In recent years, there has been countless reports on how diversity is great for business. From the boardroom to the IT department, the more diverse a company's workforce is the more likely it is to outperform less diverse peers on profit and staff retention. In fact, a 2019 analysis by Mckinsey finds that company's with higher gender diversity on their executive teams were 25% more likely to have above-average profitability than those without.
Yet, according to Seek, women are still under represented in Tech and related fields and make up less than one third of all technology jobs in Australia and less than 25% of IT jobs in developed countries. On top of that, over a third of women will leave technology jobs after ten years with “non-inclusive company culture" being cited as the primary reason for departure.
So, how can the business world address these gender gaps?
One Australian based firm, The Mantel Group is leading the way with a Women & Gender Minority Traineeship program. It's a rare approach in the technology sector that yields a high success rate for its trainees. Established in 2017 and focused on technology-led consulting, Mantel Group sees its main assets as its employees. But the competition from other big consulting firms and companies for tech professionals has meant that Mantel needs to be creative and innovative to attract and retain adequate employees.
The company's solution is (traditionally speaking) counterintuitive and has two sides. The first is to focus on candidates' soft skills instead of their technical knowledge. Kerry Callenbach, People and Culture Specialist at Mantel Group, explains: "During the recruitment process, we concentrate on identifying the traits of someone who is great at their job, particularly focusing on the soft skills, and then we build a learning support network around these recruits to upskill them with the relevant technical abilities once they have started. It has proven to be a highly successful approach to dealing with the technology talent shortage in our organisation. "Mantel had to create a culture that allows employees to invest time into training opportunities and strongly supports upskilling and reskilling.
The other strategy was to invest in selecting and retaining women and minority groups in its workforce. The process includes running a successful Women & Gender Minority Traineeship program. It's a rare approach in the technology sector. Only 26% of the technology workforce are female despite several national programs and initiatives to support more women in technology careers. A third of women leave the technology industry within ten years. Mantel's paid traineeship program for women and gender minority groups offers an opportunity to kickstart a career in technology through practical on-the-job experience blended with technology training and development workshops over nine weeks. "A principal element of the program is that there is potential for permanent employment after the program," said Kerry Callenbach. "We hire as many trainees as we have permanent roles, and, since inception, we've offered 96% of our female trainees a full-time role. These women bridge our talent gap and bring fresh perspectives to our workplace. They're bringing a wealth of experiences from previous roles and sought-after soft skills such as teamwork, communication and time management."
As we enter the recovery stage of the pandemic, businesses are going to have to work hard and come up with creative ways to maintain their talent to address skills gaps. Mantel Groups traineeship program shows that investing in people, especially women from varied backgrounds, is going to be key to solving this problem.
This case study originally appeared in our Ready, Set, Upskill: Fast track growth with digital skills research report which you can download here. This report provides fresh insights into the current and future impact of key disruptions on skill sets and talent shortages across Australia's occupational landscape in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.