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:

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 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 to book your call. Thank you.

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About Rachel Marsh

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

CGP 4 | Tech Industry Hierarchy

Breaking The Tech Industry Hierarchy To Close The Gender Pay Gap With Jo Stansfield

There is an assumption that women can only do certain things and that they aren’t qualified for more technical roles in the tech industry. Now is the time to break that hierarchy and give everyone equal opportunity. Joining this episode is the founder and director of InclusioneeringJo Stansfield, to talk about how the hierarchy affects the gender pay gap. Learn how to break the perceived status of women and how they can learn different skill sets. Learn how to be flexible so that you can move up the ranks and break the pay gap.

Listen to the podcast here:

Breaking The Tech Industry Hierarchy To Close The Gender Pay Gap With Jo Stansfield

A very warm welcome to Jo Stansfield. We’re going to be talking about how the hierarchy in technology teams affects the gender pay gap. Before we do that, I’ll let you know about Inclusioneering, where Jo works, is a social enterprise specializing in diversity, equity, inclusion solutions, and consultancy for technology and engineering organizations. Before we dive into the content of this episode, I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who’s read, shared or subscribe to the first few episodes of the show. I do appreciate and value every single one of you, so thank you for that.

A very warm welcome to Jo. Before we start exploring this fascinating subject of how the hierarchy in technology teams works, what it is, and how that might affect the gender pay gap, I would love you to tell us a bit more about you and Inclusioneering.

Thanks, Sherry. I’m very happy to be here and talk about it. It’s such an important topic. My name is Jo Stansfield. I’m the Founder and Director of Inclusioneering Ltd. We’re a social enterprise specializing in diversity, equity, inclusion, and consultancy for taking engineering firms to help them transform their culture and achieve much better results from their teams in terms of their productivity, innovation through building much greater inclusion and equality in the team. I came to this by route of being a woman in tech myself. Most of my experience in my career has been working in tech teams, doing the engineering, and leading engineering teams to be developing enterprise software. I had a bit of an awakening that being a woman in tech was quite a big deal when I had kids.

Suddenly, I realized that my identity isn’t how I feel about me. It’s also about how other people see me, the assumptions they make, and the expectations they have too. Becoming a mom made it clear that people’s expectations of me didn’t match the ambition and the drive that I had to be doing so much more with my career. That set me off on a path, decided to retrain to understand much more about what’s going on and what are the factors that people create. These assumptions, expectations, and all of the underlying social interaction behind them. I decided to take an Organizational Psychology Master’s Degree as you do, and that led me on completing that to be able to make use of the research that I carried out about taking engineering teams to set up Inclusioneering and build on the findings from all of the research that I did there.

Tell me a bit more about your Master’s because it sounds like you had this awakening when you became a mother and realized that other people’s perceptions of you weren’t what you had. Tell me a bit more about what you looked at in your Master’s.

I signed up for the Master’s Degree while I was leading some technical departments and some of the first things that taught me a lot more about leadership. What it is to be a leader and different styles of leadership that we can take. All of this was building on some strong psychological foundations, looking across dimensions of cognition and social psychology, how people relate, the origins of bias and prejudice, and all of this being rooted in stereotypes. This leads to the attitudes that we form, which lead to the decisions we make and the actions that we take. All of this came together to support me in the leadership role that I had at that time, but it became a growing interest to focus on the diversity aspects.

Why gender and ethnicity matters in closing the gender pay gap.

From that point on within the Master’s Degree, I’m focused on pretty much every single piece of work I could do towards understanding the dynamics of diversity within teams in organizations. We also had lots of topics around coaching, which is now quite integral to part of the work that I’m doing. Looking at organizational development, and change are the things that impact how an organization operates. There’s a lot of foundational stuff that now supports the work that I’m doing to be working with organizations for change.

What specifically did you learn that you’re bringing into the workplace when you work with employers?

