Four years from the last Women in Technology Survey, a new report has revealed that women are still facing less support from HR departments than from line managers and colleagues
The new survey, carried out by Women in Technology, a career site and recruitment service dedicated to increasing the number of women working and achieving in IT, and Intellect, the trade association for the UK’s technology sector, found that when asked to rate the support they received as a female employee, respondents saw HR departments as the least supportive area. Only 36 percent rated them as good or excellent – three percent down from the 2007 figure. This compares poorly with other groups such as line management (47 percent); direct boss (55 percent); colleagues (60 percent) and juniors (47 percent). Worryingly, over a quarter of respondents ( 27 percent) rated HR departments’ support as ‘poor’ or non-existent.
Traditionally, HR departments have been instrumental in devising and implementing quality retention initiatives but according to the survey, it seems that resources have not always been spread equally: “HR are very jobs-worths’ & don’t seem capable of tailoring things to an individual”, said one respondent while another commented one. “HR is the worst for understanding the needs of women with families. In my experience, the HR departments were the least likely to support or innovate flexible policies for women in technology careers”. Said another.
There were also concerns that the technology industry provides progressive policies in theory but not in practice as highlighted by this respondent: “While flexible hours are a possibility it is not actively encouraged by management and seen as quite career limiting.” While another stated: “The company offers some flexibility but women taking up options of part time and flex type working undoubtedly suffer on the promotion stakes. They simply don’t get the recognition.”
Commenting on the results, Maggie Berry, Managing Director of Women in Technology said: “The big strides towards equality that we had hoped for after our last survey in 2007 have not yet happened – in fact in a lot of areas they have simply stood still.” However, Berry is keen to point out that women don’t want special treatment – far from it: “This isn’t about gender quotas and favourable treatment – there is a real business case for ensuring a gender balance in the workplace. Studies have shown time and time again that companies with women at board level outperform those without. It’s hard to believe that in 2011 we are still having to have this debate and HR departments need to ensure that initiatives to ensure equality are more than just a box ticking exercise.”