This week we were thrilled to partner with Propel London on a panel discussion for C-suite female executives at the Ivy Club. Propel recently brought out the 7th edition of their salary survey, so we used that as the basis for the discussion and focussed on women in tech salaries - employee engagement & wellbeing in particular. With a group of accomplished panellists, it was a thought-provoking and wide-ranging discussion. Our panellists, ably moderated by Melina Jacovou from Propel, were:
Liz Nottingham - Talent Director, Starcom Mediavest Group
Anna Rasmussen - Founder, Open Blend Method
Tracey Follows - Chief Strategy & Innovation Officer, The Future Laboratory
Jennifer Langdon - COO, Skimlinks
Deirdre McGlashan - Chief Digital Officer, Mediacom
Some of the key topics covered included:
Most companies operate in a very opaque manner, in that there is very little understanding about what contributes to a person’s salary. This often means that women suffer silently - there have been plenty of instances where they are paid less than men for the same or similar job, usually without their knowledge. Pay grades make this much clearer, and are a good way to ensure that all employees, whether male or female, are held to the same standards for promotions and salaries. This means that as many women will have the opportunity to rise through the ranks as men. An additional benefit of this is that men will get the chance to see women in senior roles, just as women do men - thereby normalising the idea of women becoming senior leaders.
Women form only 9% of engineering graduates in the UK. This is a problem when it comes to recruiting graduates in computer science and technology, and needs to be tackled at the source, because of course it then means there aren’t women to progress up the pipeline. There are a lot of organisations working on changing this, but we have a long distance to cover.
The cost of losing an employee ranges from 30 to 50% of the salary for a graduate, and 200 to 400% for senior roles. It also takes between 20 weeks and 7 months to fully on-board a new employee, which is another significant cost in terms of time. Companies need to therefore understand the cause of employee attrition to stem it as much as they can. This is often difficult because HR Managers today are often young and don’t necessarily have the experience needed to deal with this, in addition to the multiple issues they already probably deal with: payroll, recruitment and so on. But it is crucial for businesses to make sure that HR is supported enough to deal with this, to avoid costs later on.
The days when people worked a 9-to-5 job, went home and then turned up the following day at work are gone. Today people typically blend their work into their life, especially parents who may leave at 4pm but are back online working from 7 to 11pm when their children have gone to bed. Employees need to understand that it is not only OK to do what makes them work better, but that fellow colleagues aren’t necessarily less productive if they are not spotted sitting at their desk the whole day. This is often led by the people at the top, and includes taking sabbaticals where you qualify for one: Mediacom’s Chairwoman Karen Blackett is currently on sabbatical to be an example. It’s important for leaders to walk the talk if employees are to do the same - for their own good. Businesses need to also look at their policies and make sure they reflect the modern world, that they aren’t copy-pasting policies from the 1950’s. For example, most work contracts still specify 9-to-5 as working hours, when that is not reflective of what is needed or indeed wanted by employees.
Tracey Follows spoke about the kind of workplace that most young people (and to be honest, most creative people) gravitate towards these days: sociable, creative areas where people are allowed - encouraged, even - to engage in ‘mind-wandering’, where they can think and forge connections between various aspects of what they are working on. We’re also heading in the direction of the quantified workplace - the Atlantic may say it’s not here yet, but it’s coming. The quantified workplace collects information on interaction between employees in the workplace in different ways, with the aim of improving business. Tracey also mentioned, given we were discussing pay gaps, the future pay gap between humans and machines. Jobs that are likely to be less susceptible to machine take-over are anything to do with emotions and relationships, life sciences/biology (the good news is women naturally gravitate towards these, where they choose the sciences), and education.
Overall, it was an excellent morning. Thanks to Propel for working with us to host this breakfast event, and to our wonderful panellists!
Lastly, here’s a list of some of the things that were referenced at different points during the discussion:
Survey: Propel’s 7th salary survey
Methodology (used in Propel's survey): Open Blend Method
Book: Playing Big by Tara Mohr
Book: Mindfulness in the Workplace, with a chapter by Liz Notts
Film: Advantageous, sci-fi drama about a couple of women who face economic hardship in a new world of work
Organisation: Creative Equals, working for equality in the creative industry
Organisation: Working Families, working for work-life balance