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by Charlotte Drury
Lexie Papaspyrou is the Product/ Co-COO Tech Talent Charter and a recognised figure in the areas of diversity, tech, innovation and...
Lexie Papaspyrou is the Product/ Co-COO Tech Talent Charter and a recognised figure in the areas of diversity, tech, innovation and education. With over ten years' experience in leadership roles she has worke with startups, to scale ups, to the worlds largest tech companies.
Through her work at the Tech Talent Charter, she is committed to bringing together organisations to drive greater diversity and inclusion in technology roles. The TTC is a government-supported, industry-led membership group that brings together 700+ Signatory organisations and equips them with the networks and resources to drive their diversity and inclusion efforts. It was created to address the UK’s tech talent shortage and diversity problem through collective action.
Lexie is a D&I Expert and Thought Leader, and was named by LinkedIn as one of the Top 100 D&I professionals to follow globally. She is part of the Open Data Insititude Academy on Data Stewardship for Social Good and the Winner of Women in Tech Graduate Employer of the Year 2018, Shortlist finalist for Women in IT Excellence Award for Team Leader of the Year 2018 (SME) and Nominee for We Are the City Rising Star Award 2018.
Hi, I’m Lexie Papaspyrou and I am a co-COO at Tech Talent Charter.
What is the purpose of TTC and is the TTC making a difference?
The TTC is a government-supported, industry-led membership group. We bring together 700+ Signatory organisations and equip them with the networks and resources to drive their diversity and inclusion efforts.
Our broad base of Signatories includes companies and industries of all sizes, non-profit organisations, charities, leading UK educators, and government departments.
The TTC was created because solving the diversity problem in tech requires a collective effort across organisations, industries, and sectors.
There is a strong business case for diversity. A recent report from McKinsey found that the relationship between diversity on executive teams and the likelihood of financial outperformance strengthened over time. CWJobs found that companies that take a proactive approach to DE&I are more likely to perform better, have higher profitability, make better decisions, and have a larger talent pool.
We pursue our mission by:
Tell us about your journey at the TTC and why did you decide to join the organisation?
My tenure at TTC was a sabbatical that grew legs!
I was originally a Signatory of the TTC. I was the head of a technical product area in a tech services company and I heard about the TTC when it was much smaller. I thought it was a great idea so I signed my organisation up as a Signatory. We participated in various events and the annual data surveys and after sharing more about what my organisation was doing to improve D&I, I was invited to speak on a few Signatory panel events with other Signatories who were showing strong action and commitment to the cause.
After several years in my leadership role in tech, I decided to take a sabbatical and left my job. It was then that TTC asked me to help them deliver a data project for them - their annual D&I data collection. I hadn’t expected it but was passionate about this issue area so I came on to support the project. Nearly four years later, I still work on this data and research piece, except now, rather than just project managing it to a brief, I am responsible for the direction our data and research outputs take across the year, as well as the direction, strategy, and execution for our other digital products.
Which aspects of your job do you like most?
I love working with data and research. Being immersed in one issue area for a significant period allows me to really understand the innovations and challenges that are emerging in this space, and to make smart decisions on what we should develop next in our suite of D&I products to support our Signatories.
Having been that tech leader under pressure to find talent and “deliver diversity”, I have a unique understanding of what this problem looks and feels like for tech companies and their managers. But having come across the table to TTC, I also benefit from a really deep understanding of what over 750 other UK organisations are doing. You simply cannot get this type of insight anywhere else, and it’s fascinating, motivating, and gives me so much cause for hope that positive change is happening at scale.
Historically in the IT industry, there has been pretty poor visibility of LGBTQ+. Do you think that the industry has made progress or does the heteronormative culture exist in the tech industry?
I don’t think these two statements are mutually exclusive. I do believe that there has been progress toward greater inclusion of individuals who identify as LGBTQ+. And the reason I believe this is because every year I survey Signatories to find out what D&I metrics they are measuring. Measurement of orientation has gone up by a third compared to last year. Now, 66% of Signatories are measuring the diversity of orientation in their teams. This mirrors a wider movement; for the first time, the UK census has asked about gender identity and orientation. I speak to Signatories to get more qualitative insights into what their views are and I see that there is an earnest desire to create more inclusive environments.
However, even though we are making positive strides, I don’t think that means we are necessarily in a good place. Organisations are all on a spectrum of maturity with their D&I practice. At one end there are some organisations that have LGBTQ+ employee networks that are well-resourced, supported, and engaged with by thousands of UK employees. They tend to have very well-considered inclusive policies across the business where LGBTQ+ inclusion has been considered holistically. For example, how do LGBTQ+ experiences intersect with socio-economic experiences; how do they intersect with fertility and family benefits; how do they intersect with employee engagement opportunities and team culture? On the other end of the scale though there are still many businesses out there that are pretty much ignoring this together. We need to see more being done to create truly inclusive cultures from the boardroom to the breakroom.
What top tip do you want to send to people from diverse backgrounds who are thinking of a career in tech?
I’d like to answer this more from an angle of personal experience, being an ethnic minority woman who found herself working in tech. I would say:
- Tech jobs are everywhere. You might be doing one, or very close to doing one without realising it. I’m essentially a digital product manager. That’s a tech job. I never suspected when I was studying English and expecting to be an English teacher, that I would end up here. But I wish I had known just how likely and relevant my skills were to what I do now.
- Stereotypes are unhelpful. When you think of a “techy person”, if it looks anything like a character you’ve seen in a TV show or a film, you’re probably basing career decisions on what you would or wouldn’t be good at or what you would or wouldn’t enjoy, on inaccurate information. TIP: If this is you, please find people you know who are doing jobs in any of these areas: they work with data; they work on a product or service that you access through a device like a computer or a phone (this includes people who don’t write code - maybe they make decisions about the product?), they work on the designs of things that you view on a device, they test out any type of digital technology, they work in an IT department, they write code, they manage any projects or people who do any of these things ^^^. Then ask them about their job, what do they like, and what don’t they like? What is their day-to-day like? These people all have tech jobs or tech skills.
- It’s normal that a tech job isn’t a calling. Tech jobs don’t have to be your life’s passion. It’s okay if it is, but it’s also okay to do a tech job because that job enables you to, for example, work flexibly so you can collect your kids from school, or pay for that once-in-a-lifetime holiday. The tech industry is an amazing place to work and very forward-thinking. It’s full of smart people from all backgrounds who are at the forefront of creating innovative and valuable products and services for the years ahead whilst defining what the future of work looks like. So if these factors are beneficial to you, there’s no reason not to apply your unique skills to a role in this space. There’s plenty of room!
What can we hope to see from the Tech Talent Charter in the future?
In the year ahead we are working on producing our annual insights on the state of diversity in tech. We’ll be surveying our Signatories again in the summer to ask them more about their diversity metrics as well as what they are doing on inclusion more broadly. Every year we ask for more data and every year our Signatories deliver, showing amazing leadership to the wider business community and really raising the bar.
We’ll also be taking our D&I insights on the road. We started last week with a roadshow in Manchester, and we intend to travel to other UK tech hubs to engage with business communities on the issues that are pertinent to their region. You can sign up for our live and virtual events on our website events page https://www.techtalentcharter.co.uk/events
And of course, all our work will be captured in our D&I toolkit of resources, which are free and publicly available to all, so we can continue to support any organisation that wishes to work in improving D&I in the tech ecosystem.
by Sonja Giesemann
Throughout Pride Month 2023, the famous rainbow Pride flag will be seen waving at all celebrations and activities. However, it is not the only banner...
Throughout Pride Month 2023, the famous rainbow Pride flag will be seen waving at all celebrations and activities. However, it is not the only banner with which LGBTQ+ people connect and identify.
While the rainbow flag has long been a symbol of queer representation and celebration, many variants have been made over the years to draw notice to different sexual orientations and gender identities, as well as their specific experiences.
Harvey Milk, a champion of LGBTQ+ rights and the first openly gay man elected to public office in California commissioned artist Gilbert Baker to create a Pride flag in 1978. To represent and demonstrate support for all LGBTQ+ people, flags for bisexual, pansexual, trans, asexual, queer people of colour, and dozens more are now available.
While LGBTQ+ pride should be honoured daily, honour the community with a Pride flag flying high during Pride Month 2023. Whether you identify as LGBTQ+ or as an ally, our thorough guide to the 21 Pride flags and their meanings below will help you better understand the community.
Why do so many LGBTQ+ flags exist?
There are many different individuals who are LGBTQ+. This community has a wide array of flags, which is exhibited to reflect this and ensure that everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or ethnicity, has a flag that reflects who they are. Social media's widespread use has greatly aided in raising awareness of and emphasising the value of inclusivity. This article demonstrates the dramatic growth in the number of new LGBTQ+ flags produced since 2010.
1.The Original Gilbert Baker Flag
The famous rainbow flag conveys the significance of the most well-known LGBTQ+ flag. This flag, created by Gilbert Baker in 1979, was chosen as the official representation of the LGBTQ+ celebration in San Francisco. It is now a recognised emblem for LGBTQ+ organisations and pride parades around the world, representing the history and victories of the struggle for equality. Each colour in the rainbow pattern represents a different aspect of LGBTQ+ existence and was inspired by Judy Garland's song "Over the Rainbow."
2. LGBTQ+ Flag
The classic rainbow pride flag, which omitted the pink and turquoise stripes from Baker's design, gained popularity in 1979. It was changed once again in 1979. The centre stripe, which is turquoise, was hidden when it was suspended vertically from San Francisco lampposts. The simplest solution was to design a flag with an even number of stripes, and this is how we came to establish the Pride flag that is still in use today.
The version that most people are likely familiar with is the six-stripe flag.
3. Intersex Flag
Those that identify with the intersex community are represented by the intersex flag. In July 2013, Morgan Carpenter created the flag for the first time. Designing a flag that was "not derivative but firmly grounded in meaning" was the intention.
The flag was developed in Australia as a source of pride for persons who are born with different sex traits, such as chromosomes, hormones, or genitalia. Campaigners and campaigners needed a symbol to go with their work as they spoke about the ongoing struggle for genital integrity and bodily autonomy. The purple circle is shown as unbroken and undecorated, symbolising wholeness and completion, while the yellow background denotes gender neutrality.
Purple and yellow were selected because they are regarded to be devoid of gender connotations. The flag's central purple circle, which stands for wholeness and unbrokenness, is set against a yellow background.
4. Bisexual Flag
Artist Michael Page made a flag as a new emblem in 1998 after learning that many bisexual persons, like himself, have no affinity for the rainbow pride flag
It was designed to increase the bisexual community's visibility in the LGBTQ+ community and among the general public. The overlap forming the purple signifies sexual interest to two or more genders. The pink represents sexual attraction to the same sex, the blue represents sexual attraction to the opposite sex. The colour purple also symbolises how pink and blue can muddle subtly and to different degrees. Like the colour purple, bisexuality is viewed as a spectrum rather than as a specific percentage.
5. Pansexual Flag
Regardless of their gender identity, pansexuals find individuals attractive. In order to increase awareness and distinguish between pansexual and bisexual individuals, the pansexual group obtained its own flag in 2010.
Pink, yellow, and blue are distributed in three equal portions on the pansexual flag.
Pink, yellow, and blue stripes go horizontally from top to bottom, representing attraction to women, attraction to people who identify as genderqueer, non-binary, agender, or androgynous, and attraction to men, respectively.
6. Transgender Flag
The most well-known design utilised by the transgender community was created in 2000 by Monica Helms. The Transgender Pride flag represents the pride, diversity, and struggle for the transgender rights of the trans community. Light blue, the typical shade for infant boys, is used for the stripes at the top and bottom. Pink stripes, the customary colour for infant girls, are placed next to them. For persons who are transgender or who see themselves as having a neutral or undefinable gender, the centre stripe is white.
7. Lesbian Flag
There are multiple versions of the lesbian flag, but the most popular one has hues of pink, white, and red. However, a lot of people think that this flag solely supports 'femme' lesbians and does not support lesbians who present as men.
Shades of orange and white are used in one of the most current lesbian flags to symbolise all lesbians. This covers people who do not identify with a gender, as well as transsexual women.
Gender nonconformity is represented by dark orange or red. Orange is the colour of independence. The community is represented by light orange. White stands for distinctive connections to womanhood. The colour light pink stands for calm and harmony. A darker pink symbolises sex and love and Plum and purple are symbols of femininity.
8. Non-Binary Flag
The nonbinary pride flag was designed by Kyle Rowan in 2014. Yellow, white, purple, and black stripes run horizontally across the flag.
The flag was developed to represent nonbinary people who did not identify with the LGBTQ+ community's other flags.
The colour yellow stands for those who do not identify as one gender or the other.
All genders are represented by white. People who are mixed-gender are represented by the colour purple. People who do not identify with a particular gender are represented by black.
9 . A- Sexual Flag
Non-binary individuals identify outside of the male and female gender binary. They can better convey their identity by combining the binary pronouns (he/him/his and she/her/hers), they/them, or neopronouns.
Kye Rowan designed this pride flag in 2014 for non-binary people who didn't think the genderqueer flag adequately represented them. Despite its reclamation, the term "queer" has also been used to disparage the LGBTQ+ community.
Yellow represents genders that aren't binary in nature, white represents those who identify as several or all genders. Purple denotes genders that combine male and female characteristics and black represents transgender persons
10. Progress Flag
The Progress Pride Flag combines several of these flags into one because it reflects how the LGBTQ+ community and society as a whole are constantly growing. Thankfully, it has been updated to focus more on "inclusion and progression." Our community is such a vast amalgamation of many types of individuals, and this is what makes us so exceptional, so different, and so strong.
The current pride flag now has stripes to symbolise those who identify as transgender, gender nonconforming (GNC), and/or undefined, as well as stripes to represent the experiences of people of colour.
The Progress Pride Flag features the trans flag's colours in addition to its traditional black and brown stripes in an effort to be more inclusive. Designer Daniel Quasar of Oregon, who created the flag, said the goal of the layout is to increase cohesion. In his 2018 Kickstarter campaign, he stated, "I wanted to see if there could be more attention in the design of the flag to give it more meaning. It mixes the hues and stripes of the transgender pride flag and the Pride flag flown in Philadelphia.
11. Philadelphia Flag
The Philadelphia Pride Flag was created in response to the LGBTQ+ community's call for more inclusivity. The flag was created by a tiny Philadelphia-based PR firm and will be unveiled in 2017 as part of the "More Colour, More Pride" Campaign.
Although the LGBTQ+ group was represented in the original 1978 flag in a variety of ways, its BIPOC members were previously left out. Philadelphia City Hall unveiled a new flag in 2017. The black and brown stripes on this flag stood for people of colour, who historically weren't always represented in the mainstream gay rights movement.. According to the Philadelphia Enquirer, the Philadelphia Office of LGBT Affairs and design firm Tierney collaborated to commission the Philly Pride flag.
12. Genderqueer Flag
The genderqueer pride flag, with its stripes of lavender, white, and chartreuse, was created in 2011 by author and advocate Marilyn Roxie.
Because lavender is a combination of pink and blue, Roxie picked it to stand for androgyny and queer identities. Similar to the transgender pride flag, the white stripe represents gender-neutral or agender identities. Additionally, the chartreuse stripe, which is the opposite of lavender, stands for non-binary and third-gender identities.
A genderqueer rejects traditional gender roles and instead identifies as neither, either, or both male and female. While genderqueer and non-binary are related terms, they mean slightly different things. It is sometimes used as a catch-all phrase to refer to any non-cisgender identity.
