Businesses are unwittingly missing out on talent pool says BCS

12 May 2014

Women don't always recognise the need to ask for salary increase and rarely ask for a better package when offered a job according to BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT. However, men are generally often very good at this and it can lead to unwitting or unnoticed pay gaps which employers need to be aware of and take action to avoid, advises the Institute.

The advice features in the Institute’s top tips on gender diversity published today and developed to encourage understanding of the different ways that men and women behave at interviews and in employment situations. The tips are part of a month long Women in IT campaign which aims to encourage more women into the profession. Currently women account for between 15-18% of the profession.

The ten tips are based on best practice and understanding of gender diversity and unconscious bias which suggests that we prefer to recruit people who are like us.

Gillian Arnold, Chair of BCSWomen explains: “Research into how we make decisions shows that unconsciously we will use long held stereotypes when judging people, and when recruiting, we tend to be drawn to people who are like us. As a profession, we need to be aware of this in order to ensure that we have a profession that is diverse, makes the most of the talent pool available and reflects the diversity of our society.”

The Institute’s top tips are:

  1. Many women almost never say they can do the job on offer in an interview, whilst identically qualified men do.
  2. Many women aren’t good at hearing good news but are often obsessive over bad news or criticism, so be careful how you deliver it.
  3. Women tend to think they will get promoted by working long hours and doing more than is asked of them. They don’t realise this isn’t always the case and sometimes feel uncomfortable, selling themselves to senior people and/or networking with them out of the office.
  4. Women are not usually good negotiators. They often find it very hard to ask for a salary increase or higher package when offered a job. However, men are generally often very good at this and it can lead to unwitting or unnoticed pay gaps. Employers need to watch for this and ideally conduct regular independent pay audits - and publish the results.
  5. It is helpful to insist that all candidate lists for promotion or recruitment include at least some women.
  6. Unconscious bias training is more or less standard across most companies these days. If you aren’t already offering it, talk to BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, for advice on how to go about it. Any training undertaken should be offered to everyone, especially those involved in recruitment and middle and senior management layers of your organisation.
  7. Double check the wording of your recruitment advertisements. Are they gender friendly? Will they specifically attract women? Are they likely to catch the eye of more experienced women returning to work after a career break who wouldn’t mind starting again at the bottom of the ladder?
  8. Have you got three women on your Board? It makes a real difference in productivity and in profits. Ideally you will have 40% women on your Board and in your Executive teams - because that will really put you on the map and attract other high calibre women to your organisation.
  9. Women really make the most of mentoring opportunities, and will return the blessing for those less experienced than themselves, so make sure that you are proactive about offering mentoring throughout their careers.
  10. Women are much more ambitious than you think, but are less likely to put themselves forward for roles (see Tip number 1), so good succession planning which values the skills of transformative leaders will ensure that recruitment doesn’t happen 'in my image'.

The month long campaign is part of the Institute’s aim to set the gold standard for diversity in the profession. Gillian explains: “It’s quite simple, with a diverse mix in the working population, the UK IT sector can capitalise on the promise of additional profits and innovation.”

The campaign will see some of the most influential women in IT featured on the Institute’s website each day throughout May in order to demonstrate the variety of roles that are open to young women. Those who have signed up to support the campaign include entrepreneur Cary Marsh, CEO of Mydeo, Dame Stephanie Shirley who started her own software business in 1962 because of the dearth of opportunities for women in the profession, Professor Dame Wendy Hall, Director of the Web Science Institute at the University of Southampton, Maggie Philbin, CEO of TeenTech and technology journalist and author Kate Russell.

The top tips can be downloaded at: www.bcs.org/diversity

Full details of the campaign can be found at: www.bcs.org/itwomen

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