Q&A Women in IT

By Tara McGeehan, President CGI UK and Australia.

Career to date

I’ve now been with CGI for over 25 years, working in various roles across the company before being appointed President of CGI’s UK operations in 2018 and the Australia Business Unit in 2019. Previously I was the Senior Vice-President responsible for the Energy, Utilities & Telecommunications Business Unit, where I developed business across both commercial and government industries.

My role now sees me leading a multi-national and culturally diverse team of roughly 6,000 members, which is how we refer to our colleagues. As a leader, I wear many hats, but the one I place a lot of my purpose on is in building a responsible business. This includes working to increase, improve and naturally generate diversity, to ensuring our sustainability credentials and supporting the local communities we live and work in. All of this is vital to ensure the future of business and sits at the heart of my leadership style as we work towards creating a more inclusive and sustainable world.

Opportunities and challenges faced by women as they pursue an IT career

The digital economy has helped to drive a lot of recovery when dealing with the economic fallout of the pandemic. It has provided a great opportunity to lean in as a growth sector to encourage more women to go into the tech sector.

While I believe the industry has made progress, it is important companies continue to support the careers of women, at whatever stage they’re at – whether they’re just starting to gain an interest in school, have just secured a degree or qualification, or maybe they’re starting a family, moving into menopause, or even at the end of their career.

We must make sure this is a comfortable, supportive and attractive environment. Diverse talent creates diverse ideas, which in turn pushes boundaries and innovation. Businesses which ignore the female voice, which perhaps inadvertently create spaces women can’t navigate, risk losing an incredible talent pool.

What more can be done to help women in the IT industry?

Accountability is critical when it comes to creating and maintaining a welcoming environment for women. The industry needs to be having these important conversations about subjects like the gender pay gap and encouraging companies to be accountable is the key to making progress. We need to be working together to ensure there is transparency across the industry and real efforts to aid diversity.

We also need to be driving more women into the sector from an early age. In some ways, the pandemic helped level out of the field, providing flexibility to those who wanted to shift the balance of their work-home life. With this at front of mind, the tech industry should be working to actively encourage and foster an environment where older women who want to get back to work after having a family want to join. After all, we know that flexible working is conducive to productivity – having a family isn’t a hindrance and should never be seen as one.

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