13. Genderfluid Flag
JJ Poole developed the genderfluid pride flag in 2012 as a result of being dissatisfied with the absence of symbols that accurately reflected their identity.
There are five horizontal stripes on the flag of genderfluid pride. They are pink, white, purple, black, and blue from top to bottom. Accordingly, those hues stand for masculinity, femininity, all genders, both genders and a lack of gender.
14. Abrosexual Flag
Since 2015, the Abrosexual Pride Flag has been in use. After another anonymous person requested it, Mod Chad of pride-flags-for-us made the flag. It is unknown why this person selected these particular hues.
An individual whose sexuality is fluctuating or fluid is referred to as an abrosexual. One person might, for instance, be gay one day, asexual the next, and polysexual the third. An abrosexual person's sexuality may change more frequently, over the course of hours, days, months, or years, whereas it is possible - and even usual - for a person's sexual identity to shift or alter in some way throughout their life. Some abrosexuals may not feel forced to look for a relationship or may prefer a wavership due to their erratic desire.
Everybody experiences variations at different times; some people may experience unpredictable fluctuations, while others may experience regular fluctuations. An individual switches between various sexualities. Some abrosexuals may be open to all sexual orientations, but others might just be.
15. Agender Flag
Salem X designed the agender pride flag in 2014 to symbolise those who are gender nonconforming, gender neutral, or neither. The middle green stripe indicates nonbinary genders, while the black and white stripes stand in for gender absence, semi-gender lessness, and nonbinary genders, respectively.
16. Straight Ally Flag
The heterosexual flag's black-and-white "colours" serve as the background of the Straight Ally flag, which also includes a huge, rainbow-coloured "A" (for "Ally") to signify straight support for the Gay Pride/Equal Marriage movement.
A straight ally, often known as a heterosexual or cisgender person, is someone who opposes homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia while supporting equal civil rights, gender equality, and LGBT social movements. A straight ally thinks that because of prejudice, LGBT persons suffer from social and economic disadvantages.
It is critical to understand the history of the LGBTQ+ community. Whether you’re a member of the community yourself, or are attempting to be an ally, understanding what the flags represent is an important part of the learning process.
Having LGBTQ+ flags on display can mean a lot more to the community than you might think. In a workspace, it's important to ensure you are showcasing your support to the LGBTQ community because by doing so you can help indicate a safe and supportive environment for employees to be their honest and authentic self.
In today’s climate, having a safe and welcoming place to go is critical, especially for the trans community. You can make the LGBTQ+ community feel more at ease by displaying your support. You can help people in the workplace by learning more about the community, supporting communities in the tech sector who are working to make a more inclusive space for its LGBTQ+ members. and broadening your knowledge.
We created a Pride Month 2023 booklet that highlights the history and importance of Pride, we spotlight LGBTQ+ pioneers who made groundbreaking contributions to technology and celebrate the incredible innovators, leaders, and influencers who are continuing to shape the tech industry. We have included some resources for what you can read, listen to and watch which can help you to learn about and celebrate LGBTQ+ history and culture while understanding the changes that need to happen to achieve equality. Click on the link attached to read our full Pride booklet here: https://lnkd.in/efFWsqP6
by Jack Brameld
Anxiety is a common emotion that we’ve likely all experienced at some point in our lives. People who have an anxiety condition usually...
Anxiety is a common emotion that we’ve likely all experienced at some point in our lives. People who have an anxiety condition usually experience high levels of anxiety, which can significantly lower their quality of life.
Over 8 million people in the UK, or slightly more than 1 in 10, suffer from one of the many distinct types of anxiety disorders.
When we discuss anxiety, we could discount or invalidate it by saying that the person is "just worrying" or "just stressed." These frequent expressions may be dangerous. . That’s why we want to challenge the notion that it’s ‘just’ anxiety and share the truths about the condition.
Numerous factors, such as relationship stress, exam pressure, starting a new job (or losing one), and other major life events, can cause anxiety. However, one of the main stressors is likely to be your job or place of employment. Anxiety at work can significantly lower your quality of life and make you wait impatiently for the end of the day to arrive. About three out of every four persons who experience stress or anxiety claim that it interferes with their day-to-day activities, and this is true even at work.
Anxiety can impact how well a person performs at work, the calibre of their work, their interactions with coworkers, and their interactions with superiors. Additionally, these difficulties might be even more challenging if you have an anxiety disorder that has been identified. Not everyone has the skills necessary to control and deal with their anxiety at work. Many people find it difficult to focus on their work because of excessive concern about a variety of daily issues relating to their personal or professional lives.
Read our suggestions on how to control your symptoms and receive the help you require to start feeling better if your anxiety is interfering with your ability to work:
What is Workplace Anxiety?
The appearance of anxiety symptoms at work, such as unease, worry, or apprehension, is known as workplace anxiety. Both during and after working hours, you could experience these emotions. Worries about your work performance, working relationships, putting in excessive hours, approaching deadlines, your job security, or a toxic work environment are some of the things that might create workplace anxiety.
The Health and Safety Executive reports that work-related ill health cases involving anxiety and other mental health issues, such as stress and depression, account for 50% of all instances in the modern workplace.
Your ability to perform your job may be significantly impacted if you have anxiety at work.
It is very acceptable to occasionally feel stressed and nervous about your employment because stress and anxiety are a part of everyone's daily lives. Given the importance of our employment in our life, it's common to experience anxiety when starting a new job or under particularly intense work pressure.
Common indications of anxiousness include:
In addition to general symptoms of anxiety, signs of work anxiety can include:
• Avoiding taking on new tasksless tolerance for work stress or feedback
• Fear of not performing to standards
• Loss of interest in work
• Reacting to work stressors with more anxiety than fits the situation
• Taking more time off from work than usual
• Difficulty concentrating or focusing
These symptoms may make it difficult for you to perform your job because you find it challenging to focus or to be motivated to complete the tasks that have been assigned to you. It might eventually cause your career to suffer, your relationships at work to deteriorate, or you to take more sick days.
Managing Anxiety at Work
Even though you might be too stressed to work right now, you could find some of these suggestions helpful when the time comes and you're prepared to return to the office:
Take the time to plan out your days and weeks. That way, you will have full visibility of the tasks you want and need to accomplish. A well-structured plan will help you to feel in control of your work and your working day, which can ease any feelings of anxiousness.
Break each task down into manageable chunks
Breaking down your goals into manageable chunks will make managing anxiety at work much simpler so that you don't overload yourself. While this could lengthen your to-do list, splitting larger jobs into smaller action items will allow you to proceed through chores gradually.
Be honest and realistic with yourself about what you can accomplish, and you'll find that you're making progress without exerting too much effort. By doing this, you keep yourself from feeling pressured to finish the bigger assignment. The ability to mark off each step you complete can also greatly increase your confidence.
Give yourself realistic deadlines
Project deadlines that are excessively tight can simply make you more anxious. Occasionally, anxious people will consent to deadlines and timeframes that they are aware they cannot meet. You can begin to obtain a realistic idea of how long a project will take by breaking larger activities down into smaller phases; utilise this planning stage to set deadlines that you are comfortable with. It's frequently preferable to be sincere up front rather than apologise later.
Not all deadlines are movable, but if you can be honest up front and work at an appropriate rate, it will save you hours of stress. Furthermore, you will seem much better if you complete the task earlier than expected. To help others understand why you've set particular deadlines, if necessary, explain the many procedures that must be taken.
Ask for help
We recognise that for someone who struggles with anxiety, asking for assistance at work can be challenging because you worry that others will think less of you. A reasonable manager will respect you for being responsible and want to provide you with the support you need to complete the work if your workload becomes too heavy or you need a little help on a project.
Accept that you will experience some anxiety
Everybody occasionally experiences anxiety. Stress-related behaviour is a typical human reaction. Everyone has bad days, regardless of how lovely their life appears to be from the outside. It's critical to keep in mind that you have no influence over other people, situations that cause your worry, or even your anxiety.
Recognise what you cannot alter and practise self-love. It's critical to have coping mechanisms in place for people with anxiety disorders since they may experience anxiety more frequently or intensely than persons without the problem. These mechanisms can help people manage the times when they feel overwhelmed. You can learn these coping mechanisms and prepare for the future with the aid of professional support and treatment.
Take good care of yourself
Self-care is crucial because it can prevent your stress and worry from becoming out of control. Take appropriate pauses during the working day to give yourself a chance to relax and refuel. Additionally, make sure you are receiving enough rest, eating a balanced diet, exercising, and participating in society.
Simple changes to your self-care routine can help you feel less anxious, have more energy, and have better attention. Simple lifestyle adjustments like the following can make you feel stronger and more resilient:
• Moving regularly. Taking a walk on your lunch break could help boost both your mental and physical health.
• Getting the right nutrition for you. Eating nutrient-dense foods during mealtimes can support your energy levels and focus. Consider avoiding processed sugars where possible, as they can worsen anxiety symptoms.
• Sleeping well. Though it may feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done, prioritising sleep can help you feel more focused and less anxious during your waking hours.
What Should I do if I’m too Anxious to Work?
If you’ve been feeling too anxious to work lately and want to start tackling your symptoms, below are a few steps that you may find helpful:
Contact your GP or a mental health doctor
You can get the anxiety treatment you require to start managing your symptoms from a GP or mental health professional.
People with anxiety problems frequently receive treatment by completing a cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) curriculum. You and your therapist work together throughout these sessions to identify the root reasons and precipitating events of your anxiety. After that, you study and put into practise coping mechanisms to help you handle future triggers and symptoms more effectively.
When you have the proper coping mechanisms in place to handle your anxiety, you'll probably feel more at ease and assured about returning to your place of employment. In addition to a therapy course, medication may be provided to help with the management of your anxiety disorder.
Think about your past jobs to help you plan for the future
Consider what made you feel worried while working at previous jobs and, if you are presently employed, what makes you feel too anxious to perform the duties of your current position. Is there anything you could do in your next work to control these symptoms?
You may have discovered, for instance, that your anxiety increases when you must interact with particular people or when your plate is overflowing with obligations, deadlines, or duties.
Consider the things you would change in a future workplace. Would you rather work in a less deadline-driven, high-pressure workplace or with a smaller team of people? The right job for you will be one that doesn’t cause your anxiety to rise to an unmanageable level.
Talk to someone you trust
It's possible that your anxiety is affecting other aspects of your life as well if you feel too anxious to work. Try not to keep what you are experiencing to yourself.
Speak with your friends and family. Talking through your anxiety might be a helpful method to deal with your intense feelings. Additionally, speaking with a trusted individual, such as a member of your family or a close friend, will make you feel understood and supported.
Speak to Your Manager
Consider telling your boss about the situation and asking for modifications to your work environment if you routinely deal with anxiety at the office. Commonly requested accommodations for anxiety include:
• A flexible timetable
• A schedule with adapted breaks
• A quiet place to rest
Be detailed and solution-oriented when discussing fear with your boss. Let them know that a changed timetable or another accommodation could enhance the quality and quantity of your work rather than making a generalisation like "my anxiety prevents me from working."
It could be beneficial to formalise your request in writing because speaking with your boss can be nerve-wracking in and of itself.
Join a support group
Speaking with folks who have experienced things like their own might be helpful for many people who struggle with anxiety. It might give you a sense of understanding and be a means to seek support and guidance from those who understand what you're going through.
If you'd like to join a support group, speak with your doctor or other health care provider who can offer advice and direct you to the most appropriate group.
Working while experiencing anxiety can be a common and problematic issue. Numerous factors, including a demanding job, issues at home, or even an anxiety disease, might cause it. It may have an adverse effect on how well you perform at work, making it more difficult for you to focus and meet deadlines, as well as having an adverse effect on other aspects of your life.
You could find coping techniques helpful, as well as talking to your manager or the HR department about your feelings. You may be able to better control your symptoms and deal with the underlying problems by seeking professional assistance.
If you feel like yu are struggling with anxiety try talking about your feelings to a friend, family member, health professional or counsellor. You could also contact Samaritans, call: 116 123 or email: email@example.com if you need someone to talk to. Alternatively you can also consider peer support, where people use their experiences to help each other. Find out more about peer support on the Mind website and listen to free mental wellbeing audio guides.
by Robyn Trubey
Jennifer Cox has over 18 years of experience in tech and in the Cyber Security industry. She supports her team who work with techies across all of...
Jennifer Cox has over 18 years of experience in tech and in the Cyber Security industry. She supports her team who work with techies across all of EMEA in enabling best practices and cyber exposure prevention.
Jennifer is a multi-award-winning advocate for Diversity in Tech. She is the Head of Communications for Cyber Women Ireland, an Ambassador for Wentors global mentorship programme, an active member of WITS Ireland (Women in Technology and Science Ireland), WomenTech Community and WiCyS Global (Women in Cyber Security) and works hard to insure diversity and inclusion within her industry by partaking in roles such as Judging at the Coolest Projects event for kids in the RDS, launching a mentoring project in Tenable, speaking at events such as BSides Dublin, WomenTech Global, BBWIC, CWiCS (Cisco Women in Cyber Security), CBF Fest (Coding Black Females Fest) HexCon, UK CyberWeek, WiCyS Global and more.
Jennifer is not your typical STEM candidate, with a background in theatre and media studies, and we were able to get Jennifer's perspective on how and why she got into tech, how she is supporting women in tech and cybersecurity, and why not being afraid to speak out has served her well throughout her career in her quest to breaking down barriers for women in tech.
Tell us a bit about yourself, your background, and your current role
I am a Mum to four boys and have worked in tech for 17 years. My experience was very general prior to joining Tenable in 2016 when I focused solely on Cyber Security. At Tenable I manage three teams globally — one is post-sales, one ius pre-sales and then a team of global architects. It makes for some really interesting conversations and often a steep learning curve. I love it!
I’m involved in a lot of things outside of Tenable too. I began mentoring with Wentors back in 2019 and have continued to mentor through a number of different programs since such as WiCyS (Women in Cyber Security Global), WomenTech and of course Tenable, among others. Mentoring is one of my favourite hobbies outside of work. It’s so rewarding.
Besides mentoring, I am an Ambassador for WiCyS UK’s Affiliate. I love to speak publicly and have done so recently at events like ZeroDayCon Dublin, Wicked6 Global, PlayCyber, UK Cyber Week & Womentech Global
How did you begin your career in tech?
My first tech job happened accidentally. I took an admin role with a tech company logging support cases and over time began answering and resolving some of the issues when people called in.
That led to a role in the support team, which led to a specialist software support role, which led to leadership and eventually I was the IT Coordinator for the company and its multiple sites. I then wanted to specialise in cybersecurity and moved to Tenable. I haven’t looked back since. At Tenable I began, again, in support before moving through the ranks, joining the security engineering team and eventually to my current leadership role. If you had told me when I started that this would lead to where I am now I would certainly have not believed you.
You work for Tenable, as a Security Engineer Manager, what is the most exciting thing about working in cybersecurity?
It changes constantly and quickly. Whilst the pace can be fast, and that is challenging, it’s also one of the best things about this industry. This is not a skill you learn and then rinse and repeat for the rest of your working life. There is constant upskilling, learning and teaching others. I read, listen to podcasts and participate in events across the globe. With colleagues that do similar things, the exchange of information is high quality and we are in a great position to keep on top of it all when we work together, which is something that we do exceptionally well in Tenable.
Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?
There have been plenty. For me the biggest challenge was the lack of a Degree. It meant that I had to wait until I had 10 years experience before I could confidently make the move. Knowing what I know now, it didn’t matter and I actually held myself back. I didn’t believe I could do it because I didn’t have a piece of paper validating my skills.
