Levelling the gender balance in the Tech industry
There has never been a better time to be a woman in the technology industry but companies have to work harder if they want to attract the very best of the next generation’s talent, says Nela Pertl, European Sales Manager for Broadcast and ProAV at Panasonic Connect Europe.
Things have changed a lot since I first joined the technology industry. As a woman moving from the beauty industry in Croatia to the technology world in Germany, my embarrassed male colleagues later told me that they had placed bets on how long I would last. The winner estimated just six months. I have long forgiven them but, of course, I had the last laugh as it’s currently 14 years and still counting!
In that time, my employer has taken huge strides in encouraging women to join and then enabling them to flourish in a sector that has traditionally been seen as a very male domain. But it’s concerning to learn that in the wider tech sector, women still trail men in terms of pay, leadership roles and representation. A recent article on Whatis.com recently highlighted that in 2020, women made up 28% to 42% of the GAFAM (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft) workforce, according to self-reported data from Statista. More broadly, only 31% of IT employees are women, according to Gartner research.
As a result of these skewed figures, I fear our industry is losing out on vital skills and it’s backed by research. In a Harvard Business Review article, according to an analysis of thousands of 360-degree reviews, women outscored men on 17 of the 19 capabilities that differentiate excellent leaders from average or poor ones. Women were rated as excelling in taking initiative, acting with resilience, practicing self-development, driving for results, and displaying high integrity and honesty. In fact, they were thought to be more effective in 84% of the competencies that we most frequently measure. For balance, men were rated as being better in two areas – “developing strategic perspective” and “technical or professional expertise”.
So what do we, as an industry, have to do to make sure that we do not miss out on this next generation of leadership talent?
First, we must make the whole of the technology industry desirable as a career path – not just the GAFAM companies that tend to currently attract the new talent. Panasonic, for example, has been innovating and bringing a wide range of new technology products to market for more than 100 years. We are creating innovative technology solutions, changing the world of entertainment with our glass-to-glass camera and broadcasting solutions and helping to make Industry 4.0 a reality with our smart factory solutions – to name just a few. What could be more exciting than joining a company that has this incredible track record of innovation, commercial stability and success? We must scream about it from the rooftops to attract the best talent.
But alongside this great track record, we also have to demonstrate that we are moving with the times and creating a work environment suited to the Generation Z workforce. This is a workforce that has grown up with technology and uses it as a native skill. We must arm them with the latest digital tools to do their jobs, give them the freedom to work without international boundaries and from wherever they wish and give them permission to use their creativity to solve the problems of today.
Alongside this more start-up mentality and attitudes, at Panasonic, we have also put in place programmes to help the organisation embrace this change. These range from our diversity programmes, such as ‘Unhelpful Bias’ with University of Durham to our ‘Women in Leadership’ programme developed with the Everywoman organisation.
By also collaborating across Panasonic business divisions, we can encourage wider opportunities to gain experience and to develop career paths across a wide range of sectors. While at the same time giving leaders tools that can help them to recognise raw talent faster than before and to build deeper succession planning programmes.
Just like the wider industry, we too still have much to do to make our organisation a magnet for that next generation of female technology talent but great strides are being made. I look forward to the next generation levelling up the gender balance in the technology industry and the incredible new skills and innovation they will bring.
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