Supporting the Tech Talent Charter’s mission to foster a more inclusive tech industry
By Adam Parsons, Human Resources Director, Vodafone UK
The UK boasts a thriving tech sector that adds around £97 billion to our economy. That’s a 30% increase in five years, and the number of tech jobs is growing fast. Since eight of Europe’s top 20 universities are based here – a bigger share of academic expertise than any other European country – the UK is well-placed to supply the talent we need.
Where we can and must do more is in addressing the UK’s tech gender gap. The numbers are striking: although women make up almost half (47%) of the UK workforce, they comprise only 17% of IT specialists, and just 5% of leaders in the tech sector. These figures suggest opportunities to hire and retain women are being missed. Given that many tech employers face skills shortages in fields like science and engineering, it’s critical that we work together to tackle this issue.
At Vodafone, we want to play our part to support diversity and inclusion in the UK tech workforce. We’re working to provide more women with opportunities to join Vodafone and advance in their careers. At the same time, we want to collaborate with colleagues across the industry to drive greater diversity in the tech sector. That’s why Vodafone is proud to be a signatory to the Tech Talent Charter.
An employer-led initiative, the Charter aims to encourage companies employing tech talent to work together to address the gender gap in tech. Signatories of the Charter pledge to promote diversity by taking steps such as:
- Adopting inclusive attraction and recruitment processes, so that women are included on the shortlist for interviews wherever possible
- Ensuring that employment policies and practices support the development and retention of an inclusive and diverse workforce
- Working collectively with other signatories to develop, share and implement best practices to implement the aims of this Charter
As I’ll explain below, these are steps Vodafone has already begun to take. Here’s how Vodafone is supporting the Charter’s mission to foster a more inclusive tech industry.
Helping women return to work after a career break with ReConnect
Vodafone is working to recruit more women through initiatives like ReConnect. This is a programme aimed at returners – people on a career break who want to return to work. While open to all genders, ReConnect targets women, as they make up the majority of returners. Indeed, of the 2.1 million people currently out of the labour force due to their caring responsibilities, 89% are women.
As part of ReConnect, Vodafone holds regular events to attract and recruit returners. To kick off International Women’s Week we hosted a careers fair at our Newbury headquarters. Our Vodafone recruitment team welcomed more than 200 returners, along with national and local employers such as Pepsico, Reed, TSB Bank and West Berkshire Council. Experts from top job search sites were available to offer practical support – LinkedIn for example led a workshop on using social media to look for jobs, while Monster offered tips on how to present with confidence.
Supporting and retaining a diverse workforce
Having systems in place to ensure that our employment practices support a diverse workforce is a fundamental part of what we do. We constantly monitor, measure and evaluate our recruitment and interviewing processes to ensure that we’re attracting the best people, rather than the same group of people every time.
Sharing best practices with a Toolkit for employers
We’re also keen to share best practices with other organisations. This week we launched Returners: A toolkit for employers, a best practice guidebook designed for employers that want to design their own returner programmes.
Created with the Women’s Business Council and Government Equalities Office, this toolkit is based on guidance developed by Timewise and Women Returners. It provides useful advice on topics like what a successful programme looks like, how to attract and recruit candidates, how to support returners once they have been hired, and more. It also includes insights from returners and employers that have launched returner programmes, such as Golin and Enfield Council.
We look forward to working with our colleagues from across the sector as we move forward with initiatives to support a more diverse and inclusive tech workforce in the UK.