CGP 19 | Leadership Coaching

Narrowing The Gender Pay Gap Through Leadership Coaching

Too often, we question the impact a leadership coach can make. Is it practical, when do you need one, and will it be worth the investment? In this episode, host Sherry Bevan shares tips and important points to consider when selecting a leadership coach. Choosing the right coach can contribute to achieving your goal as a company, team, or individual. Tune in and discover how leadership coaching can work for you.

Listen to the podcast here

 

Narrowing The Gender Pay Gap Through Leadership Coaching

In this episode, I’m going to share with you how leadership coaching can help strengthen your female talent pipeline and close your gender pay gap. In my years of working in technology and ten years, in particular, specializing working as a leadership coach in the technology sector, I have absolutely seen the transformative power that leadership coaching can have on individuals, teams, and whole companies. What I want to share with you is how it works, when it might be a good time to consider using a leadership coach, when it’s most effective, and what the benefits of coaching are.

How Does Coaching Work?

We’ll spend a little bit of time thinking about the pros and cons of whether or not you use an internal versus an external coach. If you are going to go external or even look at somebody internally, what to look for in that coach. I will talk a little bit about the coaching process and what else you might want to consider running alongside coaching. First, let’s think about how coaching work. What’s the point of leadership coaching? How is it going to help you strengthen your female talent pipeline, and in the long-term, how is it going to help you close your gender pay gap?

When you are working with a coach, there are a few real positives that individuals will get from the coaching process. For a start, it helps to build self-awareness and awareness of your strengths and your skills. Also, opportunities for improvement like where you have knowledge gaps and where you have confidence gaps so that you can then decide whether or not you want to fill those gaps depending on the progress that you are looking for in your career.

Building that self-awareness and getting crystal clear on your skills and your strengths so that in itself gives that individual more courage and confidence. Therefore, they will be more likely to take that next step in their career. Coaching works because of that strengthening of your self-awareness that will enable an individual to have that courage, to have that confidence, to increase their visibility so they make a bigger impact.

That means that they are able to improve and strengthen stakeholder relationships that they might have so they get more visible in the workplace. Therefore, they are more likely to be front of mind when it comes to considering candidates for new opportunities, promotion, or getting involved in other activities.

It’s that self-awareness and that recognition of your own strengths and talents that give individuals the courage to take more risks even. More risks often result in more creative and innovative thinking, which can help that individual to make a bigger impact. At the end of the day, if they are coming up with more creative and innovative thinking, that can be a real benefit for your organization.

Coaching often starts with small changes, then gradually, over time, moves up to making bigger changes.

Often, when somebody is going through leadership coaching, they are more willing and open to look beyond their immediate team and their company for fresh ideas and perspectives. It can be valuable when you are looking to develop new lines or to strengthen the relationships you have with your clients.

It’s that courage to take more risks that allow them to make braver decisions. Perhaps decisions, they might be feeling a little bit tentative about making and a little bit hesitant, but having that confidence once they start to see what else they can do. Often with coaching, it starts off with small changes and then gradually, over time, moves up to taking bigger changes, which at the start might have been too big of a step to take.

As time goes on and the coach will work with the individual to build their confidence and courage so that they feel they can take those brave decisions three months into a coaching relationship. Those decisions might not feel as big, scary, or as daunting because, over time, they have developed that confidence and courage in themselves.

It’s that better decision-making that will help to develop their leadership skills and confidence. The one thing that I would also point out with leadership coaching and I have seen this on occasion. When you take on a coach, whether you bring that person in from externally or you match somebody up to work with an internal coach, sometimes it might lead to decisions that you weren’t expecting.

I have seen it where somebody has gone through leadership coaching, looked at their strengths and values, how that was in alignment or not with the company’s values, and decided they don’t want to stay with the company anymore. It can lead to people leaving. That is the caveat that the more you are giving that individual, the more confidence, increasing their visibility, encouraging them to think differently and creatively, and have the courage to take more risks. One of those risks might be to leave.

When Is A Good Time To Use A Coach?

When is a good time to use a coach? Often, I see that people will bring coaching in when there’s a particular change of experience. For example, if somebody is being promoted into a new role, they are taking on new responsibilities, or they are taking the same role, but in a different department, that often can be a good time to focus on getting that person settled into their new role and hitting the ground running.

CGP 19 | Leadership Coaching
Leadership Coaching: Coaching helps to build self-awareness of your strengths and skills and opportunities for improvement.

 

That’s one time when you might feel it’s appropriate to bring in a coach. Another time that often sees if you are making a company-wide change management program. Perhaps you’ve gone through a restructuring, developing new service lines, or targeting a new sector. That often is a good time to bring in a coach to help and support your leaders, start to think in a different way, think more creatively, and foster that innovative thinking. That’s another opportunity for you to bring in coaching.

Another time that I often see companies bring in a leadership coach is for people who are coming back from maternity leave to help them get settled back into their roles. Often if they have taken nine months or a year out, or they have taken shared parental leave, a lot can change in an organization in that time.

Sometimes, coming back from maternity leave, you have left one job and you’ve come back, and the role has changed or maybe they have changed department or the structure of their team has changed. Having that coaching on that return can be valuable to rebuild that person’s confidence and leadership skills. Help them redevelop or create new stakeholder relationships. Coming back from maternity leave or some other long-term absence, perhaps if the person has taken long-term sickness, for example, or had to take time out for caring responsibilities.

When Is Coaching Most Effective?

Coaching itself is most effective if the individual who is being coached has a willingness and an open mind to the change and embraces new patterns of behavior. It helps if they can be humble about what they do know and what they don’t know, somebody who is curious to explore new perspectives. Coaching can be effective when somebody is willing, able, and ready to recognize and accept their strengths, challenges, and blind spots, and if they are willing to learn more about themselves. That’s when coaching can be powerful.

It’s that curiosity to explore new perspectives and to be open to new ideas and possibilities. Some of which may come from simply having that time and space to articulate their thoughts and ambitions. Some of that may come with being willing to explore further outside of the organization and get that fresh perspective and ideas from outside or in date, ideas from the coach themselves.

We know that coaching works. From your point of view and the company’s point of view, it means that more women are more likely to put themselves forward for promotion or more likely to apply for new roles, so you get more women in those leadership positions. That becomes a self-perpetuating cycle, doesn’t it? We all have heard that thing that you can’t be what you can’t see. The more women you do have in those more senior roles, the more likely it is that other women in your organization, perhaps junior talent or your future talent, will see that that is possible. That is something that I can aspire to, and at the end of the day, that is what is going to start to close your gender pay gap.

Coaching can be effective when somebody is willing, able, and ready to recognize and accept their strengths, challenges, and blind spots.

The Power And Value Of Coaching

Coaching is powerful. It’s so valuable. It develops a person in the workplace, but it also develops that individual outside of work as well. That in itself is not perhaps necessarily going to benefit you as an employer. What it does do is increase, strengthen, and build employee engagement. That, in turn, is going to help you to build a strong employer brand and an employer brand that’s going to attract the best of the female talent that is out in the market.

By strengthening your female talent pipeline, it’s going to help you to increase retention. It is reducing attrition, which means you will save money because you will no longer be going to have to go through the recruitment process on such a regular basis. It’s also going to get the absolute best out of those individuals that you put on a coaching path because it means they are going to be able to maximize their performance and productivity. It helps them to develop their leadership skills so that the team as a whole, not just that individual, will be able to increase their performance and productivity.

Working With An Internal Coach Versus An External Coach

Often, when I’m working with clients, they might not be sure at first whether or not they want to use an internal coach or an external coach. Let me take a couple of moments to think about, explore, and ask you some questions about which do you think is going to be the most valuable. When you are working with an internal coach, one of the big benefits of that is the person already knows the organization. They truly understand the culture and the values. They will understand the unspoken rules, if you like, of the organization.

That in itself can be a limiting factor because it also means they might not be as open to new ideas. They are less likely to question or challenge something that the coachee, the person being coached, an idea that they come up with because it fits into the company’s existing culture and values. From the coachee’s perspective, they might wonder whether or not that individual has an ulterior motive or a hidden agenda for being their coach.

That’s unlikely to be a conscious thing, but it might stymie or hamper conversation so much because if you are working with somebody and you are worried about whether or not what I say is going to get back to my manager or to my manager’s manager, it might mean that conversation is not as open and honest as it could be if you are working with an external coach.

There’s that potentially slight niggle of the back of the mind around confidentiality. If you go to an external coach, for example, so somebody like myself, where I come in and work with individuals in your organization or with a team of people in your organization, obviously, there are going to be some advantages in that.

CGP 19 | Leadership Coaching
Leadership Coaching: When you take on a coach, whether you bring that person in from externally or match somebody up to work with an internal coach, it sometimes leads to decisions you weren’t expecting.

 

I am completely independent. As far as I’m concerned, I have no hidden agenda. I don’t have a reason for wanting that person to take on a particular role or for that person to want to be more assertive or less challenging. I don’t have a reason for wanting that person to change their behavior so I can be completely independent.

Confidentiality is something absolutely that you can rely and depend upon, as can the coachee themselves. That does mean it can change the nuance of the conversation because coaching is about creating that safe, protected space for the individual to articulate their thoughts, beliefs, and feelings. If they know that it is absolutely confidential and isn’t going to pass outside of the room, they are more likely to relax and open up, which means in the coaching process, that transformation can be much deeper.

As an outsider, I bring in a fresh perspective, fresh ideas, and different ways of thinking, and that can be helpful. Particularly, if you want the person to take on coaching because you want them to be more creative and innovative in the way that they develop their team or the way that you develop your services or work with your clients.

As I’m not so familiar with your culture and values, I don’t know what the expected behavior is. I’m more likely to help the coachee question. I’m more likely to challenge the coachee if they say, “We can’t do it like that.” I’m more determined to say, “Why not? I have seen it done like that in other organizations.”

There is an advantage of bringing somebody in from outside. It can change the whole feeling around the coaching. There’s that confidentiality. It’s that fresh perspective, but on the other hand, I’m not going to know the company culture and values, or understand the intricacies of the organization and how your matrix management works, for example. However, as a coach, I would always argue. I don’t need to know that detail because I’m not coaching you about your organization. I’m coaching you about your strengths, skills, values and leadership skills, helping the individual to make decisions on how to improve their performance at work.

Having thought about the pros and cons of working with an internal coach versus an external coach, the next thing to think about is what you look for in a coach. That professionalism, integrity, and confidentiality for me are absolutely key. I would always encourage you to work with somebody that you feel you can trust.

One key skill when working in a coaching relationship is the ability to hear and recognize what’s not being said.

When you have that coaching relationship, it can be quite a powerful relationship between the coach and the coachee. Most definitely, it needs to be a good sense of rapport between the coachee and the coach. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend that if you are looking to bring leadership coaching for your female talent, I might not be the right person to work with every single one of your female leaders, but I will be the right person to work with some of your female leaders.

Making The Relationship Work

There’ll be other coaches with who the relationship will be better suited for different people. One of the key things in a coaching relationship is the actual relationship like, “How is this going to work? Do you trust me? Do you have confidence in me? Do you feel that you can be open and honest when you are working with me?”

The other thing I would say when you are looking at coaches is making sure that you are finding somebody who’s got experience in coaching. It’s very difficult to be completely transparent about the people that I have worked with because often, the confidentiality follows through after the coaching relationship has finished. I couldn’t necessarily tell everybody I have worked with because not everybody is willing to share that information. Knowing that I have got that experience and worked with companies in your sector is a real bonus when it comes to selecting the right coach.

Having worked in technology all my life, having been a woman or a female leader in technology, I completely understand and empathize with the challenges that a woman brings. Also, the opportunities. I have seen how that works in lots of different organizations. I’m bringing that experience with me to the table.

The coaching process itself, let me spend a couple of moments thinking about that. One of the key things with the coaching processes is to create a safe space for the participant so that they have the confidence, the safety, and the openness if you like to be able to express their inner thoughts, beliefs, and feelings, the more that you can articulate those thoughts. For example, I have been working with somebody who, at the back of her mind, niggle about her future career prospects at her current employer.

Together, we have formulated a plan so that she can go and talk to her manager about that. That is going to free up her mind so that she can then focus and concentrate on other aspects of her work in a more authentic way. It’s about creating that safe space so that you can articulate those thoughts, beliefs, and feelings that might be nibbling away at the back of your head, and you can’t quite put your finger on why you are not happy or why this feels in conflict. It’s that safe space that is powerful and important.

CGP 19 | Leadership Coaching
Leadership Coaching: One of the key things with the coaching process is creating a safe space for the participant so that they have confidence, safety, and openness.

 

What does a coach do when they are coaching? This sounds so simple. It’s crazy that people pay me to do this, but basically, the crux of it is I sit, I listen, and I ask questions. I will ask open questions, but at times I will challenge and reflect back on what I’m hearing. One of the key skills when you are working in a coaching relationship, if you are the coach, is the ability to hear and recognize what’s not being said.

That is so important because when you are working with somebody inside the organization and you are having a conversation at lunchtime. Perhaps you are stuck on a problem, or you are wondering how to tackle a particular challenge. Talk to somebody else in the organization. We all inevitably fall into the same way of thinking, in particular, company culture. You might not get that different perspective. You might not get the person questioning or challenging you. What’s making you think about doing that, or what else could you do?

It’s simple as it sounds, but it’s very powerful. Coaches listen but they also ask questions. They reflect, they challenge, but also, they hear what’s not being said. One of the fundamental parts of the whole coaching process is that the coach will always ask the client to make a commitment and be very specific about the actions that they are going to undertake before that next coaching session.

Personally, as a coach, I will always ask the person to write down the action and say it out loud to me. What I do at the end of the session is ask that person to read out what they have said. I record it as well so that when we come back at the next session, I can say, “How did you get on with X?” If they didn’t get on with X for whatever reason, “What got in the way? What can we do about that? How can we stop that blockage from happening next time?”

Coaching can be a powerful process. It sounds super simple and I talk about it in those terms, but it’s a powerful tool to develop the leadership skills in your female talent and strengthen your female talent pipeline. At the end of the day, you are going to increase retention, reduce attrition, and close that gender pay gap.

Thank you so much for joining me. I hope you found it useful to hear about how leadership coaching can work and how it can help you to close your gender pay gap. More episodes on closing the gender pay gap at SherryBevan.co.uk. If this has sparked an idea for you and your organization, or if you have been thinking about bringing in some leadership coaches, please do book an exploratory chat with me.

That will give you the opportunity to ask any questions you have about the leadership coaching that I do, either individual or team level. A variety of levels, from your future leadership candidates to heads of departments or directors. I do that coaching right now with a range of cybersecurity and technology companies to support them in staunching the female talent pipeline. If that’s of interest, please do get in touch with me by email, Sherry@SherryBevan.co.uk, to book your call. Thank you for reading. I will be back next time.

 

Important Links

CGP 18 | Cybersecurity Female Talent

Challenges And Best Practices In Attracting And Retaining Female Talent In Cybersecurity

In the spring of 2022, Sherry Bevan hosted a round table where she invited several cybersecurity companies to talk about attracting and retaining more female talent into cybersecurity. Representatives from Blackberry, ISTARI, Beyond Trust, Redscan, and Adarma Security came along and participated in a fruitful discussion. They looked into attracting more women into cybersecurity, tackling unconscious biases in hiring, retaining female technical talent, internal role modeling, and closing the gender pay gap in the industry. In this episode, Sherry shares her reflections about the round table. Listen in as she breaks down the discussion’s salient points that reveal deep insights into the state of female talent in one of the fastest growing sectors of the economy.

Listen to the podcast here

 

Challenges And Best Practices In Attracting And Retaining Female Talent In Cybersecurity

Reflections On The Spring 2022 Round Table

In this episode, I’d like to share my reflections from my spring round table in which I invited several cybersecurity companies to come and talk about how we attract more women into cybersecurity, and once we’ve attracted them, how do we keep them there? Before I move on, I will tell you a little bit about my round tables. I run these twice a year. They’re very small exclusive events.

They’re an opportunity for you to get insights, ask questions, and share feedback with your peers in the community. Normally, no more than 6 to 8 companies with 1 or 2 representatives at most from each organization. Typically, the types of people who come along to the round table are HR directors, talent managers, diversity and inclusion, and heads of departments.

In 2021, my round table was on the impact of the hybrid world on the gender pay gap. You can still access and get a copy of the white paper that I wrote off the back of that. In spring 2022, we looked at how to attract and retain female talent, specifically in cybersecurity. If you’d like to join the next round table, when we’re going to be looking at how to engage our female talent in the sports technology world, please do get in touch.

I’m very grateful to the representatives who came along to the spring round table. We had representatives from Blackberry, ISTARI, Beyond Trust, Redscan, and Adarma Security – thank you very much. Everyone who came along, got engaged and contributed so that we had a fruitful discussion. Before the round table takes place, I send out an attendance list, who you’re going to meet, and tell you the talking points or what the questions are going to be. I will facilitate the discussion around those talking points.

CGP 18 | Cybersecurity Female Talent
Cybersecurity Female Talent: We don’t have a challenge in attracting more women into cybersecurity. We have a challenge in getting more talent into cybersecurity.

 

For the last one, we looked at why does the sector need more women in cybersecurity? We looked at how we attract more women into cybersecurity, particularly in the hybrid work model that most of us are working with now. We looked at ways that organizations can tackle that unconscious bias in hiring. We also spent some time talking about the role of internal mobility. Can you move stuff from one department to another? That you attract and retain more of your female talent in the more technical or the engineering sides of the company. We spent some time looking at how to close the gender pay gap in cybersecurity.

