The main challenges for women leaders in digital transformation


Deloitte’s recent study on gender diversity entitled “Women in the boardroom: global perspective“ showed that only 19.7% of board positions worldwide were comprised of women. It is clear therefore that there is a long way to go before we see equity on a global scale. Current predictions suggest that we will achieve parity by 2045 which is over two decades away.


Digital needs innovative teams

The world of technology and digital transformation is innovative. We know that innovation comes from a diverse team so we cannot innovate at an industry level without shifting the landscape of our leadership teams and bringing in alternate perspectives. The need for transparency and accountability alongside metrics reporting and data is central to affecting any kind of change in tech companies. There will need to be cohesive strategies and programs developed around recruiting, retaining talent, and promoting to build on the growing numbers of women in tech. Initiatives such as establishing mentorship programs and development opportunities or steps that still need to be taken by businesses.

Awareness and data

In the first instance businesses and organisations need to increase their awareness that this is an issue and a challenge that they must meet. This starts with having data on the profile and make-up of their team and particularly those at the board level. What the executive team looks like is the starting point but that is where change starts to filter down. Once an organisation has a sense of where women sit within it and what role they play, this provides a baseline to then develop proactive strategies. If it is agreed that the number of women leaders in digital transformation needs to increase, then HR and talent acquisition must be able to evidence the recruitment process is fair and can show that they have actively sought to change this.


Change for girls and young women

Change arguably needs to be affected sooner than in the workplace. PwC has carried out research on A-level and university students that demonstrates the gender gap exists at the education level and this pattern continues through various stages of girls’ and women’s lives. The research suggests that women need to reimagine their future. Simply put women don’t consider careers in technology because it’s not been given as an option, and they don’t have access to information on the sector. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy because, without female role models in this industry, the perception that technology isn’t for women is reinforced. This will require a well-thought-through and considered strategy that changes what women in technology look like and then actively seeks to re-educate young girls about the options available to them.

The stats speak for themselves:

  • 3% of women name technologies as their first choice
  • 78% of students can’t name a famous woman working in technology
  • 16% of women have had a career in technology suggested to them (33% of males)
  • 5% of leadership positions in the technology sector are held by women

It will require an active change in recruiting, mentorship and promotion of women working within digital transformation and those same organisations to start working with schools and FE establishments to change the perceptions and prospects for women in the digital sector.