International Women’s Day 2023: Making tech work for women
5 minute read
This year to mark International Women’s Day the United Nations has chosen the theme "DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality", highlighting a lack of women in the tech industry at large. Here's what we've been doing to increase diversity, promote equity and support the women on our team.
This year to mark International Women’s Day the United Nations has chosen the theme "DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality". The theme highlights a disproportionate lack of internet access for millions of women around the globe, and a lack of representation for women across tech industries at large. For women from marginalised groups and women with disabilities, the issue is further compounded still.
As people working in digital and engaging with users across sectors including public, charity and health, it’s something we’re profoundly aware of. But the figures still make for stark reading:
- Globally 259 million fewer women have access to the Internet than men
- In the UK, women make up 58% of non-internet users
- In the UK, only 26% of women make up the IT workforce
- Black women make up just 0.7% of the IT workforce
- Only 22% of tech directors are women
The answers are complex and multifaceted. Working to close the digital skills gap, providing opportunities for mentoring and guidance for women entering tech and ensuring that tech is accessible and meets the needs of women are just some of the solutions. As is representation, making space for and giving a voice to women in the industry.
But fundamentally it also requires tech organisations to be transparent and reflective about their levels of diversity. And to do the hard proactive work necessary to recruit in a diverse way and ensure equity for the women in their workforce, including pay, opportunities and supportive workplace practices and policies.
So, what have we done?
A common and valid criticism of International Women’s Day is it gives organisations and opportunity to create content and share a message around the day without doing the work towards equity. Transparency is important, so here’s a bit about what we’ve done so far, with the acknowledgement that the journey is ongoing and continuous. We've also just shared our Social Value Commitments detailing our wider organisational approach in full.
Women make up over 60% of us, across all teams including development, content, design, sales and marketing, and our Managing Director Hilary. We pay equally and our pay bands are shared internally with our team. We’ve also been intentional about implementing workplace policies that promote a positive work-life balance and create a supportive environment. These include three months of fully paid parental leave and a dedicated Period and Menopause policy. We’ve recently held a company census to help us understand the composition of our team and identify opportunities to improve our approach to diversity.
In the last year, we’ve also taken steps to address some deficits in our recruitment process and a lack of wider diversity. We’ve worked with Diverse & Equal (D&E) funding a twelve-week bootcamp for career switchers from underrepresented backgrounds making the move into tech. It’s been a real highlight for us, and since the course, we’ve recruited eight women from the cohort into UX and service design roles.
We’ve also been proactive about ensuring Camp Digital, our annual UX, Design and Digital conference features a diverse lineup of speakers too. It’s a real point of pride that this year’s event features women as 2 of our 3 keynotes, and 80% of our overall speaker and workshop line-up.
Today we were joined in the office by Diverse & Equal founder Annette Joseph MBE. Annette spoke to us about the many ways diversity benefits organisations, shared some statistics around diversity and inclusion and helped us reflect on our own ‘in-groups’, and ways we might diversify our personal networks and information ecosystems.
The session also offered an opportunity to share results from our recent team census and details on our recently established disability and neurodiversity working group.
Here’s what we learned from our census:
Self-reported gender statistics from the Nexer team
Self-reported age statistics from the Nexer team
Self-reported disability statistics from the Nexer team
Self-reported sexual orientation statistics from the Nexer team
Thoughts from our team
Finally, to mark International Women’s Day and reflect on the experiences of women within our team, we asked them.
‘If you could go back and tell 10-year-old you anything about working in tech or your journey into your role, any piece of advice or encouragement, what would it be?’
We got some lovely and inspiring answers in return, so here they are:
Technology offers so many wonderful roles, that you might not even know exist. From Account Managers to Developers, there are a range of roles that suit different personalities, skills and passions. Work is more enjoyable and fun if you follow a path you’re passionate about. Finally, never underestimate the power of being nice to people and having a positive attitude.
Girl, you can achieve anything you put your mind to. Don't get carried away with what you see others doing, trust the process and believe in yourself.
Hindsight is a powerful thing. At 10 I had been deaf from birth and didn't know any different besides my colourful hearing aids that I shared a love/ hate relationship with. 10 years old was just a year before I was starting to go through the motions where I then eventually received my Usher syndrome diagnosis, not only would I be deaf but grow to be a deaf blind adult. My message would be to embrace every ounce of you, Molly - hearing aids, goofy grin and freckles, be grateful you have the gift of sound, the ability to speak as a result. Look ahead at innovative skills and use them to best of your ability, and know that whatever you do - you will not be like everyone else, not just because you're the only one in the classroom wearing hearing aids, but you're the only one with an opportunity to throw yourself into technology and be a part of the innovation that gifts other people the accessibility and independence we deserve. Know technology will and can only get better, you will be a part of that positive change. Put simply, you're about to be thrown into a whirlwind of innovation, meet other awesome people along the way, all of which will make your life and many others, significantly easier - get exploring and don't look back or to your peers, you're not like them and that's ok!
The journey isn't bump free and people will question your presence, but remember that you achieved everything because of who you are and how hard you worked, not because of who you know or the lack of anyone else.
It’s ok to find your feet a little later in your career, and always be open to new opportunities – I didn’t set out to have a career in Technology, but finding the Tech for Good space has meant I can use my skills and experience to work on projects I truly believe in
I’d encourage anyone to get into Tech – it's a constantly evolving industry and much more open and diverse than it once was – with great programmes like Diverse and Equal, Innovate Her and Tech Returners.
Never think "There's no one like me in technology, or who looks like me in technology". There's no one like you full stop. You are an individual, and if you want to be involved in technology, you should 100% explore the many possibilities it can offer.