In terms of the dynamics of diversity, I think this is where a lot of the key things start to show up. The research that I carried out was very focused on what happens within tech and engineering teams. Can we see anything in the day-to-day experience of people in their teams that highlights things that might predict why we don’t see women and people from ethnic minority backgrounds progressing in the same way that white men do through their careers? All of that research was built upon the social psychology foundations I talked about. It’s understanding the impact of stereotype expectations between different people and how that can lead to bias in terms of what we expect of each other. That can also lead to different kinds of status expectations too.

One thing that I’ve found fascinating in the research, and as I’ve been talking to people about it afterward, is how this status expectation starts aligning between what we see in society and the different types of roles we’ve got in our teams. Within a tech team, you’ve got your developers, testers, user experience, and documentation. There’s a bit of a power hierarchy going on there between all of the different roles in the team. Very often, the developers, architects and the most technical roles are the people who have got the most influence in the team in terms of the direction the team takes. What we see happening is that it starts to align with these kinds of social groups as well.

Women will often find themselves gradually being moved into more people roles regardless of how technical they see themselves. They quite often become project managers or user experience, whereas the men often in the developer roles having that higher status technical work. I’m beginning to understand the dynamics of power, status, and how that influences who really gets the prestigious work. It’s quite fundamental in the work that I’m doing to help build greater inclusion within tech teams to be able to recognize people’s strengths regardless of stereotype expectations that we might have of them.

That resonates because when I was head of IT, I had it fairly mixed team in terms of numbers of men versus women, but all my trainers were female. All of my techy people were male and the service desk was a bit of a mix. I always found that the service desk was a team that always seemed to be at the lowest end of the hierarchy regardless of how senior you were in that service desk team. That resonates because I can see lots of the women that I have worked in their tech careers have ended up migrating into a project management role so it’s interesting that that’s what you’ve found in your research. I can see how it aligns with what’s going on in society as a whole.

It’s interesting to see how that alignment happens without anyone consciously thinking about it. There’s that gradual shift of people moving towards roles that line up with their social status as well. One thing that I found interesting after doing the research is that I’ve been talking to people about race as well as about gender. One thing that I’ve learned is that very often, black people find it very difficult to get the most technical roles. They’re not taken as seriously as their white counterparts, so they’ll enter their career through a different route such as testing. There’s the challenge to overcome the hurdle from moving from a tester into one of the more technical developer roles that is still to overcome. Often, that’s a transition that people don’t manage to make.

CGP 4 | Tech Industry Hierarchy
Tech Industry Hierarchy: People need to understand the impact of stereotype expectations between different people. That can lead to bias in terms of what people expect of each other.

One thing that’s heartbreaking about it is that organizations are busy saying, “Where’s the diversity? Why can’t we recruit more diversity into these roles?” I’m busy talking at conferences to people saying, “I’ve been trying so hard to get a developer job. I’ve trained myself in my own time and I’ve done all of this extra project work in my own back, but no one is taking me seriously and I can’t get that more technical job.” There’s a bit of a disconnect between what is there and what we’re recognizing in terms of people’s preferences.

Do you think that’s to do with us as individuals and the way that we present ourselves in the workplace or do you think it has to do with the way that the heads of IT, CIO, CTO, or the head of HR, how they view people or is it a bit of both perhaps?

It’s been a bit of both. Expectations are very pervasive. Everybody has expectations based on stereotypes of pretty much everybody else. I’ve found that women stereotype women as much as men stereotype women. It’s a cultural phenomenon rather than a particular gender against the other gender. It’s something that’s built into all of us of what we expect from each other. We internalize that, too, sometimes. I’ve talked to quite a few women who know that I’m quite good at the people tasks. I want to do the technical stuff, but I can see the people things are what people want me to do.” That expectation gets built into the path that we put for ourselves as well. There are both aspects of it giving that nudge towards the more stereotypical expectation for everybody.

Do you think that women, on the whole, tend to have a more collaborative style of leadership, tend to be better at relationship building? Is that why we end up in this hierarchy of roles in technology?