Talent Shortage In Cybersecurity

Before we think about how we attract more women to cybersecurity, let’s spend a few moments thinking about what we already know about the sector itself. There was a government report published in 2020 talking and looking at cybersecurity skills in the UK labour market. What we do know is that cybersecurity is one of the fastest-growing sectors and there are certainly no signs of slowing down. There has been massive investment in the industry.

The report by DCMS suggests that the UK cyber industry is worth an estimated £8.3 billion. However, the challenge is that the number of trained and experienced cybersecurity professionals is simply not keeping up with demand. In fact, we don’t have a challenge of how to attract more women into cyber security. We have a challenge of how do we get more talent into cybersecurity.

There was a government report back in 2018. When I talk about UK businesses, I’m not talking about technology companies or companies that specialize in cybersecurity, but the UK businesses in the general UK market. More than 50% of them have a basic technical cybersecurity skills gap. We have a big challenge here. Three out of ten cyber firms or 29%, say that the job applicants they do get lack non-technical skills such as communication, relationship building, and leadership management skills, which is preventing the company from meeting its business goals.

Cybersecurity is one of the fastest-growing sectors, and there are certainly no signs of slowing down. However, the challenge is that the number of trained and experienced cybersecurity professionals is simply not keeping up with demand.

When we look at the cybersecurity sector as a whole, we lack strong female role models. There are some amazing role models in the industry. If you know a role model, then please do let me know because I’d love to interview her for the show. One of the critical barriers to female progression in the workplace and particularly in cybersecurity is the lack of professional flexibility.

When we look at diversity, there are some statistics available, and what we see is that if we’re looking specifically at the cybersecurity sector, 15% of the workforce are female compared to 28% of the wider digital sector. Although, when we talked about this at the round table, quite a few of the companies represented there, where are they getting these people from because we’re not at 15%.

For information here, 16% are from ethnic minority backgrounds versus 17% from digital sectors. From that point of view, the difference isn’t so significant. What we also know is that 9% of the workforce in the cybersecurity sector is neurodivergent. Unfortunately, we don’t have any reliable comparisons for that across the wider digital sector.

In the discussions that we had at the round table, the biggest thing that came out of it for me is that if you’re struggling to recruit talent and particularly recruit female talent, you are not alone. Every single one of the participants at the round table said that they were struggling to get enough good female talent on the shortlist. In fact, they’re not struggling to get good female talent. They’re struggling to get good talent onto their shortlist.

CGP 18 | Cybersecurity Female Talent
Cybersecurity Female Talent: It would be amazing if we could develop a better image for cybersecurity, but it’s tricky because, at the same time, there’s not enough openness about what we do and about what the organizations do when they get our support.

 

The challenges are we have a skill shortage, there’s no doubt about that, but there are also some other issues. One of the big challenges that we seem to have in the cybersecurity world is that cyber is not the cool place to be. It’s not a cool place to be for women, which to my mind is crazy because for me, working in cybersecurity is about stopping the bad guys.

As one of the round table participants described, it’s a noble pursuit and has a noble purpose for companies. In my mind, that should appeal to women because women often feel more drawn to an organization or a company that seems to have a sense of purpose in the world rather than making money for money’s sake.

I wonder whether we need to have a PR campaign for a sector that could be seen as cool, fighting the bad guys, and making the place a better world, but it’s tricky to have a PR campaign for a sector that’s in the shadows. We don’t want to be going around telling people, “Watch out because your hospital is at threat of attack. Your bank is at threat of attack. There’s been an incident in the financial services sector.” Often when an organization has some cybersecurity incident or threat, it is not the thing they want to be talking about.

It would be amazing if we could develop a better image for cybersecurity, but it’s tricky because, at the same time, there’s not that openness about what we do and about what the organizations do when they get our support and our help. One of the other challenges in any sector of technology is flexibility. Women tend to prefer to want that flexible working. What we do know about flexible working is it tends to be parents with young children and people with disabilities who want it.

One of the critical barriers to female progression in the workplace, and particularly in cybersecurity, is the lack of professional flexibility.

Over the last few years, we’ve all had to move to that remote work, and hybrid working is very much at the forefront of our minds now. COVID has introduced new possibilities to us. One of the tricky things, though, is if you’re working in cyber and in that very technical side of things, we’ve got that challenge of needing to be on call 24/7.

It’s not for all people in the organization, but for certain groups, those who work on the incident or service desk, which can be more challenging if you’ve got young children or if you’re part of that sandwich generation. Maybe you’ve got young children at one end of the spectrum in your life, but you’re also caring for elderly relatives at the other end. More information about how to support your working carers in the last episode.

While remote working and hybrid working models have been absolutely brilliant for many of us who have not needed to commute to be more productive, and all of that good stuff that comes from hybrid working, there are some disadvantages. In the past, our penetration testers would have got some of that tacit knowledge transfer simply by being in the same room as the best testers in Europe and that’s not happening now because we’re all working remotely.

You’re not overhearing those conversations. You’re not able to step over to another person’s desk and say, “Could you help me with this?” It’s different because we have to work harder at making that knowledge transfer happen. We need to understand these obstacles to be able to remove them. Being more flexible in the way that we offer flexible working would be a great start.

CGP 18 | Cybersecurity Female Talent
Cybersecurity Female Talent: Often, women will see cybersecurity as a very technical role. It’s much more than that. We need our recruiters and hiring managers to use language which addresses the entirety of what the role requires.

 

Beyond The Hiring Process

We often talk about how we attract more women into cybersecurity, but it’s not about the hiring process. It’s moved beyond knowing how to have a shortlist with women on that. Lots of companies will work closely with the recruitment agency or their internal talent acquisition people. It’s not about the hiring process. It’s about attracting women in the first place. It comes down to your employer brand.

One of the things that came out of the discussion with the cybersecurity companies who came to the round table is that we’re all competing for the same talent. What we don’t want to do is to end up doing what we’ve seen in other sectors in the past, where they have gone to extreme lengths to attract women. When companies find out that women are on maternity leave, they contact them directly to offer them incredible packages so that they can stay on full paid leave for a whole year and then come back to work for a different employer.

What we need to do is to establish that strong employer brand, but not just the employer, the industry brand. That will help the whole pipeline and the whole sector. All of the representatives at the round table felt that it’s not about focusing on your own requirements because otherwise, you’ll end up competing against the same female talent. What will happen is we end up in this spiral of offering these massive packages, large salaries, flexible working, bonuses, and all those kinds of things.

One of the topics we also did talk about was internal and social mobility. How can we encourage women who work in the cybersecurity industry but perhaps not in those technical roles? How can we attract them to retrain? What can you do? In some organizations that I’ve talked to, they have schemes where people can go on secondment for a short period of time into the more technical sections of the organization to find out more about the role, whether or not it’s something that they could do.

Attracting more women into cybersecurity is not about the hiring process. It comes down to your employer brand.

What about bringing in people without experience and training them up? Is that something that you could consider? I know there are companies out there and if you are a company that’s doing that, I’d love to hear from you and your experiences, and share something with that on the show, so get in touch if you’re bringing in people without any cyber experience at all and you’re training them up.

Could you persuade someone to make a sideways move? After all, this is a career for life. After a couple of years of training, you’ve got that career locked in. Let’s face it, it’s not a career without its financial advantages and it pays well. Perhaps, you’ve looked at things such as CAPSLOCK, a scheme where it does take people without experience and does train them up and then gets them into positions in companies as well. There is a lot of willingness to try and explore internal mobility, but perhaps still in its infancy.

Coming back to recruitment, we’ve seen other sectors in the past going to those crazy and ridiculous lengths to poach bait women. We’ve seen that in some of the financial services in the past. Maybe we might start to see that in cybersecurity. I hope not. One of the important things, when we look at recruitment, is about educating your hiring managers. It’s important to think about cybersecurity on its whole. What are the technical and non-technical skills required?

Often, women will see cybersecurity as a very technical role, problem-solving, and multitasking. It’s much more than that. We need our recruiters and hiring managers to use language, which addresses the entirety of what the role requires. Talking about not the technical skills but also talking about the non-technical skills. What sometimes people describe as soft skills, but I don’t like that terminology because it devalues the skills. Thinking about those skills, such as leadership skills, collaboration skills, and building relationships, often these are things that women tend to be better at. They tend to perform better in those kinds of skills.

CGP 18 | Cybersecurity Female Talent
Cybersecurity Female Talent: There is no magic solution. We do have a skills shortage in the cybersecurity sector, but there are lots that you can do to nurture and retain your female talent in the workplace.

 

I mentioned that 29% of cyber firms say that job applicants lack those non-technical skills such as communication, leadership, and management skills, and that is what’s stopping them from meeting their business goals. However, we do have 50% of the population that tend to be the skills that women are better at. I’m always talking about general tendencies. I’m not talking about all men or women.

It’s about how those hiring and line managers describe the roles and the qualities and behaviors that they’re looking for. In some organizations, we’ve seen tick box requirements where it’s essential that you’ve got experience in a particular way or thing. Try and think outside the tick box. Could that specific experience be gained in other ways?

One of the round table participants talked about how it was a requirement to spend some time on an oil rig in the oil industry. Often for women, particularly if they’ve got young children, it is very tricky and difficult to manage, so they lack that particular experience. It meant that it was very difficult for them to move into certain roles because they didn’t have that experience. The company started to look at other ways to gain that experience.

Look at those shorthand descriptors that you use and break them down. As the talent manager or HR professional challenges the hiring managers, “What does that mean? Why do you need that? What’s the purpose of that skill?” Make sure that you include women in the interview process. I appreciate that some of this is stuff that you’re perhaps already doing.

Attracting women still needs to be a meritocracy. Women need to have the skills and experience. It’s not about tokenism. In fact, women don’t want to be seen as token women in the office.

A lot of what we’re talking about here is equally applicable, whether you’re trying to attract women into cybersecurity or into technology. If you go back to my previous episode where we looked at all the different initiatives and the ones where the research tells us that they’re most effective on how to attract and retaining women into technology. Go and look at that episode because that’s equally applicable to the cyber sector.

It is important to include women in that interview process. The important thing is I’m not saying, “Go and recruit wherever women you can find.” It still needs to be a meritocracy. Women need to have the skills and experience. It’s not about tokenism. In fact, women don’t want to be seen as token women in the office. They don’t want to be making up the numbers to fulfill the quota.

Quotas have a place. Often people don’t like quotas because they feel it takes away the ability to select the right person for the right role. Also, quotas on your shortlist perhaps can be the only way that you get more women into the interview room in the first place, but women themselves don’t want to be seen as token women because it devalues their skills and experiences. They don’t want to be thought of as only getting the job, promotion, or sideways move because they’re a woman.

Do you have role models in your workplace? If you do have role models, how can you showcase them in the workplace? There’s very much that thing. You can’t be what you can’t see. We need more female talent in the cyber security industry. Once we start to get more female talent into the sector, then it will start to snowball a bit more. Your female role models, could they mentor other women? Perhaps, women who are considering or seem to be demonstrating the relevant skills to take a sideways move and move over into your engineering or into your technical team.

Although one of the challenges discussed by a couple of the participants at the round table was that when you do showcase your female talent and you’re doing that to build your employer brand, then what happens is you’re putting a target on their back and they get inundated with headhunters and recruiters. That’s partly because there are so few female experts in the sector at the moment. If you can at least role model them internally, it would be great to get to the stage where we showcase female talent and it’s not putting a target on the back because there’s such a plethora of female talent to pick from.

Technical And Non-technical Skills In Cybersecurity

One last point when we were looking at recruitment, because of the skill shortage, often when people move to another employer, they’re getting offered packages that you might not feel you could offer them for them to stay. They’re getting high salary offers and high bonuses. They then hand in their notice and then people rush around, “We want you to stay,” and then you start to offer more money. One of the things that we went back to is good performance management principles. Are you looking after the staff that you don’t want to leave and not the ones who talk loudly about how many times they’ve been approached on LinkedIn?

I’m very grateful to the participants from Blackberry, ISTARI, Beyond Trust, Redscan, and Adarma Security for participating in the round table on how to attract and retain female talent in the cybersecurity sector. We didn’t come up with any light bulb moments in terms of magic solutions. There is no magic solution. We do have a skills shortage in the cybersecurity sector, but there are lots that you can do to nurture and retain your female talent in the workplace.

There’s work that you can do on those good performance management principles and taking some of the initiatives that we use in technology as a wider sector to encourage more women into the cybersecurity workplace. If you’d like to get involved in my next round table, which would be in October 2022, please do reach out. I do keep a waitlist if you want to get involved or if you want to find out what the topic is going to be.

Thank you so much for reading, more episodes of the show at SherryBevan.co.uk. If this discussion has sparked an idea for you and your organization, please get in touch and book an exploratory chat with me that will give you the opportunity to ask any questions you have about the work that I do with cybersecurity companies on how to attract, develop, and retain your female talent so that you can close the gender pay gap. Get in touch by email at Sherry@SherryBevan.co.uk to book your call.

 

Important Links

CGP 17 | National Carers Week

National Carers Week: Show Support For Your Working Carers

Statistically, three in five women say that their caring role has blocked their career progress. For men, one in five say caring had stopped them from applying for promotion or a new job. As we can see, the act of balancing work and caring responsibilities is a challenge that poses a risk to the growth of both employees and the business. This June, we will celebrate National Carers Week. It brings a good opportunity for you to show support for your working carers. Join Sherry Bevan in this episode as she highlights the difficulties working carers face, what it says about being a woman, how it affects the gender pay gap, and what this celebration can do to your people. It is time to take better care of our working carers. Let them know you value them. 

Listen to the podcast here

National Carers Week: Show Support For Your Working Carers

Welcome to the show. I work as a Leadership Consultant partnering with cybersecurity and technology companies to help them develop and retain their female talent so that they close the gender pay gap. Thank you so much for joining me. I’d love for you to check out this episode and then come back to the next episode. To make it easier, you simply need to subscribe to the show. Let’s get into this episode.

The Challenges Faced By Working Carers

I would like to share some thoughts on how you can use National Carers Week to support your working carers. National Carers Week is in June. It’s a really important week to demonstrate that you support and value your working carers. Before I talk about how you can make use of National Carers Week, let me first try and set the scene for you to give you some context so that you can understand how many of your staff does this potentially affects. You might’ve seen in an issue of HR Director that 3 in 5 women say that their caring role has blocked their career progress. That is based on some research conducted with Ipsos and Business in the Community.

6 out of 10 women, so 58%, stopped applying for a promotion or for a new job because of the pressure of their caring responsibilities. It doesn’t just affect women. It does affect men as well. For example, 1 in 5 men, or 20%, said caring had stopped them from applying for promotion or a new job. It does affect them, but it affects women much more. A much higher percentage have stopped themselves from applying for a promotion or a new job.

1 in 5 have handed in their notice and quit their job because the act of trying to balance work and caring responsibilities was too much. In fact, I’ve got personal experience of this because when my father died, overnight, I became a full-time carer for my stepmother, who was bedridden and had dementia. It was impossible to balance work and caring responsibilities.

35% of all adults and 44% of working adults do have some sort of caring responsibilities, but it’s not spread equally. What we see is that women make up 85% of sole carers for children and 65% of sole carers for older adults. What we also see is that there are more people from ethnic minority backgrounds, so 42% have caring responsibilities than those from White backgrounds.

We have rapidly become a society of sandwich carers because we’re having children later and we’re living longer.

You might not realize how this affects your company, but in fact, 6.5 million people in the UK are working carers, and when I talk about working carers, I’m talking about carers specifically who are looking after elderly parents or relatives. I’m not talking about people who’ve taken on childcare responsibilities. In this particular episode, I’m going to focus on those working carers who are looking after an elderly parent or elderly relative.

Sixty-two percent of those carers do that caring for elderly relatives on top of their full-time paid work, and the thing is, very often, they don’t tell anyone at work, but it’s hard to balance work and caring. It means that they’re at risk of exhaustion, stress, and overwhelm. This potentially can have a huge impact on your gender pay gap because it’s mostly women who take on the caring responsibility, particularly over the age of 40. In other words, that’s your senior female talent pool, the ones you hope will be your next generation of leaders or the women who should be at the peak of their careers.

We have rapidly become a society of sandwich carers because we’re having children later and we’re living longer. That peak age for being a sandwich carer is between 40 and 49. There’s no surprise that women are much more likely to be sandwich carers caring for both a young child and an elderly parent. I’ve told you quite a bit about how the percentages and the data show more women doing this than men, but this isn’t just about supporting women to balance their work and caring responsibilities. We need to make it okay for men to have that flexible working for caring responsibilities, whether that’s caring for a child or for an elderly relative.

Gender Pay Gap

Let’s look a bit more closely at how this does affect your gender pay gap, and the main reason it affects your gender pay gap is that so many carers find it difficult to balance and combine paid work with caring. What happens is that they start to reduce their working hours so that they feel able to cope. They turn down job offers or they turn down promotions, or they decide against applying for new roles going up in their career. It’s often because they’re starting to experience some emotional and physical exhaustion.

They’re often very highly stressed and overwhelmed, so they tend to start to experience difficulties with concentration at work. What happens is they start to use up their annual leave or they take sick time in order to provide that care. The result of that means they’re not getting any personal free time, which means they’re even more at risk or in danger of burnout. What we see as well for some people is they start to work at the weekends or they work late in the evenings to make up the hours that they might’ve had to spend caring during the day.

