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International Women's Day 2020: An Interview with Clare Cooper

Posted in March 2020

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​The race is on for a gender equal workforce throughout the technology sector. According to the Office for National Statistics, women currently account for only 16.8% of workers in the UK’s tech sector, with the Inclusive Tech Alliance calculating that close to one million women must be recruited into the sector to reach gender parity. Clare Cooper, Head of Glocomms, Europe, and an executive director at Phaidon International, discusses the unique position that recruiters play in furthering gender equality in the technology sector.

Is gender equality a topic that often comes up in conversations with candidates and companies?

Yes, ten years ago when I started out in technology recruitment gender equality was often an afterthought, but nowadays it is certainly a topic that is at the forefront of conversation. Having lived in four different tech hubs now (New York, San Francisco, London and Berlin), there is one consistent theme - everyone is aware that there is a shortage of female technology talent. However, there is some disparity in how companies across the sector approach the issue. While some companies have well developed strategies to attract (and retain) female talent, other companies simply do not know where to begin.

Likewise, for candidates it is definitely an important topic. Now, we will often have candidates (both male and female) ask us questions such as, "What are the client's diversity goals?", "How many females do they have within the technology team?" etc. These were questions that were rarely asked 5 years ago, so the landscape has really shifted.

What role can recruiters play in creating an equal world?

As recruiters, it is essential that we educate our clients on the value of diversity. Often I find that companies know that diversity is important, but not all are aware of the research behind it and the business case as to why. I also think it is important for us to share ideas with clients about what schemes and initiatives work well in other businesses we partner with. As recruiters, we have a unique insight into so many different organizations and we need to do our part in sharing this knowledge.

Lastly, it goes without saying that we must do our best to ensure that we ourselves are proactive in sourcing diverse talent for our clients, avoiding unconscious bias, and helping our clients achieve their diversity goals.

What advice would you give to a company trying to create a diverse hiring strategy?

There is a lot that can be done but my top five tips to start with are:

  1. Set clear diversity goals (i.e. by 2022, we want 50% of our technology team to be female)

  2. Take a long term and strategic approach

  3. Ensure your culture supports diversity (i.e. can you offer flexible working hours?)

  4. Network and build partnerships with non profits or meetups groups that support diversity

  5. Remove unconscious bias in hiring process (through education, training or tools)

Currently based in Berlin, Clare Cooper is an executive director at Phaidon International and oversees Glocomms, Europe. Get in touch with Clare to discover how to build a diverse hiring strategy.

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