This year for International Women’s Day, Osmii have interviewed a selection of London based women on their workplace experiences, valuable lessons learned and why this day is so important to be recognised. From Osmii to takeaway.com to Macmillan, read the insights into the challenges faced by women today and what more could be done to help the fight for equality.
What are some of the best workplace initiatives you have seen/heard of to help promote diversity?
Takeaway.com – My manager created a community for women called The Women’s Link where we have regular sessions to discuss progression plans and talks from inspiring women in the company. It has helped me network and relate to other women across the business seeing their career journey and how I can follow in their footsteps.
Brewin Dolphin – From my side, I have seen companies with aims to have a balance of women in their companies, setting % targets and trying to beat them. We have multiple women in business talks at work and I’ve seen initiatives to highlight women in business achievements.
Osmii - I’ve seen businesses allowing staff to support chosen charities through donations and events. Charity work days or paid time off to support local or international organisations. I’ve seen some businesses set-up LGBTQIA+ groups within the company to create safe spaces for others who may need it and share awareness with their peers globally.
Macmillan – I believe workplace diversity starts with hiring. I’ve heard of companies ensuring job ads are diverse, implementing blind screening of CVs, holding diverse interview panels (people generally recruit people who are like them), implementing anti-bias training. Slack, for example, proactively seek candidates from diverse backgrounds.
Osmii – I have not seen anything that has really stood out to me. I believe we need to look beyond companies putting women in C-Level positions, or creating communities/mentorship programmes internally - these are things that should be normal.
What do you think we should be doing to encourage more girls to consider a career in tech?
Osmii - Teaching girls about tech at an early stage and challenging the gender stereotypes. Showing them that they are capable of doing anything they set their mind to and whatever they want to do is not dictated by gender bias. Showing them examples of successful women within tech who have made a difference and that it could be them one day doing the same for the next generation.
Takeaway.com - I think it would be great for young women to have more visibility of women in tech, whether this is through the media or through mentoring in the industry. It is important to celebrate women in tech and their achievements so other young women can see how they can aspire to this too.
Macmillan - Firstly, we should be promoting women currently working in tech, through internal and external media channels. If you can't see someone working in a particular field, or level, it may not occur to you that you can do that work. Secondly, we must work towards shaking up the old-school boys-only industry image - tech affects every area of life.
Brewin Dolphin - Start early and encourage the notion in schools that tech is for women not just men. Engage with girls about tech and encourage them to pursue studying it or think about tech related careers.
Osmii - While I believe that society is doing a better job at this, mainly due to the fact that technology has become a core part of our life, there is still much more work to be done to make STEM inclusive and promote it to girls. This promotion has to be done by parents, schools and by society at a young age. Parents need to encourage girls to take an interest in technology just like they would boys. Schools need to be able to offer IT or Coding classes so that girls can get that exposure and see if they could have an interest in the sector. Society needs to remove the stigma around tech and IT being for boys and making it an inclusive sector.
Nomensa - We should have more events and outreach to promote tech as a career to girls in schools and from a young age.
Osmii – Firstly, I think we all need to take ownership of understanding the level of gender diversity in our business. There needs to be a focus on making sure there is enough coaching, mentoring and development opportunities available to women, and tech businesses should work closely with higher education and other institutes. Also, we should not only focus on younger women but also those who consider career changers or those coming back after a break.
In your opinion, what is the biggest deterrent to women succeeding in tech?
Takeaway.com - Tech has historically been a male dominated industry. In most tech giants you will only see males on the company board. This is hard for women to see themselves progressing in the tech industry as they are not represented on board level and don’t have role models to relate and aspire to.
Osmii - The biggest thing I think is women believing they are not capable of pursuing that next opportunity. There is data to show that fewer women will apply to a job if they feel there is something on the job requirements they feel they have minimal or no experience with. Women treat it as a checklist rather than an opportunity to brush-up on new skills list. This is compared to their male counterparts, who have a higher percentage of applying knowing they don’t have all of the skills.
Macmillan – Firstly, lack of flexible working initiatives can be a deterrent to women in all industries as they juggle more home, work and caring duties than their male colleagues currently do. However, if there's one good thing the pandemic has highlighted is that flexible working can work very successfully. Secondly, until there is equality for the amount of time off for maternity and paternity leave, childcare duties will continue to fall to women who will take long periods of time off at a crucial time of career progression. Thirdly, the gender pay gap still needs to be closed.
Osmii - The lack of female leadership and therefore the lack of support from key decision makers in businesses.
Brewin Dolphin – The tech industry is still seen as a man’s world and we don’t see many women high up in the tech world, or if there are they aren’t pushed into the media like men are.
Nomensa – It’s probably a stigma of stem being mostly mathematics or science based which aren’t predominantly seen as “female” subjects, when actually tech can be really creative. Also a lack of representation of female leaders in tech, so potentially this might make girls feel like they can’t succeed in that industry.
Osmii - I think that there is not just one deterrent, I think there are three main deterrents. Firstly, male dominated environments. Secondly, companies use Diversity & Inclusion as a marketing tool, but when you look into what they are realistically doing in their company, there is nothing in place to promote it. Thirdly, policies in companies do not offer the support that women need to continue to grow in their career, forcing them to look elsewhere, or to leave the job market.
