8 March 2017
It’s International Women’s Day today; a day for us, especially in the business world, to focus in on the issue of equality.
Personally, I think we’re making great strides; in our experience working directly with over 50 schools and colleges, totally 57,000 kids, it’s the young women and girls who seem to be the most interested and focussed in our Code Clubs.
This does highlight though with the current skills gap that young girls have obviously been somehow put off from pursuing what is actually a very creative and exciting career. All this is clearly changing and its wonderful to see so much effort and energy going into such an important cultural change.
What is very positive to every young girl out there is that the UK’s two highest jobs are both held by women, Theresa May as Prime Minister and Cressida Dick who was recently appointed as the first female Met police commissioner. This does signify changing times.
These days if you are running a business without a healthy balance of men and women around your boardroom table you are missing a trick.
That’s reflected in our own business too; Gail reminded me this morning that the chaps are actually outnumbered in our board room with the recent addition of our new marketing director. It’s something that I am proud of and I do believe it makes a big difference when trying to build an awesome dynamic, confrontational and fast-paced board.
Women should always have the same opportunities as men in every business. As the father of four daughters, I am bringing my children up to feel confident that no person, man or woman should ever hold them back in any aspect of their lives. If they believe in something, she should have the courage to chase a dreams.
So what’s the answer to tackle inequality? I think it’s related to skills: we have a skills gap across all demographics when it comes to tech that we need to address, and we also need to encourage young girls at school age into careers in tech.
We have worked for many years with girls’ schools like Manchester High School for Girls and my daughters’ school in Alderley Edge. We’ve seen incredible uptake from young girls at our Code Clubs and we’re working hard in education to show young girls that a career in tech is just as viable an option as it is for men. I am also incredibly proud that our work on this was recognised when UKFast was yesterday listed in Glassdoor’s top female-friendly workplaces, thanks to our commitment to family-friendly environments, equal opportunities and a world class maternity package.
That being said, our overall workforce split is around 70:30 male/female split. We are a technical company with the majority of the team being engineers. Sadly it is tremendously difficult to find female technical engineers in the same numbers as men, due to our education system and poor career advice at schools over the past 30 years.
How we have tackled this is we have bolstered other areas of the business, particularly management and responsibility roles, where men are massively outnumbered by women. There are specific skills and gender gaps that urgently need addressing. I believe that business and life relies on balance – different people, different genders, backgrounds, life experience – with such a gender imbalance in one area of the business for example, how can we have the best outcomes; the best productivity, the best production?
So, today, on International Women’s Day, we’re formalising our work toward equality in tech. We’re increasing our work with girls’ schools and we’ll be holding events to learn and share best practice, to encourage more businesses to join the push for equality.
We’re constantly learning and evolving; tech is a fast-paced industry and we’re always keen to hear your thoughts on how we can improve and grow.
We’ll also be sharing blogs written by some of the incredible women on the UKFast team throughout the afternoon. I’d love to know your opinion.