CGP 17 | National Carers Week
National Carers Week: We need to make it okay for men to have that flexible working for caring responsibilities, whether that’s caring for a child or for an elderly relative.

The Ipsos and the BITC, the Business in the Community, research came up with some recommendations for employers. Their first recommendation was that you need to consider that caring is the norm and that it’s not the exception. Being a carer affects so many of us, so you need to take that into consideration when you’re looking at your employee experience developing your policies. It’s important to champion equitable access to care for all genders, men and women, in your policies. Don’t think about this being a woman’s thing. Foster a culture that supports men to care.

Often, men struggle more with those caring responsibilities when they are the primary carer because they don’t feel it is okay to ask. They don’t feel it’s appropriate. They feel that peer pressure. Look at promoting and fostering a coach that supports men’s care, particularly being very clear that you promote and support flexible working for men.

Why It Is Important To Support Carers

Let’s look at why it’s important to support your carers. Let’s look at this from a business perspective. It’s going to enhance your reputation as an employer. If you’re an employer who is seen to promote and support a flexible working culture or a culture that supports carers, it’s going to build a strong employer brand.

That, in turn, will help you to attract good talent and keep that good talent so that they don’t quit because they’re struggling to balance work, life, and caring responsibilities. It’s going to reduce stress and sickness levels, and therefore the cost of covering sickness absence or other absence, and it’s going to increase overall employee productivity and employee engagement.

From a legal perspective, it’s important to support your carers because you have obligations under the flexible working regulations and under the equality legislation relating to disability, which could apply to carers. You can’t treat carers less favorably than others who do not have caring responsibilities. It’s important to remember that carers do have the right to take unpaid time off work for dependents in an emergency.

So many carers find it difficult to balance and combine paid work with caring.

From a moral perspective, it’s the right thing to do, and we know that working carers who feel supported are less likely to give up their job altogether or ask for part-time or flexible hours. They’re less likely to find it difficult to concentrate at work. They’re less likely to turn down a promotion or to decide against applying for a new role. They’re less likely to take sick leave to provide that care and less likely to take unpaid leave to provide that care.

We know that employers and line managers want to be supportive. They want to support, care for, and value their teammates or their colleagues who are working carers. They have that empathy for the needs of their employees, but often, they feel they don’t have the time to help or support their employees. Very often, they don’t know what they can do. They’re unclear about what a possibility is and what not a possibility is. Sometimes, they lack the capacity to do so. It’s not that they don’t want to do it, but they don’t know what to do.

What Working Carers Value

There was some research published in June 2020 by CIPD with the University of Sheffield. They looked at what working carers value. What do they want from their employer? This is a list of those things that came up in that research. Working carers want to be able to use a telephone or to have private time during the day to make or receive calls.

You can’t predict when you’re going to get a phone call from the care home to say your mother has had a fall. The carers value where employers offer counseling or well-being support, so if that’s something that you’re looking at or exploring, or if you already have it, how are you promoting that to your working carers?

They find it helpful when employers have a formal policy on offering unpaid or paid leave for carers. It makes it so much easier when there is a formal policy that everybody’s aware of, that their line managers know how to make use of that and that their carers are encouraged to make use of it. They want to know where they can go for support. It could be signposting to external sources of support. They want to have guidance on what organizational support is available. You might have policies or an employee assistance program, but how easy is it for people to find out about it?

CGP 17 | National Carers Week
National Carers Week: Foster a culture that supports men to care.

Working carers also value having a network or a forum within the company that is specifically for other working carers. That can be helpful. They value it when you take action and demonstrate your support on an awareness base. We’ve got National Carers Week from the 6th to the 12th of June 2022, so this is a perfect opportunity for you to show your support and how much you value these working carers.

What working carers also want is autonomy and flexibility in their working hours. It’s that flexible working that really is flexible. It’s not having to say in advance that they’re going to start at 10:00 AM and finish at 5:00 PM, but perhaps maybe starting at 8:00 AM one day and starting at 9:00 AM the next day, or maybe not starting until 11:00 AM, so that they’ve got time to go and deal with those unexpected minor emergencies that need to be dealt with.

Perhaps, it can also be looking at other flexible working options. It’s the ability to work from home on some days without giving lots of reasons and filling in lots of forms. Consider using job share or compressed hours. There are lots of ways that flexible working can be a real benefit, and our working carers value it.

The CIPD has lots of recommendations for you, so I’m going to walk you through what they suggest and recommend. The first thing is that you should develop and communicate a carer policy or a framework or guidance. Have a clear definition of what it means to be a carer. Develop that policy, framework, or guidance, so it’s clear to everybody, whether that’s the individual employees, line managers, or senior management. Outline the different roles and responsibilities. What’s available? Where can people go to get support? Then, make sure that you’ve communicated that approach so that you start to embed that culture of support.

If you haven’t already, take time to consider how you introduce and when you introduce flexible working specifically to support working carers. When you’re hiring, start off by making it very clear from the start that you are flexible and that you do offer flexible working practices. Be really transparent about what that means. Empower your line managers to support those flexible workers and support working carers who perhaps need more flexibility than others.

Working carers who feel supported are less likely to give up their job altogether or ask for part-time or flexible hours.

There is also providing carer’s leave, whether that’s paid or unpaid. The key thing with the carer’s leave is that you don’t always know when you’re going to need it. You don’t know when your father or mother might take a fall, or when your father gets sick and you suddenly need to be providing extra cafe. You can provide the carer’s leave as unpaid or paid, but it needs to be so that it can be requested at short notice. It’s being adaptable about it, being requested at short notice, and being empathic and sympathetic about that.

It’s great to have policies and to have support available, but what’s important is to empower your line managers so that they can support the carers in their teams. You can do that by promoting open culture. Make sure that your line managers have awareness and knowledge about your organization’s approach to supporting carers.

Provide training for them so that they know what they can do and what support is available. It’s important to engage those senior leaders so that they can support carers and start creating those inclusive cultures. We all know those inclusive cultures. When you start to build that inclusive culture, it’s making work for everyone and not just for working carers or for parents of young children.

The final recommendation from the CIPD is about providing information and peer-to-peer support. Provide information on what workplace support is available to carers. Look at developing some in-house support group or forum for your carers, and do make sure that you signpost to other sources of information. I’ve already mentioned that National Carers Week is coming up, and I have put together two awareness packs for you that you can use to support your working carers.

National Carers Week

Your ideal opportunity to launch a campaign or raise awareness and demonstrate that you care is during National Carers Week, from the 6th to the 12th of June 2022. If you’ve not heard about this before, it’s an annual campaign to raise awareness of caring and to highlight the challenges that unpaid carers face. The theme this 2022 is to make caring visible, valued, and supported. To help you do that, I’ve created two awareness packs that you can use in a variety of ways to enhance your reputation as a carer-friendly workplace, increase staff engagement, and know that you can signpost staff to additional resources so that they are more productive and less likely to burn out or quit.

CGP 17 | National Carers Week
National Carers Week: When staff feels more supported in the workplace, you’re going to increase staff engagement and retention in the long run.

There are two awareness packs. One is for working carers themselves and the other one has been designed to support your line managers. The first pack is aimed at working carers. It’s to give them information and tips on how to balance work and caring for elderly relatives. It’s been designed to give them the opportunity to explore how to do that and how to look after their own well-being because often, we all know we should look after our own well-being as well. It’s important but it often gets dropped first.

The pack will also help you to signpost your working carers to their legal rights and to other support and resources that may be available. If they’re able to balance their work and their caring responsibilities better, it means they’ll be less likely to take time off-cycle to go into overwhelm, stress, and burnout. That means they’ll be more productive at work as well.

If they know what other support is available, because often, working carers aren’t aware of what else is available to support them with caring for elderly relatives, it means they’ll be less likely to need to take time off work. It means that productivity will be increased and their exhaustion and burnout will hopefully go down as well. When staff feels more supported in the workplace, it means that you’re going to increase staff engagement and retention as well in the long run.

The line manager awareness pack has been designed to raise awareness among your leaders and line managers so that they feel better equipped to support their teams and to find out more about the challenges that carers face, so they have more empathy and that they can support them more effectively and with more understanding.

It’s been designed so that they get real clarity on what support and benefits are available for caring workers, whether that’s support, benefits, and policies within your company or outside. If they’re better able to support their working carers, it means your carers are less likely to quit or turn down promotions because they’ll feel valued and supported. It’s about making sure that your line managers understand the relevant policies that you have in place.

The two awareness packs that I have available include a PowerPoint file and a resources sheet. The PowerPoint file and the resources sheet are editable. The great thing about that is that it means you can apply your in-house branding. Plus, you can tailor those resources so that you can include information on your company’s relevant policies. You can either use the pack to develop a PDF or virtual or in-person awareness sessions so that staff can benefit wherever they’re based.

You can either publish that on your internet or run some in-person sessions during National Carers Week in June. If you’re interested in this, each one of these packs is £300 or if you want to buy both, it’s £450. This is your golden opportunity to enhance your reputation as a carer-friendly inclusive workplace where you’re working carers feel valued and supported so that they don’t burn out or quit. If you’re interested, then do get in touch quickly because you want to get those wellness packs well in time for National Carers Week, which runs from the 6th to the 12th of June. Email me if you’re interested in those.

Hopefully, that’s been helpful to look at some of the ways you can support your working carers and why it’s important to do that, and what the benefits are for your employees and you as an employer. Thank you so much for joining me. If you want to check out more episodes of the show, you can go and visit SherryBevan.co.uk.

If this has sparked an idea for you and your organization, I’d love for you to book an exploratory chat with me. This will give you the opportunity to ask any questions you have about the work that I do with cybersecurity and technology companies on attracting, developing, and retaining your female talent so that you close the gender pay gap. Get in touch with me by email at Sherry@SherryBevan.co.uk to book your call.

Thanks so much for tuning in. I’ll be back soon.

Important Links

CGP 16 | Diversity In Cybersecurity

Diversity in Cybersecurity: Jess Figueras On What’s Causing The Cyber Skills Shortage

Diversity in the workforce is an issue that many industries are striving to improve. But what about cybersecurity? Jess Figueras sheds light on the matter with host Sherry Bevan. Jess is an independent tech industry strategy adviser and the Vice-Chair of the UK Cyber Security Council. She has experienced first-hand the lack of and the need for more women in the profession. In this episode, Jess discusses the cyber skills shortage and factors that contribute to a skewed diversity in the field. Technology is producing information faster than the professionals going in. So, what is putting people off from cybersecurity? And, is this a chance for more women to get into cybersecurity? Get the answer by tuning in.

Listen to the podcast here:

Diversity in Cybersecurity: Jess Figueras On What’s Causing The Cyber Skills Shortage

In this episode, I’m delighted to be talking to Jessica Figueras, a tech industry strategy advisor and Vice-Chair at the UK Cyber Security Council. What we are going to be looking at and exploring is how we attract and keep female talent in the cybersecurity space. If this is a topic of interest, I do still have a couple of spaces available on The Executive Round Table on this topic on the 24th of March 2022.

We will be looking at why the sector needs more women in cybersecurity. We will look at ways that organizations can tackle unconscious bias in hiring. We will have a look at the role that internal mobility plays and how to close that gender pay gap in cybersecurity. Back to our guest, a very warm welcome, Jessica. Thank you so much for joining me.

Thank you for having me.

Perhaps to set the scene, it would be helpful if you could tell us a bit more about your career and how you’ve got interested in digital trust and cybersecurity issues.

It is important to remember that you can start from anywhere. When I graduated with my English degree, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I ended up in Public Relations accidentally. It was technology public relations doing a lot of work for companies like Microsoft. As it turned out, PR was not for me. However, I found the technology industry fascinating and quickly gravitated to the most complex bits of emerging technology where pretty interesting industry dynamics were emerging. From there, I became an industry analyst.

I worked at a company for a long time, focusing on areas of emerging technology, where interesting dynamics are coming out. Companies are competing in different ways and using cases affecting society and changing consumer behaviors. That’s how I got in it in the first place. Digital trust started to interest me somewhere around 2014, 2015 when I started working in a role specializing in government and public sector use of technology, how government strategy, different emerging technologies, and methodologies were going to be playing out in that sector.

Lack of diversity is a problem. If you only have the same kinds of people trying to solve the problem, you don’t have a full toolbox.

The role of digital identity became important. At that point, the government has been trying to implement a new framework for digital identity in government for quite a long time. It was called the Verified Program. It’s a way for citizens to sign into digital services online and have their identity verified.

It was a very complex undertaking. The government ran into a lot of trouble with that program. It didn’t deliver. It has been phased out and replaced. You are looking at how that digital identity is not a technocratic question. It’s not a question of how you can make the tech work. It also raises interesting questions, which are more civil society questions about the role of citizenship if everybody has access to the credentials you need to prove your entitlements to use different government services.

That leads to questions around equality, all sorts of different kinds of dimensions. We saw it with the Windrush scandal when many British citizens were deprived of their citizenship simply because they had arrived in the country as children and didn’t have credentials. We can see the horrifying consequences when the government doesn’t get this right. That’s where my interest started.

How did you get involved in the UK Cyber Security Council? That sounds like a fascinating role to me.

The UK Cyber Security Council came out of the government’s National Cybersecurity Strategy in 2016. One of the weaknesses that the government identified in the UK’s overall security posture was the profession itself and lots of different dimensions there. Firstly, endemic skill shortage continues to be the problem. The demand for skilled people consistently outstrips supply.

There are a lot of issues around skills, career paths, professional development because of our young professionals. It’s changing and evolving very quickly. It’s very difficult for organizations to know what qualifications they should be asking for in their people and how they map onto each other. It’s about one million and one different qualification you can take. It’s not always obvious how they map.

CGP 16 | Diversity In Cybersecurity
Diversity In Cybersecurity: Cybersecurity skewed away from the kinds of people who would naturally see their job primarily being about communication and engagement.

There’s a lack of diversity as well, which is a problem. If you only have the same people trying to solve the problem, you don’t have a full toolbox. It also plays into the skill shortage. That’s why the UK Cyber Security Council was set up. Initially, it was sponsored by the government and set up by the industry. I was taken on as 1 of 4 founding trustees. Our job was to bring the work done to fruition to launch the council as an independent charity. The fact that I had a long background in technology but also that I had a lot of experience in charity governance as well, that was why I ended up joining. That has been very exciting.

What’s the role of the UK Cyber Security Council? What can organizations get from it? How can it help them?

We are here to strengthen the profession. We do that in lots of ways. We map all of the different qualifications out there. We have a career pathways map. We map that onto the jobs available in the market. We give a lot of information and advice to people interested in careers in the sector. We will be doing professional registration at some points. The government is starting to look at whether any form of regulation needs to be put in place. We support that process. We are supporting the drive for diversity as well.

Cybersecurity is quite a young profession. It has not been around forever kind of thing. How do you think it’s doing in terms of promoting diversity?

The data that has been collected so far on this suggest that technology, in general, has a diversity problem and cybersecurity has even more of a problem within the tech sector. The stat side source suggested that the tech sector is about 20% female. Cybersecurity is about 15%. That’s the big gap. There is also a lack of diversity in terms of ethnicity, particularly with the lack of Black people working in the industry as well. It’s not diverse.

However, one interesting fact about the cybersecurity profession, which probably will be recognized by people working in it because often doesn’t get recognized externally is in terms of narrow diversity. The interesting thing is more neurodiverse people are working in cyber than in the general population. It’s more inclusive. Like most professions, they have a bias toward certain types of demographics. It’s quite common. Looking at the whole picture of who we’ve got lots of and less of, it’s the female candidates, which is the glaring omission.

There are more neuro-diverse people working in cybersecurity than in the general population.

What’s the benefit to cybersecurity companies to have more female candidates in their ranks? How does it benefit them?

I find it hard to answer this question, honestly, without resorting to stereotypes. In the cyber profession generally, one of its weaknesses is the ability to communicate more broadly. That’s where the weaknesses are. We know that the weaknesses are two crucial ones. It’s around lack of user awareness, which is why our users are still clicking on dodgy links and doing all sorts of things that they shouldn’t be doing.

Secondly, the business as a whole, is it from the board level down? Does it understand what the risks are? In both of those cases, you have skilled professionals working in the organization on the ground and it’s their responsibility to communicate with those groups and get themselves into positions of influence in the organization where they can change thinking.

That is much more likely if those professionals are great communicators. We have talked about how the profession is skewed towards certain demographics. It’s skewed away from the people who would naturally see their job primarily being about communication and engagement. People with those skills tend to find them in commercial jobs, sales, marketing, and policy. We know that there’s a huge agenda bias there.

Effectively what you see is that cybersecurity could do with better communication skills and engagement skills, understanding the business, the risks for the business as a whole and not for individuals, and being able to communicate that to our users. Perhaps having more women in there, I don’t mind going back to the stereotypes but women tend to have perhaps more polished or better communication skills. I also wonder whether that’s also one of those skills that are perhaps less valued in the business.

A big weakness of the profession is the image of the cyber security professional, the cyber security hack or whoever it is. It’s these hackers in hoodies thing. It’s glamorized in an unhelpful way. It’s both off-putting to people that don’t see themselves in that way, which applies to many men as it does to women. It causes us to mix up two things because there are people who we are up against it. Although, the enemy is very organized and professionalized.

CGP 16 | Diversity In Cybersecurity
Diversity In Cybersecurity: A big weakness of the profession is the image of the cybersecurity professional as these hackers in hoodies. It’s glamorized in a way which is really unhelpful.