I kept ignoring all the experience I’d gained through living and working that were way more relevant. I did actual study and get certifications in Theatre Studies and Psychology over the years but again, because it wasn’t the career I was in, I deemed them invalid. If I could go back now I’d tell myself to get over it and push harder, earlier and trust in the skills I’d obtained on the job.
You didn’t come from a tech background but made a career change into tech; how can we convince women that they, too, can choose to work in technology and change the common misconception that a career in tech is just for men?
In the past tech was far more static than we appreciate. There were less coding languages, less operating system flavours, only a handful of network device brands. This meant that you could dedicate years to being an expert in all these things and your role and salary would reflect that over time. And also, speaking historically, women were deemed the primary care-givers, whether raising children or taking care of other family members, , which meant theircareer path would be interrupted or delayed, if progression was possible at all. I don’t believe that is true today.. Now everybody is valued equally, with life experience also seen positively.
In truth, nobody can know everything anymore, technology is moving so quickly with new things to learn almost daily. That means, if you did take a career break for whatever reason, the skills you had will still be relevant and can be adapted and manipulated to suit your current situation and career direction. Nothing you have learned has no value, and that includes if you’ve spent time raising kids or travelling - these life lessons are still valuable to the right employer. Courses are shorter, training is easier and more dynamic. The way we work has changed too, allowing more flexibility in where and when we work. Tech, and cybersecurity especially, is an industry that allows people to dip in and out of it as their life demands.
You can change direction in your tech career within a very short time. If you choose to become a developer and learn a variety of different coding languages and after a few years decide it’s not for you anymore; changing direction is easy to do. Especially if you are already in a tech company or in a tech role.
What has been your biggest career achievement to date?
In 2019 I was asked by Women in Tech Ireland to speak at their event in the Convention Centre in Dublin. I spoke about work/life balance, something that is really important to me. When I stepped on the main stage in front of 1200 people I had a wow moment that I’ll never forget. I’ve spoken at a lot of events and in front of a lot of people that I admire but that one always sticks with me.
My sister was in the audience and seeing her big proud grin, knowing that she was there when things weren’t so great was a wonderful moment for me. I think career achievements don’t always have to be about earning big money, getting the big title or a specific qualification but, feeling, in a moment, like it’s all starting to come together. That was it for me.
We are seeing more women in IT and cybersecurity than ever before, yet there is still a gender gap in the tech business. Do you believe there are still barriers to success for women working in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?
There are of course still barriers for success. If there weren’t we’d see equal representation. This extends beyond women in tech and includes all the other diverse groups also. Overcoming barriers comes with great communication.
If a company truly wants Diversity, Equality and Inclusion then this is something that should be clearly communicated to those who work for the company, those who are customers of the company and their public persona. If you are truly behind equality then why keep it a secret or only talk about it in-house? If you want to drive diverse groups towards your workforce then you need to show them that you are truly supportive of them and not just pay lip service because it’s considered cool to be talking about that today.
Why is it essential to have diverse teams in teams in the tech industry and why is it important for tech companies to truly support and progress diversity as opposed to simply viewing it as a tick box?
Having diversity in a workplace is vital, especially in tech. As importantly is recognition that diversity is not just limited to gender, ethnicity or sexual preference but all minority groups. If you mix the people working on a new product to ensure that there is true diversity — with various age ranges, racial, ethnic, socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds, different lifestyles, experience and interests, neuro diverse and a-typical, and more — then you will create a better product.
You will have a roomful of people that think differently and anticipate any use case. You will have a bunch of minds that are considering better and easier ways to solve problems. Embracing true diversity means throwing linear thinking to the side and pushing forward with changes that fit everyone.
What is a key piece of advice you would give to those individuals considering the decision to start a career in tech?
Just go for it. Start with some short courses on something like Udemy, YouTube or free training via Google, Veeam, AWS or Microsoft. There are always free short courses on offer somewhere. See if you like it. Try a bunch of different things. Don’t just focus on the one you think will make you the most money because if you hate it you’ll be miserable and the money won’t matter. Choose something that intrigues you, that you find fun.
When you’ve done the tasters and find an area you like, then push harder. Do more training, get a mentor, talk to people in that industry, try and get some work experience or an internship. The most important thing here really is the mentor. It’s amazing how useful this can be to someone starting out their career and helping them navigate so many options.
A huge thank you to Jennifer Cox for dedicating her time for this interview.
More information about Jennifer can be found on her LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/jennifermcox/
If you would like to find out more about the tech programmes that Jennifer has mentioned within the article please find below:
Women In Tech: https://www.womentech.net/en-ie
by Beth Marron
Naomi Timperley is the Co-Founder of Tech North Advocates, a support system for helping startups and scale-ups with promotion, investment, and...
Naomi Timperley is the Co-Founder of Tech North Advocates, a support system for helping startups and scale-ups with promotion, investment, and new talent and GSI, short for Growth Strategy Innovation who specialise in helping businesses grow, develop strategy, and innovate for success.
She is proud to be in the top 50 Computer Weekly Most Influential Women in UK IT 2018, 2019, 2020, 3rd most influential woman in 2021 and 4th in 2022. Naomi is an experienced growth and innovation consultant with established relationships across the UK.
She has extensive experience working with start-ups and growth businesses particularly in the tech, digital and creative sectors. Naomi has been a mentor for 8 years and mentored several hundred businesses. She is an Honorary Industry Fellow at the University of Salford Business School and chair of the Industry Advisory Board. Naomi also sits on the board of charity Digital Inc and Social Enterprise PIE and she was previously chair of Future Everything.
Please can you introduce yourself and your roles?
I am Naomi Timperley. I am a co-founder of Technical Advocates and co-founder of GSI Limited, which stands for Growth Strategy and Innovation. I hold a number of different board positions and I am an honorary fellow at the University of Salford Business School.
So, can you tell us about your background, your journey into tech, what inspired you, and how you got to where you are?
It's all accidental and I'm not lying. My first two careers were in the travel industry and in tech recruitment in the late nineties. That was my first foray into tech. Then I took about four years out to have my two daughters and then came across an American events company that was aimed at parents and kids and I brought the concept to the UK. Within two years, we grew in nine cities across the UK. I got offered an investment through Dragons Den, turned it down, and then started getting involved with Entrepreneurship, women's entrepreneurship, and youth entrepreneurship. I came away from the events company after about four years and set up a youth enterprise and employability company called Enterprise Lab with two guys whom I met on Twitter. We did have obviously lots of discussions before we set up the business and the main focus of the business was to bridge the gap between education, employment, and enterprise which is something I am very passionate about.
I left there and have been consulting ever since. I concentrated on very early-stage startups, have created and conducted numerous entrepreneurship programs, and have worked with a variety of organisations, but they have all been in the digital, tech, and creative industries. In 2016, I founded Tech North Advocates after meeting Russell Shaw from Tech London Advocates. Russ was doing some amazing work, and he came to Manchester in search of someone to establish Tech North Advocates.
I was seated next to Volker Hirsch, and what Russ spoke about TNA was comparable to what we were doing, which was connecting individuals. So we decided to do it together, but Tech North Advocates, however we don't tend to produce our own events, we speak at events, and it's basically reinforcing what we were doing already, which is connecting the links.
As it's now Global Tech Advocates, it enables us to link northern-based firms with a much wider network that they might not have had access to previously. In the past, if we go back around 10, or 12, years, we didn’t have the accessibility or the initiatives to give the opportunities to people like we do now. For example, I didn't attend college university until I was 44 years old. Without having any A Levels or a degree to begin with, I was persuaded to pursue a Master's degree. I graduated and received a post-graduate certificate of which I'm really proud.
Over the years, I’ve worked with academics and scale-up enterprises, I've worked with thousands of businesses and personally mentored about 500 of them, so there isn't a business problem I haven't seen. So that's my planned history; everything happened by chance.
One thing it did teach me—and a lot of the skills I've acquired working with the Advocates and the companies I've worked with—is the importance of forming strong communities and relationships, I think it's an incredibly powerful skill to have developed.
As you said, you are the co-founder of Tech North Advocates. Can you tell us what it is and what it's trying to achieve?
So essentially, it’s all about bridging the gap.
Making sure that, that we've got connections with a worldwide, audience rather than just being in the north. We’re able to bridge the gap between the independent sector groups such as the tech leaders, experts, and investors, and the wider tech community.
As I said, we operate very differently. We don't do events, but we are part of lots of events and it's private sector-led rather than attached to anything to do with the government. It's a mix of technology entrepreneurs, government figures, and vital suppliers to the tech sector and Tech North Advocates allows us to be connected to that much bigger network. I think what we're doing is assisting, we're championing, and we're connecting.
So what impact do you think Tech North Advocates is having?
It's creating a greater understanding of how small the world is and how important it is to make connections, engage in conversations, and absorb knowledge from others. As I previously stated, we don't organise many events; instead, we prefer to be a voice and speak at other events.
To have a voice in a space where there are occasionally only people from the South of the UK voicing their opinions is important to me. Although I was born and raised in the South of the UK, I have lived in the North of the UK for the past 25 years.
When we talk about levelling up, there aren't always a huge amount of instances where it truly happened because we don't get a voice, in my opinion, because there are so many loud people from the Southern voices. So I think the impact we are trying to have is it ensures that we get a voice.
Every time there is a big Global Tech Advocates event or a London Tech Advocates event, I make sure to attend and bring along other members of the Tech North Advocates so we can network. I believe it is crucial for them to participate and get in on the action.
You do a lot of work with young people and schools. Why are you passionate about helping and developing youth digital skills?
Essentially, I believe that’s how we're going to fix the digital skills gap and build a talent pipeline. We've got to be going into schools, and supporting teachers and students to know that actually, the roots of tech are not just about coding and that there is a plethora of different types of roles.
There is a lot going on in the north. Manchester is the hub for many technology enterprises, while Liverpool and Newcastle are also home to large, creative digital environments. I think that it’s important that we develop some homegrown talent. I’m an enterprise advisor at two schools in Manchester and the problem is that the careers advisors don’t know about all the many opportunities available. They are aware that there are roles in tech, but they are unaware of all the positions available.
One of the things I’ve done is advocate for digital skills through organisations like the Inspiring Digital Enterprise Award, which is free for schools and combines tech skills with entrepreneurial abilities. It’s the digital equivalent of the Duke of Edinburg scheme, where students can hit bronze, silver, and gold awards.
It’s evident that fewer students are enrolling in computer science courses at the GCSE and A-level levels. I feel one of the causes of that is that the course materials still refer to floppy discs and need to be updated. I think it’s essential to make sure that children are challenged. I serve as a trustee for a non-profit organisation called Digital Inc.; among the many things they do, they operate a college called Desk that is dedicated to helping young people with autism into the tech industry.
I think that is one of the ways to fix the digital skills gap, but also we need to ensure that we are looking at transferrable skills. Looking at people that perhaps have different types of jobs, but have made the career move into a role in tech and are able to use these transferable skills in tech. I work in the tech sector, but I don’t know how to code, but I could probably do lots of other different roles within the tech sector and it’s about educating individuals to be aware that tech touches every point of our life.
What can be done to be encouraging the younger generation, specifically women, to take an interest and enter a career in the tech industry?
A few years ago, I worked with one of the schools to determine how to include entrepreneurship education in the curriculum. I’m very passionate about entrepreneurial education, and I believe that it should run through the veins of schools.
Making real-world issues relevant to education is crucial, in my opinion, because it helps students develop life skills. Problem-solving, collaboration, teamwork, negotiation, persuasion, communication, commercial awareness, perseverance, motivation, and organisation are some of the top 10 abilities that employers seek. When I say the education system, I mean primary school, high school, college, and university. We need to make sure that young people are getting those skills.
I believe that the curriculum needs to include a few highly important skills. Little emphasis is placed on the development of these skills, and it appears to be nothing more than an exam factory. If you were teaching maths and included real-life problems, it would be 10x more engaging since then the students would understand its importance. There are some excellent teachers who do that, but the educational system is overloaded, which is why they tend to lose individuals between the ages of 12 and 18.
Of course, there is also another side to the coin, and that is the development of T levels, and they have a strong focus on careers. We need to make sure that there are opportunities for people from the industry to go into schools and teach some of the curriculum from T levels in real-life situations, rather than merely for academic purposes. Making sure that the industry understands we have a role as well, in my opinion, is important. Everyone is aware that we have a significant skills gap and are having trouble recruiting, but we need to take some responsibility for how we can help the issue. We need to realise that teachers need support around careers, but also it’s about making them more enterprising and the young people more enterprising.
You’ve been consecutively named by Computer Weekly in their most influential women in tech list, why do you think this is great for young females to look at role models like the women on this list?
If we go back to the late 1990s when I worked in recruitment, reading Computer Weekly when it was a physical magazine was something I used to do, so for me, it’s probably one of the things I’m most proud of.
Women, in my opinion, require role models, and I believe they should have a variety of them. There are some highly technical individuals on that list, but there are also some that provide significant support to the tech industry in different functions. I think it’s about making sure that women are heard and have a voice, as well as including people from all walks of life because we’ve all had different journeys. As I said, I went to university when I was 44 but I think you’re never too old, and you are always constantly learning as well. So I think it’s really important to have role models.
What do you feel is the biggest obstacle for individuals today who are interested in technology as a profession?
Um, I think they are unaware of the different types of roles.
I’ll share a remarkable story from my experience working with the IDEA Awards, which are open to everyone and are not just for young people.
One of them was when with a community group, which was supporting people that had fallen by the wayside and lacked confidence. There was one particular guy who hadn’t been out of the house for six months. With the community group that he was attached to he slowly built his confidence. He came into the community centre, he started reskilling, he did the bronze award, did it very quickly, and then became a champion of it. I remember him being on a stage with our mayor, Andy Burnham, and six months previous, he couldn’t leave the house.
Another story was of a young mother in her early 30s who had young children and had struggled in school learned about the IDEA Award through her local community group and quickly earned the bronze award. She had technical competence and flew through the mini-coding challenges. Now, what is she doing? She has a 3D printing company. These are some of the incredible things that can happen through these initiatives and what people can do when given the opportunity.
Shows like ‘The Big Bang Theory’ don’t accurately represent what people who work in technology are like, despite popular belief. I think everybody has the ability to learn how to code it's just about reprograming your own brain.
It involves being aware of the variety of roles. We can't just have a room full of coders. You need other people that have diverse skills. It's important to ensure that this is supported and this goes back to the importance of transferrable skills and role models. People need role models. I think if they can't see people like them, they're not going to go into that field.
What advice would you give to anyone who is looking to enter the tech sector?
My tip would be to see what networks are out there. There are some really brilliant community groups, just a couple that I'm part of, for example, Women in Leeds Digital, I'm also on the Tech London Advocates, and Women in Tech groups. There are loads of similar ones up in Manchester and all across the country.
I would also say make sure that you educate yourself because there are loads of really short courses such as Google which have got loads of brilliant courses that you can do online to get skilled up.
I believe it's important to consider your transferrable talents and reframe your prior experience in light of the technological world. If you've worked in project management in another industry, for instance, those project management skills can be transferred to the tech industry. I believe the same thing about other people looking at the sector and also having that perspective that actually most businesses have technology in them. So you might not think you're working in tech, but actually, technology touches everything at the moment so change that mindset and you will be surprised what incredible opportunities you will discover.
Thank you Naomi for taking the time to answer the questions for this series. Your insights and experience is invaluable and we hope it can help to advise and inspire the next generation into tech. If you would like to find out anymore information about Naomi Timperley or Tech North Advocates please feel free to check out their socials and website.
by Beth Marron
Lauren Mathurin is a Senior Vice President in Silicon Valley Bank's Early-Stage Practice (SVB).
