The truth is, we shouldn’t need the hashtag #BreakTheBias to exist to have a dialogue around gender diversity and inequality in business. 

Yet, as we pause to celebrate International Women’s Day, I appreciate the prompt to remind people to think about their opportunities in more depth. 

For me, ‘Breaking the Bias’ is about creating safe spaces where we are actively challenging the status quo to educate those with misaligned thinking. Throughout my career, I’ve seen the world change enough to recognise that women not only have an important voice but offer valuable contributions to our societies. 

I resolutely believe all businesses should do more to understand gender bias in work environments, particularly in tech. 

The voices in our offices, boardrooms and labs need greater diversity, especially to generate more innovative thinking. Celebration and education are needed to create an environment where women want to join and, more importantly, stay. 

We need to show women that their work, contributions, and value are seen and appreciated because they were overlooked and made to feel like a token for too long. I have sat in rooms where I was expected to take notes rather than contribute, and it pushed my female colleagues and me to work twice as hard to prove we belonged there on our merits – something I know many professionals in the BAME community also still battle to do. 

International Women’s Day: ‘There aren’t enough women in senior tech roles’

As a female leader in the tech industry, I have been approached about dealing with a few uncomfortable situations in my time. At these times, I have tried to act as an advisor and confidant to any colleague on navigating this type of instance. 

When approaching any situation of bias, I believe education is far more valuable a tool than sensationalism. Helping to educate gives perspective and understanding to a difficult situation, rather than leading to any form of confrontation that could cause more harm. 

The role of education is something we look to target with our diversity and inclusion networks at CGI. We are always looking for ways to empower our employees, encouraging them to use their voices to demand change by creating an atmosphere and environment that encourages these discussions. 

We have numerous networks where colleagues can collaborate and have open and transparent conversations with one another; spaces where they can share tips on vital working practices, all of which is shared with the rest of the business. From BAME to Menopause networks, our Diversity & Inclusion groups are led by people with relevant life experiences as they are our best teachers. 

Ultimately, if an organisation wants to call itself inclusive, if it really wants to break those biases, you have to empower your employees with the correct tools and freedom to make change a reality. 

That’s not to say the tech industry hasn’t come a long way over the last few decades. While I have felt tokenistic in the past, I certainly no longer feel like a novelty, and I don’t believe my female colleagues do either. Our industry’s flexibility is what pushes it forward as it cultivates innovation, allowing it to flourish and foster an environment where both women and men can thrive. 

In fact, in some ways, the pandemic aided the levelling out of a gendered work-life balance across many industries. Two years ago, domesticity was still predominantly female led; now, more men can participate in home life. Childcare no longer has a female expectation.

All in all, from a gender perspective, this change in work-life balance has been positive. Previously, women may have resisted promotional opportunities thinking it meant long days, or more travelling, encroaching on family life. Yet, with more and more people working from home or adopting a hybrid model, women have an equal platform to develop their potential. 

I’m thrilled to see that being directly reflected in the number of women actively putting themselves forward for promotion. There is no need to choose between being home for the family or doing a two-hour commute each day because working is more accessible. 

What’s more, from a junior and graduate-level perspective on gender diversity, the industry is beginning to crack it; I know at CGI, at times, we have more female candidates than male candidates. The challenge we still face is experience, so we need to watch these women, and closely monitor how many continue to move on and up into senior roles. 

We can reach 100m patients by championing inclusivity

As it stands, while we actively seek candidate pools with a diverse range of backgrounds, when it comes to senior positions where you need 10 plus years of experience, the numbers just aren’t there. 10 or 20 years ago, there weren’t as many women in the tech industry, and it is reflected at that higher level now. 

Ultimately gender diversity and diversity and inclusion on any level should be considered a business obligation. My advice to women will always be, do not undersell yourself, your strengths make you valuable, and a good employer will work with you to become stronger in any area you feel less confident in. 

My advice to the tech industry is to keep diversifying. Tech impacts all businesses and sectors, and as it continues to expand, we will continue to need more diverse thinking behind it.