It can be. It’s important that people do build on their strengths to take the next steps to develop themselves. Talking to women in the tech team often do see in themselves the greater ability to those relationships and help the team to collaborate than they see amongst the rest of the team. They feel like, “Someone has to do this job, so it’s important for me to step up and do it.” I think that there is that greater skill, but of course, everybody is different. What’s important is that we can recognize strengths based on what that person’s saying, doing, and what we hear from them rather than judging based on expectations due to their gender.

We’ve talked about how the architect is at the top of the hierarchy and perhaps, IT trainers or service desk at the bottom of the hierarchy. Not that I believe that, but that’s what the technology society feels that. What can the employers do differently to try and balance that out?

There are a few things. Firstly, it’s about giving everybody the opportunity to progress in their careers and breaking this pattern that I keep seeing where the women or the people in the ethnic minority groups saying, “We want to move into this particular area, but we can’t get there.” It’s making sure that there are opportunities for people to develop and move sideways into different roles. It’s important for that mobility between these hidden parts of the hierarchy. It’s also important to be reviewing pay scales and pay structures in terms of the pay gap, what is fair pay within each of the different roles, and making sure that that is equitable by gender so that within the different roles, there’s equal pay for the work that’s been carried out.

Status expectation starts aligning between what you see in the roles you’ve got in the world.

That’s something I noticed looking at an organization where the more technical roles were on a higher pay scale than the less technical roles, but the less technical roles were in some arguably more important and delivered more value to the business. It is about getting that equity across work that’s of the same value.

It’s interesting how work does get valued. There has been research that showed that for some fields, when more women enter those fields, it’s got the impact of de-valuing that particular piece of work because somehow, it’s not seen as such high status anymore. The organization is questioning what the value is coming from work and being sure to value equally things that are delivering that equal pay too.

It’s a tricky one because you want everybody to be doing the work that they’re good at, they enjoy, and get the most joy, but equally, you don’t want it to be that they’re excluded from a particular type of work because of the colour their skin, their gender, age, or anything. We’ve talked about network architects being at the top of the hierarchy. What is the best way for people to get that sideways move into that type of role or to go from testing to developing, for example?

A lot of the work that I’ve been doing is with agile teams who are self-organizing teams. Their team are empowered to make the decisions about how they do the work and break down the work to solve a particular challenge that their customer has got. Something that I advocate for is to be able to listen to people regardless of the formal job title they have. Everyone has got something to contribute into that understanding of the customer’s needs and turning that into what the solution will be. There’s great scope within agile teams for people to develop flexibility in the type of work they’re doing and to develop skills that are maybe adjacent to what they’ve started off with.

The work that I’ve been doing with agile teams and developing a program for is to help them to understand where that hierarchy is in their team and start breaking down some of the silos that get formed as a result of it. They enable people to contribute more broadly. This is great for individuals but for the team too, because you’ve not got all of these single points of failures that quite often form when the same person always gets the same type of task.

Do you find it had something to the team dynamics, somebody who’s primarily done testing starts to understand the developer’s role or the developer starts to understand the architect’s or the user experience role? Do you find it must add surely to the richness and the quality of the products you produce?

CGP 4 | Tech Industry Hierarchy
Tech Industry Hierarchy: Women will often find themselves being moved into more people roles, regardless of how technical they see themselves as. People need to build inclusion so that they can recognize each other’s strengths.

I can speak from my own personal experience having had a range of different roles within tech teams over time, some large and some small companies. Having that understanding from doing aspects of the work of the other roles transforms people’s ability to work together and collaborate effectively and appreciate the challenges and the inputs that they’re getting from across the team.

It always used to drive me nuts. I used to get very frustrated with our network architects because they would say, “Take the server down at 3:00.” We say, “I can’t just take the server down at 3:00 because that’s when the lawyers are going to be busy finishing their pitch documents or their tenders.” “What about 4:00?” I think, “Are you for real?” They don’t have any concept of what’s going on outside of their immediate silo I guess, which always struck me as quite bizarre that if you work in an organization, you’ve got to understand how the end users work. It always used to frustrate the hell out of me, but that was because I would always be on the more people’s side of technology. We’ve talked a bit about that hierarchy and how that reflects in society. What do you think we can all do to make a difference and change?

