New research by Thoughtworks, a global technology consultancy, has found that around two thirds of women in the UK believe there is still a long way to go when it comes to a range of gender equality issues, from career prospects and personal development to parental support.
In the week that marks International Women’s Day, which this year focuses on #BreakTheBias, the findings highlight the scale of the challenge faced to forge women’s equality at work and the need for continual efforts to address the issue.
The research asked a nationally representative sample of over 1,000 women about how they rated the organization they worked for on a range of inclusion issues. It found that around two thirds of women believed their organizations were behind the industry when it came to equal pay and equitable opportunity (63%), representation (64%), and career development (64%).
Additionally, a significant proportion of women believed their organization either did not have a plan or did not know where to start to address issues of equal pay (30%), representation (26%) or career development (32%).
Less than half of the women surveyed (39%) could point to initiatives put in place by the organization to address gender inequality, and only one in seven said their organization had programmes to mentor women employees, while almost a quarter said their organizations provided inclusion training.
In terms of supporting parents in the workplace, a similarly high proportion of women felt there was more work that could be done – 63% felt that their organizations were behind the industry when it came to supporting working parents, with 29% believing their organization either did not have a plan to resolve this issue or did not know where to start. Just one in six (18%) said their organization has an official return to work programme.
More broadly, asking a sample of men, women and underrepresented gender minorities (UGM), the research found the vast majority of organizations (89%) agreed that there were business benefits from championing gender equality issues. Almost a third (29%) could see that it would foster better employee relationships, with the same proportion believing it would increase staff retention.
This research is one of a number of initiatives Thoughtworks is carrying out to promote gender equality in the workplace. As part of Women’s History Month, Thoughtworks will host its 10th Limitless event for women leaders on the 10th March featuring a keynote from Dr. Anita Sands. Launched on International Women’s Day three years ago, Limitless is a community for women leaders to openly share common concerns, experiences and learnings. Its membership base now includes 320 women from a range of backgrounds and industries.
Amy Lynch, Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) at Thoughtworks UK, said: “International Women’s Day is a key event to shine a spotlight on important areas. There have been some seismic shifts in just a couple of generations, however our results serve as a reminder that the finishing line is still some way off. We have to be candid that some challenges remain, but we can change this with positive action, effective policies and dedication all year round.
“For the tech sector, this is particularly important. There is a wealth of talent out there that does not fit a preconceived ‘mold’ and importantly could offer a sector which relies on innovation and different ways of thinking, a fresh perspective. A culture of inclusion and equity is an essential factor in the quest to attract and retain the best talent. It is the responsibility of leaders within the sector to create paths to give communities that feel technology is not for them the confidence to apply for jobs.”
Striving to create transformative social change, Thoughtworks aims to include all of society in its community and its technology. Sixty percent of its executive officers are women, and it has a target to have 40% of its technology roles fulfilled by women and UGM by the end of this year. The recently established DEI Council, launched in 2021, looks to ensure that equity and inclusion are rooted at the heart of Thoughtworks’ strategic business decision-making, culture and processes.