My name is Sophie Rawlins and welcome to my blog series.
I’ve been tasked with sharing some of my thoughts around gender diversity and equality, which is one small piece of the diversity and inclusion pie. During my upcoming posts, I hope to educate people on the social, economic and political benefits of inclusiveness, and why it should be on everybody’s agenda for change.
I co-founded Blue Prism’s Women in RPA initiative alongside two of my colleagues, Cari and Xina, early last year. I joined Blue Prism in 2018 through our highly successful Graduate Program but as part of my intake, I was the only female. And during the entire Recruitment process, there was only a small handful on female candidates. This is a position I then found myself in many times at the beginning of my career and is still a regular occurrence. Therefore, the need to create an industry relevant group that would encourage women and underrepresented groups to join our fast paced and exciting market became increasingly prevalent.
Women in RPA, or as it’s more fondly referred to, WIRPA, is an initiative founded by a small team who are passionate about gender equality, as well as all other aspects of diversity and inclusion. Our aim is to empower women and other underrepresented groups to take risks and realize their full potential in the workplace, and to celebrate the achievements made by those in our network.
WIRPA is an integrated and key part of Blue Prism’s People Strategy, and yet I still at times find myself challenged and asked, “do we really need it?” I think that’s an interesting question which could spark much debate, but I’m going to explore my knee-jerk response of “yes we do”in a little more detail.
Any initiative that serves the purpose of celebrating diverse and underrepresented groups should have a place in an organization. In fact, I think that the drum needs to be beaten just as loudly now as it did when women first started campaigning for equal rights in the early 1900’s, and Civil Rights Activists in the 1950s. Since that period of progressive change, we’ve come far, but not far enough and we need to build on the progress made by those before us.
** Disclaimer; For the remainder of this blog I am going to focus on the progression of women in technology, but I am not suggesting that this represents achieving true equality or true diversity and inclusion for all.**
Bluntly, only 17% of the technology industry is populated by women, and we have to question ourselves as to why this is still the case. It’s believed to take an additional 108 years to close the overall global gender gap, 202 years to close the economic gender gap and 107 years to close the political gender gap. As a young woman in technology, these statistics scare me and make me question if I will have as fair chance to succeed as my male counterparts.
But how do we instill the same amount of passion and drive to others, who might not recognize the importance and empowering and encouraging women into technology? Through education.
Education can be achieved through knowledge sharing, group discussions, celebrating those who promote your cause and by making the topic you are talking about relatable to your audience.
If we ensure the benefits of having a diverse, inclusive and well informed workforce are realized, then I believe more people will join the fight for equality. Let’s, for example, look at some of the financial implications of not having a diverse and inclusive workforce.
McKinsey have identified a direct correlation between diverse teams and financial out-performance. In other words, organisations who have achieved greater gender equality in their business, particularly in roles of leadership, are more profitable than those who don’t. Harvard Business Review states that “striving to increase workplace diversity is not an empty slogan – it is a good business decision.”This sentiment doesn’t consider the social justice, social fairness or social responsibility arguments of promoting equality, diversity and inclusion, but what it does do is open people’s eyes to the economic benefits of diversity and inclusion.
How would you react if you were told that $28 trillion could be added to the global economy by 2025 if we achieve one thing –equality for women in the labor force . To put that sum to scale, $28 trillion is the size of America and China’s GDPs (Gross Domestic Product) combined. So, if women, who account for almost 50% of the world’s population, do not achieve their full potential in the workforce, then the global economy will continue to suffer.
There are many arguments as to why diversity and inclusion is an important matter, and we’ve had a short time to touch on a few of them here, but ultimately I hope I’ve made a few more people understand why initiatives like WIRPA are so important. If we can encourage more women into the RPA industry, then not only are we supporting gender equality, but we are feeding into the growth and success of our economy.
But out of interest, I’ll flip the question back to you, why wouldn’t we need WIRPA?
 ‘Women in Tech; Time to close the gender gap’, PwC UK, https://www.pwc.co.uk/women-in-technology/women-in-tech-report.pdf
 ‘The Global Gender Gap Report 2018’, World Economic Forum, https://www.weforum.org/reports/the-global-gender-gap-report-2018
 ‘Delivering Through Diversity’, McKinsey, 2018, https://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/McKinsey/Business%20Functions/Organization/Our%20Insights/Delivering%20through%20diversity/Delivering-through-diversity_full-report.ashx
 ‘Why Diverse Teams Are Smarter’, David Rock and Heidi Grant, Harvard Business Review, 2016, https://hbr.org/2016/11/why-diverse-teams-are-smarter
 ‘How can more women become architects of the Transformative Age?’, Julie Linn Teigland, https://www.ey.com/en_uk/women-fast-forward/how-can-more-women-become-architects-of-the-transformative-age