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Scotland's newest game: outsourcing

  • 11 Jun 2021 12:24
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As a Government inquiry, headed by Lord Davies, former trade minister and past CEO of the Standard Chartered bank, is looking at why there are so few women on the boards of UK-listed companies whose report will be published later this month, Scotland Women in Technology (SWiT) group held its second Glasgow-focused conference on the importance of education, sponsorship and mentoring to encourage women to enter and succeed in technology.

The encouraging result of Lord Davies enquiry could be an increase the number of women in boardrooms – or even UK blue chip companies facing imposed quotas and being given two years to raise the proportion of female directors.

Scottish business organisations pay lip-service to welcoming efforts to increase the numbers of women directors, but some questio the need for forced measures.

European countries may considering quotas to tackle low levels of women in boardrooms, but Lord Davies is relaxed on the issue and expected to reject an immediate imposition of quotas instead offering an across-the-board target for FTSE companies – only resorting to quota impositions if that move does not work.

The Herald reports his steering committee considering a target of between 15% and 30%. Percentage of women directors in FTSE 100 companies has almost doubled from 6.9% to 12.5% over the past decade, 79 firms have having at least one token female executive. But the percentage has stayed static over the past three years.

The European Commission is also considering moves to impose quotas if a planned voluntary code does not succeed. Norway already has a 40% quota and Germany, France and Spain are also introducing or considering quotas.

The Institute of Directors Scotland and CBI Scotland are traditionally opposed to artificial means of promoting the cause of women,  as are Corporate Connections in Glasgow and Reform Scotland, the independent think-tank on the economy.

Launched in September last year, SWiT also has made no comment as to whether it prefers targets or quota, but it is made up of influential senior female executives in Scotland representing Cisco, Dell, Hewlett-Packard (HP), IBM and Scottish Enterprise with its goal to attract inspire, empower and retain women in the technology industry by developing a network to help grow their contribution in the IT business, though encouraging women into such arcane technologies such as biotech, power, electronics, manufacturing and materials are not included in its goals.

Women still account for less than 20% of the workforce in science, engineering and technology in Scotland despite the claimed flexibility, career and economic opportunities available to employees in the sector.

The SWiT group is taking as its prefered route to success in developing a school mentoring programme that encourages women to choose a career in technology.

The group will be taking non-partisan workshops for boys as well as girls in a number of schools to encourage careers in IT and build the programme, with schools including Inverclyde Academy, Greenock; St Columba's High School, Gourock; St Stephen's High School, Port Glasgow; Caldervale High School, Airdrie; and Park Mains High School, Erskine, reaching out to almost 750 young people.

The group plans to extend workshops over time to other schools.   A number of senior female pupils from the schools visited during February have been invited to attend today’s event at Dell. 
Maggie Morrison, recently joined HP as head of public sector networking for the UK and Ireland following a 14 year global career with Cisco, was keynote speaker at the conference, focusing on her personal job progression, what she has learned and the role that mentors have played in shaping her career.

"Having studied French and German I was not an obvious candidate for a career in IT. In fact, I fell into it by accident but very soon became impassioned by the impact technology can have on the world in which we live - never more apparent than it is now.

"During my career with organisations like Cisco and 3Com I have been fortunate enough to combine my other passions - travelling and languages - with my work living in France, Germany, Switzerland, The Netherlands and the USA.

"SWiT performs a very important role in giving women a platform and a forum to learn, network and share ideas on what is possible in IT and to make informed decisions about future career choices. Mentoring has and always will be important to me especially now as I embark on the next stage of my own career in Scotland."

Said Ishbell MacPhail, internal sales direct and Dell Scotland deputy site leader:  "The feedback we received from members that are involved is that young women today often aren’t exposed to examples of women reaching senior roles in the IT industry. They often don’t know enough about what the industry has to offer and automatically don’t consider IT as a career option.

There were also be presentations from (left) Corinne Buivenga, UK&I Country Manager, Global Parts Supply Chain at Hewlett-Packard (HP) on SWiT’s involvement in educating youth on opportunities in the technology industry. This followed by a panel discussion on the importance of mentoring, coaching &  sponsorship including participants from IBM, ScotlandIS, HP, Kynesis, ThinkTank and Scottish Enterprise.

[Someone needs to urge a good photographic portfolio of Scottish women in technology and business, because compared to those available for men, the position from Scottish Enterprise upwards and downwards is absolutely dire!]

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