UK telcos pledge support for women in telecoms


The UK communications regulator Ofcom and seven of the country’s largest telecoms firms have today jointly committed to better supporting women in the industry to attain senior leadership positions

The gender imbalance in the telecoms industry is well established, with a stark disparity in the number of men and women in senior tech positions. Promoting gender equality has risen up the agenda for telecoms organisations in recent years, with various initiatives being put in place across the country, but progress remains in desperate need of acceleration.

Now, Ofcom and seven of the country’s largest telecoms operators – BT, Sky, TalkTalk, Openreach, Three, Virgin Media O2 (VMO2), Vodafone – have signed a pledge to improve this situation, committing to supporting the career development of more women within the sector.

Here is the pledge in full:

We are committed to increasing the senior representation of women in technology-based roles in the telecoms sector over the next three years; and to increase the overall representation of women in our sector.
We will invest our efforts in attracting and retaining women in our organisations, creating inclusive environments for them to excel and be their best.
As an industry we will come together annually to share good practice and showcase, to the outside world, our talented women in technology in the telecoms sector.
We will publish information on the impact our initiatives have made on our collective ambitions as well as against the diversity and inclusion strategies of our respective organisations. We aim to publish information on our initiatives, so we may inspire others in the sector.

As you can see, these commitments are fairly vague – it would have been nice to see some more concrete targets agreed for the end of the three-year period, for example. Nonetheless, this represents a step in the right direction, encouraging collaboration to solve one of the telecoms industry’s biggest social challenges.

“Having a diverse workforce is crucial to the success of any organisation. It drives creativity, innovation and ensures we as employers attract the skills we need from the widest possible pool. But for too many women, climbing that career ladder in a male-dominated industry can be a real challenge,” said Dame Melanie Dawes, Ofcom Chief Executive.

“We want the telecoms industry, including us at Ofcom, to lead the way in changing that. So it’s great to see so many companies getting behind this pledge, and committing to helping more women launch long-lasting and rewarding technology careers. We look forward to working together to achieve this.”

As you might imagine, most of the companies signing this pledge took the opportunity to highlight their individual successes and goals in this area. Sky pointed out that they had doubled female representation in their technology team since 2017, TalkTalk noted the creation of the North West Women in Tech awards; VMO2 highlighted its involvement in various projects to encourage women into STEM careers, while Three said it had already committed to a 50/50 gender split in leadership roles by 2030.

Ofcom invites other telecoms companies from across the sector to take the pledge and support the initiative.

How can we improve female representation throughout the UK telecoms sector? Join the telecoms ecosystem in discussion at this year’s Connected Britian conference

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