techUK reaffirms commitment to abolishing all-male panels
Sunday 8 March marks International Women’s Day 2020, a celebration of women’s achievement and female empowerment. techUK’s members have been highlighting the great work being done in their workforces to attract and retain female talent and to close their gender pay gaps.
But the UK tech sector still faces a widely documented diversity problem. Despite making up half of the world’s population, women are still underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), accounting for only 17% of UK’s tech workforce. Our members are working hard to get more women into tech and there is not one silver bullet. From increasing role models to ensuring there is adequate support and encouragement for women returning to work after a career break, there are a number of steps businesses can take to create an inclusive workplace that is welcoming and attractive to women.
techUK is committed to highlighting best practice whether via our returners hub or by helping companies better understand the steps they can take to address the gender pay-gap. But, techUK is a business as well and as the representative voice of industry we also want to ensure that we are putting our best foot forward.
This International Women’s Day techUK is recommitting to doing our bit to banish manels (all male panels) to the history books where they firmly belong. In August 2017, techUK made a commitment to abolish all-male panels (manels) at events and are ensuring we have gender diversity on our membership councils. We also strive to ensure that the events hosted at techUK adhere to this commitment and that our staff ensure the events they attend or speak at are gender diverse.
We believe it is important to ensure diversity among speakers at events as we want to hear from a variety of perspectives and do not want to compound the unconscious gender bias that exists within the industry. Manels also demonstrate the lack of gender representation in senior and board positions. While we push for progress in that space, we can manage the public perception of experts on our panels. By elevating the voices of women on panels, we also show young girls and women people like them on stage, which encourages women to entering the industry. This is important to enable more women to access the breath of opportunities available within tech sector.
We are looking to hold the industry, and ourselves, to account to improve the situation. In 2019, 74% of speakers at techUK’s Creating Digital Futures conference were women and techUK’s Digital Ethics Summit had 48 speakers of which 23 were women but there is still a way to go.
To help those who we work with also create diverse and engaging events, techUK has recently created a Speaker Library, made up of tech leaders and speakers from within our membership, where a third of these highlighted speakers are women. We are eager to see this number grow as the library grows. If you want to be featured – please email me!
Finally, as part of our campaigning work towards gender parity in the sector, techUK is a proud strategic partner and founding signatory of the Tech Talent Charter - a commitment by organisations to a set of undertakings that aim to deliver greater diversity in the tech workforce of the UK, one that better reflects the make-up of the population. Importantly, the Charter states that all signatories must provide data on their own workforce each year so that we can measure success and make more impactful, measurable changes as an industry for the future. The community this creates of companies listening and learning from one another is exactly how we will achieve stronger gender diversity in tech.
#EachforEqual is the theme of International Women’s Day which encourages us to broaden perceptions and improve situations. Together we have the power to address an economic and moral imperative while shaping our digital future.
Nimmi Patel is the Head of Skills, Talent and Diversity at techUK.
She works on all things skills, education, and future of work policy, focusing on upskilling and retraining. Nimmi is also an Advisory Board member of Digital Futures at Work Research Centre (digit). The Centre research aims to increase understanding of how digital technologies are changing work and the implications for employers, workers, job seekers and governments. She is also a member of Chatham House's Common Futures Conversations.
Prior to joining the team, she worked for the UK Labour Party and New Zealand Labour Party, and holds a BA in Politics, Philosophy and Economics from the University of Manchester and is currently studying MA Strategic Communications at King’s College London.