Who is your modern-day hero?
Brewin Dolphin – It’s got to be Whitney Wolfe, the CEO of Bumble.
Osmii - Whitney Wolfe Herd – founder and CEO of the app ‘Bumble’ – launched in 2014, but this year became the world’s youngest female self-made billionaire. Signed over whilst holding her baby in her arm at 31 years old – a great show of how strong women can be and not only for raising children!
Macmillan - Nanjira Sambuli from Keyna - she led the World Wide Web Foundation in its bid to increase digital equality. She looks for solutions to ensure nobody is left behind when it comes to web access, whether disadvantaged by gender or geography. "My hope is that we see it happen more and more, and not only when women are 'given' positions to fulfil diversity quotas or clean up messes. We have a ways to go for 'The Female Future' to unlease its true potential to heal the world”
Osmii - Jane Fonda. If I get to her age and can do what she is doing right now fighting (and getting arrested) for climate change - I’ll be very happy!
Takeaway.com – She’s not tech-related, but Greta is an inspiration. She’s a young woman who has already accomplished great things and encouraged change despite so much hate and controversy. She is forward thinking and stands up for what she believes is right, without worrying about being judged for it. These kind of traits are inspirational.
Osmii - I don’t have a modern-day hero as it is hard to choose just one. I think that there are a lot of modern-day heroes that are realistically doing something extraordinary to make change in society. I also think that we are lucky to be witnessing a lot of women who are breaking the glass ceiling.
Is there one piece of advice you wish somebody gave you at the beginning of your career?
Brewin Dolphin - Don’t be afraid, don’t hold yourself back, don’t stay quiet, push and show you deserve to be there. Talk about your accomplishments, and don’t let anyone tell you that you are ‘emotional’ or ‘bossy’, they would never call a man that!
Osmii - I wish someone had told me how to deal with the small discriminations and biases you deal with on a daily basis and how to better handle and educate men without getting emotional. I think a lot of these are subtle, but if we do not educate and ensure men understand, we will always be facing them.
Macmillan - Choose your battles.
Osmii - Resist ‘imposter syndrome’ and stop doubting your abilities. Just because you are different doesn’t mean you cannot succeed your own way – after starting my career also in a male dominated company at the time I needed to work hard to find my own confidence, once I did I succeeded more than I thought possible.
Nomensa - Take every opportunity you ever get given! Don’t be ashamed or scared of self promotion.
Takeaway.com - Make sure you see a purpose in your work. Think of what you want out of your career, what is your ‘big goal’ and from here think of smaller objectives and initiatives you should adopt in order to meet your big goal. This should allow you to strengthen your skills but also fill gaps. By having a purpose and a progression plan in place, you will see how your day to day work fits into this. It is a great motivator, especially when you’re early in your career and you’re not sure exactly what you want to do. The plan should be ever changing.
Why is International Women’s Day so important?
Osmii - There is still a long way to go for gender equality and rights. Even though we may not see it, women are battling against social, cultural and economic inequality all over the world. This is a day to recognise and celebrate the achievements of previous women who fought for these rights and support the ones trying to make a difference.
Macmillan - It focuses attention on women's achievements and shines a spotlight on where there is still a need for equality.
Brewin Dolphin - To highlight that women are a force to be reckoned with.
Osmii - It is important because it is a time to recognise fantastic woman, connect with the history of women and how far we have come, and continue the push for gender equality.
Takeaway.com - It is important to celebrate the achievements of women and how far we have come. Although there is still a long way to go for full equality, we should all be proud of ourselves. Diversity is so important to success in the workplace and should be celebrated everyday.
Osmii - It is important because we celebrate how far women have come by looking at the cultural, economic, social and political achievements. It is also a day where we raise awareness on equality and the fundamental importance of achieving gender parity on a global level.
Any reading or websites you would recommend to stay in the loop?
Osmii - In terms of reading: “Lean In” by Sheryl Sandberg – I think every woman should read this and “The Gendered Brain” by Gina Rippon if you enjoy heavy reading. Top websites would be www.women-in-tech.org and www.internationalwomensday.com
Macmillan – Definitely have a look at www.thefemalelead.com. I also recommend The Bad Feminist Film Club podcast and the newly revamped Radio 4's Woman's Hour.
Osmii - Forbes have very interesting reads on the latest updates in tech as well as articles such ‘Americas Self Made Women’. Also for resources and advice, specifically on women in tech, www.builtin.com is a good website – it can direct women to online communities, co-working spaces, conferences, events, books, blogs and podcasts!
Nomensa - I have recently started following female practitioners who share tips on the industry - @souxdesign @sophieannrankin @aga.ux @evecanncreate______
Here at Osmii, we believe that a diverse team benefits businesses, hence why at every level all our shortlists sent to clients include at least one woman for every man and we stick by our 50/50 slate. This gives a fair balance to what is still an uneven footing in the tech industry. Read more about our D&I values – www.osmii.com/diversity-and-inclusionBack to all posts