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'IT's her future': Encouraging female talent in tech

KPMG launches 'IT's her future' scheme by outlining five recommendations to help firms boost female talent in tech

Posted by Hannah Vickers | April 12, 2017 | Business

As part of the firm’s Inclusion Week, KPMG recently launched a new initiative aimed at encouraging more women to consider a career in tech. The scheme, named ‘IT’s her future’, kicks off with the release of a new report, titled ‘Meet the Millennials’, outlining the five priorities for any firm looking to attract, engage and retain female talent in tech roles.

According to Nigel Slater, KPMG’s head of management consulting, it is time for action to level the playing field for women working in technology.

“The gender gap within STEM professions, and more specifically those that specialise in technology, is vast. Last year only 18% of ICT professionals working in the UK were female, even though women currently make up almost half of the UK workforce. The recent publication of the Government’s industrial strategy green paper highlighted that there is an urgent need to develop skills by building a new system of technical education and, specifically, encouraging more young people to consider a career in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) profession.”

In order to encourage more women to consider a career in technology, the report outlines five tips to help firms to attract female millennials, described by Nigel Slater:

Be aware of the power of words 

“To encourage both men and women to feel confident enough to apply for a role, employers should pay close attention to the language used and what it signals. Our research found that female millennials responded better to positive language as opposed to words with competitive connotations. When skimming through a job description or a marketing campaign, we found that women tended to be drawn to phrases which promote cooperation and team-working, as opposed to suggesting an environment of competition. ” 

Ensure provision of well-rounded benefit packages

“We know that millennials are attracted to employers who can offer more than simply good pay, but our research found that this becomes an even greater focus for women. Companies should ensure that they offer a benefits package where pay is only one element and doesn’t have a dominant weighting. Now more than ever emphasis is placed on opportunities for rapid career progression and as a result, learning and development should be taking centre stage when considering what to offer to new recruits.”

Set up focused initiatives driven by leadership 

“Establishing networks for minority groups is an effective way of driving inclusion across the business. This applies not just to women, but LGBT groups and ethnic and religious minorities too. They help foster diversity and inclusion by connecting individuals who share similar perspectives, experiences, interests or challenges and also act as a central point from which to drive awareness across the rest of the business.

"Engagement from company leadership is vital as it shows that they are listening and more importantly acting. They care about the ultimate goal and are willing to support - something that should inspire and motivate.”

More females in leadership positions

“There needs to be real and visible evidence that it is possible to progress as a women to a senior management role in the business. When we asked female millennials, they told us that they can lack the confidence to apply for positions of responsibility, even if they feel qualified for the role. This is in large part due to a perception that these roles are typically filled by their male counterparts. Companies need to focus on two things. First, enhance current leadership diversity, giving the next generation female role models to look up to. And second, develop millennial talent in preparation for future leadership roles.”

Have access to a mentor

“Providing open access to senior mentors is vital to helping the next generation learn the skills they need to progress – whether they be male or female. While visible female leaders and mentors are vital, involvement of male mentors also demonstrates that endorsement of diversity and a commitment to gender parity comes from both sexes at a senior level.” 

“Above all, we need to ensure the next generation of female leaders feel empowered, and inspired, to apply for positions of responsibility. Ultimately, companies need to show that they believe in the potential of all members of their workforce, irrespective of gender.”

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