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Gender Diversity in Technology - Part 2



Remember January 2024? That’s when I participated in a panel at the HFM Future of Fund Tech Summit, discussing “Strengthening your technology team through diversity.” I have posted content about diversity in tech in the posts linked below. But this post is about what we talked about at the event. Keep reading...


I have shared some additional material with readers already.


So, what did we discuss?


We began by asking in the introductions how our firms’ business resource groups/employee resource groups are doing. As a consultant, I shared the common theme amongst many organisations I have worked with and spoken with; that theme in 2024 is intersectionality.


Intersectionality recognises that individuals experience the world through a unique lens shaped by various aspects of their identity, such as race, gender, sexuality, class, and ability. These overlapping identities can compound both experiences of discrimination and privilege. Understanding intersectionality is crucial when pursuing social justice because it emphasises the need to dismantle all connected systems of oppression. In this framework, groups with seemingly disparate struggles must recognise shared interests and join forces. For example, feminist work to achieve economic equity aligns with anti-racist work fighting wealth inequality. Both movements can mutually benefit by creating solidarity and working collaboratively toward social progress that benefits everyone.


One of the most astute examples I have come across is the women’s and LGBTQ+ groups focus on common issues impacting LGBTQ+ women. This is best exemplified by the challenge that, with limited time to devote to attending and supporting employee Resource Groups (ERGs, BRGs, or Networks), which group would a black woman who is bisexual focus her energy on at the expense of all she could gain from the other groups? That is the challenge organisations look at with intersectionality amongst their business/employee resource groups.


We concluded the introduction by discussing key barriers facing underrepresented groups. I focused on remote work/flexible work and how it creates barriers with return-to-office pressures on women and gender-diverse people. You can read more about what I have written about that topic.



We explored organisational culture; every organisation has one, so the question is it the right one? The requirement is to be intentional about creating a culture you want. I spoke to Peter Drucker's often misquoted statement, "Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast". The key emphasis from his work in that space is it is about people, and by getting the people part right, it becomes easier to achieve a strategy. I have written more about intentional culture in this article.



The last set of questions we addressed were more general in nature. We discussed how we measure diversity. I first spoke to the getting the right data and referenced the FCA Consultation Paper CP23/20**, which looks to revise the data capture needs for financial compliance. You can access that working paper here:




The final question we addressed was focused on: In a world where staff and potential staff do their own research on an organisation's culture, is there enough focus on this by companies? I spoke to three points that organisations need to keep in mind.


  1. About 46% of your future workforce (under 24's) are not only listening to what companies say but fact-checking to decide if they want to be part of that company's culture. I was able to do this with a role I was considering, and during the interview process, I was able to speak with three staff I networked with who gave me an insider's point of view that I could raise during the interview process.

  2. Recruiters always ask me about finding these diverse candidates, and I use a fishing analogy to explain. If you keep getting the same candidates but want more diverse ones, then stop fishing in the same pond. If I want to catch bass but I am fishing in a pond stocked with trout, I will never be successful; I need to find another pond. An example I share often is if you are looking for more diverse candidates, then look to support centres for that community you seek; many of them are happy to post job openings to their membership.

  3. The final point was regarding unconscious bias. We all have bias, but in technology, gender bias is very real. While the EU has moved its gender target in senior leadership and board roles to 40%, the UK has a 30% target at the director level and above. Yet according to the McKinsey 2023 report, women in technology executive roles have dropped globally from 24% to 22.5%. The Tech Nation 2022 report indicated that women in technology in the UK were at 26%, so ahead of the global figures but behind the UK target and way behind the EU target.


 

With over 25 years of dedicated leadership in the corporate, feminist, and LGBTQ+ realms, with a profound commitment to LGBTQ+ and women’s rights, I’m thrilled to be recognised by the British Diversity Awards. I stand ready to support, consult, educate, and advise on your next diversity challenge. Your journey towards inclusivity begins with a conversation. Reach out to me at cynthiafortlage@cynthiafortlage.com with any inquiries.


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