it will fail to retain top female performers. There are some simple things that can be done from changing male focused language in job adverts to ensuring the interview panel is reflective of the organisation i.e. a male and female interviewer. The decision to apply to an organisation requires better transparency in organisations. We run several female events each year for clients which is a critical part of our attraction process to move the dial on women in technology or other sectors.

Some woman take a career break if they choose to have a family, often the return to work is fraught with challenges and stressful for the individual to get back to full capacity. Return to work programmes and supportive coaching can help to ensure that confidence returns quicker and supportive policies on shared leave and flexible working further enhances this – engagement levels as a result of this support often remain high. Retention of female staff can also be impacted where there is lack of clarity on promotion possibilities in a business. A senior female mentor can also have the right influence, especially when they have had a male boss for several years.” – Nicola Dunne

How does gender diversity make our company better?

“We have some really inspirational female leaders in the organisation who show what can be achieved and how females can impact the wider culture and strategy. It provides a difference in opinions and a varying outlook when it comes to the way in which roles can be performed successfully.” – Lily Francis

“Ultimately the business case is clear. Diversity of the workforce will enhance growth, reduce risk and ensure more challenging and robust decision making. We have some fantastic female talent in the RTM business. We will nurture and create a clear path for future management or leadership positions. Our clients have even commented on that fact and that they enjoy working with RTM especially when they are able to work with a variety of female leaders in the business. We are poised for growth and acquisition of new clients by simply having gender balance at all levels – now that is an exciting statement!” – Nicola Dunne

“As a recruitment business, we are uniquely placed to champion inclusive practices not only in our business but in that of our clients. I feel really proud to be part of an organisation that practise what it preaches and has excellent female leaders across and future talent across the full spectrum of roles with our business.” – Lola Abitogun

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