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Posted on 14th October 2016 by

Launching the MDS Women in tech forum

Despite women making up nearly half of the UK’s overall workforce, when you look at the IT sector, women account for just 15% of the total.

This isn’t great for individuals or for businesses. Research has found that organisations with more diverse workforces make better decisions and generally outperform their less diverse rivals. Moreover, those with a reputation for equality and inclusiveness are better able to attract top talent (of all genders) and retain it. What’s more, McKinsey research found that businesses with a higher proportion of women on their management teams deliver better profits, returns on equity and stock price growth than those with a lower proportion of women.

So gender-diversity is good for staff and good for business, and because successful companies are able to create more jobs, it’s good for society as a whole.

This is why we’re determined to play our part in creating a more gender-diverse tech sector, and have launched a new initiative, backed by our board. Our long-term aim is to help increase the proportion of women working in the tech sector, starting by raising awareness of the gender disparity and its impact, and creating a support network to help women achieve their career aims. By working together, we genuinely believe we can make a difference.

Launching our quarterly ‘Women in tech’ forum
We’ve set up a ‘Women in tech’ group, which is a quarterly forum for our female employees to share their experiences and career journeys, and highlight any issues they’ve faced in the workplace and elsewhere. The forums are for women only, the rationale being that some were likely to be more open talking about any challenges in a female-only environment.

However, because the whole purpose is to raise wider awareness of any challenges facing women in the tech sector, we’re following up each session with a presentation at the company’s quarterly meeting, which all staff can attend. This will help everyone in the business understand any challenges, ask questions and see how they can help make a difference.

In the first of these all-company presentations, we explained why we’ve launched the initiative, showing how everyone will benefit from being part of a more gender-diverse company and industry.

Beyond our own business: supporting gender-diversity in the wider tech industry
As well as creating more awareness among our own teams, we’ll be sharing our thoughts and experiences with the wider tech community. We’ll be blogging about the issues we discuss in our Women in tech forum and company meetings and other topics around gender-diversity in the tech sector.

We’ll also be sharing content on social media and encouraging our staff to attend more professional networking events, such as the Women in Tech events, run by TechUK.

In the longer term, we’ll be looking at other possibilities. These could include our staff speaking at this type of event, or working with schools, colleges and universities to encourage more girls and young women to pursue careers in the tech sector.

Gender-diversity in our own workforce
We’re proud that 26% of our employees are female, compared to the aforementioned 15% IT sector average. Our Managing Director, who also sits on the company’s board, is female, and the initiative has the buy-in of our full board.

Next steps
By sharing the benefits of a gender-diverse workforce with our colleagues, others in the tech world and, of course, those who aspire to work in this space, we hope to create wider awareness of why we should all be striving to achieve truly diverse workforces – and why we should all try to realise our dreams.

We’ve been really encouraged by the early response to our Women in tech initiative. Watch this space and our social media profiles for further discussion of what we’re doing to make a difference.

Contact details

Marie-Lou Merceron – Project Manager

mmerceron@mds.gb.net

01225 816280

Twitter - @mdstech

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