The response has to come from the whole of the business and civil society. We are not criminals. It has to come from mainstream organizations. You have to understand how these people think but if we say that we can only respond to the cybersecurity threats via a tiny elite character, a very unusual people, we’ve got a real problem. The solution has to be a lot bigger than that.

There’s a global demand for cybersecurity professionals and pacing supply. There’s not enough talent. Could this be a real golden opportunity to get more women into cybersecurity?

It is. Some organizations are doing innovative and cool things around upskilling, training, certifications and so forth, where they are very explicitly targeting groups that have been typically underrepresented, particularly women, which is fantastic. The key is there are two things. Number one is we have to do something about the level of gatekeeping in the profession. To my mind, the most pernicious thing is the demand for competing degrees or more cybersecurity degrees. When we ask for that, we immediately cut off 80% of the women. Those degrees we know so gender imbalanced in the UK. That’s arguably where the problem starts.

The other thing also is we need to think about, “What does a career in cybersecurity look like? What does a cyber security job look like?” It’s much more diverse than we usually think. There are some areas where there are probably a lot of women working. If you expand it to the broader risk management, there are lots of women working in that field, working as in-house legal councils, working in data protection and in all sorts of areas, which should be thought of as if not complimentary, in the discipline. The question is who’s at the table? When is an organization making decisions about this stuff? Does it have a broad enough group of people there?

It’s interesting what you are saying about the demand when people are looking to fill talent spots that they are looking for a degree in Computing, Computer Science, Cybersecurity or something. You are a prime example of somebody who’s done English as a degree, and then you are working in that space. There are plenty of valuable skills you get from studying other subjects. It doesn’t have to be English or History. There are analytical skills that are very valuable in cybersecurity.

Anything that teaches you critical thinking and the ability to appraise evidence is going to be valuable. The challenge for employers generally, and this is not specific to cybersecurity but it goes to many technical professions is that we often hear from employers that there is a mismatch between the skills that graduates have and the skills that they want in their entry-level people. They often want their entry-level people to do very practical things.

We have to do something about the level of gatekeeping to the profession.

If they’ve gone to university, they may have spent three years studying a lot of theoretical concepts. Particularly in computing, by the time you have done your three years, not of universities, you are already going to be out of time. A lot of universities are not good at keeping the material up to date. There are general questions about education and preparation for technical jobs.

To my mind, what excites me is those providers who are explicitly looking for people with no relevant background at all who will take people from whatever level they are. They will give them practical training. There is some good work being done in the open university. There’s a company I have come across that has great upskilling programs. That’s where to look.

Some of the other companies I have been talking to are very much looking at internal mobility and who they already have in the organization that they could upscale or retrain and allow for those sideways to move. It reduces the cost of onboarding because those people already know the organization and are familiar with the company’s values. They know they are a good fit. That’s a real rich vein of talent sitting there waiting for you to come and ask them to do something different.

It’s important also to make clear that cybersecurity professionals in an organization do have lots of opportunities to progress. That’s one thing that people will want to know. That’s the whole package. Are we making it an attractive job? The one piece of feedback we hear a lot, which is worrying, is the level of burnout in the profession and how stressful many of those roles are.

It’s a problem for many professions. It’s not bad luck but it’s happening at a time when some of the most crucial professions for keeping us all safe are burnt out. You see it in health and social care, too. At the time of COVID, that’s the profession we need to be looking after. We can’t afford for them to be burnt out and cybersecurity is true as well.

It’s not because we’ve got that gap in supply so there’s more demand. We need more of these people to exist.

CGP 16 | Diversity In CybersecurityCGP 16 | Diversity In Cybersecurity
Diversity In Cybersecurity: The amount of power the tech industry has gathered is extraordinary and that has gone hand in hand with ta relegation of the role of women.

Technology is producing more and more intelligence that professionals can act on. It’s overwhelming people. You see the same dynamics inside social media platforms. They have moderation teams who are responsible for looking at the worst of the worst that goes on. You see similar dynamics there like stress and burnout because there’s a sense that whatever you do, it will never be enough.

Organizations, to my mind, have a moral duty to look after these people. What particularly troubles me is when you hear stories about organizations that have developed a bit of nasty blame culture. You can see why it happens. When particularly companies in the public eye suffer a cybersecurity breach, it can be financially and operationally damaging. On top of that, if you end up with a regulator investigation get hit with a fine, that’s bad.

We are in this mentality of shame, cover-up, people are fired, heads roll, and hasn’t fixed the problems often. This is complex. The solution is multilayered and complex. Probably outside the most egregious cases of negligence is how can it be effective or fair to pin the blame on one person. As long as we have that culture around cybersecurity, secrecy shame, and blame, we are not going to end up in a good place. Getting over that and getting to a good place is also about accepting the fact that this is an endemic problem, which everybody has. Everybody has weaknesses and is under threat.

Before we finish, I want to ask you about one more thing. I read an interview with you at Information Age and you talked about occupational feminization. I would love to hear more about that and how that affects cybersecurity.

This is a term to describe this interesting phenomenon, which is where a profession that starts off being dominated by men. The professions that we know are mostly our work. Over time as they attract more women, they become less well-rewarded and prestigious. To give an example, we are here in the UK. Many years ago, the figure of a school teacher was an important local authority. The schoolmaster would have been then. I don’t know what the exact figure is but women play a big role in education. It is not respected in the way it was then. It’s certainly less well remunerated.

With tech, what’s interesting is the reverse has happened. It has been a reverse occupational feminization. We go back to the ’50s and ’60s. The tech as it was then was dominated by women. Women were mainly the first coders. The tech industry back then was payroll processing and huge rooms full of most gigantic IBM mainframes. It would have been dominated by women, creating the punch cards writing their routines.

We’re very comfortable with the idea of a male tech genius but it doesn’t seem to work for women, does it?

At some point in the mid-’80s, that started to change. The tech industry started to become an industry. It started to attract attention, investments, and funding. Pretty quickly, here we are. It’s male-dominated and has been probably since the ’90s. As an industry, it’s probably secondary to banking in terms of levels of paying remuneration. Prestige, here we are with big tech ruling the world.

The amount of power the tech industry has gathered is extraordinary and that has gone hand in hand with a relegation of the role of women. I would humbly suggest it is not coincident. We see this occupational feminization as something that has been studied by academics, looking at big data sets covering different professions. It’s a phenomenon.

I started in technology in the mid-’80s. In the department I worked in, we were easily 50% female, probably more than that. I worked in that company for a long time and probably left there towards the end of the ’90s. I hadn’t realized there was a problem for women in technology because I had been surrounded by other women in technology at the company where I worked. It feels like things have gotten worse ever since. It’s a male-dominated industry. The industry as a whole is missing out on having that diversity.

It is about where prestige attaches. Where are the female equivalents of Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg? I find it interesting also that we do have the odd powerful female figure in tech of the likes of Sheryl Sandberg, who has been an incredible advocate for women, and how much criticism she’s taken, so much of it from women. There’s a real tall poppy syndrome going on there. I find it troubling. We are very comfortable with the idea of the male tech genius but it doesn’t seem to work for women.

It doesn’t fit with our unconscious ideas and perceptions of how a woman should behave. Jessica, I have loved talking with you. Thank you so much. If people want to get in touch with you, how do they do that?

You can go to my website, JessicaFigueras.com, and send me a message or look me up on Twitter or LinkedIn, whatever your platform of choice. I love to hear from you. Thanks so much for having me. It’s been great.

Thank you so much for joining me with Jessica Figueras. We have been talking about we improve diversity in cybersecurity. You can find more episodes at SherryBevan.co.uk. If you want to take a deep dive with other HR and talent professionals, how we can attract and retain more women in cybersecurity, please do get in touch because I do have a couple of spaces left on my Round Table on this topic on the 24th of March 2022.

If this conversation has sparked a thought in your mind, let’s talk. An exploratory call with me will allow you to ask any questions you have about the work that I do with cybersecurity companies on how to do more, attract, develop and retain your female talent. You can close the gender pay gap. Get in touch by emailing me. Thank you for reading. Thank you again, Jess.

Important Links:

About Jessica Figueras

CGP 16 | Diversity In CybersecurityJess is a tech industry strategy adviser. She works with start-ups and scale-ups on growth strategy and product development, and advises UK government on tech policy relating to security, trust and online harms.

She’s also Vice Chair at the UK Cyber Security Council and former Chair of NCT, the UK’s leading charity for parents.

CGP 15 | 2022 Gender Pay Gap

Five Key Trends And Predictions To Close The Gender Pay Gap In The Year 2022

2021 was a very challenging year for most of us for various reasons. We all experienced a decline in productivity and anxiety brought by the pandemic. Then, just when we thought it was all over, another surge began. And women at work are going through even more burnouts, stress, and confusion. What will the next year await? In this episode, Sherry Bevan explores the five key trends and insights that will impact the gender pay gap in 2022. This way, we could have a clear view of what we could expect this year and decide on the actionable steps we could take.

Listen to the podcast here:

Five Key Trends And Predictions To Close The Gender Pay Gap In The Year 2022

In this episode, I would like to explore some of the key trends and insights on Closing the Gender Pay Gap in 2022 in the technology sector. Before I start talking to you about trends, predictions, and insights, I want to let you know about an exciting round table that I’m organizing on the 24th of March 2022. We are going to be looking at how to attract more women into cybersecurity. There are some topics that we are going to be looking at specifically.

We are going to explore, “Why does cybersecurity need more female talent in the first place? How does it help your productivity? How does it help the quality of the products that you are able to deliver?” We are going to look at ways that organizations can tackle that unconscious bias in hiring. We are going to take some time to explore, “What role does internal mobility play?” We are going to be looking at, “What are some of the specific actions that you can take? What are the specific initiatives that are going to help you close that gender pay gap?”

If you are interested in joining the round table, I do still have a few spaces. I generally have no more than 6 to 8 companies on any round table topic. I organize this about 3 or 4 times a year. If you are interested in getting involved, then please do reach out. The topic for the 24th of March is very much focused on how to attract and retain more female talent in cybersecurity.

Let’s think about the specific topic that we are going to cover in this episode. We are going to be looking at some of the trends and predictions that I foresee for 2022. There is no doubt about it. 2021 was a tough and challenging year. For me, personally, it has been a tough year for various reasons. I had a family bereavement at the start of the year. I was trying to get my stepmother moved into a care home. It was a tough year for my children. One of them was supposed to be at university and ended up doing all of her lectures online.

You need the numbers, but you also need the analysis. You need to understand the narrative and the story behind those numbers.

One of the toughest things about 2021 is that we thought it was all over, and then we looped back around again into that lockdown with the pandemic. However, let’s stay positive for 2022. The sunshine outside my window gives me a good omen for the year. Let’s focus on what we need to do now to close the gender pay gap in the technology and cybersecurity sectors. I’m going to start by sharing a few facts, and then move on to look at some of my trends and predictions of what that’s going to look like in 2022.

Let’s start by looking at some of the facts. Women remain underrepresented in technology and cybersecurity, particularly in those niches that require disruptive skills. It’s things such as cloud computing, engineering, and artificial intelligence. One study suggests that women only make up 25% of the cyber workforce. The gender pay gap reporting regulations require employers in Great Britain with 250 or more employees to publish the overall mean and median pay gaps based on the gross hourly pay for men and women expressed as a percentage. They are also required to report on their mean and median gender bonus gaps.

The other thing that employers are also required to publish as part of their gender pay gap report is the proportion of male and female employees within each quartile of their pay distribution. How many women do you have in the top quartile or the highest-paid section of your workforce? How many women do you have in the second-highest-paid section? You have got quartiles 1 to 4. You are required to report on how many men and women you have in each of those quartiles.

Generally, what we see is that you get this pyramid shape. In the lowest-paid quartile, very often, the proportion of men to women employees is about even. It’s 50/50. Sometimes it’s even slightly higher for female employees. In the next one up, it’s a little less balanced. It may be 60/40. In the next one up, it’s less balanced again may be 70/30. In the top tier, the highest-paid employees, it’s often out of balance. You have got this pyramid effect that gets created.

Employers are also required to report on the proportion of both men and women who have been paid a bonus in the preceding twelve-month period. That gender pay gap data needs to be reported annually. What we see is that, on average, the gender pay gap in technology is around 18%, which means that women are only getting paid 82% of what men on average are getting paid.

What is slightly worrying is that the gender pay gap gets even wider for employees age 40 and above. We can assume that those employees age 40 and above are the ones who are likely to be in your senior roles. Not only is that gender pay gap there because you have got more women in the lower-paid roles and more men in the higher-paid roles, but even at that senior level, there is a gender pay gap between people on the same level getting paid quite different sums.

CGP 15 | 2022 Gender Pay Gap
2022 Gender Pay Gap: Women remain underrepresented in technology and cybersecurity, particularly in those niches that require disruptive skills.

Hybrid Moves From Concept To Reality

Let’s think about five predictions. I’m going to bring five trends, insights, and predictions for you. The first one doesn’t come as any surprise to anyone who has been living through it since 2020. The hybrid working model is going to move from concept to reality. We have nearly all been working in a hybrid or flexible way. What we want to see and what I expect employers to be doing more is to take that hybrid work model from that concept.

We have ended up doing that forced homework without necessarily having thought about all of the policies and best practices that go along with it. We had to suddenly move one day from working in the office, factory or client sites to working from home. We are moving now from that concept and that put together nuts and bolts to get it moving into reality. Organizations are now doing more work on developing best practices and guidelines. They are making sure that their line managers know how to support their employees in that hybrid world.

What we saw in the 2022 Global Culture Report is that for 64% of workers in the UK, what they have prioritized from their employers is needing clearer guidelines, more clarity about the way that hybrid working is going to work and how it’s going to be implemented, “What does it mean for me as an employee? What does your hybrid working look like?”

Over the last couple of years, we have all introduced hybrid working in many places but perhaps there has been understandably not as much clarity as you would have expected if you implemented that hybrid working from scratch without the pressure of a lockdown and pandemic going on. The UK workers want to see more clarity around the way that hybrid working is implemented.

One of the things that I did in 2021 is I ran a round table on the impact of hybrid working on the gender pay gap. If that’s something that you are looking at doing, getting your hybrid work model black-and-white and creating practices and policies, then check out my white paper on The Impact of the Hybrid Revolution to make sure that you are aware of the potential pitfalls of hybrid working and how that might affect your female talent in a way that’s different to how it affects your male talent.

You get highly motivated employees by creating that positive employee experience.

Moving to that reality and having clarity on the way that’s implemented is going to give you a strong, competitive edge. Particularly, what we are starting to see is salaries are going up because of the Great Resignation and more people are looking to change roles. The clear process and policy around the hybrid work model are going to give you a competitive edge.

Internal Mobility Gives Competitive Advantage

The second insight or trend that I predict over 2022 is that we are going to see more internal mobility. We are going to see employers needing to look inside themselves to find that senior female talent in particular. This is going to give you a competitive retention edge in the market. If you are finding it difficult to recruit good female talent into technology or cybersecurity, look at your current workforce. Look at ways that you can make it easier for people to move sideways inside your organization.

Look at the departments and people that you have. Who could you retrain? Who could you develop the skills more quickly and cost-effectively than buying in that talent from outside? That’s not to say I’m encouraging you to pay people less because they are internal. One of the reasons why people often leave an organization is because they can see that new talent comes in and gets paid at a higher rate. You have got this incredible workforce who already understands your culture, values, policies and best practices.

Look at your internal workforce. “Who could you retrain? Where could you develop skills?” Rethink the career pathway and ladder that are available to your staff. Doing that will help you in many ways. For example, it’s going to increase your retention figures, which means that it’s going to reduce the cost of recruitment. It’s going to accelerate how quickly those new hires become productive because they already know your values and their way around the systems. They already know what learning and development are available. It’s going to increase and speed up how quickly those new hires or internal moves can get productive.

It’s going to reduce the time to recruit, which also means it’s going to reduce the cost of the recruitment process because you do not have to pay for job ads and recruitment agencies. The other fantastic benefit to looking at internal mobility and your current workforce or making it easier to move sideways is it’s going to increase your employee engagement, which means that you are going to build an even stronger employer brand. That in itself will make you more attractive to talent outside.

CGP 15 | 2022 Gender Pay Gap
2022 Gender Pay Gap: Employers who provide exceptional employee experiences have highly motivated employees.

The third prediction or trend that I have for you is more focused on data-driven decisions. When we are looking at the gender pay gap, very often, what we are doing is we are looking at the numbers. It’s not just about the numbers but it’s also the narrative and story behind those numbers. When I work with clients on helping them to develop their gender pay gap narrative, it’s so important to be open, honest and not try to hide the reasons why your gap is large.

If you have made progress in that gender pay gap to be open and honest about what has helped you to get there, you need the numbers but you also need the analysis. You need to understand the narrative and story behind those numbers. Having that information about the numbers, analysis, and data means you are more likely to put into place the right actions and initiatives that will help you to close that gender pay gap.

For your resources in HR, people or talent management team, you need that data literacy. You need people who can understand and work with data. Very often, what I see when I work in organizations is you have got more data than you know what to do with. It’s important that when you are making decisions on what actions and initiatives to take, you are not just making those decisions based on hunches and intuitions. You need to have that backup of the data as well.

Focus On Data-Driven Decisions

Take a moment now to think about, “How many of the people in your team would you say are data literate? How many of your decisions are based on data? What can you do to change that? What can you do to encourage more of your team to become more data literate? How can you make sure that you base your decisions on data, not just on hunches and intuitions?” That was number four. I can predict in 2022 and I have already seen this from companies that I have been talking to in January. It’s going to be more focused on having data-driven decisions and emphasis on having data-literate staff in your team.