Lauren previously worked as a Relationship...
Lauren Mathurin is a Senior Vice President in Silicon Valley Bank's Early-Stage Practice (SVB).
Lauren previously worked as a Relationship Manager at Metro Bank for two years and at Lloyds Bank for ten years before joining SVB. With over 15 years of experience in Business Development and Portfolio Management, she is working with exciting fast-growing Tech and Innovation companies across the UK and EMEA, assisting them on their journey to International and Financial growth.
She co-chairs the Racial Equity Employee Resource Group for Silicon Valley Bank EMEA in addition to her role as Senior Vice President in the Early Stage Practice. The Racial Equity Employee Resource Group is dedicated to creating a more inclusive culture and focuses on increasing racial, ethnic, and gender representation within SVB.
Lauren is a catalyst for change in her field, and within this article, she discusses her career in finance, her work to increase greater inclusion in what is traditionally a very white cis male-oriented industry, and her leadership advice for women.
Could start with you telling me about who you are and your background.
I’m Lauren Mathurin, Londoner born and raised. I have a 3-year-old daughter and I’ve been working within the banking industry for the last 19 years.
I’m extremely passionate about Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and I Co-Chair the Racial Equity Employee Resource Group for Silicon Valley Bank EMEA. I am also passionate about financial education and coaching. I have a company called Insight Money Management which provides workshops to 16–25-year-olds providing overviews of different financial products to enable them to feel confident when making decisions on general financial products. I am currently studying to become a qualified coach.
You are a senior Vice President at Silicon Valley Bank; can you talk about your journey to get to this position?
I started my Banking career as a part-time cashier when I was at university, it was one of the 3 part time jobs I did to get by. I found that as time went by, I really enjoyed speaking to clients and recommending suitable products based on what I saw on their account. After doing various roles including being a business relationship manager, I was approached for a role at Silicon Valley Bank. Once I saw how niche they were, their values and their dedication to help companies succeed I knew that it was the role and company for me. I started as a Senior associate, managing a large portfolio of Early-stage companies and over the last 5 years I have built my network in the Tech ecosystem, created value add events and joined various initiatives across the bank to enable me to move into the Senior Vice President role, now specialising in managing a portfolio of Consumer tech companies from Seed stage through to Series A.
What have been the biggest barriers you have faced in your career in financial services?
In the early days of being a relationship manager, due to being in my 20’s at the time, it felt like some colleagues and clients wouldn’t take me seriously or would second guess my judgement because at the time I looked really young. I was the “only one of” in a team that was mainly made up of the typical older male bankers which at time made it difficult to be my authentic self, always having to try and act differently. I never felt like I was held back in job roles, but I do feel like I was never my true self which I think may have prevented me from really excelling and perhaps going further earlier in my career, as it has really worked for me over the last few years.
What is your biggest achievement to date?
My daughter and how smart, charismatic, and confident she is. Although she is only 3, I have encouraged her to be vocal about how she feels and to show her abilities rather than shying away from them. In my career my biggest achievement to date would be the trajectory that I have had in my career, especially over the time I have been at Silicon Valley bank. I have worked hard and it’s been rewarded by allowing me to be recognised for what I do and what I am passionate about. I also recently won a Contribution to DE&I award and was nominated by my colleagues which I am also very proud of.
Whom was an inspiring woman leader to you growing up and who inspires you now?
Growing up I was inspired by Oprah, she was and is an amazing media mogul and that was my interest prior to banking. She is wise, ambitious and has a lot of the values that I have now such as living a life of dedication to others, sharing your knowledge to allow others to prosper and to just be a kind person to others and yourself and to practice gratitude daily.
I can’t say I have one woman who inspires me now, I meet and know so many inspirational women doing great things in their own fields, and I would like to think that I take something away from each interaction, interview or podcast that I try to implement into my own life. Right now, I have real admiration for mothers, especially my own who balance successful businesses or careers with motherhood because that is really, really hard!
What do you feel the finance industry is doing in terms of gender equity and embracing the power of diversity?
I am seeing more women being placed or promoted into senior roles within the finance industry and that’s a great start, but there is still a long way to go. Women have so much to offer, and it’s been proven time and time again the great outcomes that come from women in senior positions. Financial services who don’t adopt flexible working and parity of pay or those who don’t embrace diversity and only do lip service will really struggle to get and keep great talent. Gender pay gap reporting, and ethnicity pay gap reporting are forcing the hand of companies who are struggling to keep up. I know women who are now asking for these data points to see if they want to join the company they are interviewing for. Financial services have a legacy issue of hiring people who all look the same and I think it will take years before women are on an even playing field.
There is a lot going on and a lot of companies are trying to move forward and are taking diversity and inclusion a lot more seriously. But do you think the finance industry is moving in the right direction in terms of making it more accessible?
I don’t think getting through the door is necessarily the problem, you can definitely see more diversity in financial services. However, it stops when you get to certain level of seniority, and I think that is where the problem lies. There needs to be more diverse senior leaders and Executives to really enforce the changes that need to be made.
What do you think can be done by industries to actually start attracting more people from different genders, races, and backgrounds?
Organisations need to invest in building the most inclusive leaders and colleagues they can. And they must build organisations that are massively adaptable and flexible. Leaders need to get to know their staff, understand what they like and what they don’t, understand what environment will get the best out of them and try and create that by being as inclusive as possible and offering support through Employee resource groups for example. One of the greatest tools to attract more diverse individuals is referrals from your existing employees. So, ensuring their employees feel included will allow them to attract people for you.
What are some strategies that you think can help women grow within their organisation? Is there a single piece of advice you would give to the next generation of female leaders?
I think that organisations need to invest in women by providing all the tools to create great leaders. Whether it be career development courses, benefits to help with childcare and women’s health, ensuring there are women are at the decision making table can all contribute to helping other women grow through the organisation.
My single piece of advice would be to really focus and double down on your strengths and what makes you unique. Keep upskilling yourself to give you more confidence to be part of the conversations and to not shy away from voicing your opinions or giving suggestions.
In your experience, what do you think makes a great leader, in particular female leaders?
I think being authentic, transparent, and having good Emotional Intelligence is paramount. Humanising yourself is also very powerful as leader. Women tend to try and overcompensate to prove they can do the job well, when in fact they do the job great in the first place. Studies have shown that women tend to suffer from imposter syndrome more than men so I think having good mentors and coaches are also useful to have to give you a confidence boost when you may be doubting yourself. It can also be daunting to speak out at times, but if you look around the room there maybe someone that your inspiring, so always be true to yourself and concentrate on the leadership legacy that you want to leave behind.
What are some leadership lessons you have learnt along the way?
You cannot do it all, and there is nothing wrong with delegation. Be adaptable, and have a growth mindset and continue learning from others around you and make sure that you put yourself in positions that are out of your comfort zone as that is when the real growth happens.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
I would say, do something you are passionate about, and it will never feel like work. It may take a while to get there but you must keep trying. Don’t settle for what doesn’t bring you joy. Always listen to your gut and be true to yourself and you will find the right path and when you don’t know what to do. Do nothing. You will find answers in the stillness.
Thank you Lauren taking the time to answer the questions for this series. Lauren's perspective is invaluable, and we appreciate her sharing her experiences and thoughts on female leadership and DE&I in the financial services industry. We are aware of the importance and impact of sharing these insights and we hope this can inform, inspire, and educate.
by Lewis Nelson
Ageism, another name for age discrimination, is one of the most prevalent types of unfair treatment at work. Even when it's inadvertent,...
Ageism, another name for age discrimination, is one of the most prevalent types of unfair treatment at work. Even when it's inadvertent, discriminating against an employee based on their age can have serious practical and legal repercussions for your company.
One of the nine protected characteristics included in the Equality Act of 2010 is age. The others are age, colour, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnerships, pregnancy and maternity, and others.
Despite regulations like the Age Discrimination in Employment Act 2010, this problem still exists and has negative repercussions on the person. People expect to be able to work for longer because they are enjoying longer, healthier lives. There are still about one million persons over 50 who want to work but are unable to find employment, despite the fact that around a third of those who are already employed are between the ages of 50 and 64 and another 1.2 million are over 65.
Understanding Age Discrimination?
Age discrimination essentially means you will judge an individual’s fit for a job based on their age rather than their skillset and ability. This can occur when employers will deny a candidate a role if they are too old or too young or they will get denied a promotion based on their age.
Here are a few signs of age discrimination to look out for in the workplace:
- Young workers are automatically given learning opportunities, but not older ones. This can involve attending professional or industry conferences, receiving funding for continuing education, or taking part in educational coursework.
- Being overlooked or passed over for challenging assignments. This may also look like an unfair share of unpleasant or tedious assignments given to older employees.
- Being excluded from customer meetings or work events.
- The assumption, whether explicit or implicit, is that because you don't have young children at home, you are not entitled to take time off for family obligations.
- Insulting remarks and statements about age. This may be presented as subtle and light-hearted, with others making jokes about things like your age, retirement plans, slow typing, gasping for air as you climb the stairs, etc. Or, it could be outright hostile (such as sarcastic remarks that corner you or pressure you to leave your job to make room for another qualified candidate).
- Being passed over for promotions and pay raises. This one can be challenging, just like in our example above. Different raises and promotion decisions may indicate age-based discrimination, or they might be a reflection of individual performance.
What Is the Impact of Age Discrimination on employers’ duties and an employee’s rights?
According to the law, an employer is prohibited from treating employees or job applicants less favourably or disadvantageously in any way on the basis of their age. Additionally, they have a responsibility not to victimise or harass someone because of their age.
In turn, the employee or prospective employee is protected from unfair treatment because of how old they are or, in some cases, how old they are thought to be or the age of someone they are associated with.
No minimum length of employment by an employee, or any employment at all for a job applicant, is required to claim age discrimination. It is potentially unlawful to discriminate against someone from the point a job role is advertised through to the last day of employment and even beyond, including references.
The law protects the job applicant or employee in relation to various key areas, including the following:
- Training & promotion
- Pay or other terms & conditions
- Performance management
- Termination of employment
How can you ensure your recruitment processes don’t discriminate on grounds of age?
Look at your job advert
Do the words "recent graduate," "dynamic personality," "lively and energetic," or "three to five years' experience" reflect an age bias? This kind of wording implies that you're searching for a young worker, thus an older worker with more experience is probably not going to apply. Or, perhaps more accurately, wouldn't be taken into account even if they did apply.
Does your job posting mention that you offer flexible scheduling or that you have a sizable pension plan? The size and age range of the applicants are likely to rise with this type of phrasing.
Look at your application form
You may not ask for date of birth, but does it ask for ‘full work history’? This will clearly indicate the approximate age of the applicant. Would ‘relevant work history’ be a better phrase?
Look at your interview process
Does your interview panel have CV’s or application forms with the information which can identify the applicant removed? Does your interview panel have a list of questions which are asked of every applicant? Does your interview panel consist of people of varying ages? Are you sure your interview panel doesn’t base their opinions on stereotypes of older workers?
Look at your workplace culture
Does your company actively look to build an age inclusive workforce? This should be an attitude which comes from the top down and applies to everyone.
If you can get this right and have a more age inclusive recruitment process, giving you a multi-generational workforce, you are likely to benefit in a number of ways:
- Increased productivity
- A workforce who shares their knowledge and experience
- You’ll avoid discrimination on grounds of age for both older and younger workers and job applicants
- Increase your reputation as a company which is not only committed to the principles of equal opportunities, diversity and inclusion, but also goes the extra mile to ensure that all age groups are represented in your company.
Remember – older workers can be good for business
It has been found that companies which have a 10% higher share of workers over the age of 50 are 1.1% more productive. This is mainly due to lower job turnover and the general work experience of older workers. They help in knowledge and skill sharing meaning that younger workers benefit from their expertise, ultimately helping the business to thrive, with approximately 75% of employers in England declaring that utilising the skills and experience of older workers is crucial to their success
This is a serious issue that occurs throughout the workplace and does affect individuals both older and younger. To tackle this issue employees and employers will have to work together to come up with strategies to successfully address this issue to create a fairer environment for all. With increased education on this issue in workplaces it can help lower the rate and increase equality.
by Emily Jones
Elena Sinel, FRSA, is a multi-award-winning founder of Teens in AI and impact-driven social entrepreneur on a mission to inspire young people across...
Elena Sinel, FRSA, is a multi-award-winning founder of Teens in AI and impact-driven social entrepreneur on a mission to inspire young people across the world to explore a future in tech and AI through collaborative hands-on learning experiences. Officially launched at the ITU’s AI For Good Global Summit to democratize AI and create pipelines for underrepresented talent, thereby improving diversity and inclusion in Artificial Intelligence. It offers young people aged 12-18 early exposure to AI for social good through a combination of expert mentoring, talks, workshops in AI/ML, human-centred design and ethics, hackathons, accelerators, company tours and networking opportunities. The vision is for AI to be developed by diverse thinkers and doers advancing AI for humanity’s benefit.
Elena Sinel is a sought-after keynote speaker and policy adviser with a passion for diversity in tech focusing on female empowerment. Trusted by global FTSE 100 companies and governments to integrate the skills of tomorrow into educational systems today.
She is the recipient of many awards and achievements such as: Winner CRN UK Entrepreneur of the Year 2022, Winner GLOMO 2020 - Diversity in Tech, Winner GLOMO 2020 - Women4Technology –Industry Leadership Award and 50 Computer Weekly most influential women in UK tech 2019.
Please introduce yourself and give us a bit of a backstory as to what you do.
My name is Elena Sinel. I'm the founder of Teens in AI. We launched Teens in AI back in 2018 at the United Nations, AI for Good Global Summit. The intention behind this global movement was really to improve diversity in AI.
We have less than 22% of women in AI and it’s less than 26% of women in data roles across the globe which is not representative. We have very little data when it comes to various minority groups or even people of colour. We have less than 4% of Latinx in AI and less than 2% of black people of colour in some of the biggest companies in the world. These statistics are poor, and I won't even mention the data released on LGBTQ+ or neurodiversity- there is a severe lack of data published.
The mission we are driving is about raising awareness about some opportunities and careers in AI, which don't necessarily have to be technical. By raising this awareness among teenagers (12-18 years old) we are looking to bridge the gap in the industry which is not improving as fast as we would like it to.
What does this mean for the technology industry?
We’re building technology with very limited resources when it comes to diversity. It's very homogenous, white males who are still very much represented in the world of AI and data science, and they seem to be building technology that's being used by everyone.
Hence why we are constantly seeing, technology that has got various biases, particularly, facial recognition technology that's not detecting various skin tones and colours and various other tools that are being released, which have had limitations when it comes to various biases and other risks. These have been ingrained historically because they are not being developed by representative teams. There is a lot that needs to be done to address and improve this, and that is the mission we are driving with teens in AI.
You are targeting 12-18 years old with Teen in AI a hard demographic to get interested in a career in technology, what was the reason for targeting this age demographic?
The reason behind targeting the 12 to 18, age group is very simple. When my daughter was 12, I realised that the career information and advice she was receiving in her school was very limited. Even her, own teacher said “why would you want to study computer science? It's boring. It's for the boys.” By giving this kind of advice and telling this to the girls, we are limiting their opportunities and options. I feel a lot of teenagers are not receiving a positive narrative about opportunities and careers in AI and data science.
This was the motivation for Teens in AI as at the age 12 to 18 is when we lose teenagers to technology and anything related to STEM, and that has been proven by so many reports that show young people aren't being exposed to what opportunities there are in AI, thus they are choosing traditional pathways such as doctors, lawyers. What they aren't realising is that every single one of these sectors will be affected by AI and technology in one way or another. There needs to be more demystification, awareness, and exploration of the topic among teenagers.
