More than 10,000 UK businesses were obliged to report the pay disparity between men and women within their organisation on 5 April 2018.
The law passed amid a rising tide of support for gender diversity issues as a whole, after multiple scandals over the past few years exposed unsettling truths about the imbalance of power between men and women in the workplace.
Allegations of sexual harassment uncovered by the Financial Times at The London Presidents Club's "men-only" fundraiser, attended by high-profile businessmen in the tech sector, called into question the disparity between men and women in professional spheres.
And accusations levelled at technology trade shows such as RSA Infosec and CES for excluding women from keynote slots, or employing scantily clad "booth babes" to entice predominantly male attendees to vendor stalls, clearly indicated that times were a-changing as the industry's age-old institutions were pressed to change their ways.
Legislation to make reported gender pay gap data openly available to the public has put UK businesses under new pressure and scrutiny from the media and exposed the gravity and severity of the gender imbalance issue across multiple professional sectors.
The UK isn't the only European country to bring in new legislation to help narrow this disparity between men and women in the workplace. New laws were introduced in France in 2018 that obliged organisations with more than 1,001 employees to report their gender equality "score" by 1 March 2019.
The introduction of mandatory equal pay index scores for French businesses has led to greater transparency around the issue, and exposed those employers that are simply not doing enough. Companies that score less than 75 out of 100 are obliged to take action to improve their score.
Of the resellers that we examined, only two provide equal pay index scores. Econocom France scored a comfortable 88 out of 100, while Devoteam scored 74 - below the 75 threshold.
In it's 2018 report, Devoteam said it fell down based on two factors: a low percentage of employees recieving raises after maternity leave, and a gender imbalance in its top 10 highest-paid employees.
"Measures will be taken to improve our overall score next year," Devoteam claims.
André-Franck Jover, social affairs manager at French IT services firm Infotel Group, said customers are beginning to look at the equal pay index scores of their IT companies.
"To take the example of digital service companies, we are seeing that more and more calls for tenders issued by our customers are taking into account suppliers' gender equality practices," he said.
"But as the index system is still recent, we will only be able to really judge its effectiveness in a few years."
In Germany, the Transparency of Pay Act introduced in 2017 gives employees the right to information about how much their colleagues of the opposite sex are earning, and transparency on how their employer determines how remuneration is distributed.
On the face of it, the UK, France and Germany - Europe's largest economies - are making huge strides in actively legislating against gender inequality in the workplace.
But how much of a difference has legislation really made? Only half of French employers required to publish their gender pay gap figures did so on time, with 100 of the biggest companies in the country failing to meet official gender equality targets.
And in Germany, only one in 10 companies has received enquiries from staff about their pay as a result of the Transparency of Pay Act.
Across the EU, women earn 84 cents for every €1 men earn. The pay gap between men and women has decreased by only one per cent in the last seven years. Women account for only five per cent of CEOs in Europe's largest listed companies and only 23 per cent of board members.
So are legislative changes enough?
Research compiled by Channel Partner Insight has revealed the current state of gender diversity among Europe's largest publicly listed resellers.
We have crunched the numbers and combed through commentary buried in the annual and corporate and social responsibility reports of each major European reseller in an attempt to see how the channel is addressing gender equality and representation.
Our research spans resellers headquartered all across Europe, from the Netherlands and Norway to France and the UK. We focused on the largest publicly listed channel partners on the continent, most of which are obliged to publish information on the male/female split of their workforce as well as provide commentary on how they are improving gender representation in their business.
Out of the 14 reseller giants we looked at (with the exception of Cancom which does not disclose the relevant figures), women on average (mean) account for 25 per cent of the workforce in a European reseller.
But the data suggests that the male/female split in resellers is improving - just very slowly. Eight out of the 13 companies we looked at have seen an increase in the percentage of women they employ year on year. Norway-based Atea saw a 2.8 percentage point increase in female employees between 2017 and 2018, whereas another Nordic player - Crayon - saw a 2.2 per cent increase.
Many resellers point to an inherent shortage of women working in the technology sector as a reason for their drastic difference in male and female employees.
"It reflects the IT industry in which the company operates," claims Atea's 2018 annual report, while Sweden-based Dustin claims that "the IT industry in general is characterised by a low share of female employees."
The disparity between men and women in the channel becomes even clearer in senior positions at Europe's reseller giants.
Of the 14 resellers we studied, women were on average (mean) outnumbered one to seven in group management positions, meaning they account for just 14 per cent of the top decision makers.
Five out of 14 resellers have no women in their group management teams, while a further six only have one.
The situation improves slightly in the boards of directors for each of the 14 resellers, with the average increasing to two women to every 6.7 men.
How are resellers closing the gap?
So what are Europe's largest resellers doing to reduce gender disparity in their workforce? Commentaries from annual reports reveal that most organisations in the industry acknowledge they are facing a gender imbalance.
Some have set quotas to appoint women to more senior management and board positions, while others have set up committees or launched initiatives and mentoring schemes to address company bias and make sure women are better represented.
Women in senior management
Many resellers have turned to setting themselves targets and quotas in an effort to address a huge disparity between men and women in leadership roles.
In its corporate responsibility report, Norway-based reseller Atea claims it strives to have at least one female candidate in all manager recruitment processes.
