HP, alongside around 90 other companies including Accenture, Cisco, and Dell, have banded together to try and help one another to gain greater gender diversity in the UK tech workforce.
Their vehicle: an industry collective called Tech Talent Charter, which has now received the formal backing of the UK government. Their focus: the early stages of industry recruitment. Their aim: to build a stronger pipeline of diversity for the future.
“There could be any number of reasons” for the lack of equal representation for women in STEM fields, particularly at senior levels, “from cultural and educational influences, unconscious bias, or simply male dominated industries attracting more males,” says George Brasher, managing director of HP in the UK and Ireland. “We need to disrupt the system and address all of these, whilst making positive changes to attract more women.”
HP says that in the UK and Ireland, over 50% of the leadership team is female, but Brasher says “more needs to be done and the tech industry is not attracting or retaining enough women.”
As “a starting point,” he said, HP in the UK and Ireland is “committing to hiring a minimum of 50% female interns each year, which is the main pipeline for our graduate intake.”
Interns leading into graduate positions are a major way of gaining and training diverse workforce, which is why nonprofits like Code First Girls have signed up to support the charter.
Beyond the public relations benefits for signatories, being part of the Tech Talent Charter requires that signatories contribute their employment and diversity data to a shared central database for publication annually. This is vital for gauging the true make-up of the workforce across tech in Britain, and whether companies are taking on board initiatives to improve their talent pipeline.
“The main point is you need measurable actions and processes put in place to drive change,” Brasher said. “As long as they are measurable, there are lots of great ideas that companies can consider, one of which could the inclusion of women on interview shortlists. That’s why the Tech Talent Charter is so important. Its focus is on coming together as an industry to share ideas and best practice to drive change.”