Hayley Johnson: Being a female director in tech

Being so modern and up to date, it would be easy to assume that the tech industry is leading the way for gender equality. Sadly, this isn’t true. A recent report from Consulting Firm PwC found that only 15% of employees working in STEM roles in the UK are female.


Having had a successful career in the technology industry, Hayley Johnson is well placed to offer her thoughts on the gender split in her industry. With a career spanning 20 years, Hayley now works as the Chief Operating Operator for Pickr, a startup capitalising on the gig economy with an innovative platform.

About Hayley

I’m the Chief Operating Officer for a Norwich-based startup called Pickr. Pickr is a digital staffing platform that helps connects industrial businesses with the workers they need. We currently have the UK’s largest community of skilled workers, with a talent cloud of over 17k workers and we’re always looking for more!


What got me where I am today? Hard work! There’s no denying it, it wasn’t always glamourous. Persistence, resilience and getting comfortable outside my comfort zone were all key contributing factors to my success. It’s all about learning fast and not being afraid of failure.


I also think it’s important to be humble. I know there are people better than me at XYZ – I want those people in my team! Recognising great skills in others will get you a lot further than trying to be the best at everything. Respect is a two-way street. It ensures you build a good network of skilled people around you.


Talking about diversity

Fortunately, diversity is not a conversation we have to have here at Pickr. We have a fairly even gender mix in the office, despite the core tech roles being filled entirely by men. That’s not to say if an amazing female coder approached us, we wouldn’t have her. We’d snap her up in a second! Our CEO, Kane, supports local tech events such as the DevelopHer programme in acknowledgement of that.


I’ve been lucky in my career, my colleagues have respected and supported me in being the best leader I can be. We’ve all learnt a lot from each other, and I wouldn’t change any of it. I think there are plenty of ‘male allies’ in our homes, schools and workplaces even if they might not consciously identify as such.


Addressing the diversity split

I understand that quotas are intended to redress the imbalance, but I think it can do more harm than good. You want the best people for the role regardless of gender and when you enforce quotas, there’s an immediate shadow cast over that women’s ability.


I think the answer is to support both women and men to pursue their passions whatever they may be. Transparency, accessibility and company culture all contribute to better diversity in the workplace.


Leading teams

I try to be as inclusive as possible. Teams work best when everyone’s on the same page. That means transparency, sharing your vision and being honest about the challenges you face. I try to bring a lot energy to the teams I lead. If I’m not excited about a project how can I expect them to be?


Future achievements

Career wise I have huge things in the pipeline. At Pickr we’re going to change the way a whole sector operates. I love working in a startup environment, it forces you to be creative! I’m building a fantastic team and I really feel we’ve got limitless potential!


As Pickr grows there’s going to be different sets of challenges and I’m going to have to grow and develop with it. Ultimately, we have the opportunity and the means to turn the rough diamond we have into a billion-dollar company. We’re going to make it quicker and easier for hundreds of thousands of people to source work in the industrial sectors across the globe!


Did you love Hayley’s story about being a woman in a corporate environment? If you did then you’ll enjoy reading our blog about Cat Hudson, a woman passionate about flying high in a corporate career.

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