The tech industry boomed pre-pandemic and although many industries have experienced challenging trading conditions over the last couple of years their remains little sign of a slow down in the tech sector. Instead, last year the UK’s tech industry reached record levels of investment, with London being the fourth highest city in the world for venture capitalist investment in the industry alone.
With growth in investment comes growth in recruitment. At the end of 2021 Tech Nation recorded that nearly 3 million jobs in the UK were within the tech sector, making up 9% of the UK workforce – a rise on preceding years. This rise in demand has led to wage inflation and intensification in the ongoing battle to recruit and retain the best talent.
However despite this rise in demand and the attractive salaries that can be earned the tech sector continues to be male dominated. Despite industry wide and employer-specific initiatives to attract a more diverse workforce there is still much work to be done. Of the close to 3 million people working in tech, only 26% are women and studies suggest that 3% of those women will leave the tech industry after their first job.
What is the problem?
A study carried out by Deloitte found that since the pandemic 51% of women are less optimistic about their job in tech with reports of burn out, pay and promotion equality being key contributing factors. In light of these findings it is perhaps unsurprising that women make up less than a quarter of the tech industry’s senior roles. The gender pay gap reports of businesses in the tech sector show that 91% of reporting companies pay their male employees more than their women, with men occupying 76% of the highest paying roles, and women 12.9% less in bonuses compared to men.
Many commentators have highlighted that structural challenges continue to hamper recruitment into the tech sector, including a gender imbalance in education.. WISE reports that in 2021 just 23.2% of a-level STEM students were female, but a significant percentage of them out performed their male counterparts in their exams. With funding, campaigning and training WISE aims to educate female students on the possibilities of working in tech and to increase the percentage of women working in STEM industries to 30% by 2030.
But what can businesses do to recruit and retain more women in tech?
Fixing the problem
The continuing growth of the tech industry combined with the generational changes following the pandemic means that now more than ever is the time for tech companies to prioritise the recruitment and retention of their female employees. In doing so, they would allow for a more diverse and ultimately successful workforce.
Recognising the problem many employers chose to accompany their gender pay gap reports with a summary of the initiatives they are following to promote diversity such as reviewing their hiring processes, increased training on D&I, greater analysis into retention rates and developing talent management opportunities for women.
There is no quick or easy fix available due to the structural challenges set out above but organisations can seek to adapt to post-pandemic life and secure the best and brightest talent by looking to recruit from a wider talent pool, offering mentorship and development programmes to support women in tech, and getting ahead of The Great Resignation by offering attractive benefits to improve the retention of women.
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