One of the number one causes of burnout at work is feeling that you’ve been unfairly treated.

Positive Employee Experience

The trend that I see coming up is how important it is to create a positive employee experience. Many of us have been going through burnout. There’s a study by Gallup and Forrester Research that shows that employers who provide exceptional employee experiences have highly motivated employees. That’s hardly surprising. It means they have got higher engagement and increased productivity. What that means for your clients and customers is increased customer satisfaction. If your employees love working for you and doing the work that they do, that’s going to shine through into the service and products that your clients and customers receive.

It’s about looking at each stage of that employee life cycle for the whole employee experience. It’s about looking at how you do recruitment and onboarding. Remember, first impressions count. I’m sure, like me, you have seen how willingly new employees will share photos of how they have been welcomed into the organization, particularly while we have been in lockdown. That all helps to create and strengthen your employer brand.

The next stage of that employee life cycle is about career and personal development, “What are you doing to enable and empower people to take responsibility and have accountability for their career development? What are you offering to them?” Over the last couple of years, what has been important is the overall employee well-being. We are looking after the staff that we have so that we are more likely to keep those staff. How you get highly motivated employees is by creating that positive employee experience. I can see that organizations are starting to put more emphasis on creating that experience.

Widening Gender Burnout Gap

The final insight that I would like to share with you is the gender gap in burnout. What we have seen is that the burnout gender pay gap has widened. I predict that we are going to continue to see that gap even larger. Women are more likely than men to feel burned out at work. It’s 34% of women versus 26% of men feel burned out at work. That’s from Gallup’s research. What we see is that since the lockdown and pandemic, the burnout gender gap has more than doubled since 2019.

That’s scary because that’s not right. We can all see that there are lots of different factors involved but it’s worrying that women are experiencing this more than men. What we see from the research is women in non-leadership positions are affected especially. Burnout is common. 1 in 4 men experiences burnout regularly. When you do experience burnout, you are more likely to take time off, take sick leave and quit. There has been a disproportionate increase in burnout among women since the pandemic. There’s no one factor at play here.

When women work remotely in individual contributor roles, they are more likely to experience burnout. If they are working in project manager roles, they are working in isolation almost rather than working in specific leadership roles. What was interesting in looking at the research is that when you look at the difference in burnout by gender among workers in managerial positions, there wasn’t that much difference. Where we see it specifically is for those women who are working in those individual contributor roles.

What can you do? You have got to enable the conversation. You’ve got to make that conversation acceptable and available. Talk about the causes of burnout. Educate your managers so that they have the information and resources, so they know how to get the conversation started and the signs to look out for. It’s important that you measure and track employee well-being.

CGP 15 | 2022 Gender Pay Gap
2022 Gender Pay Gap: By having information about the numbers, the analysis, and the data, you’re more likely to put into place the right actions and initiatives that will help you to close that gender pay gap.

One of the number one causes of burnout at work is feeling that you have been unfairly treated. Your alarm bells should start ringing if your conversations or data uncovers a gender gap in burnout. Give your managers the opportunity to manage the burnout conversation. Make sure they have the information, education, and awareness of the signs of burnout. You are being proactive and prompting those conversations rather than waiting for the person to completely burn out, take time off sick or worst, to quit.

Those are my five trends and predictions for what we are going to see in the technology sector. They are going to influence and impact how quickly we are able to close the gender pay gap. The first one was looking at how we are going to be moving from that hybrid work model concept to the hybrid reality. Employees will need more clarity on your practices and policies because that’s what employees feel is missing for them. If you focus on internal mobility, make it easier for people to make a sideways move. That is going to give you a competitive retention edge.

I can predict that we are going to see more focus on data-driven decisions, which means that you are going to need to make sure that your people in your team have that data literacy so that you are making decisions based on data, not just based on hunches and intuitions. If you want a productive and highly engaged staff, it’s all about creating that positive employee experience. I can see employers being able to go back to focusing on doing that. Finally, the last thing is about keeping an eye on that gender gap in burnout because that has widened over the last couple of years. I would hate to see that widen even further.

I would love to hear your thoughts on these key insights and trends in closing the gender pay gap. Now that you have read this, what are the things that you and your organization need to do? What do you need to change to get different results? What do you need to commit to achieving those results? If you want to talk through any of the trends and insights that I have talked about, and if you would like to have an opportunity to talk through with an external objective consultant, then please feel free to give me a call or get in touch with me by email at Sherry@SherryBevan.co.uk.

If you are interested in that round table on attracting more female talent into cybersecurity, then please do get in touch. The round table takes place on the 24th of March 2022. I still have a few spaces left on that. If this conversation sparked a thought in your mind, let’s talk. An exploratory call with me will give you the opportunity to ask any questions you have about the work that I do. For me to share key insights and trends that I’m seeing from other organizations that I work with that want to do more to attract, develop and retain female talent, which means that you start to close that gender pay gap. I would love to hear from you. I will be back next time. Thank you.

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CGP 14 | Career Negotiation

The Power Of Negotiation: Protecting Your Career From Falling Foul Of The Gender Pay Gap

As a woman, you should know your worth. Join Sherry Bevan in this episode as she discusses how women can protect their careers in this complicated world. Closing the gender pay gap requires a two-pronged approach. At the organizational level, we can implement initiatives to tackle female talent development and retention. At the individual level, there are actions that individual women can take to protect their careers from the gender pay gap. But, of course, all of these will still depend on the person’s willingness and courage to show their value.

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The Power Of Negotiation: Protecting Your Career From Falling Foul Of The Gender Pay Gap

Welcome back to the show. Thank you so much for joining me. I’d love you to come back next episode and to make that even easier, you simply need to subscribe to the show. Let’s get into the show. In this episode, I’m doing something a little bit different and we’re going to explore what individuals can do to protect their own careers from the gender pay gap.

When we think about the gender pay gap, one of the questions I often get asked is, “Who’s responsible for closing it. Who’s responsible for dealing with it? Who’s responsible for making that gender pay gap go away?” I’ve always believed that we have to take a two-pronged approach. We need to tackle it at the organizational level because there is unconscious bias and things don’t work the way we want them to work but we also need to tackle this at an individual level. That’s what I’d like to explore in this show.

In the very first episode of this show, we looked at equal pay and why equal pay is not the only solution for closing the gender pay gap. Equal pay is the law. You have to pay people the same amount of money for doing the work that is of the same value but we still have a gender pay gap even though equal pay came into law many years ago now. Since 2017, companies with more than 250 employees in the UK have been required to report on their gender pay gap. That is calculated as the difference between the average hourly earnings of men and women as a proportion of men’s average hourly earnings.

If we look at the most recent gender pay gap data, we can see that overall, in the UK, the gender pay gap is 18%. In other words, women earn 82% of what men earn. However, what we also see from the data is that the pay gap is highest for employees aged over 40, which is quite interesting. It does vary from sector to sector. In information and communication, it’s 18%. If you look at professional science and technology, it’s 16.2%.

You have to pay people the same amount of money for doing the work that is of the same value.

When I’m working with companies, when I first approach them, often, they tell me, “We’ve got an equal pay policy. We’re okay.” I hear from individual women, “We’ve got equal pay law. Why is there still a gender pay gap?” Some people don’t believe that there’s a gender pay gap. “We’ve got equal pay. There can’t still be a gender pay gap.” One thing we know for sure is that the evidence tells us otherwise. We’ve got equal pay but there is still a gender pay gap. It’s complicated. There are so many different factors.

We know that there are fewer women working in senior roles, which are getting paid more. That’s going to affect your gender pay gap. We know that women are less likely to negotiate on their starting salary and that affects your gender pay gap. Women are less likely to get promoted. Women are more likely to work part-time. There are more men than women in the higher-paying sectors such as technology and financial services. We know that women tend to prefer to work from home more often than men do.

What we also see is that while homeworkers may be 13% more productive, they get promoted less often. That’s something that I explore in more detail in my white paper that got published on The Impact Of The Hybrid Revolution On The Gender Pay Gap In Technology. Do pop over to my website and grab your copy of that white paper for more information about that.

For example, if we look at women in sales and technology, although women hit or exceed the quotas that have been set, they are often paid less in salary and commissions over time. Putting aside your role as an HR professional or a diversity and inclusion leader for one moment, putting aside the whole range of initiatives that hopefully you’ve got going at your organization to tackle this issue at the organizational level.

What I’d like to do in this episode is talk about what women as individuals can do from the other side, at the individual level. It is this two-pronged approach, tackling it at the organizational level and on the individual level. When I work with women on a one-to-one basis, I talk about introducing or implementing the triple-A plan. Tackling that pay gap and initial starting salary is important because whatever starting salary you get, that is going to affect over time your salary, pay rise, bonus and eventually your pension contribution.

CGP 14 | Career Negotiation
Career Negotiation: It’s important to talk about what you want. Talk to your manager about your ambitions, about where you want to see your career going, and other growth opportunities that you want.

It’s a knock-on effect because very often, your pay rise, bonus and pension contributions are done as a percentage of your salary. If one starts at $50,000 and one starts at $60,000 and to make the sums easy, let’s assume a 10% pay increase the following year, the women would be on $55,000 and the man would be on $66,000. If they then get another 10% increase the following year, that will add $5,500 to the woman’s salary and $6,600 onto the man’s salary. You can already see how that gap between the two is starting to widen.

Let’s look at the triple-A plan to protect your career from the gender pay gap. This is what individual women can do to protect their careers from that gender pay gap. The triple-A plan is about always asking for more, articulating your ambition and then auditing the work you do and the value of that work to the business. Let’s start with asking for more. In fact, I encourage my one-to-one clients to always ask for more.

Do women negotiate less often? Yes, they do. There have been numerous studies on this. The one that I’m referencing was published by Robert Half in 2018. They surveyed more than 2,700 workers employed in the US in professional environments. This survey was conducted by an independent research firm. What they looked at was the percentage of workers who tried to negotiate higher pay in their last job offer. They looked at this by gender and age. When we look at the overall figures, 39% of people try to negotiate higher pay, while 61% didn’t.

Overall, not even everybody tries to negotiate a better job offer. When we look at the figures by gender, what we see is that 46% of men, nearly half will negotiate or did negotiate a higher pay in the last job offer. Whereas for women, only 34% tried to negotiate higher pay. Interestingly, the data that they published also looks at age and it seems that the older you get, the less likely you are to negotiate on salary, which surprises me. When they’re looking at the 18 to 34 age bracket, 45%, they try to negotiate higher pay, 35 to 54 dropped down to 40% and then for 55 plus, it dropped down to 30%.

It’s all very well me telling you to always ask for more. How do you do that? There are a few different pieces involved. Before I start to talk about how I tackle this with my one-to-one clients, what I want you to do, first of all, is to check out the book called Ask For It by Linda Babcock. She sets out all useful strategies, how to structure that conversation and get what you want. The first thing to do when you’re asking for more is to take care of the mindset piece.

Make the most of the opportunities you’re offered, and don’t feel that you’ve got to say yes to everything.

Often, we don’t ask for more because we look at salary negotiation. We look at this as something personal and whatever you get offered is about your personal worth but it’s not. What you’ve got to remember is this is a business negotiation. It’s not a personal negotiation. Take care of that mindset piece first and get yourself into the frame of mind that this is a business negotiation.

Do your research and preparation. Find out what the salary ranges on that job are. If it’s not published and you are going through a recruitment agency, ask them. If it’s not published and you are going through it directly, who do you know works at the organization? Also, look at what the market research is telling you. What are these types of roles being advertised in the marketplace? When you’re talking about salaries and doing that negotiation, stay calm. Don’t allow this to become an emotional discussion. Try not to take it personally and talk about salary ranges.

The other thing that often my clients say to me is, “What if it’s not negotiable? Should I ask first?” Don’t ask if it’s negotiable. Assume that it is. Assume that it’s okay to ask for more. If it’s not negotiable, they’re going to tell you anyway. Why ask? Even if they say the salary is not negotiable, I would still ask. Don’t forget. Your job offer negotiation isn’t just about salary. It can also be about the hours you work and the benefits you get. It’s not about the actual money on the paid price.

When you’re talking about salary or job offer negotiation, it’s not just about the salary that you get. It’s also about looking at the benefits, flexible working, increased holiday and pension contributions. It’s not just about the money. If they present you with a job offer, you can go back and say, “That’s less than I was expecting for someone with my experience.” You can be very specific and tell them what you’re expecting. You can also give them that salary range.

The key thing here is to be ambitious and ask for more than you want but certainly, more than you expect. What we also know from the data is there’s a direct correlation between how much you asked for and how much you get. You’re going to be kicking yourself in the foot if you ask for an extra $10,000 and they say yes straight away because, “Could I have asked for an extra $15,000 or an extra $20,000?” Always be ambitious and ask for more than you want or expect. That’s part one of the triple-A plan is to ask for more always.

CGP 14 | Career Negotiation
Career Negotiation: While homeworkers may be 13% more productive, they get promoted less often.

Part two of the triple-A plan is to articulate your ambitions. What we often see is that the people who get promoted are the ones you’ve talked about and articulated their skills and their ambitions. It’s important to talk about what you want. Talk to your manager about your ambitions, where you want to see your career going and the growth opportunities you want. Don’t assume that your manager will hear about everything that’s available and will always be looking out for you. You’ve got to do some of this work yourself.

If you hear about an opportunity in another team, an opportunity to go on secondment or an opportunity to get involved in a project that’s not directly related to what you’re doing, ask about it. Articulate your desire and what you want to get involved with. That’s important because it keeps you in front of mind. The other thing when it comes to articulating your ambition is, very often when we look at the way the girls at school and then as women when we get to university, the way that we tend to behave and communicate is different from that of boys and men when they get to school and then university.

Women often are brilliant at working hard. We graft, work hard and get great results. While you’re at school, college or university, that’s brilliant because you work hard, you study hard, you do your revision and you get brilliant grades at the end of it. That works when you’re at school or in the education system. In the workplace, that is completely different. People might notice that you’re working hard or see that you’re getting good results but the thing is, everyone is so busy working hard themselves.

People need to be reminded and be told that you’re getting these results and that you’re working hard. Working hard on its own is not enough. You need to be getting the results. You need to articulate your ambition and make sure that people know that you are ambitious and you want to move on and make progress. The final piece in the triple-A plan is about auditing the work that you do. What’s important is that when you’re working hard and getting those good results, audit the work that you do and how valuable is that work that you do to the business.

Audit everything that you do and grade it from 1 to 10, where one is the business couldn’t care less about that piece of work, to 10, where it’s absolutely critical and has a direct impact on the profitability of the organization. Review the work that you do. If you’re doing work that’s less than 7 out of 10, what can you do to make sure that you’re getting the opportunity to do work, to work with clients or projects that are graded 8, 9 or 10? When you’re doing work that is valued by the business, you are more likely to get seen. You’re more likely to get noticed and therefore, get promoted.

Always be ambitious and ask for more than what you want or expect.

Don’t get caught up in being busy and doing stuff that doesn’t affect the bottom line. Although, I have to say sometimes that can be smart and strategic. When I worked at Arthur Andersen many years ago, I volunteered to get involved with organizing the dinner dance for the firm, which took up an awful lot of time and energy but it was great fun and fantastic. It was a small group of us.

Sometimes, it can be smart or strategic to volunteer and get involved in things like that. I did this because I wanted to have fun and I love organizing events and doing that thing but also strategically, the managing partner was on the organization committee that year for the dinner dance. I wanted to get the opportunity to talk about my career and articulate my ambitions in front of him.

Doing stuff that doesn’t affect the bottom line isn’t always the most valuable use of your time but sometimes it can be smart or strategic to do that. Make the most of the opportunities you’re offered and don’t feel that you’ve got to say yes to everything. Be strategic, audit the opportunities before you say yes and do the ones that you can see will be of value to you in your career or have direct value to the business.

That is my triple-A plan for women who want to protect their careers from that gender pay gap. The triple-A plan is to always ask for more, articulate your ambitions and then finally audit the work that you do and its value to the business so that you can be sure that you’re doing work that is valued by the company.

Thank you so much for joining me. I hope you’ve got something valuable from this episode, exploring what individuals can do to protect their own career from falling foul of the gender pay gap.

If reading this has sparked an idea for you and your organization, please do book your exploratory chat with me. This will give you the opportunity to ask any questions you have about the work that I do with technology and cybersecurity companies on attracting, developing and retaining your female talent so that more of them get promoted, which means that you close the gender pay gap. You can get in touch with me by email at Sherry@SherryBevan.co.uk to book your call. Thanks for reading. Speak to you soon.

Important Links:

CGP 13 | Motherhood Penalty

Motherhood Penalty: How It Affects The Gender Pay Gap

Aside from the still unaddressed gender pay gap, women face yet another employment issue: motherhood penalty. Numerous studies show that women’s earnings and career are negatively impacted after giving birth to their first child. Mums also earn far less than those who don’t have any kids. Sherry Bevan presents the worrying statistics of women not getting the salary they are due just because they are mothers. She also provides several possible solutions to end this motherhood penalty, giving women the earnings they truly deserve.

Listen to the podcast here:

Motherhood Penalty: How It Affects The Gender Pay Gap

Welcome back to the show. Thank you so much for joining me. Do come back to read to the next episode and to make that easier, you simply need to subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast player. Now, let’s get into the show. In this episode, what I’d like to explore with you is how the motherhood pay penalty affects your gender pay gap, and as an organization, what can you do to prevent this?