Sweden-based reseller Dustin has been one of the most successful out of all of the major European resellers for having a relatively even split of men and women in its organisation as a whole as well as at senior management level.
Women account for 44 per cent (four out of nine) of its group management positions. It is also aiming for women to make up 40 per cent of its workforce by 2020, up from 37 per cent in 2019.
The reseller has also set itself a target of striking a 38-62 split of men and women at its senior management level by the end of its 2019 year.
But in its latest report, Dustin claims that it likely won't hit its 2020 target, as its acquisition spree has dragged down its total share of females in the workforce.
"We realise that given our rate of acquisition it will probably take longer than 2020 to convert our entire workforce and achieve our target of a 40-60 gender balance," Dustin claims.
Germany-based reseller and services firm Cancom committed to setting quotas for the first time in 2017 to improve the number of women it employs in senior positions.
It's aiming for women to make up 25 per cent of the first level of management below its executive board, and 30 per cent of the second level, by 30 June 2020.
But not all resellers see setting gender quotas and targets as the right way to address a gender imbalance at the top of their organisation.
Germany-based Bechtle, which has an executive board that consists of three men including CEO Thomas Olemotz, claims in its annual report that it does not believe in setting quotas for female representation in senior positions for the sake of diversity.
"The supervisory board is firmly convinced that bonding the members of the executive board to the company and keeping them in the company on a long-term basis serves the company's interests," its annual report reads.
"Therefore, the supervisory board does not believe in changing the staffing of the executive board solely for the purpose of increasing the proportion of women. Therefore, increasing the number of members of the executive board for the mere sake of ensuring a certain female quota is not a viable option."
Bechtle has set itself the target of increasing the number of women both in its executive board and first executive level by zero per cent until 30 June 2022.
In its second executive level, Bechtle has promised to increase its share of women by a miniscule 0.02 percentage points, from 5.48 per cent to 5.50 per cent.
Aside from top management, Bechtle is ahead of the pack in having a relatively high proportion of women in its overall workforce. Some 27 per cent of its overall staff are women, according to its 2018 report. Some 39.5 per cent of its staff in its IT E-Commerce business are women. This figure falls to 20.1 per cent for its systems integrator and managed services arm.
The tone of Bechtle's commentary differs significantly from Computacenter's - its closest rival in Europe. In Computacenter's gender pay gap report, it claims that having a better representation of women in senior positions is one of its "key areas" in reducing the disparity between men and women.
In fact, improving gender diversity in the company is highlighted as one of four key "personal objectives" for CEO Mike Norris, according to its 2018 financial report, alongside other more commonplace targets such as improving Computacenter's services margin.
And this management-led approach from Computacenter in tackling gender diversity in senior positions is having a positive effect.
Between 2013 and 2018, the proportion of women who are senior managers at Computacenter has risen by more than four percentage points at a group level, with females now accounting for 19.1 per cent of senior positions (21 out of 108 senior managers).
While at Bechtle, the female share of "executives" increased by just 0.2 percentage points over the same time frame to just 13.1 per cent by 2018 (59 out of 452 executives).
It should be noted that the terms "senior management" and "executives" might not be interchangeable, with Bechtle employing far more executives than Computacenter does senior managers. But it nevertheless paints an interesting picture about how each firm is approaching gender diversity.
According to Dutch partner Ordina, "teams with a diverse composition perform better" - so what is the channel businesses doing to achieve a better gender balance?
UK-based reseller Softcat writes in its 2019 gender pay gap report that improving its female representation has been high on its business agenda.
It grew female representation on its board of directors between 2018 and 2019 a year early in order to meet the compulsory 33 per cent mark for FTSE 250 companies by 2020.
But female representation in its executive leadership team remains very low at just eight per cent. Its gender pay gap actually increased by three per cent in 2019 on a mean basis, to 34 per cent, but fell by two per cent on a median basis to 23 per cent.
Softcat claims it has taken steps to address a lack of female employees in its business, such as changing the language used in job adverts to attract more women into its sales team and creating a new head of talent, engagement and diversity role.
Like Computacenter, Softcat has made strides to make gender diversity a boardroom-level issue. CEO Graeme Watt has spearheaded new programmes in the company to tackle the issue.
Speaking to CPI, Tech Data's senior EMEA VP for its advanced and specialist solutions unit, Miriam Murphy, who has been working in the channel for more than 20 years, said that getting CEOs closely involved in gender diversity is vital.
"For me, it's critical. A cultural change requires a sponsorship and an advocacy from the top throughout the whole organisation. I've been lucky enough to work for companies and people throughout my career where the tone at the top has made it possible for me to build the career that I have built," she said.
"I would say first hand that that level of sponsorship is the most critical element and then how that sponsorship is spread throughout the organisation."
Jover agrees with Murphy, claiming that French companies should give improving their gender equality index the same priority as financial metrics.
"Internally, the equality index must be promoted and highlighted as a company objective in its own right, just like the key economic indicators such as turnover and margins," he said.
"I think the priority is to have a corporate culture shared by all. This involves, for example, in-house training and awareness raising on equality issues, aimed at employees and managers in particular. This is particularly true in male-dominated sectors such as IT."
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