Improving gender diversity and closing the pay gap

(25 Posts)
ceeveebee Mon 13-Nov-17 17:21:13

I work for a largish (800 people) tech business and am part of the diversity and inclusion steering committee. We have already come a long way in improving the % of female employees and leadership team but we still have a way to go. I've been tasked with doing some research and coming up with ways that we can improve the recruitment, retention and promotion prospects for female employees and thought I might get some good insights from here. Does anyone have any particular experiences of what has worked well and what hasn't worked so well at other companies? Or things that we can do to improve recruitment, retention and promotion rates? Some of my initial thoughts:
- ensuring job ads are gender neutral and focus on results, not requirements (as I have read research that says women will not apply for roles if they do not meet 100% requirements, whereas men will)
- blind CVs i.e. No names
- mixed gender recruitment panels
- recruitment training for managers
- mentoring programme with senior female role models
- increase acceptance of flexible working - training managers on how to manage part time workers

I'm sure there is a lot more we could do - any ideas very welcome!

OP’s posts: |
fiorentina Mon 13-Nov-17 21:48:05

You can try and make sure your website represents a balanced workforce, it doesn't only feature male employees and has female friendly imagery?

A women's network at work, can be controversial but is a good bonding experience.

Support in terms of soft skills that female (and male) employees sometimes lack - presentation skills, assertiveness, leadership etc.

Good luck.

ceeveebee Mon 13-Nov-17 22:18:02

Thanks, all good stuff!

OP’s posts: |
skipppy1981 Mon 13-Nov-17 22:35:18

Use Textio to look at the language you are using to advertise jobs. Look at advertising in more female friendly places like mumsnet job board. Accenture currently has banners across the MN site targeting women.
Also look at your policies are they family friendly? Are they well promoted? Can you incude them on adverts or at least link to them specifically.
Also try programmatic banner advertising targeted across the web but driven to more females.
Get women in senior positions using LinkedIn as a promotional tool paid advertising behind it. Use Facebook to advertise as well you can target by gender.
If this all sounds like a lot of work hire a recruitment ad agency to do it for you.

grumpysquash3 Mon 13-Nov-17 22:45:38

Yes to gender neutral ads. I honestly only recently realised it was even a thing! And yes yes to the way the job is described - lots of evidence that women apply based on what they know they can do, men apply based on what they believe they can do.

NotMeNoNo Mon 13-Nov-17 22:58:13

I'm being a bit negative here.(I am in a similar situation and a similar commitee)

To be honest after reading some of today's threads, there is little point trying to get young teenage women to go against the narrow gender stereotypes being inflicted by peers/media etc. It might be better to have a graduate conversion for women who realise they have a useless non vocational degree when they've grown up.

My more serious point, encourage and enable your young and mid career men /dads to take family and carer leave and flexibile working without being in fear of their career prospects. If they won't it tells you your company discriminates.

EBearhug Mon 13-Nov-17 23:18:36

I shall come back to this, but I must finish some other stuff first.

EBearhug Tue 14-Nov-17 01:04:05

I am back (I suspect there may be some message about having to do women's network 2018 planning in your own time here...)

On your website - if you list C-suite/senior management, make sure there's more than one token woman. If you include photos (and that is preferable in my opinion), it makes it very clear very quickly if your board/senior managers are all white men, and as I'm not currently unemployed, but only interested in jobs which would be better than I'm currently in - that sort of thing means I won't even bother applying.

I agree with blind CVs. It's also worth looking at other recruitment tasks. Quite a few tech jobs now often include some sort of project to see how you work, rather than just interview. However, you don't want to look like you're getting people to do all your work for free, and it doesn't always work - you need to be clear about the language and so on too. I read these two articles over the weekend -

Unconscious bias training for anyone involved with interviewing (ideally train everyone, but if you're starting out, you need to focus on certain groups.)

Definitely encouraging and facilitating part time working, opportunities to work from home, flexible hours (IME, out of hours working is required for quite a bit of tech work - code releases and maintenance, so there has to be some flexibility.)

What about returnships? Encourage women to come back by offering training and support.

Support men in taking work breaks for parenting and be the stay at home parent.

Pipeline - "if you can see it you can be it" and all that. I am in a particularly male-dominated area of tech, and I can't see it at the moment. Most of the senior technical women I see in the company are American. There's just one other woman in my entire reporting line of 9 to the very top. As a woman, in a tech department, who's not in the USA, I can't see it. And yet some bloody useless men get promoted. This is one of the reasons attrition rates for women in their 30s and 40s is so dire. I'm clinging on, but oh, god, it's tiring at times.

