In the worldwide race for tech supremacy, the UK stands a real chance of being a digital technology leader. As of 2018, 2.1 million people are employed in the country’s tech sector, signalling a change in work habits and the structure of workplaces.
However, to reap the benefits of this situation, the tech industry must face its most pressing challenge – a lack of diversity and inclusion. A hot topic issue for the last decade, the tech sector’s attitude to diversity and inclusion has generated much discussion. Schemes and plans have been put into place to tackle various issues including, inclusive boardrooms and entry-level STEM career paths designed for girls and women.
Such measures are welcome because the tech industry is globally known for its “bro culture.” Successful businesses, mainly populated by men, with lengthy histories of pernicious and unhealthy biases.
One of these biases is the industry’s attitude to gender. Women tend to be an afterthought in most tech companies. This is plain to see in the positions that they hold and the pay that they earn. The pandemic has rendered women 1.8 times more likely to lose their jobs than men. So, pay matters a great deal.
The UK is no exception to this description. The country’s technology industry faces a pretty serious diversity and inclusion challenge. It is no help either that at the policy level, the government’s approach to immigration currently only serves to hinder efforts to meet the requirements for inclusive workplaces. Successful participation in the global digital sector necessarily depends on having a workforce that is diverse and inclusive.
Gender wage inequality
Ideally, the tech industry should be a leader in equal pay for women. Contributions by women in tech are extensive at worst and game-changing at best. Tech employees in the UK, for example, can reasonably expect to earn wages up to 36% higher than wages in other sectors in the country.
Yet, in 2020, for the same job at the same business, men were presented with higher salary offers than women 59% of the time. Even though both genders apply for the same job – and display the same skill set – women still wound up earning as much as 28% less than men.
Lower salaries for women have various effects, including a detrimental effect on retirement income.
Tech Gender Pay Gap and Pensions for Women
Unequal pay necessarily translates to inequality in pensions. About 26 years ago, the percentage of female board directors on The Times “Top 200” companies was a meagre 6%. It stands to reason that there would be a massive disparity in pensions. In the UK, a study found that men’s pension pots were easily 51% higher than women’s pensions.
Women cannot afford to have lower pensions right now. In terms of life expectancy, women tend to outlive men by at least five years. Women’s pensions must catch up. Since women live longer, their retirements will be longer, meaning higher expenses. The numbers are not that encouraging either. The average loss a woman experiences in pensions in one lifetime is roughly £106,000.
There are some ways to remedy the decreased pension contributions caused by women earning less than men in the same tech roles. To avoid potentially unwanted shocks during retirement, women can begin now – it’s never too late – to increase their monthly pension contributions. Either by making voluntary deposits or by speaking to their employers about potentially matching their workplace pension contributions.
We are all quite forgetful, even to the point of forgetting “free” money. According to the Association of British Insurers (ABI), absentminded employees have left roughly £19.4 billion of pension money. That is, 1.6 million pension pots, averaging about £13,000 per pot, have been unclaimed. Women seeking to address the gap in their pensions might want to look into hunting down pensions from past positions held.
Tech-wide Diversity Solutions
Unfortunately, the dismal diversity and inclusion statistics are not enough to sway most tech companies into making critical changes. The makeup of tech directorship in British tech companies, for example, is distinctly male, and it has been that way since 2000. Quite an oddity since the country has a real need for diversity – there is room for at least 518,000 extra workers in the country’s digital sector. The best way to fill this lacuna is to address the gender wage gap and reeducate the tech industry regarding stereotypes, biases, and discrimination.
Perhaps fiscal motivation might cause the tech industry to shed its old ways. There is a positive and essential correlation between a company’s bottom line and the gender of its directors. It is worth the tech industry’s time to give this matter some consideration.
Overall, having a tech-centric perspective is what determines success in the tech sector. It doesn’t matter if one is male or female. Skills do not discriminate. Additionally, the situation with women’s lower wages is an opportunity for financial companies. They can provide targeted fiscal knowledge to women, empowering them as they go about their daily work.
Ultimately, the onus is on tech companies themselves to change their attitude towards diversity. By offering more attractive workplaces, they display a proactive stance instead of merely waiting for the minority population to speak up.