Capacity Media Q&A: Anna Flach, Global Marketing Director at BSO on championing diversity & inclusion_
The Capacity Media magazine held a digital sponsored Q&A session with Anna Flach, BSO's Global Marketing Director. The interview can also be found on the Capacity Magazine website.
1. What is the current D&I state of play in the telco and tech industries today?
Technology companies do great things to better the everyday lives of people: from revolutionising the ways we work, to the ways we switch off, through to how we connect and communicate with one another. This has never been more apparent than during the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, this same drive and innovative spirit that has facilitated these accomplishments must now be harnessed to meet the challenge of gender diversity and inclusion. Tech is so innovative and forward thinking and yet very few women are found. Despite global conversations about gender diversity in tech, women are still underrepresented, underpaid, and often discriminated against in the tech industry, numbers show.
Only 5% of senior leadership roles within the UK technology industry are held by women, according to a recent research report by PwC. The wider figures for the industry aren’t much better, with women comprising just 17% of tech workers, a figure that has remained relatively stagnant for almost a decade. This being despite a concerted push from both private businesses and government organisations to introduce more women into the technology and tech industries. Something I saw first-hand as well when working in the financial services industry.
2. How is BSO championing D&I and what initiatives or programmes are in place to empower female employees?
There are numerous studies that clearly show how harnessing diversity in an inclusive environment improves the workplace and results. Despite the case being stronger and clearer than ever, many companies’ progress has stalled. BSO’s diverse workforce is the key to our growth and success as a business.
We respect and leverage our differences, one of our key leadership principles and values that help us to create a unique and personal customer experience. We are very passionate about gender equality. The telecoms and tech industries are very male dominated, so we really value the amazing women who contribute to our success story every single day. There is still a lot to do in the telecoms space: many still struggle to include women in the conversation. And when they do, they don’t get the same airtime.
At BSO, we choose our people based on their expertise, attitude and emotional intelligence. Our people are all incredible selfstarters who are passionate about technology and our customers and that’s all that matters. We promote an open, honest and inclusive working culture to establish a sense of belonging. As a company, we have also reviewed our hiring process to be more inclusive and tackle unconscious biases.
3. How can companies actively attract a millennial/Gen-Z workforce to our industry?
Mentoring and inspiring the next generation whilst giving them the tools to succeed is paramount. Women are underrepresented in STEM careers and I often hear women say they can’t work in tech because ‘they’re not technical’.
Some young people fear joining a tech company because of this. However, there are many important non-technical roles too and some exciting careers in marketing, sales, commercial roles, operations, etc. The majority of people aren’t engineers or coders but there are lots of different roles and usually candidates have fantastic transferable skills, if only they knew it!
A shortage of female role models is another barrier. To get more females interested in technology as a viable career option we need to give them access to more role models at all levels. As a team leader myself, empowering women is an important part of my mission and I want all of them to succeed.
Millennials and Gen Z have less tolerance for pay gaps, inequality and glass ceilings in general and are seeking purpose driven employers.
At BSO, we have recently reworked our purpose and values to make sure we’re all aligned. Companies will really have to step up to attract future talent. More than eight out of 10 female millennials in the UK say they seek out employers with a strong record on diversity, equality and inclusion, according to PwC’s Women in Tech report.
Having said that, millennials are getting older and accepting leadership roles - I can say this as a millennial! Let’s see what Generation Alpha brings to the table.
4. What else can be done to overcome the D&I inequality within the industry?
In recent years, there has been amazing progress in shifting mindsets on D&I and leaders have moved from looking at it as a box-checking exercise to forming effective business strategies that drive real business outcomes.
Men at the top have to believe in and support their female employees, peers and managers when they see micro-sexism happening in business every day. Gaining the support not just from companies and associations but all individuals, including men, who can become powerful allies of change will help us to readdress the balance.
But let’s not forget diversity goes far beyond gender. The numerous business cases for gender, ethnic and cultural diversity in corporate leadership continue to strengthen. The most diverse and inclusive companies are now more likely than ever to outperform less diverse peers on profitability.