Hays’ James Milligan speaks to three leaders about embracing equality and how to better support women in tech.
The theme for International Women’s Day this year was ‘embrace equity’. This is an issue that affects all walks of life, not just the world of work and 8 March gives us an opportunity to shine a light on the challenges we face in reaching equity.
At present, 42pc of the Hays leadership team are women and we’re on track to increase that to 50pc or more by 2030.
Within our global leadership team in technology solutions, three of my six colleagues are women. I sat down with Jane Bamford (EMEA), Sarah Köhl (DACH) and Christine Su (Asia) to discuss how organisations can embrace equity and the role leadership has to play in supporting women in tech.
What does ‘embrace equity’ mean to you?
For Bamford, embracing equity means broadening our typical definition of diversity too. “It’s about being inclusive in general, not just toward people but different views and ways of thinking too,” she said.
“Equity is keeping an open mind, especially when it comes to the people you bring into an organisation”.
For Su, embracing equity in the workplace means equal development opportunities, everybody being able to access the same resources, and ensuring parity in salary and benefits.
These are sentiments that Köhl echoes. “I think equity means equal opportunities for everybody, without any kind of discrimination. In my new position, I want to embrace equity by engaging with men and women in a well-balanced mix, to get various inputs, perceptions and ideas.”
What can leaders do to support women in tech?
One of the missions for International Women’s Day relates to women in tech – namely, “to elevate and advance gender parity in technology and celebrate the women forging innovation”. As our panel discussed in a 2022 live event we produced with Silicon Republic, progress is being made here, but there’s still a long way to go.
My colleagues have stressed the importance of equal opportunities for women in tech, something we promote at Teen-Turn, where I sit on the board of directors. However, we know that offering this isn’t enough – we need to encourage and inspire, too. According to Bamford, leadership plays a big part in this. So, what would her advice be to her counterparts?
“It’s all about leading by the right example and showcasing women. Encourage male counterparts to bring women into the conversations and think about inclusivity. When you’re in a board meeting and you’ve got a woman – or a man – who isn’t saying anything, you encourage them to speak up,” she said.
“For example, if you’re at home having dinner and your child isn’t saying anything, you’d ask about their day, wouldn’t you? It’s exactly the same principle. It’s about naturalising the whole thing.”
Su believes greater understanding of women colleagues’ situations and needs is important. “Leaders should understand what women experience in their family life and at the office, and what they need to deal with. Spend more time with the women consultants, understand their concerns and issues, and think about what kind of training they can offer to our junior staff. Make these opportunities open to male consultants, too, but it’s women who are less inclined to work in tech roles, and so are often more concerned when they join a tech firm.”
Köhl completely agrees with Bamford and Su. “One thing that Jane mentioned earlier is that you have to ask for various perceptions and ideas. You really must ask everybody,” she said.
“As a female leader, it’s very important that you do not question yourself too much. Go your own way. We know more women in tech means more profit and more innovation. I’m 45 years old now, and my advice to women, and anybody, is that it’s never too late to start a career in tech.”
James Milligan is the global head of Hays Technology. A version of this article originally appeared on the Hays blog.
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