Mentoring, women's network, all that sort of thing - honestly, it really does help to spend time with other women in the workplace from time to time. Think about sponsoring women in tech events - helps get your name known, too. Being the only woman can be very wearing at times. I am more likely to take a bit more notice of employers who advertise on Mumsnet or other places like We Are the City, which are women-focussed. It shows they're at least thinking about how to attract more women. And as you'll have to be publishing your gender pay gap stats if you haven't already, then make sure they're showing the right picture, too.

Physical workspace - are there signs on the datacentres and other technical areas saying "beware men working behind doors"? Get any of that stuff changed to "beware workers behind doors" or similar. It might be minor, but all these little minor things that don't include you do add up, and oddly, it's just as much a hazard if I've got floor tiles lifted as if my male colleagues do. Also, emails starting, "Dear gents" and similar - just don't. Nothing wrong with "dear all," and no chance of excluding anyone that way.

Clear performance criteria. We have lists of technical capabilities, and at certain levels, you're expected to be able to display expert status in 3 capabilities, and competent in another 5 and so on. There's also a list of leadership capabilities. You need to be clear that reaching a particular level doesn't automatically result in promotion, as that is also dependent on budgets, vacancies and so on, but I do think it can help women (who may be judged more harshly than male colleagues for the same competencies and behaviours) to be able to see their abilities in an objective way. This also comes back to women only applying when they can meet 80% of a job's criteria, and men when they only meet 20% (or whatever the stats currently are.)

Have an introduction programme to explain the company structure and what different areas do. (That's not just about women in tech, that's every bloody company should do that - some places, it can be very difficult to see how the different areas hang together.)

It might be better to have a graduate conversion for women who realise they have a useless non vocational degree when they've grown up.

Yes, actually - a lot of women in tech have come in from indirect routes, far more than men. I think they make better employees, with broader experience. Coming from a critical thinking type of degree (history, literature) or linguistics or something, add some tech training to that, and you've got someone who is likely to be much better than someone who did computer science from GCSE through A-levels and university and then straight into a grad tech role. You need diversity of thought, and non-standard routes in is one way to get that. Do you offer apprenticeships?

I was recently at a women in tech event, and they had a student teaching, who said she had never really had any careers discussions. We also recently had some people giving mock interviews at one of the local schools, and often the teenagers have no idea of the range of roles available, not just in tech, but in many areas. That alone is limiting them. So offering mentoring to schools, work experience and so on is going to be important for long-term encouragement. Apparently primary schools get quite a lot of STEM involvement from industry ("eight is too late" and so on,) but then it drops right off at secondary, but that's when they're choosing exam subjects and so on, and there's little point about getting them all fired up at primary if that's the last they ever hear about it. Speaking to parents is also important - ask someone what a chef or a nurse or a farmer does, and they've got a fair idea (however inaccurate it may actually be,) but ask them what a systems administrator or a business analyst does, and they'll have no idea, unless they're already involved, and parents often have a big influence on children's careers choices, even if it's only letting them know that certain careers exist, because they sometimes talk about them. Awareness needs to start somewhere.

And stop promoting mediocre men when there are talented women about... Actually, management in tech is a bit of an issue (not just tech) - you can get so far up the ladder on your technical abilities, and then the next step is management, regardless of whether you've ever shown any people skills at all. More competent management would solve quite a lot of issues in tech, and other areas, regardless of issues around how many women there are or not.

And now I really should go to bed.

MovingOnUpMovingOnOut Tue 14-Nov-17 01:30:58

Everything EBearHug said. Great post.

I would also stress as a pp has done that shared leave for new parents is crucial. It should be paid and paid for the same period for both men and women, with the assumption that it will and should be taken.

Don't just have women mentoring. Firstly, you'll run out of women if you are successful because if you've got a problem (and who doesn't) there are fewer women at the top. Plus you need to have everyone on board and that includes men.

Be radical with pay, benefits and rewards. Stop asking for previous salaries and start paying for the job. Reward exceptional performance with a bonus for the period instead of consolidated pay rises. Get rid of broad salary bands. Stop capping pay for internal promotions - if you would pay an external person £75k for the role how does it make sense to cap an internal promotion at 5% or similar? That just encourages people to jump ship.

