As the digital revolution continues to drive significant changes in the financial services industry, financial firms absolutely must make sure they have technology expertise in the boardroom. Because gender parity continues to be a strategic imperative, firms must also make greater strides to drive gender parity at every level of the organisation, including the boardroom.

As I shared in my previous post, women with technology expertise present an excellent opportunity for firms to meet both objectives in one step by placing female technology experts on their boards. However, while we’re already seeing that females on corporate boards are more likely to have technology expertise than their male counterparts, and we know that women in the workforce recognise digital fluency as a path to gender parity, we should be concerned about indicators that female technological expertise is at risk.

For example, the number of female students pursuing STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) studies is declining. In 1985, women accounted for thirty-seven percent of the computer science degrees. The National Center for Education Studies now reports that figure has dropped to eighteen percent. While improving digital fluency on the job is a gender parity accelerator, it’s no substitute for turning out large numbers of potential workplace candidates who are already well equipped to lead in a technology-driven environment.

I believe developing the kind of technology expertise and related gender parity that financial firms, and the corporate world in general, will need going into the future must be a threefold effort.

A threefold effort

First, firms must actively solicit board members from among the available pool of female technology experts. By creating formal and informal partnerships with leading technology companies and networking with technology experts, firms can broaden the field of potential board candidates and help ensure they have the right expertise to make the important technology-based decisions they are faced with now and into the future.

Second, as I outlined in my series on digital fluency as a gender parity driver, there are several steps companies and their HR teams can take to increase digital fluency among the female employee base, including:

  • Providing a strong support system.
  • Providing the proper tools for women to improve their digital skills.
  • Setting the example by integrating digital technologies into the workflow.

Finally, firms must reach out to educational institutions and organisations to help ensure women are well represented in the fields that offer the most opportunity for developing the technical expertise required to successfully advise and direct companies into the future. One example is the non-profit group, Girls Who Code. This group helps high school girls get excited about and engaged with technology. The group hopes to provide one million young women with a computer science education by the year 2020. If companies want expert technology talent in the workforce, they’re going to have to help nurture that talent while it’s still in-development.

To learn more about technology and women in the financial services boardroom, please see:

Tech Experience: Women’s Stepping Stone to the Corporate Boardroom?

Accenture Strategy: Bridging the technology gap in financial services boardrooms

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