This article appeared in Business Weekly on 29 May 2014
The number of women in key roles in the technology industry has remained largely static for 10 years, a new study has shown. Bailey Fisher Executive Search, the Cambridge & London-based technology search firm was cited in The Guardian yesterday as one of the organisations actively trying to change the status quo, getting more women into technology leadership roles, and keeping them there.
A report by the research firm Gartner on the challenges faced by CIOs in the industry has shown that the percentage of women taking the role has remained at around 14% since 2004. And the situation is worse in the EU than in the US and developing nations, with women occupying only 11% of technology leadership roles in Europe, compared by 18% in North America.
Ann Fisher, Founding Partner of Bailey Fisher Executive Search and Founder of the company’s Women 4 Technology network for female tech business leaders, was interviewed on this issue on the BBC World Service yesterday, discussing how Bailey Fisher is working to increase the number of women in leadership roles.
“The equality debate won’t disappear and the mounting publicity over recent years can only ensure that we are all aware of its importance. At Bailey Fisher Executive Search we practice what we preach, with 40% of our team comprising women holding senior positions and 30% of the team working mums with flexible hours.”
It is well documented that companies with mixed boards and management teams out-perform those with single sex teams, whether male or female. “Men and women need to work together to a common vision and understand their individual roles. A board of directors must complement each other and be able to challenge each other positively. Women can engender collaboration and greater communication in a business. A woman is more likely to say ‘I don’t know’ and find the right person to ask.”
“Research has shown that women have a proven track record of making more effective use of capital and being more creative in the use of available resources. It is reported that only 5% of institutional investors are women and only 4% of investment goes to female-led businesses yet women account for 8% of profitable business exit.”
Recognising that women are under-represented in STEM careers, the government has called for businesses to bring more women into the fold and Vince Cable highlighted earlier this year the crucial impact of the headhunting community to introduce women to the boardroom. Lord Davies report urges voluntary measures to increase women on boards on FTSE 350 companies to 25% by 2015, and quotas are on the cards for the future.
Ann believes that meritocracy rather than quotas is the answer “Women making up a quota are put in a very challenging position. How do they build credibility from day 1 and the ability to influence the business?”
“Surely we should have best practice where all appointments are based purely on merit. The best person for the role. The debate should be around how to encourage capable women to have self-belief and how to nurture these women throughout their careers.”
Encouragement, inspiration and the celebration of success are at the heart of Bailey Fisher’s Women 4 Technology network, which Ann founded in 2008, before the onslaught of discussion around women in leadership roles. “It is all about collaboration and inspiration. Our events allow women to receive encouragement for issues and challenges they are facing in their business and to inspire them to realise their own aspirations.”
“It is only a recent phenomenon that discussions on gender inequality are taking place. The results cannot be immediate, it could take a further generation to effect change. There needs to be a shift in mindset and a change in business culture.”
Biographies of Bailey Fisher placings:
Jane Paterson –Todd, CEO of Cambridge Ahead
In 2013, Bailey Fisher Executive Search introduced Jane Paterson-Todd as CEO of Cambridge Ahead, a business and academic member group dedicated to the successful long-term growth of Cambridge and its region. Jane had recently moved to East Anglia from London, where her career had encompassed both commercial and non-profit sectors, including prior roles as Group Commercial Director of Emap Conferences, Head of Development at the Barbican Art Centre, and over 11 years in national media advertising including The Telegraph, The Times and consumer magazines, Elle and Elle Decoration. Immediately prior to taking up the role as CEO of Cambridge Ahead, Jane was CEO of Chickenshed Theatre in London, a charity that encourages people from all walks of life and abilities to be part of its theatre membership. Between roles at Emap and Barbican, Jane studied for an MBA, gaining a distinction (only 15% of graduates are awarded a distinction).
In 2013, Bailey Fisher Executive Search was appointed to work with Castrol innoVentures, the corporate venturing arm of BP Castrol, founded in 2010 to develop disruptive technologies and build the Castrol business beyond Lubricant. Bailey Fisher was mandated to identify a highly entrepreneurial individual to build a new business globally for Castrol in the Smart Mobility space. Leveraging digital technology to improve the consumer experience was identified as a key aspect of the role. Bailey Fisher introduced Angel Gambino, a US/UK serial entrepreneur, as a consultant to lead a team focused on new initiatives and venture opportunities across a number of areas considered critical to the evolution of consumer automotive, the future of transportation and digital car care.
Angel brought a strong combination of entrepreneurial flair and corporate experience to the role, together with a track record in commercial strategy, digital and leadership roles in early-stage and high-growth companies. Angel was instrumental in developing the iPlayer for the BBC, held commercial leadership roles at MTV and Bebo during periods of fast growth, and masterminded consumer engagement for the retail giant Westfield during the London 2012 Olympics. In recent months, Angel has been leading investments for Castrol in the Smart Mobility space including the US-based Peloton & Zubie.
In 2011, Bailey Fisher was engaged by the VC to manage the search for a CEO for ToHealth Ltd, resulting in the successful appointment of entrepreneurial healthcare leader Rosie Cunningham Thomas. Rosie is a dynamic, progressive board level CEO with a demonstrable track record of delivering consistent top and bottom line growth in global listed blue chip and high growth early stage private equity/VC backed companies. Rosie brought a unique blend of American dynamism, European flair and British sensibility to the role, coupled with extensive experience in high-calibre healthcare companies offering compelling missions and superior innovative technologies which improve outcomes for patients, clinicians and health economies.
ToHealth Ltd is fostering an unprecedented convergence of medicine, engineering, science, technology and health care economics. Its mission is to lower health care costs by developing wireless health solutions for the prevention and management of long term conditions. Development activity is complemented by a market leading public health screening model focused on detecting risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes via a proprietary software platform.
During her tenure as CEO, Rosie engineered the business from R&D start-up phase to a commercially focused revenue generating organisation. She built the business into the Number 1 ranked market leading provider of NHS health screening services. Delivered £2.5m and 67,000 health screens in cumulative sales during 2012/14, created a high profile company brand, defined and delivered full commercial and technology strategy including appointing a CTO and CMO to the team. She led all public affairs and key customer activity, increased the value of IP on the balance sheet by 150k and established forward order book of £1.8 m for 2014/15.
Ann Simon, Non-executive director at Scientific Digital Imaging plc
Having successfully managed the search for a new Chairman at Scientific Digital Imaging plc (Ken Ford), Bailey Fisher was engaged to identify a Non-executive Director, resulting in the appointment of Ann Simon to the board. Ann is also Chairman of the Audit Committee.
Ann has extensive experience in finance, particularly in the healthcare & technology sectors since 1985. She has managed IPOs on London full list and AIM, corporate acquisitions and trade sales and fundraisings in the public and private markets. As CFO at Sphere Medical, Ann led a successful IPO on AIM in 2011, raising £14m, preceded by private funding rounds raising £23m. Ann was also CFO of Genosis plc, Mirada Solutions and NextGen Sciences. Ann’s current roles also include Non-executive Chairman of OBS Medical (Oxford) and CFO of Pyreos (Edinburgh).
“Congratulations on the great reception you hosted at the House of Lords. I was honoured and delighted to attend. It was an impressive event.”