We need more focus on the demographic we are losing every year. Education has turned into a ‘death by examination’ where teenagers become more focused on passing an exam that they don’t even look at the wider world and look at the news or read the papers.
We teach in our hackathons, how to ideate, how to brainstorm and how to find out the problem that exists before we dive into solving a problem. We also teach entrepreneurship skills, pitching skills, and just generally working together skills, which is something a lot of young people do struggle with because they're just constantly in front of screens.
We encourage them to think about how innovative it is, what it is that they're developing, and how different it is from everything else that's out there. It's always a fun environment where there is a lot of connection that happens. It allows these teenagers to network with role models whom they admire in the industry and want to be. We want to teach them life skills that they normally wouldn't be exposed to in a classroom, and offer them to start thinking about the opportunities to work at these companies.
It’s clear to see that you have created an incredible network and community through Teens in AI. You are working with people globally, some in 3rd world countries, with a huge emphasis on diversity in terms of gender, race, experience, and background. Is this the case and can you tell me how did you manage to find, connect and bring all these people together and what impact you think you are having?
It is very global, Teens in AI are in more than 33 countries, and our next campaign is in February/ March and will take place in 24 countries around the world this all started during COVID. For us, it was the situation that is often described as ‘innovate or die’. My colleague and I said we either need to pivot and figure out a way to do this online or wait for two years and then we just don’t know what will happen. So we decided to do something online and create one of our programmes, which is called a hackathon and is normally very face-to-face and very reliant on communication. We weren’t sure if we could recreate this kind of rich experience online but we thought we would try it anyway.
Armed with 14-15 teenage volunteers and no budget, I trained them in everything I knew about social media to help find these incredible people and mentors and found people who were very keen to get involved. We had Lord Clement-Jones from Parliament give a keynote speech, and phenomenal AI ethicists, amazing machine learning mentors, and data scientists either studying or already working in the field from all over the world came to join as mentors. With the help of word of mouth, we ended up with almost 300 kids and 70 projects were developed from just one hackathon. These children joined globally from the USA, Latin America, Pakistan, and India.
They connect people and bring people together in times when there was very little. And that's just how it started. The first hack, I think we had about 12 countries then and now we have grown bigger; we've had kids from as many as 140 cities around the world once join from countries as far as Fiji and Brunei and they have found us online and they join to meet other teenagers who are equally curious in this subject and build projects together. It is incredible to watch the global collaboration.
AI is such an emerging and cutting-edge technology that is reshaping the world we live in, however, to build truly powerful AI-driven solutions, the tech sector needs “diversity of thought.” Why is diversity so important for the tech industry?
Diversity to me is not just a need for more women, but the need for diversity of thoughts. We need diversity of all who give their voice and add value to a technology that's being built. What happens when we don't have that diversity of voices from different backgrounds, we end up with technology that is not representative of all of these voices, views, and differences. It's the difference that needs to be embraced. We are creating technologies that are used by large demographics of society, but not everyone's opinions are being considered. As a result, we end up with products like the Apple Watch, which lacks a period tracker because the team that created it was male-dominated, or facial recognition technology, which cannot recognise people with dark skin tones because the team that created it was exclusively made up of white people and didn't think it was important to include data that is representative. We need diverse groups included in the very initial stage of product development so that their views are taken into account and they're part of building that product.
There are so many other examples of failures within technology, particularly when it's related to AI because AI does learn things very fast. The algorithms that are being built, are learnt from the dataset. If historically, an ethnic group or segment of a population has been disadvantaged then these biases are going to be reproduced in technology. Historically, if certain groups have not been given certain rights, then when we use old datasets, they will then be reproduced in so many different biases within the technology that we are building.
These are the kind of mistakes that we should be able to avoid by, adhering to some of the AI ethics frameworks that have been developed that are to do with transparency, accountability, making sure it's fair and just and does not infringe some of the fundamental human rights.
Looking to the future with teens in AI, what are you most excited about?
We are launching some very interesting courses to make them accessible for everyone, with the courses we are designing optimized for different kinds of languages globally. We are currently on a mission to develop some simple courses that will introduce teenagers anywhere in the world to some of the fundamentals of artificial intelligence, which will have some elements of AI ethics and will have a very strong emphasis on why this is needed and the very importance of diversity in AI.
This is something I'm driving at the moment behind the scenes and will be soft launching in spring, then hopefully getting traction and a lot of interest from schools directly. We want to make the lives of computer science teachers easier, particularly when it comes to some of the more complex subjects like artificial intelligence and data science.
We're hoping by doing this, we are again going to inspire teenagers into becoming curious about this subject and take the courses. We want to make it accessible; all you need is Wi-Fi, a laptop, or even a mobile, and you can learn. We made it accessible in terms of teaching as well. We're working with some PhD students in the US, and scientists who are designing those courses in a way that will be quite easily explained, to teenagers and that they can resonate with. The courses can be tailored at beginners’ and intermediate levels with some added challenges for those who want to push themselves.
We’re at a really exciting stage at Teens in AI where we are running our global campaigns to raise awareness and to bring hackathons into any city where we can find keen individuals to host our program or universities. We’ve grown our network to 30,000, people, many of whom are young, university students. It's a huge, pool of talent to tap into and to hire from so it's something that we really hope will help the industry, particularly when it comes to this diversity gap that we are desperately trying to reduce.
You’ve had an illustrious career; you have built up this initiative from nothing- can you tell us the most important lesson you have learned?
I think it's about being resilient and not giving up on something that you are passionate about. Not taking no for an answer. During COVID I could have just furloughed myself and waited it out but I thought, no, I'm not going to do that, I am still going to persevere.
Another thing, that even I sometimes fail at even after doing this for 8 years, is asking for help. Having done this for now for almost seven or eight years, I still struggle to ask for help. When you need help, don’t hesitate to just go out there to your network or other people's networks and just ask for help because out of 10 people, maybe one will say yes and that is a big win already. The worst answer you get is a no. But without asking, you won’t get any response. It’s very important to have that courage and go out there and say, I need help.
A huge thank you to Elena Sinel for dedicating her time for this interview.
In celebration of and solidarity with International Women’s Day, Teens in AI will be hosting its sixth annual IWD Global Hackathon from February to March 2023. This global initiative aims to highlight the need for diversity and equitable representation within the tech and AI industries. For more details visit www.teensinai.com/global-hack/ or simply follow along on social media! #IWD2023 Global Hackathon by Teens in AI
Connect with Teens in AI online
Social Media: linktr.ee/TeensinAI
The world of technology is the most powerful and growing industry, with the potential to grow to unimaginable heights. However, it is one of the...
The world of technology is the most powerful and growing industry, with the potential to grow to unimaginable heights. However, it is one of the industries that lack diversity and inclusion, gender and race specifically. Due to this very apparent lack, it can often be seen as a deterrent for women or ethnic minorities to feel comfortable entering these environments or even believing they’d have a chance at success. Why is that?
Here is a personal account of a Black woman in tech
Q. How and what made you get into tech?
“I’ve always been interested in the growth of technology and the potential it has to change the world, I decided to study computer science at university and begin my career “
Q. What have been your biggest struggles?
“Choosing a particular path after finishing university has been a struggle and trying to find a specific role that I love at a company where I am comfortable. I’ve worked at three different fintech firms and find that I tend to be the only woman or very few women within my team, especially being in my mid-twenties.
Everyone has always been much older than me which makes social events and socializing at or outside of work sometimes awkward or boring. As you spend the majority of time at work / working, I think it’s important to have some friends or people you can relate to. It helps with motivation which in turn links to productivity and creates a safety bubble.
When you need help or make mistakes, it’s easier to approach the situation rather than approaching team members who may not be able to relate to the issue, and could potentially overreact to the mistake made. To conclude, I tend to be the only young black woman working in tech and find that the biggest struggle of this is finding someone to relate to.”
Also, here are some statistics for you to have a look at:
- 17% tech students are female
- 26% of people in tech are women
- Less than 3% of those women are black
- More than 50% of women in tech report gender inequality or discrimination in male dominated environments
- At Facebook, only 2.1% of tech jobs are held by Black employees
- At Microsoft, only 6.6% of employees are Black
Having diversity in tech is important for businesses to stay relevant to their customers and stay competitive in their market as it provides an opportunity for growth. Although companies are aware of this importance, 68% of business leaders still report a lack of diversity in the workplace, even after spending billions on diversity and inclusion efforts such as workshops, seminars or spreading awareness for the minority in tech. While there has been an increase in diverse hires of the years, it’s simply not increasing quickly enough and it is still something that is very much an issue.
Diversity in tech is also important as it can help businesses to understand their customers better and be more relatable to them if they have a diverse workforce. Would an all-male workforce be able to create products that can relate to or benefit a woman? There are various examples of companies who have created products without input from women of colour, which is essentially bad for business as statistics show that women control about £16.2 trillion in consumer spending. If the company promoted diversity, and spent more time trying to hire and hire women or people of color in their workforce, it would lead to better business engagement and an increase in their customer base, as they can relate to the product more, and even better, the people behind the product.
Though women are unrepresented in the tech industry, it is even worse for women of color. Not only are they misrepresented in the workplace, but they are more likely to be subject to discrimination, and often feel intimidated, especially in all male environments. They also experience things such as being underpaid, not having career progression opportunities, being misunderstood, and receiving less support from senior leaders. These factors, lead to women/people of color find tech jobs less appealing and less accessible, as they recognize it as an industry that is simply not made for them.
Some statistics show that 61% of tech employees worldwide believe diversity and inclusion initiatives can be effective in the workplace, but 14% think it is not effective at all, for CEOs and founders, 51% of them think D&I initiatives aren’t effective. Could this be because they aren’t implementing the right practices?
Understandably, as it’s been an issue for so long, it may be hard for businesses to know where to begin when it comes to diversity and inclusion in the workplace. But here are a few ways that diversity can be included in tech:
Focusing on improving company culture
Developing an inclusive culture and allowing minorities to feel a sense of belonging, as well as recognizing inclusive holidays such as black history month and ensuring employees have undergone inclusivity or bias training. It is also important to show the misrepresented groups such as women or people of color on the company website, on the company’s social media or at conferences etc.
Changing the recruiting strategy
Perhaps working with organizations who support and develop diverse tech talent.
As well as hiring diverse talent, put an emphasis on developing diverse talent within the company
Support the growth of employees by creating training programs, giving opportunities for employees to learn new skills, and allowing growth opportunities to be more accessible and attainable. Developing a leadership training program for unrepresented employees would also be beneficial.
As written in this blog, diversity and inclusion is beneficial for those who are unrepresented to have a presence in tech and with minorities becoming more apparent in the tech world, it would encourage more people to strive for a career in tech, as they will have people to relate to, and are seeing programs and initiatives that would mean they’d be supported. It is also beneficial for companies to invest in these initiatives as it would improve their businesses and customer relationships and retention, and therefore strengthen their brand.
There is still a long way to go with diversity in tech, but it is important that it is recognized and the commitment to changing and improving it starts now.
At Franklin Fitch we are committed to raising awareness, tackling bias, and giving people a voice through our Inclusive Infrastructure. To read more about this please click here or feel free to speak to one of our team about finding a new opportunity.
by Charlotte Drury
Lisa Ventura is an award-winning cyber security awareness consultant, writer, and speaker. She is the Founder of Cyber Security Unity, a global...
Lisa Ventura is an award-winning cyber security awareness consultant, writer, and speaker. She is the Founder of Cyber Security Unity, a global community organisation that is dedicated to bringing individuals and companies together who actively work in cyber security to help combat the growing cyber threat. Lisa is also a mindset and mental health coach and offers help and support to those affected by stress, burnout, and mental health issues in cyber security and Infosec.
She is passionate about raising awareness of the growing cyber threat to prevent cyber-attacks and cyber fraud, and actively supports women and those who are neurodiverse into careers in cyber security. Her books “The Rise of the Cyber Women: Volume 1 and Volume 2” were released in 2020 and 2021 to great acclaim.
Lisa sits on the Advisory Group of the West Midlands Cyber Resilience Centre, sits on the board of Think Digital Partners as their Cyber Security Advisor and is a member of the Advisory Council for the International Security Expo event. In 2021 she was named as one of IT Security Guru’s “Most Inspiring Women in Cyber Security” and won the “Positive Role Model for Gender” award in ITV News’s National Diversity Awards in 2020. She has also won numerous other awards for her work including SC Magazine’s “Outstanding Contribution to Cyber Security” award.
Please can you introduce yourself, and tell us about your career/ what does job role entail and what led you to pursue a career in cybersecurity?
My name is Lisa Ventura and I’m the Founder of Cyber Security Unity, a global community organisation that exists to help unite the cyber security industry to help combat the growing cyber threat. The industry is stronger together to beat cyber crime. I’m also a writer/blogger, keynote speaker and a cyber security awareness consultant.
Can you tell us about a moment in your career that made you proud?
I think the proudest moment was when I found out I’d won ITV News’s National Diversity Award for my work in cyber security in the “Positive Role Model” category in 2020. I couldn’t believe I had won, there were far more worthy candidates and my imposter syndrome went through the roof that day! My trophy sits proudly in my office and it is a reminder of how far I’ve gone in my career despite some significant challenges.
What do you think are the biggest obstacles that a woman working in the technology sector faces? And with respect to your professional career, what have been yours?
While there has been some positive progress with encouraging more women into careers in cyber security, such as programs aimed at getting girls and women into the field, there is still much to be done to encourage them to join.
Retention is a key problem. Many often leave the industry due to burnout, lack of career progression and the toxic culture often found in the industry. Many efforts to address more inclusion and diversity in cyber security don’t go much further than a few PR pitches and lack anything substantial. Sadly, women are still paid less, promoted less and deal with discrimination and harassment, which leads to the pursuit of other career paths away from cyber security. Equally, with such technical terminology often being used this can be very off putting to women looking to enter the industry.
In terms of challenges I’ve faced in my career, I have been a victim of the gender pay gap where I discovered that male counterparts doing exactly the same role as me were paid far more, and I now campaign heavily to stop this outdated practice. I’ve also been subjected to bullying and abuse throughout my career.
You’re a business mentor for Women in Business, Women in Cyber Security, Women in Tech and more. How does your own personal journey into tech help you when mentoring?
I think my lived experiences help when it comes to mentoring others in cyber security as I can provide real world examples of what I have been through to hopefully help others understand that they are not alone. This is especially true for things like dealing with imposter syndrome, bullying and abuse, the gender pay gap and mental health in the workplace.
We’re witnessing more women in tech and cybersecurity than ever before however there still is a lack of women in the tech sector. Do you think enough is being done by businesses to address the gender imbalance in cybersecurity and the technology industry as a whole and how would you encourage more women to join the ever-evolving industry?
The media and popular culture often portrays cyber security as being done by a socially inept young guy in a hoodie, this began in the 1980s and is still prevalent today. This is not the right image to attract a more diverse workforce into the industry, and even for companies and academic programs that have tried to overcome this image, the perception that it exists and that cyber security is hostile towards women deters many girls and women from entering it. Combatting this misconception is a must to attracting more women into the industry.
I also think we need much greater representation of under-represented groups in cyber security across all aspects of society and media. There are many strong female role models in cyber security who deserve to have their voices amplified. News outlets need to stop citing male cyber security experts, industry conferences should include more female speakers and demonstrate their commitment to having inclusive codes of conduct. If women and girls don’t see it, they won’t want to be it. Women must e visible and seen as experts in cyber security but ufortunately when women are contacted for their insights it is often to talk about gender issues and not about their technical skills and capabilities. Therefore, when girls see female role models in cyber security, they often only hear awful statistics and not the great work that women are doing in the industry.
