IT women feel let down by HR

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Women in IT complain that HR departments are less supportive to women than line managers and colleagues.

When asked to rate the support they received as a female employee, respondents in a joint Microsoft and womenintechnology.co.uk survey saw HR departments as the least supportive area, with only 39 per cent rating them as good or excellent.

Over a quarter of respondents rated HR departments less than 'ok', as opposed to 19 per cent for line managers and bosses, 11 per cent for colleagues and 17 per cent for juniors.

This compares poorly with other groups such as line management (47 per cent); direct boss (57 per cent); colleagues (60 per cent) and juniors (51 per cent).

Many respondents were also aggrieved by the lack of focus on female worker issues: "A lot of effort goes into training graduates, none into refreshing women returners skills," said one respondent, while another commented: "Although my company supplied a basketball court, they didn't supply a crèche. When the issue was raised at a company meeting, it was not well received."

Commenting on the results, Maggie Berry, director of womenintechnology.co.uk, said: "It's all very well for HR departments to have diversity policies in place but this has to be more than just ticking boxes. Almost two thirds of respondents to our survey claimed that the content of a prospective employer's diversity policy would be an 'important factor' in their decision whether to join.

"Obviously all parents should have access to flexible working and other benefits, but what came out of some of the comments in our survey was that there is a perception that women who take advantage of these policies or benefits would be seen as 'weak'. Consequently HR departments need to adopt a universal approach and encourage more male uptake which would avoid damaging womens' 'brand' within an organisation."

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