The Prime Minister's plans to force firms to publish average salaries of male and female employees has been met with reluctance from many within the private sector but it has kept the spotlight firmly on diversity and talent within British business.
Within the technology sector, this continued focus from government and business leaders is vital to address the single biggest challenge facing the digital economy – talent.
Yes, there are some logistical elements to iron out. As the CBI stated, the audits could be ‘misleading’ given that the pay gap could be down to the fact that men and women are doing different jobs in the organisation.
However, the point of this change is to demonstrate the pay gap between men and women doing the same job – particularly at a senior level.
As Kate Grussing, managing director of Sapphire Partners, pointed out earlier this week the lack of momentum of women gaining executive roles remains a huge challenge, with only five women chief executives in the FTSE 100.
The level of scrutiny proposed by Cameron will finally put the pressure on businesses to pay both sexes equally. Salary will no longer be dependent on an individual’s ability to aggressively negotiate, but on the role they have been hired to do.
The fact that salaries will be transparent should help to encourage more women into the workforce and nowhere is this needed more than in the London’s technology sector.
A survey Tech London Advocates distributed last month revealed that one in four (23 per cent) of companies in London’s tech community employ no women at board level. In fact, as Baroness Lane Fox noted: “There is a greater proportion of women in the House of Lords than in British tech companies”.
The tech sector is in vital need of a steady stream of new talent: experts predict that by 2020 we will suffer from a shortage of 300,000 digital experts and 70 per cent of the Tech London Advocates feel this is holding back London’s tech sector growth.
Bringing more women into the heart of the technology sector would mobilise an underutilised pool of talent. This would have an enormous benefit for the tech industry, as well as the UK economy as a whole.
While the government can implement nationwide policies that accelerate the process, a fundamental change in the diversity of the workforce within technology must be driven by the private sector.