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One for the Boys…

techUK Prsident Jacqueline de Rojas
techUK President Jacqueline de Rojas

It seems fitting to me on International Women’s Day that we talk about the men...

Our industry is plagued by some pretty shameful statistics. Almost half of all employees are women, but that figure drops to around 17 percent in technology roles, according to Recruitment International. Only 14 percent hold executive positions within the industry.

Yet the business case for more women in tech is becoming clear. Just one women on the board of a business can reduce the risk of bankruptcy by 20 percent. A team with varied experiences and background will produce richer, more considered ideas. Gender diverse companies are 45 percent more likely to improve market share, achieve 53 percent higher returns on equity, and are 70 percent more likely to report successfully capturing new markets. The writing is on the wall for uniformed businesses.

For many years we have crystalized the problem of inequality and we have gathered in huge numbers in rooms full of women. There is no shortage of talk about the under-representation of women in the workforce and we sometimes even manage to stretch the conversation to talk about diversity and inclusion in all forms. Without a doubt there are so many marginalized groups and so many missed opportunities.

I have watched as the storms have gathered to vilify the men and create the women as the only gender capable of good leadership. This will be partly because there are some men who do not yet understand the power of equality or the importance that diverse teams can deliver. But I choose not to focus on the misogynists today or those who angrily view movements to make the workforce more diverse as a conspiracy against men.

I choose instead to focus on the good guys. The incredible role models who wake up every morning and engage in the business of leveling the playing field and improving working environments for the better. Russ ShawJeff Tijssen (Tech London Advocates), Tunji Akintokun MBE (NSC Global) are just some exemplars whose work should be commended today and I encourage you to look at their stories in the hyperlinks.

There are leaders like Andrew Wylie, CEO of Costain, who’s simple decision to insist on a 50/50 gender balance for the graduate and youth intake to boost the incoming talent pipleine is just one example of his commitment to diversity and inclusion. These choices will transform and accelerate Costain's future by welcoming diverse thinking.

Without a doubt, these male role models, who have mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, nieces and goddaughters make an enormous difference, not by their grandstanding and big promises but by their actions. Instead of DOING diversity, they ARE diverse and therein lies the magical difference. It is in their DNA.

I believe there are simple ways that men in the tech industry can attract more women in to technology roles - Not only by building better internal policies, senior male leaders have the ability to strongly influence and make major changes to the working environment and culture by their behavior.

It's things like calling out sexist jokes and backing up those who do. It's about making members of staff aware when they are talking over people in meetings and highlighting areas where unconscious bias may have had an impact on promotions and staff hires.

Simple actions can truly remove these toxic aspects of the working environment for women in the tech sector and make it a more attractive place for them. Given the talent shortage, we should be doing our utmost to be attracting the massively untapped resource of talented and driven women looking to change the world through tech.

I am sure that the male exemplars mentioned here are not the only ones who are making a change and a difference. I encourage you to call out those who you see as a male ambassador today because it’s important that we recognize these positive role models and the impact that they can have on our sector and the way younger males approach issues of diversity and inclusion.

After all, you are a role model whether you choose to be or not. #DeedsNotWords #MaleRoleModelsMatter

Jacqueline de Rojas is techUK president. Read more techUK blogs here.