23 June 2023

Ofcom and UK’s biggest telecoms firms commit to recruit more women into senior tech roles

Ofcom and the UK’s biggest telecoms companies have come together to sign a new pledge, committing to help get more women build technology careers across the industry.

The telecoms sector has been historically male-dominated – particularly in more senior technology-based positions. But Ofcom and seven of the biggest companies in the sector – BT Group, Openreach, Sky, TalkTalk, Three, Virgin Media O2 and Vodafone – are looking to change that and have signed a pledge committing to improve representation for women.

These companies are the digital backbone of the UK economy – providing the broadband, mobile and infrastructure services that connect millions of people and business across the country.

Ofcom’s own technology work covers a wide range of areas within its remit – including spectrum management, cyber security and innovative use of data. We are also increasing our tech capabilities as we prepare to become the UK’s online safety regulator.

Having a talented, diverse workforce to meet the technological demands of an increasingly digital world, is therefore crucial to the future success of the telecoms sector.

Taking action to create more career opportunities for women

Each of the organisations have agreed to take action to increase senior representation of women in technology-based roles over the next three years, as well have more women in their workforces more generally.

The organisations will also focus on both attracting and retaining more women, while creating more inclusive working environments. They will come together to share good practice, as well as publishing information on the impact of their work to achieve better representation for women – including performance against their organisation’s own diversity and inclusion strategies.

These commitments have been developed by Ofcom, with support of the seven companies in the first phase of this initiative. Ofcom hopes further companies from across the telecoms sector will join and support this initiative – playing their part in helping to make the sector more diverse and inclusive.

"Having a diverse workforce is crucial to the success of any organisation. It drives creativity, innovation and ensures we as employers attract the skills we need from the widest possible pool. But for too many women, climbing that career ladder in a male-dominated industry can be a real challenge.

"We want the telecoms industry, including us at Ofcom, to lead the way in changing that. So it’s great to see so many companies getting behind this pledge, and committing to helping more women launch long-lasting and rewarding technology careers. We look forward to working together to achieve this."

Dame Melanie Dawes, Ofcom Chief Executive

"At BT Group we have set ourselves stretching targets on the diversity of our workforce in terms of gender, race and disability, and we are building inclusivity into the fabric of how we work and live our values. Whilst we’ve made progress, there’s still more we can do to build a truly equitable and inclusive culture across our business. We fully support Ofcom’s pledge and commit to play our part in achieving these goals."

Philip Jansen, BT Group Chief Executive

"Historically, our industry and Openreach has lacked diversity, and that’s something we’re determined to change. We want our teams to reflect the communities we serve in every corner of the UK, as we know that diverse and inclusive companies are more innovative, dynamic and ultimately better able to respond to customers’ needs. To that end, we’re committed to supporting this pledge and working together with the industry to achieve these goals."

Clive Selley, CEO of Openreach

"A more inclusive tech industry is fundamental to a thriving UK tech sector, and critical to realising the full potential of innovation. But to achieve wide-scale progress, industry collaboration is key. We’re delighted to be partnering with our industry peers to increase the representation of women in technology-based roles in telecommunications, building on our longstanding work in this area. Since 2017, we have almost doubled female representation in our technology team so we are looking forward to working with partners to drive this at an industry level."

Stephen van Rooyen, Chief Executive Officer, Sky UK Ireland and Chief Commercial Officer, Sky Group

"TalkTalk and I couldn't be more supportive of this initiative. We're passionate about increasing the numbers of women in tech, from inspiring young girls into STEM subjects through to mentoring, supporting and promoting women into leadership positions. As the creators of the North West Women in Tech awards, we celebrate and champion the many incredible achievements that women in our sector make every day."

Tristia Harrison, CEO of TalkTalk Group

"We have already committed to a 50/50 gender split in leadership roles at Three UK and are investing significantly in attracting and retaining the right people to help us do that. However, we know that tackling this imbalance will require a coordinated industry effort to ensure the right training and support is offered, so we are delighted to sign this pledge."

Robert Finnegan, CEO of Three UK

"Virgin Media O2 is proud to join Ofcom’s Diversity and Inclusion Pledge to support more women into our industry, which builds on our commitment to become a more inclusive and equitable company.

“This includes our ambitions to increase representation of women across our organisation; a series of best-in-class leave policies – from enhanced maternity and adoption leave, to paid carer’s leave; and our support of various programmes that encourage more women into STEM roles, with the aim of creating allyship across our business to ensure we attract and retain the best female talent."

Lutz Schüler, CEO of Virgin Media O2

"We are fully supportive of this pledge by Ofcom that encourages more women across the UK to explore a technology-based role.

"It’s our responsibility, as a collective industry, to inspire future generations to become technology leaders regardless of gender or background."

Ahmed Essam, CEO, Vodafone UK

Read the commitments in full

The commitments are available to view in full on the Ofcom website.