Run a talent programme and actively recruit women to it. Then support those people and monitor their performance and feedback and take appropriate action to avoid bottle necks. Career maps can be good.

Monitor what happens to women who join the company. Do they leave? If so, when and why? Take action.

Train people on how to manage maternity and parental leave. Supportive and capable managers make a big difference and stop people leaving and it's easier to retain than recruit or get women back into work, even with a brilliantly well run returnship programme.

Actively monitor what happens to your apprentices and grad trainees. They probably start off equally and then status, progression and pay drops off for women. Find out why and take action.

Have an internal development programme so those on the "mum track" can self refer back into the fast track.

Provide additional support at key times where we know women's pay or promotion prospects take a knock e.g. Around birth of a child, when the child starts school etc.

Also provide proper support to the women's managers. An excellent manager can make a massive differnence.

Publish success stories and show the opportunities and career maps available.

Let people (dads too!) choose the "mum track" for a while if they want because they have value too. Just make sure that nobody ends up stuck there or forced there.

daisychain01 Tue 14-Nov-17 05:39:42

I hate to say it, but women managers can be vile, because the way they’ve got to their senior position is by being hard as nails, ruthless and excessively competitive, and very discriminatory towards other women getting in their way or being better than them. I can recall 3 female managers in the recent past who were definitely not role models!

The solution is to take all the actions above to create a thriving female-friendly environment where women have rich and diverse range opportunities throughout their career, rather than feeling they have to cling on to their rare position and block other women through fear of competition at the top.

ceeveebee Tue 14-Nov-17 09:03:55

Wow thank you so much everyone, this is brilliant stuff. We are doing quite a lot of this already - everyone has been through an unconscious bias workshop and we have increased gender balance from around 20% to 35% female over the last few years, including 30% of our senior leadership team.
"See it and you can be it" does resonate - we have only 5% women in our tech team.
We have good maternity pay policies - 6 months full pay (not for men though, only statutory) but have been less than progressive on flexible working - WFH is effectively banned and all jobs seem to be magically 37.5hours long. We have only 5% part time workers, all of whom were recruited full time but cut their hours after maternity leave.
Some great ideas here and will hope we can implement some of them

OP’s posts: |
EBearhug Tue 14-Nov-17 10:42:52

It sounds like your figures are fairly good overall, but if it's like us, (and your 5% suggests it is - my department is 6%,) our total figures are balanced by non-techy departments like HR being around 50:50. There was a project about 5 years ago looking at where the women are, and I assume it's on-going, because HR were able to tell me very quickly what my director's figures were when I asked recently (which he couldn't - I have told him I do expect him to know next time I ask.) In some of our tech departments, the percentage of women is 0, but I'm not sure how you can change that unless there are job vacancies there. (And then there's the question of racial diversity and so on - some departments don't do well on any front, just middle-aged white men. Others are far better.)

EBearhug Tue 14-Nov-17 10:47:57

There can be good reasons for no WFH - some organisations/departments handle very sensitive information, and restricting work to the workplace reduces the risk. But if you're not MI5 or similar, then I'd be asking if it's really necessary to ban it.

Is there flexibility around start and finish times? Or is the 37.5h a 9am start for absolutely everyone?

MovingOnUpMovingOnOut Tue 14-Nov-17 11:37:06

We have good maternity pay policies - 6 months full pay (not for men though, only statutory)

That's not progressive. That's the opposite of progressive because it says it's acceptable for women to take leave after the birth of a child but not men. There is no choice there and no equality of opportunity which means the care of a baby falls to women. This is a huge problem and has long lasting repercussions on all women's careers as well as their earning potential, not just those taking maternity leave, because it perpetuates a perception of women and that has an impact on prejudice and unconscious bias. Frankly there's enough of a problem with the conscious bias and this is evidence of that.

The key with this is to stop making anything beyond what is biologically necessary "women's stuff". Make the practices that make life easier for women normal, business as usual stuff for everyone.

If you have no women in certain departments and jobs then look at where you recruit as well as how you recruit. If you recruit your school leavers, grads and other traditional entry points on the basis of potential (rather than capability) and have well structured, designed and managed training and development programmes there is no reason why you couldn't fill roles in those departments with women. The only reason would be if women were incapable of doing the role and as there is no physical or biological reason they cannot work in tech or other traditionally male sectors or industries it simply comes down to opportunity.

daisychain your sexist generalisations are part of the problem. Stop being the problem and start being part of the solution.