What are you doing to support other women, and/or to increase diversity, in the tech/cyber industry?
Part of my work with Cyber Security Unity is to provide safe spaces for women, those who are neurodiverse and those from minority groups to be able to share their challenges and meet and network with others who may be going through similar challenges. Cyber Security Unity is all about greater collaboration to not only combat the growing cyber threat but also support each other in cyber so we feel listened to and included.
How has the tech industry changed for women since you started in tech and what do you think the future hold for women in cyber?
When I started out in cyber security in 2009 it was extremely male dominated, there were very few women. I think this is partly because women often don’t apply for promotions and other high-level jobs as they feel they don’t stand a chance of being considered, but promoting men ahead of women is holding us all back. Diversity delivers better financial results, a better culture and better business decision making. There are fewer women in executive positions compared to men across the board and not just in cyber security; recent research has shown that while women comprise 73% of the workforce in entry and junior level roles, female representation drops to 42% at the level of senior management. When it comes to director-level posts, just 32% of these are held by women across the board.
Women aren’t the only underrepresented group in tech – what can be done to encourage more neurodiverse and autistic individuals to enter the cybersecurity industry?
While many neurodiverse people may find some parts of work and socializing more difficult, conditions that fall into the category can also give them particular strengths. There are many skills associated with Autism, such as pattern-spotting, attention to detail and problem-solving. Autistic people may approach problems differently and can provide extremely creative solutions. Many of these characteristics can be particularly useful in technical disciplines, and security roles in particular. The Infosec Institute lists IT and networking skills, analytical skills and auditing skills among the top five that are most important for Cyber Security professionals.
Sadly while neurodiverse candidates bring many benefits to the workforce, many interview processes do not give them the best chance of success. Davies warns that some assessment tools in particular can be challenging for neurodiverse individuals, such as group interviews. Improving the interview process is not enough though, organisations must also ensure that neurodiverse colleagues are given the right platform to perform once they begin work.
You are a strong advocate for all things related to neurodiversity, and are vocal about being autistic and neurodiverse, how did you navigate your journey in the cybersecurity industry and how has this inspired you to help others who are on the spectrum?
I wasn’t diagnosed as autistic until 2018 so quite late in life, but it explained so much about why I am the way I am, and why I struggled in the workplace so much. It enabled me to make some positive changes such as working from home in my own space and being able to control things like lighting, sound and noise, even things like having my desk and workspace set up a certain way, as this all helped to reduce the amount of sensory overload I experienced in the office. I also build in “down” time in between video calls which also helps.
What advice would you pass on to anyone from a minority background to help them progress in this industry?
Not wanting to sound too much like the Nike ad slogan, just do it! The industry is very welcoming and there is a strong community in cyber security and tech who are willing to help you every step of the way in your career.
A huge thank you to Lisa Ventura for dedicating her time for this interview.
More information about Lisa can be found on www.lisaventura.co.uk.
Lisa’s twitter - @cybergeekgirl and @cybersecunity
Lisa’s LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/lisasventura/
by Beth Marron
Despite substantial progress toward LGBTQ+ workplace inclusion over the years, the community’s self-reported experiences show that complete...
Despite substantial progress toward LGBTQ+ workplace inclusion over the years, the community’s self-reported experiences show that complete employment equality is still a distant dream.
It’s arguable that employees today feel more comfortable sharing their identities and pronouns at work. But it’s still quite dangerous for many. Some individuals still worry about being ostracised or marginalised. Employees might not want to be treated indifferently for things like, career development or promotional opportunities. Because of this, employees may refuse to disclose their labels to maintain their comfort level at work.
Today's leading corporations have invested in processes and initiatives to promote inclusive cultures for workers of all identities. Most businesses understand the value of recruiting a diverse staff. However, despite the efforts of these businesses, many employees continue to feel that they are unable to be fully present at work. As a company, you must actively support staff who come out and openly identify and encourage an equal, inclusive, and diverse workplace for all.
According to a 2018 survey from the HRC Foundation, nearly half of LGBTQ+ workers remain closeted at work, and 1 in 5 reports that they’ve received negative comments about how they should appear more feminine or masculine. A 2019 survey from Glassdoor found similar results – 43% of LGBTQ+ respondents reported not being fully out at work, and 47% of all LGBTQ+ respondents believe that being out at work could cause harm to their careers, including job loss or missing out on a promotion or project.
That same Glassdoor survey found that 70% of LGBTQ+ employees surveyed would not apply to work at a company that does not support its LGBTQ+ employees, and 46% of all respondents (including non-LGBTQ+) said the same. That means that crafting a hiring process through the lens of LGBTQ+ inclusivity is not only the right thing to do, but it’s essential for talent acquisition strategies.
When it comes to your recruitment process, it should host the ultimate sanctum of equality and fairness. And this goes for all protected characteristics, like gender, race, and sexual orientation.
Recognise that LGBTQ+ involves a wide range of backgrounds and populations
First, ensure that your company understands that the LGBTQ+ community is a diverse group. This group of people is diverse in terms of gender identity and sexual orientation across the board.
Utilizing the label "gay" or even "queer" exclusively could exclude individuals who are transgender, asexual, or intersex. Because your LGBTQ+ candidates will come from a variety of racial, ethnic, gender, and socioeconomic backgrounds, it's crucial to keep this in mind while developing your strategy and to draw inspiration from other elements of your D&I plan to strengthen the work you are doing with LGBTQ+ candidates.
Remove gendered language and coding from your career page and job descriptions in your application process
Making a false assumption when you first meet someone is one of the worst things you can do, and interviews are one of the worst places to do this! So, throughout your hiring process, be careful to utilise terminology that is gender-neutral.
When speaking with candidates face-to-face during your interview meetings, you should utilise gender-neutral terminology. It ought to be extended to textual materials including job postings, application forms, and other hiring requirements.
When creating your job descriptions and recruitment marketing materials, avoid utilising gendered language or images, either directly or implicitly. Enforcing conventional gender norms in the office, whether through a clothing code, employee photographs, or wording, may reflect a company that is inflexible and intolerant of all forms of gender expression. It is simple to use gender-neutral language like "team members" rather than "men and women at our organisation," but you can also use free tools like this one to examine your job descriptions for implicitly gender-coded language.
Provide training of LGBTQIA+ awareness
All businesses need to have standard knowledge, understanding, and acceptance for LGBTQIA+. One of the simplest ways to do this is to provide awareness training. It's crucial that employees' differences are valued and that they aren't solely characterised by their identities.
During interviews, avoid asking people about what their ‘labels’ are and why they identify in said ways. But on the same note, employees should also not be asked to hide their identities, either.
Through awareness training, these types of situations should be sufficiently manageable. Ensure that the training is offered to other staff and that all managers participate in it (through online or in-person sessions). Everyone will be aware of the proper language, limits, and behaviour in this way.
Create appropriate LGBTQIA+ policies
You will have rules and procedures in place as an employer that safeguard your employees' welfare, health, and safety. To do this, proper LGBTQIA+ policies must be developed.
You may choose to group your regulations under equality or anti-discrimination laws. Highlight how crucial it is to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. In addition to being reiterated in handbooks and contracts, this should be made explicit during interviews.
You could also elect to include these guidelines in your LGBTQIA+ policy. Keep in mind to be inclusive and refrain from excluding certain groups. Use the abbreviation; that is why it was created.
Take part in LGBTQIA+ charity events and causes
While it's great to see postings about inclusivity, it's critical to remember the past.
People underwent traumatic, challenging experiences that made it possible for us to celebrate openly today. It is crucial to give back by supporting LGBTQIA+ charitable initiatives and events.
You can accomplish this by taking part in fundraising campaigns, local celebrations, or (if you're feeling very courageous) by planning your own event. Participating is a fantastic way to increase your brand's recognition in the LGBTQIA+ community. Therefore, it fosters respect and reduces turnover when candidates perceive your company’s principles in this way.
Make the workplace safe for LGBTQ+ employees
Promoting diversity, equality, and coherence for LGBTQIA+ employees in the workplace is crucial. Everyone can then stand as recognised and valued employees in a workplace. It is crucial to take into account candidates who identify as LGBTQ+ and their safety at work. Studies show that 20% of LGBTQ+ workers have encountered hostility at work. Additionally, we have the ability as corporations to influence societal changes and attitudes. Therefore, it is crucial to take decisive action to stop discrimination in the workplace.
Highlight your organization's LGBTQ+-inclusive policies and benefits, demonstrate how you work with groups that are concerned with LGTBQ+ problems, describe your employee resource groups, and encourage team members who identify as LGBTQ+ to share their personal experiences with others.
Individual team members can show their commitment to diversity on a smaller scale by simply using pronouns in email signatures.
It takes more than just putting a rainbow image on your company's LinkedIn page to make your recruitment and hiring process more welcoming of LGBTQ people. Making strides toward greater diversity and inclusion at work is the first step in taking concrete action, which will unavoidably improve your capacity to engage with other communities and recruit more candidates from diverse backgrounds.
Need some extra help appealing to more diverse candidates and understanding how to ensure your hiring procedure doesn't exclude LGBTQ+ applicants by making it LGBTQIA+-friendly: and employer branding? We’ve got you covered! Get in touch with us today by clicking here or alternatively look at our Inclusivity Infrastructure to see what we are doing within our own company to encourage diversity and inclusivity in the IT Infrastructure and recruitment industry by clicking here.
by Heather Wilkins
Even though the split between women and men in the tech industry has become a lot more diverse, there is still an obvious divide. The main cause of...
Even though the split between women and men in the tech industry has become a lot more diverse, there is still an obvious divide. The main cause of this is a lack of diversity, awareness, and unconscious biases. The awareness of the IT profession among students and unconscious biases are just the start of a deep-rooted issue. This issue must be overcome before women's representation in software development teams can improve.
Discussions about diversity in the IT industry, include the challenges to greater gender diversity, and how having role models, and support systems, and building both competence and confidence is vital for women to succeed in the tech industry.
The lack of role models is a key challenge that has to be focused on to increase the number of women in Tech. There are many successful and respected male software developers and men in IT. Seeing the lack of women makes one think, are there even actual career paths for women that will last 20 or 30 years? Especially when you look at company hierarchy, and how the amount of women in positions decreases drastically when moving higher up the cooperate ladder, it is shocking how few women you find. Archana Manjunatha, executive director and head of platform transformation and DBS Bank, explains that it gets lonelier at the top because there are even fewer women as you climb the corporate ladder. Having more role models means that other females won't feel so lonely and don’t feel that they can’t do it. To some extent, it is hard to become what you cannot see. Because that is how people choose careers and paths – when they see somebody, then it's easier for them to say “I want to become like this person”.
At the moment, when you think of an engineer or a similar role, most of the time you will think of a male in such positions. This mindset needs to be replaced with more female images so that women entering the industry are not deterred at all. However, even though this backward mindset is still very much present, there are a lot more movements and initiatives today to highlight female role models and encourage women to enter the IT industry.
Another challenge is an unconscious bias that sets in early, where even primary school children view math and science-related fields as being more suited for men. Through changing education by families and schools, this mindset could be changed. A lot of people also identify the path to a tech career as exciting and sudden. This is because most people don’t think of this field from an early age. If it is implemented properly, it can become an extremely rewarding field for several women.
Have support systems
Another challenge for women is to thrive in their careers through the different life stages, where they have to juggle bringing up children and work, or even taking some time off for family before re-entering the workforce. Support systems in these instances will help women through these difficult stages. Most of the time, people are also very open to giving you the help and support that you need. Just have the courage to ask for it and you’d be surprised how much help you will be given. This will help you be able to not drop off entirely, but give you the opportunity to make a comeback at a certain point in time.
Key elements to succeed
Regardless of gender, it all comes down to competence and confidence. Building competence is extremely important, and with that competence comes confidence. When someone is an expert in a subject matter, the agenda is almost invisible at the table because people are listening to you for your expert opinions, and your knowledge in the area. In return, respect will be gained. This means that women still are encouraged to upskill themselves. Technology is constantly evolving. What may have gotten you into technology, will not be there the next day. So one always has to keep themselves up to date. The growth mindset and the ability to want to keep learning are very important in the IT industry.
To show skills and benchmarks, certification can be completed which will help not only secure a position but also required to show your acquired skills.
Through the further integration of women into the tech industry, it is noted that there will not only be a more balanced gender representation in tech teams, but there will also be better delivery of code, products, and technology. We are definitely living in much better times, but there is still a long way to go. If there are only 20% of women are trying to solve the problem, it won't be solved or will take longer. The remaining 80% must become part of the solution. Otherwise, it's just women talking about needing equality and not taking any action.
While challenges exist, many opportunities exist for women in the tech industry. It is understandable that a lot of women feel unsure about getting into the industry due to self-doubt. But instead of asking if you are smart enough, put in the hours, be willing to learn, really try, and give it a go!
by Matthew Bell
In our world where there is a lot of travel, migration, union, and communication going on, there is no doubt that we are continuing to witness and...
In our world where there is a lot of travel, migration, union, and communication going on, there is no doubt that we are continuing to witness and experience cultural diversity. It is such an enriching experience, but there is no denying that such diversity can also be also challenging.
Many employers say that their biggest asset is their staff, and what often makes a great team is diversity. Everyone brings something unique and valuable to the table in different ways. Cultural diversity should be embraced, because with it comes a myriad of benefits.
What is cultural diversity?
Culture is considered to be the underlying values that direct how people behave. Cultural diversity in the workplace is a result of the practices, values, traditions, or beliefs of employees based on race, age, ethnicity, religion, or gender.
Economic globalization is one of the driving forces of cultural diversity in the workplace. The modern workforce is made up of people of different genders, ages, ethnicity, religions, and nationalities. Employers have realized that workforce diversity provides both material and intangible benefits. In order for employers to reap the benefits of cultural diversity in the workplace, they must communicate their commitment to addressing the challenges of a diverse workforce. Employers must be seen to be celebrating their employees’ diversity to avoid workplace issues, as awkwardness and hostility.
Why is cultural diversity important?
We’ve touched on the idea of the benefits cultural diversity offers, but equality and diversity are something that hasn’t just received lip service within the media. There’s been extensive research into its positive effects and the importance of business inclusivity.
Studies looking at why cultural diversity is important to give us solid stats to work from when thinking about its benefits. For instance, economically, research shows that the 43 most diverse public corporations were 24% more profitable than the S&P 500. Other studies show that almost 95% of directors agree that diversity brings unique perspectives.
Ultimately, workplace diversity and inclusion allow businesses to build teams that bring different viewpoints and talents to the mix, increasing innovation and driving higher revenues.
Six benefits of cultural diversity in the workplace
1. Cultural diversity helps develop and maximise skillsets
A culturally diverse workplace empowers people to develop their talents and skills. A range of ideas and expertise enables those to learn from a more diverse collection of colleagues.
It can also boost problem-solving capabilities and increase happiness and productivity. In an environment where all voices are heard, this spirit of innovation and encouragement to contribute can drive business success.
2. Cultural diversity improves the recruitment process
Surveys show that two-thirds of candidates cite diversity as an important consideration during a job hunt. By developing a strategy for cultural diversity, you can broaden your appeal to prospective employees, and reach out to more high-level candidates across the globe. Research shows that 67% of job seekers advised that a company’s diverse workforce is a key factor when evaluating job offers. These findings demonstrate that diversity is a key aspect when recruiting the best talent. Job seekers are aware of the importance of a diverse workforce and want to be part of a company that will value and appreciates their difference.