The irony is I’m doing this episode the week after Equal Pay Day on the 18th of November 2021, as well as International Men’s Day on the 19th of November 2021. These are seemingly two major gender campaigns jostling for attention in the press and media at the same time. The motherhood penalty is a major contributor to the gender pay gap and to that Equal Pay Day because we know that women’s earnings dropped by almost half after the birth of their first child, so the price of being the primary carer is pretty high.

On the other side of the gender coin, we often hear younger fathers talking about their frustration of being stereotyped as the breadwinner and not being able to have the time to be that engaged father they want to be. Let’s start with the basics. When we talk about the motherhood pay penalty, what are we referring to? It’s the pay gap between working mothers and similar women without dependent children. It’s certainly not unique to the UK, and its existence has been recognized for some time now. This is different from the gender pay gap because that measures the pay gap between all women and all men in the workforce.

Many women who took maternity leaves delivered a negative impact on their careers, self-confidence, and self-esteem.

There was a study published by the TUC in 2016. This looked at a cohort of full-time working men and women born in 1970. The overall gender pay gap for that cohort is 34%, which I think is quite shocking looking at full-time working men and women, and yet, there’s still that gender pay gap of 34%. The research says that by the age of 42, mothers who are in full-time work are earning 11% less than full-time women without children.

It’s interesting because their research suggested it affects those mothers who had their first child when they were under 33. Women who had their first child at 33 or older experienced a wage bonus of 12% compared to similar women who haven’t had children. It also affects single mothers more than those who are in a couple at birth. There’s a much smaller, but still significant, gender pay gap between the childless women and men of 12% compared to 42% between the mothers and the fathers. That’s what we’re talking about when we refer to the motherhood pay penalty.

There’s a new study conducted by the University College London, which reveals that women earn 45% of what their salary would have been without having children in the first six years after giving birth. In that first year alone, salaries for new mothers dropped by 28%, equating to a fall of roughly 306 parents each month. The thing is, you’ve got to balance that against the cost of childcare for women who go back to work. The average cost of sending a child under two to a part-time nursery place for 25 hours per week is over £7,000 pounds in 2021, which is about £138 pounds a week.

CGP 13 | Motherhood Penalty
Motherhood Penalty: Women’s earnings dropped by almost half after the birth of their first child.

Whenever the woman returned to her role full-time or part-time, that had a significant impact on the pay penalty that they faced. We know that caring responsibilities fall more heavily on women, and of course, that often means they’re less able to accommodate some working patterns and hours, and particularly so in the technology sector where we’re often expected to be online or delivering service to our clients who are looking for a 24/7 service, and of course, we need to be able to cover those hours on the support team and on the service delivery team.

What’s interesting though, is that women’s employment rates jumped sharply from about 90% to 75% after giving birth. The other fact is that the average weekly hours of work for those still in paid work is it falls around 40% to less than 30%. You can see that all of these factors are exacerbating that motherhood pay penalty, and in effect, opening up your gender pay gap.

There is another study conducted by researchers at London South Bank University that half of the women surveyed felt that taking maternity leave had a negative impact on their career and that in itself led to a negative impact on their confidence and their self-esteem. You may well have noticed that when you’ve had women coming back to work after maternity leave. What they report is that they have been refused bonuses, pay raises, and promotions.

Women are less likely to seek out training or higher-paying roles because they are more likely to experience career interruptions or reductions in working time.

The lead researcher at that piece of work done at the London South Bank University said that all women that gave feedback about maternity said that since they became pregnant, men in their companies had treated them differently. The most common microaggressions that were talked about were discriminatory comments about the women having a preggy brain when doing their work or comments about their pregnancy. I remember receiving those comments myself when I was pregnant at work, but there are also negative assumptions made about taking additional time off work upon return, being less available to attend meetings or conferences, or not wanting to be as ambitious and not wanting to take on those bigger roles.

This is what’s destroying women’s career prospects. It’s those microaggressions and discriminations. It’s that unconscious bias, stereotypes, prejudice, and organizational culture. When you start to destroy women’s career prospects like that, inevitably, you are going to affect the gender pay gap at your organization. Isn’t that sad and upsetting? As a mother myself, the more children you have, the greater the penalty that the woman pays, or the more time away from work.

For example, if you take a career break to look after your children, the longer it takes to catch up. What we have in this society is often the older women who perhaps are in their more senior roles then get caught in the sandwich between looking after younger children. We all know the impact that’s had to do with forced homeschooling, but also, these women are typically the ones who are caring for elderly parents and taking on the bulk of the responsibility there, so they’re being squished in two places.

CGP 13 | Motherhood Penalty
Motherhood Penalty: Women who become pregnant are usually treated by their male workmates differently. They mostly receive discriminatory comments about their maternity.

What are the reasons for this motherhood pay penalty? Let’s spend a fair bit of time looking at that. Is it that women are less likely to seek out training or higher-paid roles because they know they’re more likely to experience career interruptions or reductions in working time? Maybe you feel that women are more likely to commit to more family-friendly employers, which sometimes are lower-paying. Often, women opt for part-time roles, which means perhaps less responsibility and, therefore naturally, less money or lower salary. What are employers doing to build traditional stereotypical expectations into their hiring and promoting decisions? Why is it that women’s work is undervalued and underpaid?

The report of the Institute for Fiscal Studies in 2018 found that by the time a couple’s first child is age twenty, many mothers earn nearly 1/3 less than the fathers. Generally speaking, people in paid work see their pay rise each year as they gain more experience, whereas the Institute for Fiscal Studies research shows that part-time workers miss out on those pay rises or on those gains. We already know that the vast majority of part-time workers are women, especially mothers of young children.

Those are the facts. That’s what we’ve got to live with. Those are the challenges that we’re facing that we need to tackle. What can you do about it? Here are some ideas and some recommendations. The first thing is to make flexible working work for everyone. Make it easier to apply for flexible working, so that it starts to become something for everyone, and not just a woman’s thing.

Women often opt for part-time roles, which means less responsibility and lower salaries.

In fact, we’re in a pivotal moment in corporate history because many organizations are starting to introduce the hybrid work model, but it is about making sure that the hybrid work model works for all. For more information on that, you can download a copy of my published white paper, which is all about The Impact of the Hybrid Revolution on the Gender Pay Gap in Technology.

Other recommendations for you or things for you to look at, and initiatives to start to implement is to look at increasing the take-up of shared parental leave. Often, we find that when we talk to fathers who’ve taken shared parental leave is that they suddenly have a whole new understanding and awareness of the pressures of being a full-time carer for a young child. That can affect how they behave, communicate, and the empathy that they will have for other women or mothers in the workplace.

Do you have role models who are taking advantage of flexible working and shared parental leave? How can you showcase those people, particularly if they’re working in senior positions to normalize that shared parental leave and flexible working so that women don’t see that it’s something that’s out of reach or is only acceptable for women?

CGP 13 | Motherhood Penalty
Motherhood Penalty: Most part-time workers miss out on pay raises, and many of them are women, especially mothers of young children.

What can you do for your returners? They are the women who are coming back to work after a career break or after maternity leave. Can you offer them return to work maternity coaching that can be helpful and powerful in helping them to assess their career, review their work-life balance, and how they make work and family work together so that they still feel empowered to take action, articulate their ambitions, and make progress in their career?

It is important to give your line managers or those with line manager responsibilities the opportunity to raise their awareness and to educate them on the benefits of having a diverse workforce of the additional challenges perhaps women might be facing and to make sure they’re aware of your robust criteria for job hires and promotions so that you minimize that unconscious bias as much as you possibly can.

In the hybrid world, it’s important that you are intentional in the way that you design your hybrid work model so that it’s inclusive and fair for everyone. You can also publish salary ranges on your job descriptions. We know that women tend to negotiate less when it comes to a salary, but if you publish the job salary range, they’re much more likely to negotiate and, therefore, much less likely to be at a disadvantage right from the get-go when they join your company.

CGP 13 | Motherhood Penalty
Motherhood Penalty: Women tend to negotiate less when it comes to a salary. But if you publish the job salary range, they’re much more likely to negotiate. Therefore, they are much less likely to be at a disadvantage right from the get-go.

There are more information, ideas, and thoughts to inspire you and look at the initiatives that you’re taking and decide which ones you’re going to focus on in 2022. You can get a copy of my white paper on The Impact of the Hybrid Revolution on the Gender Pay Gap in Technology at SherryBevan.co.uk/WhitePaper-Request.

I hope that’s been helpful for you to start to explore the motherhood pay penalty and how that might be affecting the gender pay gap in your organization. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my thoughts and ideas on this. You can get more episodes of this show at SherryBevan.co.uk/Podcast.

If this has sparked a thought in your mind and you’d like to know what you can do to implement initiatives to reduce that motherhood pay penalty in 2022, please do book an exploratory chat with me.

That call will give you the opportunity to ask any questions you might have about the work that I do with technology and cybersecurity companies on attracting, developing, and retaining your female talent so that you close the gender pay gap. Email me at Sherry@SherryBevan.co.uk to book your call. I’ll be back for the next episode. Thank you for reading.

Important Links:

CGP 12 | Career In Technology

Joysy John And Hana Abdi: How To Motivate Women To Find A Career In Technology

People who have a career in technology are only composed of 19% women. With this industry dominated by men, what can be done for women to get into this thriving community?

Sherry Bevan explores this subject further with Joysy John, CEO of 01 Founders, and Hana Abdi, Tech Leader at 01 Founders and the Founder of Bridge The Gap In Tech.

Together, they talk about the strongest motivating factors that push women towards a career in technology, ultimately finding their purpose and building a better world. They also talk about the most daunting barriers that limit women from becoming successful in this industry, from the lack of better opportunities to the stereotyping that these jobs are only for (bearded) men.

Free-to-access London coding school: https://www.01founders.co/

Bridge The Gap In Tech: https://www.bridgethegapintech.com/

Joysy John on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/joysyj/

Hana Abdi on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/hanaabdi/

Listen to the podcast here:

Joysy John And Hana Abdi: How To Motivate Women To Find A Career In Technology

In this episode, we’re exploring what motivates women to start a career in technology and what the barriers are to attracting more women. I’m super delighted and excited to be talking to not one but two amazing women. First, I’ve got Joysy John who is the CEO of 01 Founders, which is a tuition-free coding school with a job guaranteed to improve diversity in technology and tackle the digital skills gap. The work that they’re doing is incredible.

We’ve got Hana Abdi who is the Tech Leader at 01 Founders, as well as the Founder of Bridge The Gap In Tech. We’re going to be talking about what motivates women and what will motivate them to have a career in technology. A warm welcome to you both, Joysy and Hana. Thank you so much for joining me.

Thank you so much for having us.

Let’s get started. I did a brief introduction there about 01 Founders. To set the scene for anyone reading, could you tell us a bit more about the work you do there?

01 Founders is a public-private partnership to address the digital skills gap. We are cofounded by one of the largest Effie College, Capital City College Group, one of the preeminent entrepreneur networks in Europe, Founders Forum and 01Edu who have over 25 years of experience in peer-to-peer learning pedagogy. In addition to these three cofounders, we also have founding partners such as Nominet, Peloton and Faculty, who are all keen to work with us to address the digital skills gap but also to improve diversity in tech. Hana is going to talk about what we are doing here on campus and how we are different from any other coding school or talent agency.

We help and bring people in that don’t have any background in tech. We welcome them with no qualifications. They come as they are. We give them the help and support they need to get to a middle or senior level in tech. We teach them languages such as Golang, JavaScript and Rust. We have a three-week selection pool where they come in, meet their fellow peers, work together, collaborate and be curious about technology.

CGP 12 | Career In Technology
Career In Technology: More women need to be encouraged to break into tech. They must attend more events, use various platforms to engage, and take advantage of different opportunities.

We facilitate different talks for them to try and get them interested and keen on the industry. Throughout those three weeks, they pick up key skills and experiences. Hopefully, they get put onto the selection pool once they’ve passed and done well. With a 1 or 2-year fellowship, they get the skills and the coding experience to become mid to senior-level developers.

In addition to the free learning, we also provide a job guarantee. When they finish their two years of learning, they have three options. They can either join one of our corporate partners as a software engineer, set up their own company and we will support the entrepreneurial venture or join our talent agency and work as a software engineer for any company that’s looking for talent.

What are the people that are being attracted to your course? Who turns up? What’s the gender and ethnicity split like?

It is a very diverse cohort. When you come on campus, that’s what you see first because 77% of our fellows are from Asian, Black and ethnic minority backgrounds and 36% are female. We still have a long way to go to get to the 50% gender target that we set ourselves. In addition to that, you’ll see that people who have come on this program, the age range varies widely as well. We have a nineteen-year-old and somebody in their late 50s as well.

It is about lifelong learning and finding people who have the talent but never got the opportunity. We’ve got people who dropped out of school or university and people who’ve got a Master’s in Cyber Security. It’s a wide range. 40% of our fellows had no prior coding experience but 26% of those had some background in Computer Science.

That sounds like an extraordinary cohort where you’ve got that incredible range of experience. Thinking back to when I did it as studies, it’s quite nice to have a mixed range of experience and knowledge in the group because the students will presumably be then supporting and helping each other to grow and develop.

If you don’t believe in yourself that you can learn, you’re more likely to give up. Be confident that you can learn.

From what I’ve seen, everyone has been working together regardless of how much experience they’ve had. The ones with a bit more experience have been helping the ones with the lower experience. It has been great.

What we’re talking about is you’ve got a range of people with no experience and loads of experience. I imagine therefore that you’re going to get that lovely environment where you’ve got the more experienced students who have already got some pre-existing knowledge and experience, helping and supporting those without any knowledge and experience at all.

We’ve created a body system to help the students that don’t have any coding experience to work with the students that do have coding experience. That has been working out great. We’ve also created a bunch of social events to get the students from the different cohorts and selection pools to work together. It has been good to have people with different experiences in bringing different things to the table.

When you’re bringing in people who have got that previously lived experience, it means you’re going to end up with a more diverse workforce. To come back to the gender split that you’ve got, we don’t need any research or studies to tell us. We only need to look around. It looks like that applies to your cohort as well that there’s a significant gender imbalance in technology. I would like to talk a bit more about that. Why don’t more women work in technology? What have you learned from your cohort?

One of the biggest hurdles I’ve seen so far has been the lack of female role models and lack of self-belief, trying to see people who are in these industries already and getting women into it. Most of these women that have come to the course have either had a long career break, childcare and various different things. They need that reassurance in permitting female role models and being visible faces of our company, which is the majority of our team are females. They’re seeing women in tech. They’re having conversations with us and seeing that they can do it.

Having support from their peers as well as us has been life-changing. I feel like more women need to be encouraged to break into tech, attend more events, use various different platforms to engage and get that support to encourage them, pull each other up and take advantage of different opportunities. I feel like 01 Founders is creating and opening doors for women to walk through and also building the confidence to have the selection pools so they can see that, “I can learn something new and I am trying. I am getting support and feeling my self-worth.”

CGP 12 | Career In Technology
Career In Technology: To inspire women to do things, they need the opportunity to have something flexible that works around them.

This process is building confidence. It’s not, “Start a university course and struggle through it for three years.” It’s, “Try to start for three weeks, build the self-confidence and self-worth, go through a two-year course and you can do it.” They start with something. We’ve had some women that have started but never opened a computer before. Now, she can explain algorithms to me and break down various different things. It’s life-changing.

It must be such a heartwarming project to be part of. I cannot imagine how good that makes you feel in the morning to go to work.

We were both emotional when we were calling up fellows to say that they had got through those three weeks of intense training. A lot of them didn’t think that they belonged here. We had a bus driver, a woman who had worked as a chef for seven years and another woman who had trained as a homeopath before and was new to this country.

There were so many people from such different backgrounds that felt they didn’t belong in tech but because they persevered and didn’t give up, it was amazing to see the progress that they had made. It was emotional when you feel that you can impact not just their life but their families and society at large. One of the women said to me, “I’m doing this not just for myself but for my daughter so she has an amazing role model.” That’s inspiring.

What have you noticed about what motivates women in their careers? Some of these women are having quite a significant career change. They’re going from homeopath to technology or from a chef to technology. What motivates them at work? What can we learn from that?

What motivates women is that they want to make an impact and a difference. That’s why a lot of women tend to be attracted towards medicine social work or other areas where they feel that they are making a difference. Due to media stereotypes where tech jobs are seen as a guy sitting behind a computer with poor hygiene and lots of facial hair, a lot of women don’t feel that they fit in. That’s the key factor. How do you make sure that you show enough role models but also communicate that it’s the best way to solve problems and make a big impact in the world?

That’s so true because there’s a lot to be done still to get over those stereotypes that some people have of the IT industry. You’re talking about women who want to make an impact, make a difference or have a purpose. I personally think technology is one of the best ways that you can have an impact because you’re always problem-solving, creating something new or troubleshooting. It’s a brilliant career. I have somewhat of a bias, having worked in technology all my life. Tell me more about how women can make an impact in technology. What are the ways that you would encourage women who might be reading this to say, “You can do that in technology with that as your career?”

Learning anything new is hard and challenging. You have to be willing to be uncomfortable, fail, and pick yourself up when things don’t work.