It’s important for team members to be reflective about what they see going on in the team and help essentially empower each other to be able to contribute their best. Looking around the team and asking yourself the question of, “Who’s not here? Who’s not in the room as we’re making decisions?” That’s a real key question. Often, when someone physically may not be there, they might be nobody of a particular gender represented in the room where it could be a specific person is excluded from a particular decision-making context or it could be that they speak up, but no one listens to what they have to say. The first thing that we can all do quite simply is to ask ourselves that within our context when we’re making decisions, who’s not here and how can we help? Bring them in and make sure that they’ve got a voice within those decisions.

In the work that you do, do you see that’s starting to make a difference where you’ve done that type of work with organizations?

There’s always something that people contribute that you don’t expect. When you get a different voice in the room, it opens up understanding it’s not just seen otherwise. One of the reasons this is so important within tech especially is as we’re building more systems that are making automated decisions about people, particularly with regards to artificial intelligence, the only way that we’re supporting the potential pitfalls and issue areas are when people who understand its application and how it can impact people who’ve got experience of that who can see from their own experience something that others who don’t have that experience or don’t notice. Often, it’s that broader understanding of the domain that comes from having lots of different diverse people represented is important for getting solutions that are equally beneficial for everybody.

Very often, you don’t know what you don’t know. If you don’t have that lived experience, it might never hurt you to think about X because X isn’t anywhere on your horizon. I guess the higher up levels in the hierarchy ensure, invite or encourage the lower-level hierarchy to speak up, the more often they will have the confidence to speak up. For it to make a difference, it’s the stone in the pond and allowing the ripple effect to work its way out.

One case study that I love is this book, Rebel Ideas, by an author called Matthew Syed. He wrote about how one particular airline had transformed itself. It had a bad safety record based in South Korea where it’s a hierarchical society. They discovered an awful lot of the accidents that were happening. The second-in-command pilot had seen what was coming but had been unable to speak up effectively to warn the captain that there was a problem that needed urgent attention.

People should give everybody equal opportunity to progress in their careers.

What they did was train everybody to set expectations, empower the more junior members of the crew to be able to speak up, and raise the safety alerts. That completely turned around the safety record and, nowadays, an exemplary airline that has no issues at all in that regard. The oil and gas industry made very similar recommendations as a result of the deep-water horizon accident that there were lots of warning signs that weren’t effectively heard. Being able to recognize what the people who are on the ground are saying, but not at that point in a hierarchy where you expect to listen to them. That stuff really matters. We’ve got to hear what that is because that’s where some real key insights are coming from.

It’s incredible how the Korean Airline was able to turn around their safety records simply by influencing the hierarchy and giving everybody the permission to speak up and say something. That seems crazy that you’re having an accident because you’re too scared or you don’t have the right status to speak up about something. Thank you so much. I enjoyed this fascinating conversation. Finally, how can readers reach out to you to find out more about the work you do or the work that Inclusioneering does?

I’m quite active on LinkedIn. You can find me quite easily on LinkedIn under my name @JoStansfield, or you can take a look on the web at You can find me there too.

Thank you so much for reading. I hope you’ve all enjoyed this conversation between me and Jo, where we started talking about the hierarchy in technology teams and how that affects the gender pay gap. I hope that’s been helpful for you.

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About Jo Stansfield

CGP 4 | Tech Industry HierarchyJo began her career as an engineer, progressing to senior management in leading global product development teams delivering enterprise software for the oil and gas, automotive, aerospace and marine sectors. Working in male-dominated industries sparked Jo’s curiosity about the lack of diversity she encountered and inspired her to pivot her focus from the technical to the human dimensions of engineering.

Having recently completed her MSc in Organisational and Business Psychology, Jo is now able to leverage her business psychology skillset in pursuit of companies’ DEI agenda.

Jo’s experiences have reinforced her belief that diverse perspectives and talent recruitment are fundamental to the sustainability of the technology industry, and for the markets and communities it serves.