Our managing director, Sam Francis, recently appeared as a guest on BBC Sussex, discussing female equality in the workplace.
Those familiar with our story will know that TEK Express was founded in 2000 by Sam Francis and her brother Richard Ashdown. They have built a successful niche IT company, offering mobile device management solutions to a range of businesses with large teams of field based staff. However, Sam's path to independent success was partly motivated by inequality she experienced in the workplace whilst working as an IT employee for another organisation. Unequal pay and treatment led her to form TEK Express on values of equality and transparency.
In a recent interview with BBC Sussex, Sam was asked why she thinks so few women seek careers in IT and Science. Is it due to latent or even active sexism? "I think [sexism is] still there even though legislation changed in 1975, the stereotypes are still there. And I'm saying it for both genders as well. Career women are seen in a certain perspective and as are stay-at-home dads. So even though we are changing and there is a shift in traditional family dynamics, there is still a perception of women not attaining high ranking roles" says Sam.
Danny Pike, interviewing Sam, says that he had previously been speaking to a female Ryanair pilot and discussing why it is so rare to find women in such roles. Sam says: "As with everything you have to have a passion to do it" but she laments the fact that she receives very few CVs from women whenever she advertises an IT vacancy in her business. "I have to say the amount of CVs that come through to me from women is very low. So, obviously, less women want to get into IT or are pushing themselves to get out there. I don't know why because everybody is capable".
Sam believes that a lot of women may question whether they are likely to even be considered for a job role that is typically thought to be "a man's job". She also believes that many women are put off from pursuing careers due to family commitments. "When I set out to run my business with my brother, at the time I wanted children and perhaps people do think, well I'll only get so far because I want to have children at some stage. I know that is a limiting factor for some people, so that may be one reason why they don't go through that path."
Sam explains the reason why she took the leap from employee to running her own business: "The reason I got into running my own business is because at the time I was paid far, far less than my male peers. We were all doing the same role and, in fact, I was probably doing longer hours because I wanted to prove myself more". Asked how much less she was paid, Sam believes it was around 30%.
With the opportunity to run her own business, Sam has taken steps to ensure that her business does not treat people unequally. "I'm very much about making people equal in the workplace and making it fair and transparent". Asked what we can do differently, to encourage more women to seek careers in IT and science, Sam says that we need to provide better education on careers opportunities in schools. We need to get people of both sexes interested in the subjects and we need to get more businesses going into schools and changing the perceptions of young people.