BELFAST is one of the best cities in the UK to work in tech. According to Tech Nation, 23% of jobs in Northern Ireland advertised here last year were in digital technology roles, the highest percentage in the UK.
The industry is the subject of sustained investment, both from local agencies and from foreign companies who choose the region for its abundant expertise and knowledge. We enjoy and thrive on our international reputation, great news for Northern Ireland’s talent pool of engineers and developers as they continue to develop their careers.
But alongside all of these opportunities, our very talent pool is at risk. We all agree that diversity in the workplace is positive; However, with only around 19% women in the entire UK tech workforce, we still have decades of work to do.
A diverse workplace is about accepting everyone’s differences so that all employees feel supported to reach their full potential. When we value everyone’s differences, we allow everyone to share their unique experiences, which can have a hugely positive impact on how they work, how other employees feel, and how customers feel. engage. It is also widely reported that the more diverse and inclusive a workplace is, the lower the turnover rate.
The gender imbalance in tech is a global problem, but Northern Ireland is particularly challenging when it comes to closing the gender gap given its size and the ratio of people working in tech roles compared to other cities is smaller. But that has to change if we are to prepare for continued growth.
ESO arrived in Belfast in 2019. Since then, we have grown the size of our global team by over 50% as we grow and continue to invest in Belfast. Attracting women to our team is a key part of our recruitment strategy.
At ESO, we are committed to using unbiased job descriptions and have taken a more proactive approach by having diverse interview panels. Our Company Vacation Policy recognizes and embraces that employees have diverse personal needs, beliefs and interests. Instead of mandating days off, we encourage our employees to choose days off that are meaningful to them and their families. It’s what matters to the individual that matters.
We also engaged a leading Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging (DIB) consultancy to conduct a global survey of our employees to get a real sense of what the opinions and experiences of our employees.
But there is still a lot to do. To close the gap, we must work together as an industry. We need to take an honest look at our industry and ask ourselves if we are one where women feel valued. We must take positive action to remedy whatever we find. We must ensure that we continue to proactively communicate the many entry points into technology careers – from work experience for schoolchildren, year-long internships for university students, to apprenticeships for those are looking for an alternative to university, or for those who want to change careers.
We need to consider whether a third level qualification is necessary for each technical role. It is valuable – yes. Is it essential? Not always. Additionally, various roles are offered across the industry – from project managers to communications managers, not to mention all support functions such as finance, legal, sales, marketing and HR – extending way beyond engineers and developers, and we need to do more to get that message across.
People managers, recruiters and founders need to keep this front and center to ensure we are all doing our part to close the gap for good.
:: Carole Callender is senior people experience manager at ESO (www.eso.com)