MovingOnUpMovingOnOut Tue 14-Nov-17 12:47:46

Another thing you can do is look at doing job evaluations (which is good practice when looking at closing the gender pay gap) and as part of that look at how and where the work needs to be done. The 9-5 Monday to Friday 37.5 hours may not be the best thing for the business. It may be best to have a more flexible working pattern to better respond to client and customer demands or for working with overseas counter parts. Presenteeism is also usually indicative of bad management; good managers manage results not bums on seats.

Tie flexible work practices in to other initiatives such as employer wellbeing, corporate social responsibility (CSR) and environmental or green initiatives.

More people working from home means less travel = less pollution. More people working from home means less office space needed = massive cost savings.

CSR and green initiatives are good PR.

Look at smart working practices and what technology you can use. Run pilots and employee forums to gauge interest, learning and success rates.

I absolutely love making work places work better and I am very envious of your juicy project!

daisychain01 Tue 14-Nov-17 13:50:11

daisychain your sexist generalisations are part of the problem. Stop being the problem and start being part of the solution

If you read my post, I said what a possible solution could be. .I am not "the problem" The fact I mention a symptom of women not having sufficient opportunities based on personal recent experience does not make me solely responsible for the issues we face. And you don't have a clue what I do in my organisation to promote female recognition, so stop making inaccurate assumptions.

NotMeNoNo Tue 14-Nov-17 16:36:41

I can kind of see Daisychain's point.

At higher levels in some of our organisations, you only see the women who have lasted the course. They may not be at all representative of their starting cohort 15 or 20 years ago. Whereas all the men had to do to get there was keep plodding along to work every day.

I have a bit of a thing about "lucky" - the senior women nearly all say "I'm lucky because my husband's freelance and does all the school runs/my partner earns £££ and we can afford a nanny cleaner and to live near the office/my parents live next door/ my partner's a teacher so holidays no problem/etc etc." . Or they don't have DC (fair choice of course). The ones who weren't so lucky - well they left years ago.

I would like to see a Parents/Carers group in our EDI initiave, so that the parenting is less of a gendered issue not just tagged to mums/women. There are some men who have taken PT or breaks to care for children and they have been treated fairly shabbily by some of the senior management.

Senior management tend to be of the generation where an engineer's salary was enough to buy a nice 4 bedroom family home in a leafy part of town, the wife is always a teacher if she works at all, their successful careers are completely "facilitated" by the trailing spouse as mentioned on another thread. They want to promote in the image of themselves 20 years ago - keen young guys, in the office at all hours, jump on a plane at no notice, never have doctors appointments or parents evenings interfering with the real work and are on hand 5 days a week, 10 hours a day.

That culture/norm is really hard to break.

MovingOnUpMovingOnOut Tue 14-Nov-17 16:57:29

I don't need to have a clue what you do where Daisychain and I really don't need to or see how it's relevant. What you wrote in your post (that I did read) was a sexist generalisation.

Sexist generalisations are absolutely part of the problem.

daisychain01 Tue 14-Nov-17 21:47:22

Movingonup I will stand by what I've said. One of the reasons I never ever venture onto Feminist threads is because people like you bully and insult people just because they state an opinion or recount their experience and it doesn't align to your prescriptive view. I'm not sexist against my own gender ffs. What I tried to highlight is that a negative effects of women having to compete in the male dominated world of work is that in attaining those senior roles, they have needed to be quite aggressive and 'macho', and they block other women who they see as a threat. I didn't say that's true of every woman in leadership, I said i was aware of 3 female leaders I couldnt class as role models due to how they behave. Equally, I can think of female leaders I have learned from and who I admire, but that's beside the point.

I don't see why you should become a self elected thread police saying I'm "the problem" just because you don't like my views. Maybe you need to stop being so aggressive, that isn't helpful. Anyway I'm happy to leave this thread so it isn't derailed.

MovingOnUpMovingOnOut Tue 14-Nov-17 22:15:37

I posted an opinion, I didn't say you couldn't or shouldn't post confused Do you know what thread police actually means? Or what bullying and harassment actually is? I don't think you do. If you stand by a post then stand by it and make a case. Don't flounce off in a huff if want to be respected.

