Diversity can fuel the fires of continued digital innovation

Susan Bowen

May 15, 2017


I was recently invited by Westminster eForum to give a keynote presentation at their seminar: Women in the tech sector: education, company cultures and business benefits. My brief was to show that there is a commercial case for gender equality. Yes we may all agree that it is the right thing to do, but does gender equality make a business more profitable? Here is a brief summary of some of the key points that I was able to make during the presentation.

I am delighted to say, the answer is yes. I’ve got the stats and my own experience as the General Manager and VP of Cogeco Peer 1 to prove it. (Which is a good job because if the answer was no, this would have been be a very short and not very popular keynote speech.)

Here are 5 cold, hard, researched stats that demonstrate the ways in which gender equality gives businesses competitive advantage:

  • Researchers discovered that shifting from an all-male or all-female office to one split evenly along gender lines could increase revenue by roughly 41 percent. (Source: study from Journal of Economics and Management Strategy.)
  • Publicly traded companies with male-only executive directors missed out on £430bn of investment returns last year. (Source)
  • The Tech Sector accounts for 67% women-led businesses with 35% of the businesses growing 50% or more per annum. (Source: Sherry Coutu research)
  • Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians. (Source)
  • Studies reveal that gender diverse companies are 45% more likely to improve market share, achieve 53% higher returns on equity, and are 70% more likely to report successfully capturing new markets. (Source)

At Cogeco Peer 1, and at a personal level, we have a deep commitment to The Tech Talent Charter, endorsed by the Government’s Digital Strategy.

This is a set of guidelines developed to addresses the biases and issues faced by women in tech. It outlines key measures to encourage organisations to think differently in support of a more diverse tech workforce and puts forward best practice guidelines. At the heart of the charter is a commitment to change things in a real and practical way, providing materials, practices and support to enable signatories to achieve that change.

The USP of the charter is a genuine commitment to work towards a practical solution and a commitment to working with companies to deliver change in the sector. And let’s face it, no one is coming to save us. It falls to me, to you, and to everyone in this room to play their part. This starts with ensuring that job descriptions are appealing to all genders, that hiring panels choose diverse teams and that ewe allow them to flourish.

The issues it deals with are pressingly important. We have a national digital skills crisis; there are something like 600,000 vacancies in the tech sector forecast to rise to 1 million by 2020. We are simply creating more jobs than we can fill and we are having to skill for jobs that don’t yet exist. We need to take talent from all corners of the country.

We need to address this collectively and gender diversity is not only the right thing to do… it also makes absolute sound business sense. The bottom line  is that we simply need to find talent and we need to find it fast.

I was delighted to be able to participate in this seminar, to hear the ideas and aspirations of so many business leaders who are committed to improving gender diversity in the UK tech sector. I left feeling incredibly optimistic about the future of the tech industry, not least because gender equality is just the beginning. I am confident that gender diversity will lead to greater diversity across the board with under represented groups, who use and depend on the technology we power, taking a bigger role in the development of these technologies in the future.

Read the full article on my LinkedIN page.

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