3. Cultural diversity can help you to retain talent
Aside from attracting a broader talent pool in the first place, cultural diversity is the key to building the ideologies of respect between company and employee, and cooperation. In turn, this makes you a more attractive proposition to valuable candidates making you stand out in the marketplace.
4. Cultural diversity improves your team’s creativity
When everyone in a company is from the same background, they’re likely to have similar ideas. In order to remain competitive, companies need new ideas and concepts. A diverse workforce brings unique perspectives on how to solve problems and innovate to gain a competitive edge. A more diverse workforce allows you to bring new ways of thinking into the business that can be applied in many different ways. By listening to each employee's voice and way of thinking, a company will no longer be pigeonholed in one direction.
A company that actively encourages diversity in the workplace will see more perspectives being discussed and more solutions being thought of than ever before. This can inspire employees to perform to the highest of their abilities.
5. Cultural diversity can help increase employee engagement
The best way to learn about other cultures and ethnicities is by talking to someone with that background. Research can only get you so far and has a far less personal touch. By communicating with someone with a different culture or background you not only gain first-hand knowledge, but also connect with someone directly.
Employees who engage with others about their background during lunches or out-of-hours drinks will feel better connected to a company, feel truly listened to, and in turn engage further with their colleagues and the business.
Employee engagement helps build trust, starting from the very top and moving all the way down throughout the company. Engagement is always positive for the company, it can lead to greater motivation, collaboration, and loyalty.
6. Cultural diversity will improve your company’s reputation
A company that employs people from all different types of cultures and backgrounds will be considered a good employer. This reputation amongst employees will elevate a company’s standing and attract more people to come and work there. A commitment to diversity demonstrates that a company values fairness and equality. These characteristics have a positive effect on its reputation with suppliers and consumers. A company that openly recruits the best candidates for a job, irrespective of which group they are in, will gain customer loyalty and a good reputation.
The importance of cultural diversity in the workplace can’t be understated. Having diverse employees increases the bottom line and also assists in staying on the right side of the law. Companies that have a clear diversity and inclusion policy (and are seen to enforce this policy) benefit from happier and more productive employees and a great reputation.
by Dominique Lianos
Workplace inclusion helps employees of all ethnicities, backgrounds, religions, and sexual orientations thrive and feel safe in the modern workplace,...
Workplace inclusion helps employees of all ethnicities, backgrounds, religions, and sexual orientations thrive and feel safe in the modern workplace, but not only that. The best talent is attracted to and retained by diverse teams because they deliver greater results.
Developing diversity and inclusion initiatives at work is essential if a company wants to succeed in today's business climate. In order to thrive in the corporate world, you must have both because lacking one can create uproar. Diversity and inclusion may help a business in many ways, including attracting and keeping more top talent, fostering creativity, and increasing employee engagement.
Fostering diversity and inclusion strategies can sometimes be easier said than done in certain businesses, especially those that already are suffering from a lack of talent and a diverse workforce. Although having a diverse workforce can enable your business to become more creative and perform better, they can struggle to implement effective strategies that will help them do so.
Below, we look at 10 strategies on how to improve DEI in your workplace:
1. Using inclusive language
If you want to recruit more women into your organisation, you must use inclusive language in your job descriptions. Avoiding gendered language, such as using specific pronouns or masculine terms like dominant and challenging, can deter women and LGBT individuals from applying for your job openings. Not just in job descriptions, but also in other written communications, inclusive language should be used. In emails and letters, for instance, you should make sure to use inclusive language because people in the workplace will want to be addressed in the way they see fit.
2. Challenging unconscious biases
Being mindful of unconscious biases is a great idea since it will help you realise that even after implementing specific techniques inside your organisation, you will continue to view the world in a particular way. By challenging them and implementing successful tactics inside your organisation, you may help to eliminate any unconscious bias that the company may be experiencing. Unconscious bias in the hiring process is reduced by hiring managers receiving training, gender-neutral job descriptions, anonymized CVs, and a systematic interviewing procedure.
3. Educating leadership
Educating leadership and management and requiring them to attend diversity and inclusion programmes are both advantageous for a number of reasons. An organization's leadership must give a DEI plan room to grow and be held accountable for its success. The tech business is undoubtedly dominated by white men, and this is considered as one of the least diverse parts of a corporation. Second, leaders have a significant influence on the creation of corporate values and the selection of organisational strategy. Therefore, it is likely that company-wide implementation will be possible if diversity and inclusion goals are established via a top-down strategy.
One of the best diversity and inclusion methods to use is to talk about chances for mentorship that can assist your organisation attract and retain varied talent. Most women and members of underrepresented groups don't feel like they have the chance to advance, and as a result, they quit their jobs in the middle of their careers because they don't feel appreciated or challenged. Therefore, implementing a mentoring programme for people who wish to advance can aid employees in achieving personal growth and delivering success to the company. Having a mentor can aid someone in overcoming obstacles and advancing toward leadership or senior positions.
5. Cultural events
Retaining varied talent can be facilitated by designating a day to honour each of the ethnic groups that make up your organization's current diversity culture. Additionally, it guarantees that you are fostering inclusivity within your organisation because everyone will cherish and respect one another's nationality. Events like International Women's Day, Gay Pride, and the International Day of Persons with Disabilities should all be observed. By doing this, you may attract more talent by demonstrating to potential employees that your company values and promotes diversity and inclusion.
6. Diversity training
Giving your staff diversity training will increase their understanding of what makes a diverse and inclusive workplace. It is the ideal technique to show how each person can contribute to the success and growth of the company. Additionally, it teaches your staff that everyone is equal and that they should respect one another regardless of their age, gender, or race. This will not only assist your company in fostering more inclusive and varied tactics, but it may also inspire others to come up with fresh ideas for boosting workplace diversity.
7. Core company values
As long as your company values represent an inclusive workplace, communicating your fundamental principles can aid in attracting diverse talent to the tech industry. Before determining whether to apply for a job or not, candidates will always want to access and view your company's values. Today's workforce is seeking a great place to work with prospects for advancement and a healthy work-life balance. Therefore, displaying your inclusivity and diversity or showing how you are using diversity and inclusion techniques to advance will help you succeed when applying.
8. Create an environment that is suited to everyone
The leadership team and communication are primarily responsible for fostering a climate that is suitable for everyone. Leadership must be devoted to making sure that everyone in your organisation, at all levels, can operate in an inclusive environment. The working environment will be accommodating for everyone if new diversity and inclusion rules are communicated both internally and internationally and training is offered. Since workplace diversity is inevitable, it's crucial to be inclusive when establishing a welcoming workplace culture.
9. Listen to employees
One of the most important things a leader in an organisation needs to do is listen to the people. Although leadership roles will need to debate implementing diversity and inclusion policies, it is the employees who will gain or lose from such choices. A fantastic method to collect the opinions of employees on what they would want to see in their company is to create anonymous surveys for them to complete.
10. Involve employees in the hiring process
One strategy to improve diversity and inclusion within your organisation is to involve some employees in the recruiting process. Employees can provide you a more comprehensive perspective on what new hires might contribute, and they might identify skill sets that you would not. Employees will feel more appreciated and that their opinions matter when making critical decisions for the company if they are included in the hiring process.
Fostering workplace diversity and inclusion doesn’t just happen. You need to have a specific plan and devote the right resources to implementing changes that impact hiring and day-to-day team interactions. Employers can start by surveying existing employees to get a sense of their feelings and what can be done to improve DEI. Putting more effort into cultural programs will not only make the workplace a better environment; it will also improve productivity and add to the bottom line of the company in a positive way.
If you want to check our Inclusivity Infrastructure at Franklin Fitch then please click here to find out more about what we are doing.
by Beth Marron
Ashleigh Ainsley is the co-founder of Colorintech, the UK's leading non-profit focused on Diversity and Inclusion in technology backed by...
Ashleigh Ainsley is the co-founder of Colorintech, the UK's leading non-profit focused on Diversity and Inclusion in technology backed by Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Atomico, and eBay. Throughout his career, Ashley has held many senior roles within the tech industry and has been continuously recognised for his industry influence.
More recently, Ashley has successfully been named on the UK’s top 100 BAME technology leaders list by the Financial Times, has been featured in Forbes 30 under 30, and voted as one of BBC 1Xtra's future figures for the history in honour of Black History Month 2022.
We spoke with him in an interview to learn more about the value of racial diversity in technology and to find out why he created his organisation after observing a lack of diversity in the tech firms he had previously worked for. We also discuss how he is promoting diversity in the UK tech sector, how you can help reduce the digital skills gap, and what businesses can do to foster an inclusive workplace culture and hire and retain a more varied pool of talent from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups.
My name's Ashleigh Ainsley, I'm the Co-Founder of Colorintech, which is a not-for-profit based here in London. I set it up about five years ago, with my co-founder called Deon Mackenzie, with the objective to try and get more people from underrepresented backgrounds into tech. We do that by running programs, bringing out lots of content and several different types of events to bring our community of over 20,000 people together, to achieve that objective. I've previously worked for Google, and KPMG alongside some advisory work. I studied Geography at Oxford University and grew up in London.
You've held many senior roles within the tech industry. Was there a point which inspired you to enter the tech industry and was there a break that allowed you to enter?
To be honest, I've only ever really worked in the tech industry. If I go back to my background, I grew up in a diverse part of London and I didn't really see the world because I wasn't financially able to, when I was younger, I effectively just assumed the rest of the world was as diverse as where I lived. When I went to Oxford University and discovered it wasn't diverse, I was like, whoa, okay, this is, the microcosm of an element of society, but surely like the real world wasn't really like that. Then I went to Google, having got a role because I went to Oxford, frankly. I love the company, it's a great organization, but you know, it’s the same across the whole industry, I could have gone to Microsoft, I could have gone to Facebook, and it will have all been the same. It wasn't as diverse as the broad number of employees that they have. Whether that’s gender, whether that's ethnicity, whether it's a disability. That's in all companies, they needed to do a lot more than what was being done at the time. I then went to a startup after that and everywhere I've been, it's been the same, frankly. So, there wasn't one moment, I'd argue that there's never not been the moment if that makes sense.
You are the co-founder of ColourinTech, which is an organisation orientated around increasing access, awareness, and opportunities in underrepresented groups in the technology industry, tell us about how this came about and why it was important for you to do?
Fundamentally, if we don't improve the diversity of the tech industry, we're probably going to build products, services, and tools and use them in a way that excludes people, for moral and social reasons, and probably isn't the best thing, but also, has real-world ramifications for productivity, equity and frankly just the function of the economy. If we build tech that can't be used or understood by a wide variety of people, then they're probably not able to take advantage of the benefits of that and that's just got an economic consequence to it, let alone a moral one. Essentially, if we build bad products, bad services, bad tools, that's not really a good thing to be doing. You know, I, I don't think any business would go be happy with this, however, this ultimately is what will happen if we don’t have representation of the entire community.
From that perspective, it is obvious that more work needs to be done, as evidenced, for instance, by the fact that, according to technical data, the percentage of racial and ethnic minorities in the UK workforce is just 20% overall and only 15% in the technology sector. Although it's not as bad as it once was, there is still work to be done.
There is a lot going on and a lot of companies are trying to move forward and are taking diversity and inclusion a lot more seriously. But do you think that the tech industry is moving in the right direction in terms of making it more accessible?
To be fair I think that the tech industry is in a way, probably one of the more pioneering companies in this fundamentally. It reports quite widely and has been doing that for some years in the USA, however, we don't see that necessarily in Europe in the same vigor. They spent a lot of time and energy hiring people and trying to create more inclusive and welcoming work environments because ultimately that's what talent wants and if they don’t do it then they don't get the best people. From that perspective yes, I do think it is progressive in making it more accessible and making better changes than some industries that we see.
That being said, there's clearly there's more to be done; there's a heterogeneous picture across the tech industry. As I mentioned, I used to work at Google or work with them, so I know that they do a lot of work and spend a lot of time and energy on this, whereas there are a lot of companies that do far less and that's not right. Give people credit where it's due, but for instance, I read the UN report which states that the gender gap has gone backward across society and female representation in terms of the pay gap and in positions in business it’s going to take another 132 years for the gender gap to totally close. Realistically my children and probably their children won't see that, and I think; how are we in this situation? And the broader point is therefore if we people just continue to do what they're doing now, it won't make enough of a difference.
Within the tech sector what are the primary reasons for companies stopping them from attracting diverse talent and what can they actually do to start attracting more ethnic minorities?
In some instances, companies have never actually made an effort to do anything in this space. Look at it just as a business challenge. You've got a consumer segment and if your potential market and customers aren't buying your product, what would you do to them? You'd probably make sure your product works for them and is marketed to them. It’s very similar for talent, and there's a range of companies out there that have never done anything to that extent. Why would they expect anything different, they’ve not created an environment where people evangelize about them in the workplace. They say it's a great place to work and they have representation of individuals who are diverse in their companies however, we generally see retention rate, especially for black colleagues is particularly low.
This is probably because they don't like where they are, not because they are less qualified to execute the positions. There are still issues, and I believe that there have been instances of sexism, homophobia, racism, and discrimination in the workplace. I believe generally that the workplace represents society as well, and our society has these problems. Again, I believe that businesses that wish to portray themselves as existing in a bubble or safe haven free from the influences of these problems must confront and resolve these problems to ensure that they have processes in place, that they communicate effectively, that they have values, and that you are aware of what tolerance is.
Organisations haven't done that. Organisations haven't spent a lot of time, energy, or effort really engaging with the communities or people outside of their own networks. It’s been years of benefiting people who refer people like the.
Take a simple reward scheme, you refer somebody into a role, that by itself, could be a good or a bad thing, but does the same effort or reward come into encouraging or incentivizing employees to interact or meet new people that they don't already know? If they find somebody or find an organization that might enable them to, reach new people, whether that's talent or consumers is that reward? In a lot of organisations, it's not, so then you think, why would we do it if no incentives are there? Do leaders have diversity targets linked to their promotion, their pay, and their rewards? In the most progressive organisations you do see that, in those who aren't, you don't. So, you know, it's always nice to have, never essential, if it is good for business, then it should be treated, that way.
We talk a lot in the industry about the attraction of ethnic minorities into the tech industry and companies, However, when we look at the statistics, they are significantly lower based on retention and progression of this talent. Do you think that sometimes it can be seen as a diversity tick box exercise for companies, for example, if you hit hiring four diverse people into your team, you will then get a promotion?
I think there are a couple of things to that. The system needs to be cohesive. For context on that, you can't just reward and incentivize hiring without thinking about how that relates to retention and enabling people within the organization to thrive.
You can't just have a tap, turn it on and not put the plug in the sink. From that perspective, you need to think about it a bit more cohesively. You also need to not incentivise the tick box. We've seen instances in the USA where, you know, loads of people had targets to present a diverse shortlist or something similar so therefore you incentivise those recruiters to frankly, waste people's time by ringing them up for roles that they were never able to get or seriously considered for. Just so that they tick the box and say we've spoken to 50% women, or we've spoken to 20% ethnic minorities just so they can say they've done it when what’s the result of the decision.
While that's helpful, because at least these people are getting the opportunity to potentially get the information or even to be involved in the conversations, if that's just optical and just a tick-box, and is that real genuine progress? I don't want someone to waste my time interviewing me for a role that I've got no prospect of getting and saying that that's an opportunity for me when it's not. We need to make sure we're rewarding and incentivising the right types of behaviour. Not just behaviour.
