Not enough women in senior IT roles, research finds

Over half of women in IT believe females do not occupy enough senior positions, O2 research finds

Over half of UK women working in IT believe females do not occupy enough senior positions in their company, a report has round.

Research from O2 has revealed that despite the Lord Davies 25% Women on Boards target approaching, 59% of women in technology still feel that too few females are represented in senior roles.

Two-thirds of the women surveyed (63%) said all the decision-makers in their company are male. Furthermore, 24% believe it is impossible for a woman to reach senior management.

Some 45% of the women said they dream of being the CEO or on the board of a company, yet 36% admitted their own careers had failed to meet their expectations.

Almost a third (30%) said they lack the confidence to ask for a promotion they felt they deserved. In addition, the women who felt their career had met or exceeded their expectations said ‘luck’ was the main factor in their success. Factors such as skills, ambition and determination hardly featured.

Ann Pickering, O2’s HR director and board member, said, as an employer, the findings made for uncomfortable reading. 

“We want all our people – male and female – to feel supported and encouraged throughout their career, and it’s crucial that we remove any stumbling blocks preventing them from fulfilling their ambition and potential,” she said.

“Our research shows that, while the diversity debate has moved on outside of the office, not enough women are actually seeing this progress at work. If we’re to achieve sustainable and long-lasting change, we can’t just look at women already at the top; we need to focus our efforts on women at every level, creating a strong pipeline of female talent across British businesses. If we fail to do this, there is a very real risk that these women will seek these opportunities elsewhere,” added Pickering.

In response to the survey’s findings, O2 has produced a guide to help businesses implement a Women in Leadership programme. In association with the HR body CIPD, the guide offers advice to businesses on core components of a Women in Leadership programme and how to ensure it benefits employees and the business in the long term.

Dianah Worman, public policy adviser for diversity at the CIPD, said businesses need the most effective leadership they can get to thrive in today’s volatile and uncertain world. 

“Anything that limits an organisation’s ability to appoint, promote and retain half of society’s potential leaders simply because of their gender has to be addressed,” she said.

With a growing number of organisations seeking to tackle the unconscious bias and other unintended consequences of “the ways we’ve always done things”, Worman said the guide O2 is launching will help those who want to improve their ability to select from the best potential leaders, regardless of gender.

“While there’s been genuine progress towards government targets to improve boardroom diversity, too much of this has been skewed towards non-executive positions. We’re calling on all parties in the forthcoming election to commit to a new voluntary target for at least 20% of executive director positions in FTSE 100 firms to be filled by women by 2020. This will encourage organisations to set a clear example of diverse leadership, and grant employees the benefits of management diversity from those actively involved in the business,” she said. “Development programmes, such as that run by O2, are one way of achieving this target.”

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