Although it’s vital to celebrate female talent, COVID-19 has injected new controversy into the Women in Channel debate. Hear the views of four CRN Women in Channel judges...
On 15 October, the UK channel will come together to celebrate female talent in our industry at the third annual CRN Women in Channel Awards.
But events this year have raised fresh questions for companies in our sector and the wider UK economy when it comes to the roles of men and women.
1) Gender pay gaps
In March, the government scrapped mandatory pay gap reporting to give eligible firms "breathing space" during the pandemic. This meant that only about half of the eligible firms in our sector - and more widely - chose to report their data this year. And those that did have (on average) made no headway since the rules first came into play two years ago.
An enduring gender pay gap of over 20 per cent in our sector points not to unequal pay for like-for-like positions, but - rather - structural imbalances that see men predominating in higher-paid leadership, commission-based sales and specialised technical posts.
We wanted to canvass opinion on how much of a worry this is, and what - if anything - can be done to make headway.
2) The disportionate burden of lockdown on women
German chancellor Angela Merkel recently warned against a 'retraditionalisation' of male and female roles under lockdown, and commentary highlighting how COVID-19 has placed a disproportionate burden on women when it comes to unpaid childcare and homeschooling is widespread (see here, here and here for example).
Research shows that women are more likely to be spending less time doing paid work under lockdown. They are also more likely to be single parents, and are also more likely to lose their jobs as a result of the current crisis.
We wanted to know whether this worrying development could undo some of the progress made towards gender parity in our industry.
3) Female leadership in a crisis
Everyone from the Telegraph to The New York Times and Forbes has run articles examining the success of female-led countries in tackling the pandemic (a point underlined by the news earlier this week that New Zealand has dropped all COVID-19 restrictions after a lengthy period without infections).
Whether this should be attributed to their gender, or - rather - to the fact countries with female leaders are likely to have more diverse leadership teams is a hotly contested point.
We wanted to seek opinion on what this debate means for the tech channel and other industries where male leaders predominate.
Feedback from female leaders
COVID-19 has injected new controversy into the Women in Channel debate, and we wanted to raise these important questions with some high-profile female leaders in our industry.
The four female leaders we spoke to for our video above were:
Sarah Shields: CRN's reigning Woman of the Year, Shields (right) is a 12-year Dell Technologies veteran, currently holding the role of central and north Europe channel VP.
Annabel Berry: CEO of cybersecurity VAR and training outfit Sapphire (left). She is also a leadership fellow at the Society of Leadership Fellows and a member of the board of advisors for Laides of London Hacking Society.
Tracy Westall: Formerly a board director at SCC, Westall (right) currently holds a number of non-exec roles, including with West Midlands 5G Ltd and the Department for Transport. You can view her full interview here.
Mary Hunter: Having been at Microsoft ERP consultancy Columbus for 22 years, Hunter (left) was recently promoted from UK MD to global chief people officer.