If you find people disagreeing with you or challenging your posts aggressive I would say that is your problem and perhaps you might want to think about how you could create an argument rather than an attack? I did note the irony of your comments about me and find it mildly amusing but mostly a bit sad because the more debate the better imho.

I didn't understand your point about the feminist boards but I rarely venture there these days so that might be why although I suspect it was a veiled attempt to undermine any challenges to your posts. That seems like a shame to me.

AmeliaFlashtart Wed 15-Nov-17 17:48:51

I work at a similar size tech industry, male dominated except in HR, OD and the canteen. I've been the only female in various all male teams for years and have come to the conclusion that unless you get men 100% wholeheartedly embracing any efforts nothing will change. The pay gap widens well before a promotion board, it's the unconcious bias of a male manager handing out a project or challenging piece of work to someone similar to himself, or a mate in the cycling club, golf club etc. It happens again and again and adds up to evidence to produce when it comes to appraisals or putting in for promotion. It suits men to keep it like this. All the female managers I deal with on a daily basis are either married to senior managers, the daughter in law of her managers best friend or was shagging her manager when she got promoted. The best male boss to have is one whose wife works full time and whom he respects as an equal. This attitude comes through to the way female employees are regarded. At a recent restructuring exercise myself and 12 men all had to reapply for our jobs, I got the highest score by a good margin, guess who earns the least? Sorry but all of the suggestion in your OP will fail unless you tackle unconcious bias and the boys network culture head-on. The only thing that may work to a degree is name/gender/age blind recruitment, though this will only work at a paper sift, all that bias will creep back in in interview. I also think its getting worse, salaries/pay rises etc are squeezed, the men don't want interlopers in their club. I see so many bright, educated very smart young women being passed over time and time again whilst a mediocre male gets a helping leg up just because of his gender it just disillusions them and they leave or take a back seat and coast. I agree with the previous poster who stated most of these suggestions for improvement treat women as a separate group. My employers gender pay gap info us released soon.

Shattered04 Thu 16-Nov-17 12:57:41

As a woman in tech in a similar sized company, I can relate to most of this. I'm nearly always the only woman on my team, and have been for my 15 years in software development. The few senior women in tech that I know, tend to nearly always be extremely confident, uncaring of what people think of them and basically take no shit. Many do not have children, more than the average. The same does not apply to the senior men I know, there's a huge mix of personality types and plenty of parents.

It appears to me in my anecdotal experience that women either have to change the way they behave and feel in order to get by, or if they can't, they drop out. Men do not have to make these choices.

To answer the OP - often it's the microaggressions that make the difference. When you already feel like an "other", small things around the office that promote a more "laddish" culture make you feel even more "other" when you already feel like an imposter. It all contributes over the years to women not returning, or changing job role. A lot of these microaggressions could be eliminated by (compulsory) unconscious bias training for all employees, and a zero tolerance policy on anything that could potentially be interpreted as offensive.

Then there's the whole thing of how when a man asks to take time off to deal with a sick child/assembly/kids doctor's appointment they tend to be seen as "responsible dads" but when women do it they're "flakey mothers". That's a cultural issue, and managers need training on it and need to lead by example.

And don't get me started on the culture of full time, and how IT needs to be more open to flexible working. I got basically yelled at and torn apart when I asked to reduce my hours by only three a week by my immediate manager. Thankfully, HR were wonderful, backed me up and supported me in this instance and I now can do school pick up twice a week.

There's a lot more girls in school taking an interest in coding and tech now, at long last. It's up to industry not to scare them off once they're here.

EBearhug Thu 16-Nov-17 20:41:04

Not everywhere is so focussed on FT working. I'm in a department of about 40 (not all in the same location),) and about 7 are PT, all of them men (there are only 3 of us women, mind you.) We don't have to be in till 10:00 unless we have a meeting. There is on-call and some out of hours work, but it's not too onerous, and out of hours usually has TOIL in compensation. We also have quite a lot of opportunities to work from home - a necessity for on-call, but useful for handling the car being in for service or a school training day. And unless you are in a role where you're physically meeting customers, most IT jobs should be able to support that sort of flexibility these days, if only managers have enough imagination about ithe.

EBearhug Thu 16-Nov-17 20:42:29

it, not ithe. Goodness knows what sort of crazy algorithm the autocorrect has been programmed with.

EBearhug Thu 16-Nov-17 20:42:44

it, not ithe. Goodness knows what sort of crazy algorithm the autocorrect has been programmed with.

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