How Leidos is encouraging more women into tech roles
The UK has one of the most active and innovative technology sectors in the world, having created over 85,000 enterprises, with many raising a combined near-record £24 billion last year. These businesses employ more than three million people, and Leidos is proud to play a significant role in the industry.
However, despite the success, the tech sector faces two large challenges. Firstly, there is a shortage of suitably tech-skilled people to fill the demand of this growing industry. Secondly, recent diversity studies have found that under a third of UK tech company employees are women, and just 22% of senior tech roles are held by gender minorities.
Given the scale of this challenge, it’s perhaps little wonder that a 2019 study found that more than half of women who embark on a tech career have left the industry by age 35.
With tech remaining a critically important sector in the UK economy, and with the UK government making it clear this is one of the country’s growth areas, it has never been more important for companies to foster workplaces that are as inclusive as possible.
The good news is countless organisations continue to make great efforts and investment to bolster the UK’s tech skills, particularly for women, and the gap is closing. At the recent London Tech Week, which Leidos UK took an active role in, it was clear we are already making huge strides forward – and Leidos is leading the way with those efforts to encourage more women into the tech sector.
During London Tech Week, our UK Vice President and Director of Human Resources, Alison Noon-Jones, joined several roundtables to discuss these topics with many likeminded organisations, including the Tech Talent Charter (of which Leidos UK is a member alongside 700 other leading British companies focussed on making their workplaces more inclusive) and Code First Girls (a group working tirelessly to help more women into tech roles).
Reflecting on the event and how we can connect more women with tech roles at Leidos and across the industry, Alison commented:
“At Leidos we are working each day to provide our talented female workforce the tools they need to thrive. We are also investing in career returner initiatives to encourage those who have left the industry to retrain and return to the sector.”
Alison added: “While we are moving firmly in the right direction, we can and are doing more to turbocharge getting women into tech. This includes being active members of groups like the Tech Talent Charter, Inclusive Employers and Women in Defence, providing courses and programmes to help women join and stay in Leidos, and securing funding for training and internal mentoring.”
Karen Blake, COO of Tech Talent Charter, said:
“If we are to make a difference in the fight for better gender diversity in tech, we must go beyond “just hire more women”. Tech workers are looking for companies that understand their desires around career development, flexibility, work-life balance, family forming, wellbeing and inclusion. Leidos are really working to support their people in this way.
We have a fantastic opportunity to grow the tech talent pipeline by tapping into new sources of talent and harnessing the skills already available, but businesses need to be informed on what this looks like in practice for their talent strategy. Our new Diversity for Tech Leaders report sets the bar for what it takes to attract, develop and retain women in tech, based on the efforts of hundreds of companies like Leidos going through these challenges right now.”
Sophie Blinkhorn, COO at Code First Girls, said:
“It was great to join Tech Talent Charter and Leidos at London Tech Week to discuss how important it is for women, particularly those who may never have considered a career in STEM, to break into and progress in the tech industry.
As the UK continues to build its reputation as a global centre of excellence for defence, a diverse workforce will be the key to companies having a competitive edge, ensuring continued innovation and creative solutions.
By partnering with businesses, government and universities to provide employment through free education, our pioneering model is working to close the gender inequality gap in tech and grow the tech talent pipeline.”