Inclusion is the key to true equality in tech firms, says Fujitsu boss
Having a 50% female workforce is only half the battle when it comes to achieving equality in the workplace, technology boss Regina Moran has said.
The CEO of Fujitsu UK and Ireland told business leaders at a gender conference that equality is not just a case of balancing numbers. Instead, women have to feel included in the workplace.
"Diversity is just kind of a numbers game," she said. "So you've got to where 30% of your workforce is female but the really tricky bit is inclusion - do people feel included? Do they feel that they have a voice and that their perspective is valued? And that's actually a cultural change that organisations have to make."
Fujitsu was named Business in the Community's Responsible Business of the Year this year.
And it has a target of achieving a 30% female workforce - considerably higher than the engineering sector's average of just 7%.
Ms Moran was speaking at an event, Gender Diversity: Promoting Good Practice in STEM Industries, last week.
The company has several diversity groups, including groups for disability, cultural diversity and a women's network, in a bid to encourage discussion and inclusion for lesser represented groups.
Ms Moran said: "Even though I don't like quotas, 30% is the figure that we are aiming for. I think that it takes a bit of both (quotas and fostering inclusion). If you don't have the people to begin with then it can't be a diverse workforce, but looking at the numbers by itself is just not enough. The hardest bit is the second bit, inclusion, and that goes across the whole diversity spectrum, not just for gender.
"A tag-line we use, which one of the diversity groups coined is, 'We believe in the power of difference to make a better future for everyone'.
"The inclusion point is for anyone sitting around the table, regardless of ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, whether they have a disability or not, or mental illness, that they feel that they are a valued person in the context of the group and that they can make a valued contribution."
Ms Moran - who began her career as an engineer and worked her way up through the ranks of Fujitsu - said embracing diversity could pay dividends for businesses too, as a wider talent pool could lead to more creativity and a wider choice of professionals.
She also emphasised the need to inspire women from as young as five to seven years "when kids don't believe there are any barriers".
"We need to ignite the desire in very young children, first of all to follow that route to study, so you have to start very young," she said.
"The trouble with the way the education system flows is once you've checked out and taken a different path, it's very hard to change paths. At that age they think anything is possible but then teachers and the education system and the media get in the way of that and change their perceptions."