There are many ways that people can step into a career in tech. The first and foremost is building skills and that could be done by trying out some programs online. There are lots of free resources available. Take a tiny step to experiment, learn and see if that works but also come on campus and see what we are doing here. This is zero risk for you because it’s something as simple as playing a game online and then coming on campus for three weeks and learning with your peers. If it’s something that you don’t like or you’re not suited for this kind of learning or working then you have other options as well. That’s the first thing, build your skills.

The second thing is to build your confidence because if you don’t believe in yourself that you can learn, you’re more likely to give up. Be confident that you can learn. If Hana and I could learn it, I’m sure anyone can learn it. The final thing is to build your network. In addition to building your skills and confidence, you need to have a network so that you can find work placements, internships and full-time job opportunities. That would be my advice.

Building a community is huge. You can get resources and job opportunities. Having that network around you to build you up and you can ask questions to is crucial, especially as women in tech. Tech is so diverse. There are so many industries you can go and tell people every day. You can go into beauty, health, fitness or pet care. Some of my friends are working with dogs and they’re doing things in tech.

That’s the key. Technology is so diverse because technology runs the world at the moment. If you want to get involved in whatever it is that you’re fascinated by, you can still do that and have a good career in technology. What do you feel are the other barriers to attracting more women into technology? I’ve talked about the stereotypes. What else puts women off?

There are a number of barriers. The basic is access to Wi-Fi and a device because if you don’t have that, you can’t learn to code. The next level is willingness. Learning anything new is hard and challenging. You have to be willing to be uncomfortable, fail and pick yourself up when things don’t work. That’s the second barrier. You need to build your willingness and sometimes it’s hard to do it alone. That’s why you have such high dropout rates when you’re doing it online alone. Try and build your peer network. Come on campus and build your community. Hana’s Bridge The Gap In Tech Community is another example where you can find and connect with people who are going on a similar journey.

We work with underrepresented people in tech. I bridge the gap in tech to get them into opportunities, share free resources, do some coding practices with them and get them into jobs as well. I also think it’s the lack of opportunities as well. There are so many free resources out there but it’s the lack of opportunities for women. I feel like some of the courses aren’t as flexible and suited to women that have other things that they need to be doing, such as support needs. In order to inspire women to do things, it’s the flexibility and the opportunity for them to have something that’s flexible that works around them.

CGP 12 | Career In Technology
Career In Technology: Tech is so diverse. There are so many industries you can go from here, andnot just from a digital standpoint.

I love what you were saying, Joysy, about that willingness to feel uncomfortable. That’s such a key thing. Particularly, when you’re looking at changing your career or developing a new skillset, you have to accept that you’re going to go through that period of time where it feels scary or you don’t know what you’re doing. To have that willingness to feel uncomfortable, that’s a lovely way of phrasing it because we all go through that in everyday life in many respects.

I’ve loved talking to you both. It’s fascinating to hear what you’re doing at 01 Founders and the work that you’re doing. This is the first cohort that you’re running. This course is two years. Hopefully, at the end of two years, we’ll have some amazing people going out into the world, doing more with technology, which is fantastic. If people want to get in touch with you and find out more, how do they do that?

They can visit our website, www.01Founders.co or they can come to visit us on campus. We are right by Regent’s Park at Longford Street NW1 3HB. The best way to see what we’re doing is to come to meet the team and the fellows who are going through the learning.

Joysy and Hana, thank you so much for joining me. It has been an absolute pleasure to talk to you. I can’t wait to see what happens in two years’ time.

Thank you for having us.

I’ve enjoyed exploring what motivates women at work and the barriers to attracting more women to technology. If this conversation has sparked a thought in your mind then let’s talk and explore. A call with me gives you the opportunity to ask any questions you have about the work I do with technology companies on attracting, developing and retaining your female talents so you can close the gender pay gap. Email me at Sherry@SherryBevan.co.uk to book your call. Thank you for reading.

Important Links:

About Joysy John

CGP 12 | Career In TechnologyJoysy is CEO of 01Founders, tuition-free coding schools with a job-guarantee to improve diversity in tech and tackle the digital skills gap

About Hana Abdi

CGP 12 | Career In TechnologyHana is the Tech Leader for 01Founders, as well as founder of Bridge The Gap In Tech

CGP 11 | Fujitsu

How Fujitsu Is Working Towards Closing The Gender Pay Gap With Rachel Marsh

There’s a lot of talk on how to close the gender pay gap but what are companies actually doing to make it happen? In this episode, Head of Digital Transformation, Rachel Marsh, shares what Fujitsu has been doing to stay ahead in terms of diversity, equity, and inclusion. She chats with Sherry Bevan on what’s worked and what hasn’t on their end. Rachel also shares how they keep track of their progress and what other companies can do to continually empower and promote the closing of the gender pay gap. They also touch on flexible working, and their research on the ethnicity pay gap. Stay tuned and get value from this insightful discussion on how to become a more proactive and progressive organization for your employees.

Listen to the podcast here:

https://oembed.libsyn.com/embed?item_id=21076673

How Fujitsu Is Working Towards Closing The Gender Pay Gap With Rachel Marsh

In this episode, we’re going to be exploring some of the initiatives that Fujitsu has implemented in order to make progress on closing the gender pay gap. To do this, I’m delighted to be talking to Rachel Marsh, who’s Head of Digital Transformation at Fujitsu. We’re going to be looking at how Fujitsu has tackled the gender pay gap and the effectiveness of those initiatives. Rachel, very warm welcome to you. Thank you so much for joining me.

Thank you very much.

To get us started and to set the scene and put this into context, could you tell us a bit more about your role at Fujitsu?

I’m Rachel Marsh. I’m the Head of DX at Fujitsu. What does that mean? It’s around enabling digital transformation for our customers. We have a group of people who work with existing or new customers to provide insight, advice and guidance. What we were trying to do is work with our customers to see how we can inspire them to think and act differently, to deliver business and social impact through the innovative use of technology.

Sometimes that might be technologies we can bring, or they already have systems, services and operations, and it’s how they can expand that use. For example, getting better value out of the data they have to inform how they work, generating collaboration in the way they work across their business or their ecosystem, helping them implement change and transformation, and helping them roadmap where they’re trying to go. It’s anything in that spectrum. That’s what we do.

Since gender pay gap reporting was first introduced, I know you’ve made progress in reducing the gender pay gap. I’d love to hear from you about some of the initiatives you’ve tried and how they’ve worked.

We’ve made a decision to publish early. As soon as gender pay gap reporting came in, we were in the first 1% to publish. Our results at the time, we had a median gap of 17.9. We had a lot of work to do. Over the years, we have made improvements. We’ve published our latest report and we’re at 11.8%. It’s a significant reduction but still more to do. In terms of the changes, we’ve put in place a number of initiatives. Firstly, by doing the reporting, it means we’re measuring and tracking what we’re doing.

Work your way in consideration of the work you do, the team you’re a part of, the customer you’re on, and your own preferences.

We’re holding ourselves accountable to our employees and to the public. Putting that spotlight on it has helped in the first instance. We then set out an action plan that we have built on and developed every year. We focused on four areas around how we recruit, retain, enable, and also look across this pay specifically in terms of equality at different levels. Those four areas plus the data we drive help us determine the actions, measure those actions, and see the results and the outcome.

That increase or decrease depending on which way you look at them is a huge change. Although you look at the bare numbers, it maybe doesn’t mean much. In order to achieve that, you’ve put a lot of hard work into that. You’re right. The first thing you’ve got to do is to report and measure because you can only manage what you measure. What about some of the initiatives that you’ve tried? What’s worked well for you to help you reduce your pay gap?

A number of things. If we look at recruitment, sometimes we’re working with all of our supply chains in recruitment to try and get equal lists. We’re hiring shortlists that have equality of men and women in them to even consider into roles. We’ve looked at how we advertise our roles, the language we use, the style, and change them quite significantly. We now have a single standard template that all roles must use.

We’re reducing the number of bullet points, changing the language, the style and the description to be much more inclusive. We’ve also looked at our hiring managers and the hiring approach. We have done some training for our hiring managers to support them in it, but also looking at things like having mixed panels, more than a single person so that you have a much more balanced and inclusive view when you are recruiting.

In terms of retention, we’ve put a lot of effort into the programs we do to address women’s careers and support them so that we don’t get to a retention situation. Through all of our programs, we can see a real shift in that.

By April of 2021, our attrition for female roles dropped below that of men. We’ve seen that change. A lot of the changes over the last couple of years and our response to COVID have helped in that as well. We’ve been very flexible and supportive in that space. In terms of enabling people, we have a number of things running. We have a women’s business network that’s been running for a number of years.

CGP 11 | Fujitsu
Fujitsu: By doing the reporting, we’re measuring and tracking what we’re doing. We’re holding ourselves accountable to our employees and to the public.

We have executive sponsorship, co-chairs from the business. That’s very voluntary across the group. We have lots of initiatives. They will run events, training, get-togethers, networking sessions, and also some targeted programs.

We have two specific talent programs, one for our earlier career females. Those who are in the beginning are looking for more mentoring advice and guidance. That’s called Future Me, and one called Leading Lights, which is about helping women get into those more senior positions. All of those things together are adding up to making the change. Each year, we review what we’re doing, the impact it’s having, measure it and then tweak the next level.

You are constantly reviewing, refining, and continuing to do more to close that gender pay gap. What do you think has had the biggest impact? What’s made the most difference?

It’s a daily conversation now. It used to we want to have a program and initiatives, and it gets spoken about. Now it’s something that’s talked about all the time. It’s become a very common conversation. As an individual, personally, the things that have had an impact where I’ve either taken part or been a participant have been some of our talent programs. When I speak to people who’ve joined those, they’ve rated them highly.

For example, our Future Me program aimed at earlier career talent is recognizing the coaching and advice people might want, particularly for females. We’ve picked nine topics. It’s a structured mentoring program. It might be how to have your voice heard in meetings, networking, presenting, a number of those kinds of things where we can talk through. I’m a mentor in the Future Me program. I’ve worked with the ladies there. We talk through each topic. We share some actual insights, research studies, practical advice, and also about my own experiences. I’ll ask them about the situations they’re going through and explain what they might try.

The next time we meet, we’ll talk about the things they’ve tried and how did it work. It’s a supported learning journey around topics that we know have value at that point. The feedback there is good. We’re on another year of running that program. The Leading Lights program as well is supporting women to get into more senior roles. If we look at our gender pay gap reporting, where we can see the biggest impact for many companies is that the proportion of women in more senior roles is definitely smaller.

How can we support people in that career through the business? We have good figures at the lower ends, and we’re improving at the upper. How do we move through the middle of it is now going to be our next focus as well. It’s those specific talent programs. They’re more than just an event, it’s a continued conversation. It becomes very personal to the individual. Those are the things I get feedback from people. They are valued. More than anything, it’s the fact that this is a continuous and consistent conversation.

You mentioned there that it’s now become a daily conversation. It’s being talked about all the time. In other companies, I’ve heard people say that when it gets to that point, sometimes they worry about it. Is it going to turn people off having the conversation because it’s talked about all the time?

Certainly, that can happen. There have been points where you start feeling, “Is it too much? Do we need to ensure we’re looking across the rest of our populations?” We have a good program of initiatives across all types of diversity and support all talent in our business in how they progress. We’ve looked at how we have supporting conversations and change our performance management type conversations with every individual. We are making sure we’re trying to be balanced, but there have been times where you could see some of the reactions among people, both men and women of, “Is this too much?”

It’s about bringing it back to the personal value and the business value, and ensuring we are fair and equal. That way, we can stand up to, “Is it too much? Is it fair? Is it appropriate?” We have internal processes for let’s say somebody gets promoted or changed. In the paperwork you submit, ask the question, “What impact will this have?” Along the way, you’ll continue to be reminded to think about it. We make decisions without thinking about the broader consequences. When you then pause to think about them, it puts it front of mind, “Am I doing anything that helps or am I doing anything that’s detrimental?”

It’s those little constant reminders. People with the very best intentions will forget or do something that’s not quite appropriate, but it’s having those constant reminders to give you the opportunity to take that step back. With forced homeworking during COVID and locked down, how has that affected your gender pay gap or your female talent?

We’ve published reports every year. Our numerical results for 2021 are pretty much unchanged from 2020. We’ve had a drop of 0.2 on our median numbers and an increase of 0.1 on our mean. They’ve stayed the same, it has not changed. Considering the several months, to stay the same, I find it quite phenomenal. As a company, our response across the globe as an individual employee of the company was brilliant.

As an example, we already have policies in place to support carers’ leave. We instantly published that carer’s leave is available to everyone for whatever reason they need to take time off, whether it’s to look after children or elderly people themselves. Also, as soon as we rolled into January of 2021 and we realized we were going straight into another lockdown, day two of the year, there was another note out, “We’re going to do the five days again this 2021.” As a working mother with children in lockdown, I’ve had ten extra days of paid leave to support the carer’s leave during 2020 and 2021. For me individually, that’s a massive thing that’s helped.

We’ve also said straight away that everyone can work from home. As an organization, we’re a technology organization. As soon as it was looking likely, we started testing if that was going to be possible. It has been possible. All of our employees are operating fully from home. The approach from everyone was employee first, support our customers, everything else, don’t worry. That very flexible approach has continued. We’ve formalized it more now. A lot of companies have said, “You must come back to the office or you will work at home.”

Our stance, we call it Work Your Way. Every individual can decide what’s right for them. Also, a lot of the time, we might work with other teams or customers. It’s not just an individual choice. It’s a guided framework to look at, why do you need to connect, what do you need to be doing work-wise, and what’s your home situation. Not everyone has the home environment that supports that and personal desires. It’s that balanced view. You keep relooking at that through the year and making decisions that suit you, the work you’re doing, and the customer and team you’re a part of. That’s our approach going forward.

All of those things have meant that for everyone but also for working women, we’re seeing that approach of flexibility and support. Care has come out strongly. It’s come back in our employee engagement type surveys that employees have seen that increase in feeling cared for by the company and supported through this period. The fact that our reporting figures for 2021 stayed the same with everything else going on, I feel positive about what the last months have been like as an employee of Fujitsu and how they’ve responded.

It’s one of the key things moving forward as more organizations are following your approach to having that flexibility about how often you work from home. We see in the press that some organizations are having a very black and white, “You must be in the office five days a week. You must be in the office at least three days a week.” With organizations like yours who are taking that more flexible “work your way” approach, longer-term, it means you’re going to attract more of the best talent regardless of their gender or their ethnicity. People want that approach now from an employer.

You bring your whole self to work, and that is welcomed. That diversity of behaviour, thinking, and experience is valued.

In terms of the spread geographically, therefore, where you can appeal to employees and people are making choices. We’ve seen in the press in the market, people are making choices about where they live. As you go through your career, different choices are important to you according to what’s happening in your life at that point. The fact now is that you’re able to make more choices. I’ve got people who have moved near a family, moved away from cities, and changed their home base completely. People have changed the type of work. People are rethinking their careers in terms of training and development as well. All of those things are more possible. We want to show that we’re supporting that.

At the end of the day, we’re a business. We have customers to support, and it has to be done in context, which is why we’re not saying it’s black or white. We’re saying, “Work your way in consideration of the work you do, the team you’re a part of, the customer you’re on, and your own preferences.” In the meantime, our buildings and our locations, we’ve got a bit of a hub strategy in terms of key offices and buildings where we will have a presence. We are already refurbishing some of them moving to more collaborative working spaces. We’ve continued that program.

As we’ve started reopening our offices, we’re opening our main hubs first, and putting effort into some of the refurbishments in those areas as well. If I go into our London head office, there are hot desks available to book, but there are less desks because it’s more a place where you’ll go for meetings. There are more circular tables or meeting spaces rather than necessarily meeting rooms for more formal and informal types of working spaces.

These are the things we’ve done. If you do go in, it’s supportive. If you don’t, how do you mix the half in and half out? We’re working hard in terms of our hybrid space as well. With my own teams, we’re having team meetings. Some people are there. Some people aren’t. How can we make everything work so that everyone is still included? We’re not there yet but we’re all learning.

Some of what you mentioned there is reflected in the white paper that I’m publishing on the impact of the hybrid work model on the gender pay gap. It’s about looking at these things and being intentional about how you implement and what to implement rather than just being a bit more ad hoc about it. Fujitsu has done lots of great work over the past years to reduce that gender pay gap. What have been your key learnings?

That it is a continual and long process. It takes concerted effort. It’s also helped and it’s reflected in other areas. For example, we have published our ethnicity pay gap. We made the decision to publish early. The learnings of the work we’ve done over the years were able to apply to other areas as well as we continue to try and improve. We have a phrase, “Being completely you so that you bring your whole self to work.” That is welcomed. That diversity of behavior thinking experience is valued.

CGP 11 | Fujitsu
Fujitsu: The approach from everyone was employee first, then support our customers. Everything else, don’t worry.

What you’ve done at Fujitsu is great. You’ve been able to see those gaps close. It’s demonstrated to other organizations that if you set about making progress, you can achieve it even though perhaps at first it might seem like it’s hard work and that it’s taking time. How much you’ve reduced your pay gap bias is quite significant.

It has been good and it’s nice to see. It also shows we still got quite a way to go and we haven’t got it all right yet. We are continuing to work on our programs. We’re seeing a shift in our more senior positions but we’ve got a long way to go. For example, we’ve seen some women from our Leading Lights program, which was supporting those in the most senior and move into key leadership positions. We’re seeing promotion opportunities for those in the younger space. We measure those things. It takes time to see the results and the impact. It’s not attributable to the fact that they’ve been in a program. There’s so much more that goes on, but seeing the order of these things are adding up to making a difference.

