Free training to help tech employers attract, recruit and retain female talent

Liv Erickson, Microsoft VR evangelist, speaking in Edinburgh last year.

Businesses in Scotland’s digital technologies sector are being encouraged to sign up for a new programme designed to give employers the advice, skills and insights needed to increase the number of women working in the industry. A free webinar series has been developed by Skills Development Scotland and Equate Scotland in partnership with the Digital Technologies Skills Group, in response to research that found women account for only 18 per cent of people working in tech in Scotland.

Running this week and next (18, 24 and 27 April), the interactive webinars are suitable for all digital technologies employers, from startups and SMEs to large organisations. They will guide employers through: how to take positive action measures; how to recruit and retain women employees; the business and economic case for increasing women’s representation in tech; implementing flexible working; overcoming challenges and barriers; and tackling biased language.

A best practice guide is also available, featuring case studies from employers taking action on improving the gender balance in tech roles across Scotland. Edinburgh headquartered FreeAgent is one of the companies that has contributed to the new resources. Olly Headey, FreeAgent co-founder and chief technology officer, said: “As employers it’s important that we are aware of how we position ourselves in the market to ensure we are being as inclusive as possible. This means understanding the laws on discrimination, paying attention to the wording on our job adverts, being aware of the impact of cognitive biases during interviews and ensuring we create an inclusive workplace culture. The more focus companies put on improving diversity in their workplace, and the more we talk about it openly within our industry, the better our chances of success will be.”

Sign up for the webinar series.

Talat Yaqoob, director of Equate Scotland, added: “Only 18% of the technology workforce in Scotland are women, we need diversity in the sector to not only overcome the skills shortage but also to remain globally competitive and creative. This guide is designed to support employers to take action on gender equality and implement real change. Whether an organisation is a start-up or an established large employer, there are steps everyone can take to overcome the gender gap in technology.”

Evelyn Walker, chair of the Digital Technologies Skills Group’s Gender Work Stream, said: “Sharing real world projects, tactics, tools and success stories will help more individuals and organisations to get involved in tackling the gender gap. Research indicates that there are a lot of females who are open to the idea of working in tech. To turn that willingness into a real increase in the number of women in our sector we need to reach, support and inspire them to take the next steps.”

This initiative is part of the Digital Technologies Skills Group’s action plan to increase female participation in digital technology throughout the pipeline. In March, more than 150 representatives from industry, education and public sector came together in Glasgow for Tackling the Technology Gender Gap Together 2017. Organisations sharing best practice with the audience included Compute Application Software Ltd, FanDuel, J.P. Morgan, and FDM Group.

The webinars and best practice guides are funded by the Digital Scotland Business Excellence Partnership whose partners include Scottish Government, Skills Development Scotland, Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Island Enterprise, Scottish Funding Council, Education Scotland, ScotlandIS and digital technology sector industry representatives.