The leadership team must be trained out of passive and active bias
Jane Rendall is Managing Director of UK&I for IT company Sectra, which operates in the healthcare industry. Shortlisted for Role Model of the Year in the recent Women in Tech Excellence Awards, we asked her about the state of diversity in the industry today.
Why are these awards so important?
I think these awards are really critically important because they're shining a light on female achievement, and that that is creating an awareness of the importance of a diverse workforce.
Does the industry do enough to promote gender diversity?
The industry does need to do more in terms of gender diversity. It's important that there is representation and recognition for women throughout organisations; that the passive and non-passive bias is trained out of the leadership team. Basically, a change in mindset, I would say. Importantly, we should be encouraging women to be employed into these technical roles, and we should be retaining those women through strong career progression. And, obviously, the gender pay gap does really need to be part of history now.
How do you develop diversity in your own company?
At Sectra we really focus on diversity, and one of our core values in our culture is about tolerance and respect. That has helped us develop an environment where everybody has the right to be heard. Everyone should have the right to have an impact, and everybody needs to have the right to develop their own career and be successful.
How can the gender balance change within the technology industry?
For me, that's kind of starting at the grassroots level. Education needs to proactively encourage women and young girls to take STEM subjects to an advanced level, and really then create that kind of workforce for the industry.
What is your key message to women looking to progress or start in the technology industry?
I would say, believe in yourself and your abilities. We want you in our team, we want you in our industry. We would welcome you to our industry, and we will support you as you develop your career.
How important is company culture in the technology industry?
It's important to create a balanced culture within the industry; I think it's critically important that peoples' health and wellbeing are front and centre for the business leaders of our community, and I believe it's about equality for all.
Has Covid-19 had an impact on diversity?
Covid has had a big impact on how businesses run and how they operate, but I believe that those businesses that had already embraced diverse culture have been more successful in adapting. They tend to have greater innovation [and] they have better communication, just by the very nature of how they're built up. So, I think that those businesses that have really embraced this have the greatest ability to survive.
Do you think that the industry will change in the future in regards to diversity?
I hope to see that we have that pipeline of talented young people coming into the industry, and that they find a welcoming and supportive environment; somewhere that they can help drive the technology industry in the UK, and, obviously, develop their own careers and support other women who are starting out on theirs.