Women in technology: Celebrating the importance of Gender Diversity in the business

International Women's Day

By William Harris, Group Chief Digital Officer

In this post I look at Equity vs Equality and call out some of the amazing Women in the IQ-EQ team.

Ahead of this year’s International Women’s Day I wanted to pen an article about the team in the Digital office and celebrate some of the women who make a big difference to our firm and contribute to our industry.

Frances Ruth Arce, Digital Business Analyst in the Philippines who has been at the forefront of process analysis to feed the engine of our automation machine, without her input we’d not be as advanced in our flagship program.

Myrtle Glo Oliquino joined us last year as our Governance and Administration Officer who has the not unsubstantial task of keeping us all true to our mission and projects. Her ability to organise the rabble and ensure we’re all holding to task is critical to our continued success. Her clinical like accuracy and attention to detail are contributing to our continued Digital Transformation efforts.

Jennifer Murphy, Digital Project (Delivery) Manager in the Digital office joined us two years ago as a project analyst as an FTC and has impressed the entire business since. She is now a full-time Project/Delivery Manager sitting over one of our most important projects, Content Services, as well as being responsible for much of the work onboarding two of our leading clients. Her tenacity to face challenges head on and identify novel ways of solving for them has allowed these complex projects to progress even when facing challenging landscapes.

Without these women our Digital capability would be much less advanced than it is, they have been critical in driving automation, digital and governance across the global office and are key elements of our global team.

Beyond the Digital Team we have made some high-profile female hires in the recent months, our Group COO (Joanna Macleod) Group CCO (Emma Crabtree) and Group CPO (Caroline Bagshaw) all had good press coverage of their appointments and are truly driving our business forwards. I’d like to call out a couple other women in our team who may be less known to the wider group.

Eloise Collins, our Marketing Officer in London, is driving our thinking in how to market our Digital capability. Her creative capability and absolute drive is helping create new ways of engaging and driving forwards knowledge of our Group. Watch this space for some exciting announcements soon! (I ‘m looking forward to the day on set!)

Tracy Tsang, our Internal Communications Manager, is a driving force in creating compelling material and sharing information across the Group. One of the hardest things to do is share knowledge. Mark Hurd, previous CEO of Hewlett Packard said “If HP knew what HP knew, we would be twice the size” – If Tracy were at HP they would have been far closer to achieving that goal! Rarely a day goes by where we don’t see something that Tracy has had a hand in creating.

There are so many more fantastic women in our Group, I don’t have enough space to list them all, to everyone in the team, thank you for everything you do!

I’d also like to talk more broadly about Women in Tech and how we can encourage more women into the field of advanced technology.

30% of the employed Digital office are women, that statistic drops significantly when we include our outsourced arrangements with suppliers as they are male dominated (they too are working hard to close the gap!). A key desire of mine in the role of Chief Digital Officer is to ensure we improve our gender diversity. Not only is this the right thing to do culturally but I believe the savvy thing to do from a pure business lens. If we surround ourselves with people who think like us, look like us, act like us, then we fail to leverage all the great things that happen when we challenge our own ideas and prejudices. Creating diverse environments affords us different ways of thinking and allows innovation to breed. My view is that perfect harmony, often stylised as several people with the same goals, objectives, methods etc., is actually bad for a team. We should celebrate differences and create a safe space of ‘positive disagreement’. The heat generated by the friction of debate will spark the flame of innovation. It’s not what we’ve in common that drives us forward, but what we have apart.

There is much research in the market that shows a diverse organisation performs better and drives higher employee retention levels. This isn’t about being ‘woke’, it’s about fully realising that the things that make us different also make us great. Words need to turn to action and we at IQ-EQ are certainly putting our rhetoric into action! I am very proud to work in this team and witnessing what we do for gender equality. Our recently released “launchpad” product now has it’s first client and is specifically designed to help women launching their first fund. There is very little else like it in the industry.

The digital office has so far had 0% attrition since it’s inception in April 2021, something I’m very proud of. That said, I’m aware it will not stay at this level forever.

The team feel enabled, empowered and happy in their roles (or so I am told!) Much of this, I believe, is to do with our openness to our differences and how we embrace opposing views and use these views to build better outcomes. Our backgrounds, including our gender and ethnicity, make up who we are. Embracing different ways of working and thinking have allowed us to grow a global team and work together to spot blind spots. This is one of the great things about IQ-EQ culture that attracted me to the role and something I am constantly trying to perpetuate through the whole of the Digital office

We are currently recruiting two developers in Ireland and have plans to bring on several more roles across the Digital space in the coming months. Whilst I do not agree with quotas (I won’t for instance mandate that 60% of roles are filled with women) I do agree with positive impact and equity not equality. Equality means treating everything the same at the input, equity is driving to have an equal output. The below is a famous image demonstrating this:

As such, when we launch our recruitment campaign for graduate talent I have asked us to focus on Higher Education institutions with higher volumes of women with the intent to attract more applications from female candidates and increasing the likelihood of making a female hire. We need not quota the output to make a difference, often we need to change our thinking at the base/input level.

We’re also reviewing what skills we truly care about, traditionally Digital has been focussed on Physics, Maths, Computer Science etc. and whilst universities are working hard to reduce the gender gap in these courses, they’re still male dominated. Core skills required by any digital team include psychology, sociology, marketing, design, courses with a much better gender mix. By valuing these skills as much as the pure scientific skills will allow us to drive a dynamic and diverse workforce, in turn leading to a truly differentiating offering. Our job specs will look different to typical digital job spec, valuing the soft skills that are often lacking in pure technical teams and allowing us to move away from our usual safe haven of those male dominated courses.

I, along with all of the leadership across the IQ-EQ Group believe that gender equality is not only a good thing, it is the right thing and leadership are required to drive this change.

The topic of diversity in the workplace is close to my heart. I’m currently studying for my Doctor of Business Administration at the University of the West of England (UWE), Bristol and have access to some of the leading feminist researchers in the country. Diversity is a core value of UWE and is engrained into my thesis (working) titled “The Impact of Applied Artificial Intelligence on Ethic and Gender Diversity in the Financial Services Sector”. Outside of work I spend hours researching the topic of ethical AI. How we apply these technologies is equally as important as how we build these technologies. This research is being brought to life through our digital endeavours, witnessing the impact of technology on the workforce and being able to understand where we need to take corrective action before the effects are seen, allowing us to further support ethnic and gender diversity in our business.

I’m passionate about this subject and happy to engage in any conversation around it, if you’d like to discuss any aspect of it please feel free to reach out. Thank you for taking the time to read this article.