We have to continue to do that work, particularly for our middle level, those quarters 2 and 3 of both salary or grading, however you look at it in your organization. That’s important that we keep doing that. Building more data, we’ve made a point over the years of enhancing the data that people are voluntarily able to add about themselves so that we can track more.

For example, with ethnicity, we’ve been pushing and sharing that people can add their ethnicity data. They don’t have to but we’re encouraging everyone to do it by talking about the reasons why and the value. We allow people to pick multiple categories and what they prefer not to say, or they don’t have to participate. Through giving examples, we’re encouraging all of these things that when we run programs and we’re in schemes, we’re tracking it all so that we have more data into helping us determine the next set of actions.

It’s fantastic and I’m very positive. To bring us to a conclusion, Rachel, if people wanted to get in touch with you and talk about what you’ve done at Fujitsu, how can they best do that?

I’m on LinkedIn. I’m happy to be contacted and continue this conversation. Fujitsu also actively tries and plays a part where we are keen to learn from other people. We’re happy to share the learning that we’ve gone through, both good and bad. We do not get everything right all the time. That’s a part of the continued conversation of helping overall the situation improve for everybody. It speaks to the values that the company have that we express in how we operate. That resonates for me personally. I’m happy to be contacted.

 Thank you so much, Rachel.

Thank you so much to my guest, Rachel Marsh, who’s Head of Digital Transformation at Fujitsu. I enjoyed talking about how Fujitsu has been tackling the gender pay gap and doing it successfully.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this episode. You can find more episodes at SherryBevan.co.uk/podcast. If you are thinking about or you’ve already introduced a hybrid work model into your organization, you’ll find it useful to download a copy of my white paper that I’ve published on the website as well. If that sparks a thought in your mind, book an exploratory call with me and you’ll have the opportunity to ask any questions you have about the work I do at technology companies on attracting, developing, and retaining your female talent so you can close the gender pay gap.

Email me at Sherry@SherryBevan.co.uk to book your call. Thank you.

Important Links:

About Rachel Marsh

CGP 11 | FujitsuRachel is Head of Digital Transformation at Fujitsu.

CGP 10 | Job Vacancies

Recruitment Tips That Will Help You Attract More Women To Apply For Your Job Vacancies With Nicola Spooner

There has been a shift in organizations where the value of diversity in the workforce is now recognized. But how do we also shift our recruitment strategies to attract more women to apply for job vacancies, especially in male-dominated industries? In this episode, Sherry Bevan sits down with Nicola Spooner of Nicola Spooner Consulting to give recruiters tips on how to achieve just that. An expert in project management recruitment, Nicola has valuable insights on mitigating gender inequalities through your recruitment processes. Tune in and learn how these can help you drive your business forward!

Listen to the podcast here:

https://oembed.libsyn.com/embed?item_id=20864288

Recruitment Tips That Will Help You Attract More Women To Apply For Your Job Vacancies With Nicola Spooner

Thank you so much for joining me. I’d love for you to come back next episode and to make that even easier, you just need to subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast player. Let’s get into the show. In this episode we’re going to explore how to attract more women to apply for your job vacancies so that you start to close that gender pay gap. I’m delighted to be talking to Nicola Spooner of Nicola Spooner Consulting. She is an expert in project management recruitment and we’re going to be discussing how you can attract more women to apply for your job vacancies. Welcome, Nicola. Thank you so much for joining me.

Sherry, thanks for having me.

To set the scene, it might be helpful if you could just explain to us a bit more about what you do and that will set the scene for people and set the context of the discussions we’re having.

When it’s more recruitment business, we are focused on project management recruitment. What that generally means is we have a very male-dominated industry that we work in. Not only that but a lot of those projects are technology-related projects. That adds another dimension of gender inequality in terms of people that work in that space. I’ve been recruiting for many years and I’ve worked in lots of different areas. I did spend quite a long time focusing on HR recruitment, which was very female-focused. I’ve seen both sides of the gender side of that.

You’ve got loads of recruitment experience. One thing I noticed, recruiters and Talent Acquisition Managers, they’re often bemoaning the lack of women applying for roles because their company is asking them to provide a diverse shortlist. Yet, when I work one-to-one with female talent, who’s got the experience, the skills, they talk about the lack of opportunities available. It seems to me there’s a big disconnect between the recruiters and the female talent. I’m just wondering, is this something you’ve noticed as well?

Businesses as a whole, both recruiters and Hiring Managers have shifted away from any discrimination against women to a general positivity about wanting to attract women into their businesses. They can see the benefits of that diverse way of thinking and diverse approach to project management. You’re right. there is a bit of a disconnect because there are lots of businesses wanting to attract women into project management or technology project management specifically but then they don’t seem to be as many opportunities out there for women.

The real disconnect is around when women are looking for work, how they perceive those job adverts. There are hundreds of jobs adverts out there for project managers in a range of different industries. I feel that sometimes they’re not necessarily written in a way to attract the market that they’re looking to target.

That makes perfect sense. When you say they’re not written in a way to attract that target market, what could recruiters do to make sure those job ads are appealing to the female talent?

CGP 10 | Job Vacancies
Job Vacancies: A job ad is a sales document. It should speak to the target audience.

There are two things about it. First of all is the job ad itself. Traditionally, they’ve been a copy and paste of a job description because it’s quick, easy and it just gets it out there. There’s also a lot of adverts with a long list of bullet points of what criteria somebody needs to meet. That’s quite an old-fashioned way of attracting people to businesses.

Essentially, this is a sales document and it should be speaking to the target audience and it should be trying to attract people to that opportunity within that company, rather than having a list of a certain number of years experience, you must’ve worked with this technology or managed a team of X number of people. All of those criteria can put people off especially women who feel that they need to have achieved everything on the job description to want to apply. It’s a different approach that they have to job seeking. If companies look at that as a sales document to start with, that’s automatically going to attract more people to them, to speaking to the people that they want to attract.

The second point is around the language that they use. This is where it gets interesting because men and women are attracted to different words. When I first started in recruitment many years ago, we would look for people and target people, using words like assertive, dynamic, driven, confident and all of those strong words to try and find the people that we were looking for roles. What I’ve realized more is that those words do appeal to male applicants and put female applicants off. By changing the language that you use can open up those adverts to speak to women.

Interestingly, I did a bit of work on this for a Senior Manager for a project delivery team and I wasn’t finding any female applicants applying. It’s the more senior you go up and project management, the fewer women there are because there hasn’t been open to that for quite a while. What I found was by changing the language I used on the advert, very quickly, there were many more female applicants applying. I was using words like collaborative, honest, supportive, inclusive and trusting.

It attracted good-quality female applicants, which made a huge difference to that shortlist. The shortlist was much more diverse going forward. I’m one of those applicants who got the job and started and is doing a fantastic job there. Those words just appealed more to people or to females. Interestingly, it doesn’t seem to put male applicants off.

That was what I was going to ask. You’ve ended up with a fantastic diverse shortlist. My question in my head, as you were talking is “What happens to the male candidates? Does it put them off,” but you’re saying it doesn’t?

By changing the language that you use, you can open up your job adverts to speak to women.

I did a poll on LinkedIn. I put four words out there to say, “Which one would appeal to you most when you are looking for a job.” I used collaborative, honest, self-sufficient and driven. Two of them were collaborative and honest, and I thought what would happen was women would say that and the men would say self-sufficient and driven. That’s not the outcome that I got. Significantly, more people went for collaborative and honest. Of those, they were 50/ 50 men and women split. When I looked at self-sufficient and driven, there were a lot fewer people that were attracted by those words and of those many more women.

I’m just wondering then, when you found that you got this diverse shortlist of candidates, which is fantastic, did you attract a different type of male project manager? Could you put your finger on something being different about those or it didn’t put men off so you still got the same quality of candidate to apply?

The quality of the candidate was really good. I probably did have a different style of candidates apply. The role itself was very much a man management role looking to coach, develop and mentor people. All of those words very much suited the style of person that would fit well in that role. It did attract a different type of candidate that I would normally purchase, a senior manager role within project management. That’s what we needed someone to be collaborative, empathetic and supportive of their team. By speaking to the people that you’re trying to attract, the hope is that you would attract better-aligned people to your role.

It seems to make great sense what you’re describing. You’re making sure that job ad is a sales document so that you’re selling the job and presumably selling the organization as well. I would just like to come back to the other question that you talked about. We talked about the language so words like collaborative, empathic are more likely to appeal to women. You mentioned as well about having that long list of criteria. Talk to me a bit more about that and how that influences the candidates.

It’s like a checklist. If I sent on a job description chances are, they’ll come back and say, “It looks great, Nicola but I haven’t done points 18, 19 and 20. I’m not sure I’m right for the role.” People want to feel that they can do the job but women approach that in a slightly different way to men. Most of the female applicants that I speak to like to think that they could go in on day one, be competent and capable of doing everything on that criteria list.

Whereas, the male applicants are happy, “I’ll give it a go and I’m sure I’ll be fine.” It’s because of that, if you do want to attract more female applicants and we’re talking now about shortlist, we’re not talking heavily about being the right person for the role but if they’re not applying in the first place and you don’t even get them in the mix to consider them, a list of criteria is just going to put people off.

I always think it’s good to imagine, you’re talking to somebody over a glass of wine or a coffee and telling them what that job is as you’re talking to a person. If you approach a job a little bit more like that then people can imagine themselves in the role a bit more rather than checking off a list of criteria, which quite honestly not all of it is going to be essential to deliver that role in a good way.

CGP 10 | Job Vacancies
Job Vacancies: By speaking to the people that you’re trying to attract, the hope is that you would attract better aligned people to your role.

I sometimes see on job ads some organizations will have essential and then desirable criteria. I know when I work with women on a one-to-one basis they’ll read these twenty different criteria for the role. They’ll then say to me, “I can’t apply for this job. It’s my dream job but I can’t apply because I haven’t got any experience of ABC and it’s difficult.” Does that apply equally whether you’re using essential and desirable criteria?

In my mind, you don’t want to be discounting people at this stage. As a recruiter, there are always people that will apply that don’t have the necessary experience with skills to deliver that role. I’m huge on transferable skills and giving opportunities for people in looking at the potential in people. Ultimately, they need to have some core ability to deliver roles, desirable or essential, the list just discounts people and good example is a global experience.

I do a lot of work with law firms and they’re implementing global technologies. A lot of people wouldn’t apply for a role if they didn’t have global experience. Now all the hiring managers that I would talk to would say, “It doesn’t matter about the global experience. We’ve got people on the ground and all of our regions that can do X, Y and Z. All they need to do is understand that’d be an added complexity to that piece of technology being delivered.” It’s on the job ad and job description as an essential. It’s putting people off when it’s just becoming an unnecessary blocker.

That’s an interesting one because having worked in a law firm previously myself, it wouldn’t have occurred to me that I had global experience. We’re an international firm, so we had offices all over the place and any rollout that we did or any project that we were managing, inevitably, we were doing it across multiple offices and countries. Are there other criteria that get put on the job ad because it’s needed but not really essential like the global experience?

Legal experience is one that I come up with a lot. One of my favorite things to do is challenge hiring managers on why and look at transferable industries and experiences that can come to that. Several years of experience is another one. They must have between 3 to 5 years experience. That might fit into their brackets within their salary bandings or team structure. There’s no reason why someone with 6 or 7-years’ experience or more couldn’t do that role if they would be happy to.

All of these things can add up to a very quick, “That role is not for me,” but it could be a really good opportunity. Rather than trying to put off applying for that role so you just get people that take your perfect criteria list, why not open it up and tell people why it’s such a great company to work for? What they will get out of coming to work there? What opportunities are available for career progression? You’re talking to people who will then get excited about that opportunity and it could be the right person for the role. Their lists of criteria do put people up and stop people from applying.

I suppose it’s a bit like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole that you try and squeeze yourself in. If you think that you’re not going to fit then it just puts you off.

You can’t just keep throwing salary at roles to attract people. There has to be more about it than that.

It absolutely does and everyone does. People want more diverse teams. They want diverse ways of thinking in their teams. Project management in technologies is quite a male-dominated industry. There are some good females coming up through the ranks. We want to encourage them to go for these more senior roles and to push themselves. On the flip side, as much as all the companies that can do around how they change the way they speak and attract people, initially there is that blocker that women do have, which is around not believing that they can take that next step up and do that challenging role. That’s another thing that’s a difficult thing to overcome.

I definitely say that in my one-to-one work, the number of times I’ve worked with women, they’ve seen their dream job and they think, “I don’t think I can quite apply for it because I’ve only got 7 years experience and they’re asking for 8 years’ experience” when 1-year experience is not going to make much difference. It often seems to me, that the hiring manager or the recruiter, it feels sometimes some of the criteria have been plucked out of the air.

I know that when you do get to talk to the organization themselves, I suppose it’s not enough thought has gone into that job ad. Women and men tend to have different ways of behaving and communicating. Women tend to want to be the perfect candidate before they put themselves forward but nobody’s a perfect candidate.

You’ve hit the nail on the head. They just approach it differently. There is a bit of responsibility for women to try and change their own way of thinking and look at themselves for doing that having a bit more of a growth mindset and challenging themselves. If you put it all together and you challenge yourself to apply for that role, even if you don’t meet all the criteria because the job ad is speaking to you a lot more personally. It’s making you feel like it’s a place you’d want to work in, a job you’d like to do, you could be successful in. If all of that comes together then you might end up with more applicants that would bring value to your business and deliver that role. It would be a more diverse shortlist as well.

We’ve talked about the job ad. We’ve talked about the language, the criteria that are used in making sure that you have a sensible list of criteria. You’ve talked about starting off by making it more of a sales document, what else can companies do to attract more female candidates?

It does come down to flexibility around working. It’s been fine for months. Businesses have been hiring. It hasn’t been an issue but it will be moving forward again in terms of flexibility around working hours and how that can fit in with people’s personal lives. A lot of businesses are quite savvy to that now.

As we start to going back to perhaps the work hours that we had pre-COVID, do you think some of the companies that are refusing to move or being obstinate in how they adopt or accept flexible work, those companies are going to be on the back foot and find themselves missing out on the best talent, male or female?

Absolutely. You’re right. It’s not just male or female. There are so many people that I speak to who have a better quality of life, a better relationship with their children. They’re not wasting hours and hours on commutes and still delivering great outputs. People has missed the interaction of being in the office. I do think that those firms that are open to a more hybrid way of working will ultimately attract better talent.

You can’t just keep throwing salary at roles to try and attract people. It has to be about more than that. That’s going to be a real driver moving forwards. The firms that I work with that have established a flexible approach are the ones that are able to attract a much wider range of people. They’re filling their roles quicker and getting better quality applicants.

At the end of the day, that means that they’re going to have a better level of service within the organization, whether they’re working with external clients or with internal clients. That flexible working and the policies that they might have around that, needs to be part of that sales document that you’re talking about, that the job ad ought to be.

If you put on the job ad out there that said, “A brilliant place to work related to career opportunity and great potential.” You then finish up by saying, “We have a flexible working policy of X, Y and Z,” people can apply and they know what they’re letting themselves in for. That’s a good point. You can be open about those working patterns and what your expectations are. That would work. That would help people make a decision as to whether it’s something they could accommodate in their lifestyle.

CGP 10 | Job Vacancies
Job Vacancies: Firms that are open to a more hybrid way of working will ultimately attract the better talent.

I know certainly in the past that women I’ve worked with, if the job ad doesn’t specify flexible working and there’s no mention of it on the company website, they don’t even bother to apply. They have made the assumption that it’s going to be tricky to get flexible working.

If it’s not on the job ad, when do you bring that up in the process. Too early on and it puts people off and then too late and you don’t want to waste a time if you can’t come to an agreement of how that could work moving forward. That’s when sometimes having a recruiter to help with that process does make a difference. When we’re applying for a job directly, there are heaps of questions that you want to answers to and you don’t always get them until quite later on. Whereas if you are working with a recruiter, you can fire 100 questions at us and we should hopefully know the answers. You’re absolutely right. If it’s not on there, it would put people off.

I’ve enjoyed talking to you, Nicola, about what we can do to try and address that disconnect between the recruiters who say that they don’t get enough women applying for roles, therefore, they can’t get the diverse shortlist and the women who are saying, “There aren’t enough opportunities available.” It seems like the opportunities are there. It’s just that they’re not appealing to the female talent that is out there in the marketplace.

You’ve hit the nail on the head there. There are lots of opportunities out there and a little bit of time and thoughts about how you might make that more appealing across both genders would help businesses and applicants.

Thank you so much for joining us. If people want to get in touch with you or to connect with you, how can they do that?

On LinkedIn, just Nicola Spooner. If you want to take a look at our website, it’s NicolaSpoonerConsulting.com.

Thank you so much, Nicola, for joining us. I’ve enjoyed the conversation. For our readers, thank you for joining me. I enjoyed our conversation. For more episodes on Closing the Gender Pay Gap, go to SherryBevan.co.uk. If this conversation has sparked a thought in your mind then please do book a call with me to have an opportunity to ask any questions you have about the work that I do with technology companies on attracting, developing and retaining your female talents so you close the gender pay gap. Email me at Sherry@SherryBevan.co.uk.

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About Nicola Spooner

CGP 10 | Job VacanciesNicola Spooner of Nicola Spooner Consulting is a recruitment expert specialising in recruiting in project professionals in the legal sector.

She helps law firms build their project teams, having built teams across the whole change and project management discipline, another male dominated sector.