So, in terms of addressing the issue digital skills gap, if we look to the beginning of the pipeline in terms of creating pathways into tech. Are there enough people from minorities coming through from choosing STEM subjects at school, and choosing technology-focused degrees at university?
There are three stages, in my opinion. What are we doing with the talent we already have? Accordingly, 40% of my friends and those who are like me are unemployed today, just as I was around 10 years ago when I was a young black man in London. That has now spanned the entire spectrum. You are therefore still more likely to be unemployed even after taking into account economic outcomes, degree class, and other factors. Making ensuring part of the available working capital in terms of human capital is used efficiently could be a simple equitable solution—I say simple, but it's not as simple as me saying it. Some people were able to get employment, work their occupations, and do them very effectively. Before we even think about how do we address the pipeline? We need to know if we can stop the pipeline from leaking.
Some of the people who are still seeking employment or who are working in positions they are not necessarily qualified for may need more training or skill development. I'm not arguing that everyone is the finished product, but when you're paying someone less than the average income, it might be simpler, more affordable, and more effective to invest in that for an additional three or six months. Ten years later, you hire highly expensive recruiters since your board is concerned as to why you can't locate enough diverse people. There is long-term thinking regarding that.
The second point, in my opinion, is that while there are more opportunities than there are people who are fully qualified to fill them, we are aware that there is a talent shortage. We are not preparing our youth, particularly those attending universities. I have a good understanding of the industry because I serve on several advisory boards, and I can see that many new graduates lack the necessary training, instruction, assistance, coaching, mentoring, and support to help them secure the roles or some of the hard skills that may need to, to, to be fit.
And I believe that a more extensive discussion about who and what our educational system is for, as well as how to best make it effective for the goals we have for it, is necessary. Great if the goal is to prepare people for academic careers. But if students don't wind up in academics, should we be promoting and allowing them to pursue those kinds of careers? I think they then have an issue about how you improve the quality of the pipeline.
The third thing I'd suggest is probably to go back to the beginning and ask: What are we teaching the pipeline? Less than a quarter of computer science graduates are women, as you may be aware. From where does that begin? There is probably not much of a gender disparity when you ask people in primary school whether they like math in English or physics or chemistry, but by the time you reach the end of GCSEs, the figures are pitiful in comparison to the men.
Therefore, I believe that as a society, we must address this issue while also improving the educational value of our curriculum. Teachers' abilities need to be improved. We need to encourage young people to recognise that, well, whatever it is, there are enormous chances open for entrepreneurs should they perhaps study any of these things. We need to improve the subjects taught and the applicants for such courses. And it begins very early on. But again, we don't really have any of those discussions about that.
What advice would you give to anyone who wants to get involved in the tech industry?
Before learning anything about them, they should ask themselves, "Where do they feel they can add value?" Tech offers a wide range of opportunities. You might say, "I want to study law, but I'm interested in intellectual property. If you work in technology, for example, you can be a software developer who wants to really improve user interfaces for people. You could be a designer or a recent graduate in sales, for example. I think the first thing is don't rule tech out as an industry just because it sounds like tech, you don't have to be, like Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates to be part of the industry and if you are one of them and you like them, that's fine as well.
The next step, in my opinion, is to consider what you can be doing and how you fit into that structure to contribute value. You have the chance to demonstrate that from there. If you're an engineer and you want to be building things, why don't you build some stuff in your spare time, put it on GitHub, get some feedback, and then use what you've learned in your portfolio to talk about what you're doing in your application? The number of students and young people I see who don’t really surprise me because the ones that do are almost always successful. It's important to identify areas where you can provide value and then consider ways to show others that you can do so. If you can do this, others will be more likely to give you a chance since they will see your enthusiasm, initiative, and aptitude. In the end, it all comes down to demonstrating your eagerness to learn. You won't know everything when you first start, but most employers are prepared to take a chance on someone who is eager to learn.
You are also the organizer of Black Tech Fest which is a chance to bring together a variety of leaders, creators, and change-makers to create access to black talent which takes place during Black History Month. Tell me about the inspiration behind the organization of this and why you chose to do it during this period?
In reality, black tech began as a reflection of corporate gaslighting. When we were starting this, we were doing it before its fashionable Diversity and inclusion are topics that people now want to debate, but five years ago, attitudes toward the topic were different.
People were criticising them instead of investigating why there weren't any places in companies for underrepresented groups like minorities, women, disabled people, or, you know, sexuality. The attitude was we are inclusive, and we are welcoming. If these individuals don't exist, it's more likely that they haven't applied, chose to leave, or weren't the proper "fit" for the organization.
We said, "Hold on." We obviously needed to expand that discussion. Part of this was due to people claiming that there aren't many black people working in the field; however, this isn't supported by any data. We were surprised by these assertions because perhaps there aren't that many black people in tech that we could employ.
You probably already know this based on anecdotes, but according to research, 15% of the industry is made up of people from racial or ethnic minorities. If you select a hundred persons, 15 of them will come from an ethnic minority background, proving that it is not at all unusual.
We wondered how we could assemble all these individuals to demonstrate our existence. How do we fundamentally and truly celebrate what is happening? How can we support what they're doing, rather than discussing being a woman or a person of colour in the tech industry, let's just talk about what we all get paid to do and how excellent we are at it and a chance to celebrate it as well.
We want to be able to celebrate being an amazing leader or let's just celebrate being an incredible engineer and normalize. It's the fact that this shouldn't be particularly different to, in the same way, that any other conference would have great exceptional people getting together to celebrate.
It’s taking place during Black History Month. Did you, why did you choose to do it because of the celebration of black history month and wanting to obviously showcase that?
Yes, that's true. It was unquestionably planned because, as we said, at that moment, people's attention is focused mostly on what is happening in the black community. Yeah. We wanted to take advantage of the chance to celebrate, to display, and, well, it just seemed right. Time of year to, really promote, really promote that; who knows; in the future, uh; you know; we might do it at that moment.
A huge thank you to Ashleigh Ainsley for dedicating his time to speak to us for this interview. If you were interested in getting involved with Colorintech or Black Tech Fest be sure to check out their website. If you would like to check out Franklin Fitch's Inclusive Infrastructure click here.
by Charlotte Drury
“Mental health” refers to your overall psychological well-being. It includes the way you feel about yourself, the quality of your...
“Mental health” refers to your overall psychological well-being. It includes the way you feel about yourself, the quality of your relationships, and your ability to manage your feelings and deal with difficulties. Anyone can experience mental or emotional health problems — and over a lifetime, many of us will.
You may have noticed that we're making huge strides in destigmatising mental illness, and that's great. The importance of treating your mental health as you would your physical health is a pretty well-accepted principle. It's becoming less taboo to talk openly about therapy and mental illness
This year, on World Mental Health Day, we've pulled together some of the most impactful and least intimidating ways to take care of your mental health so that it becomes something we do—not just something we talk about.
There is no health without mental health. To help with day-to-day stress and challenges, we’re offering 7 tips to boost yours.
1. Talk to someone you trust
Talking to someone you trust – whether a friend, a family member or a colleague – can help. You may feel better if you are able to openly share what you are going through with someone who cares about you. If you live in an area where face-to-face interactions are limited, you can still stay connected with your loved ones through a video call, phone call, or messaging app.
2. Look after your physical health
Taking care of your physical health helps improve your mental health and well-being. Be active for at least 30 minutes daily, whether that’s running, walking, yoga, dancing, cycling, or even gardening. Eat a balanced and healthy diet. Make sure to get enough sleep.
3. Do activities that you enjoy
Try to continue doing the activities that you find meaningful and enjoyable, such as cooking for yourself or your loved ones, playing with your pet, walking in the park, reading a book, or watching a film or TV series. Having a regular routine with activities that make you feel happy will help you maintain good mental health.
4. Steer away from harmful substances
Don’t use harmful substances such as drugs, alcohol, or tobacco to cope with what you’re feeling. Though these may seem to help you feel better in the short term, they can make you feel worse in the long run. These substances are also dangerous and can put you and those around you at risk of diseases or injuries.
5. Take two minutes to focus on the world around you
Help free yourself of constantly swirling thoughts by reconnecting yourself with where you are at this moment in time. Follow along with the video below or simply take three slow deep breaths, feel your feet grounded on the floor and ask yourself:
6. Eat a brain-healthy diet to support strong mental health
Foods that can support your mood include fatty fish rich in omega-3s, nuts (walnuts, almonds, cashews and peanuts), avocados, beans, leafy greens (spinach, kale, and Brussels sprouts), and fresh fruit such as blueberries.
7. Seek professional help
If you feel like you cannot cope with the stress that you are facing, seek professional help by calling your local mental health helpline or getting in touch with your counselor or doctor. Remember you are not alone, and there are things you can do to support your emotional wellbeing
by Emily Jones
Inclusive hiring practices are in the spotlight as they have become increasingly vital to every organization’s success. Inclusive hiring...
Inclusive hiring practices are in the spotlight as they have become increasingly vital to every organization’s success. Inclusive hiring translates to improved employee retention and productivity and a host of other organizational benefits.
Nowadays, there is so much emphasis on diversity and inclusion in the workplace that recruiters want to make sure that their hiring practices are conducive to meeting their diversity and inclusion goals, which means they need to think about inclusive hiring and determine how that can be incorporated into their daily recruiting practices.
In order to create an environment that celebrates diversity, it's essential for recruiters to adopt inclusive hiring practices that will make it easier to hire talent from underrepresented backgrounds. The following are some strategies that facilitate the process.
What is inclusive hiring?
The inclusive hiring process actively accepts a wide range of traits and viewpoints that candidates offer to the firm. It's not just about filling quotas by hiring persons from underrepresented groups or those with disabilities. Instead, inclusive hiring practices seek to level the playing field for all applicants in order to combat bias in hiring and discrimination in general.
In an inclusive recruiting environment, multiple perspectives, beliefs, and values are considered in order to reach a common goal. Your employees will be forced to think outside their comfort zones and challenge new notions or ideas by having a diverse workforce.
It's difficult to avoid unconscious bias when examining a candidate's job application, even with the greatest of intentions. Organizations that want to improve their team's diversity and attract the greatest talent can't afford to have recruitment practices that unintentionally exclude specific groups of people. Bias can occur at any point of the hiring process, but the talent attraction stage, application review, and face-to-face interview are the most important to investigate.
Through job ad placements, bad language choices in job descriptions, and bias in the interview stages, your organisation may be unwittingly decreasing the number of quality applicants from the very beginning of the recruitment process.
Requirements for the Job
Taking a second look at what you're asking of them is one of the simplest methods to attract more diverse prospects. When you're interviewing candidates for an open position, you'll probably have a list of requirements in mind. While having certain standards can be beneficial, adhering to them too rigidly can actually hinder your chances of finding a quality hire.
Your ideal applicant may have five years of industry-specific expertise, but if you focus solely on this criteria, you'll overlook a multitude of other candidates with diverse backgrounds. While this assures that you select someone with the degree of expertise you require, it also eliminates individuals who may be exactly what you need with only three or four years of experience.
Language Used for Audience
Job descriptions can either entice or repel candidates depending on the language used. A good job description speaks to a wide range of candidates while being explicit about the skillsets required. Leading with sensitive, thoughtful, and inclusive language demonstrates to prospects that you are a diverse workplace that evaluates all applicants regardless of gender, race, disability, or status.
Make sure you get it correctly by removing any terminology that could be interpreted as catering to a specific demographic. When it comes to hiring, use inclusive language, which means avoiding gender-specific vocabulary and words, as well as industry jargon. Begin with a job title that is devoid of any references to gender or industry. Keep things simple and concentrated on the task at hand. Work on removing masculine and feminine words as well from job postings.
Advertising the Role
Consider where you're advertising if you want to create a truly inclusive process and attract applicants from various backgrounds. Elite universities may produce outstanding individuals, but they struggle with diversity, as do many other institutions. Your search may be too restricted if you notice that your candidate pool is made up of people with similar educations, histories, and experience levels. After all, similar individuals prefer to apply for employment through the same routes.
While knowing how to connect with the people you want to apply for your open positions is beneficial, you shouldn't limit your prospect pool too much. Get imaginative about where you post your openings to reopen it and attract more different applications.
Many candidates may be looking for jobs via print ads, contacting and visiting job fairs and boot camps, conducting searches on social media, or using their mobile devices to access job adverts. With this in mind, try looking for new employees in a variety of venues; this increases your chances of recruiting from a more diversified demographic.
Screening and Interviewing
Preventing Exclusion in the CV Review
It's even more important to have an effective screening process in place if you've drawn a larger pool of applications in order to objectively evaluate your candidate pool. This is when bias, whether conscious or unconscious, may creep into decision-making and undermine all of your hard work in attracting diverse candidates.
This problem has two solutions: removing identifying information from CVs or abandoning CVs entirely in favour of another way of candidate screening.
The blind hiring method delays rather than removes bias if your recruitment process includes a face-to-face or video job interview. The key advantage is that you can rest assured that the shortlist of candidates for interviews was generated without bias and that no promising candidate was screened out for incorrect reasons.
Minimizing Bias in the Job Interview
If you have conducted a blind hiring process up to this stage, the job interview should be the first moment you see the candidate’s ethnicity, age, gender, and appearance. Unconscious bias is therefore unavoidable, but it can be minimized in the following ways:
Conduct panel interviews to reduce interview bias and provide a variety of perspectives during the interview process. You can gather feedback, viewpoints, and ideas from people with a variety of requirements and expectations if you have a lot of people following along in the hiring process. That outside of your recruiting and hiring staff should be involved in the hiring process. By reaching out to other departments, team members, and company executives, you can eliminate bias by considering different points of view and using their diverse experiences to build an inclusive workplace for newcomers.
Onboarding New Hires
The first step is to have an inclusive hiring process. Employees who don't fit a homogeneous mold will be unhappy in their new jobs if you simply focus on developing an inclusive hiring procedure and overlook your company culture.
You need to build an inclusive work atmosphere to persuade them to stay––and actually enjoy their time at your company. Each employee has a unique voice in an inclusive workplace culture, which encourages them to be themselves. Not only are their particular needs met, but they are also encouraged to devote time to personal duties that they consider vital.
There should be a purpose and meaning behind establishing an inclusive workplace and recruitment process, not just another box to check.
There are numerous reasons why having a diverse workforce is advantageous, but it won't happen immediately. As a result, for modern firms, putting in place the proper processes and mechanisms to build an inclusive recruitment team is a step in the right way.
The efforts you take to increase inclusive hiring should be tracked and reviewed on a regular basis, with training being a top emphasis. If you want inclusive hiring to work, you need buy-in and passion for what you're attempting to do.
Teams and hiring managers in the information technology industry are striving for diversity as what was once a buzzword has quickly become an...
Teams and hiring managers in the information technology industry are striving for diversity as what was once a buzzword has quickly become an industry standard. Diversity and inclusion are now important goals in recruitment and hiring strategies, however, there is still work to do in the tech industry. Studies show that within the technology industry, women are underrepresented and there is a distinct lack of ethnicity, age and disability diversity.
An inclusive IT industry can allow organisations to create an environment that showcases our diverse world. Information Technology’s contribution to the world can be inadequate if they fail to include a variety of ideas and perspectives making diversity one of the most important aspects of a successful industry.
Why is diversity in tech important?
You might be wondering why diversity in the IT industry is so critical. There are moral reasons for prioritising diversity in technology, such as greater equality. There are also important business reasons for supporting workplace diversity.
Racial diversity in tech is also a big problem. At Facebook, only 2.1% of tech jobs are occupied by Black employees. The situation is marginally better at Microsoft, where Black individuals making up 4.7% of the workforce. Black employees are frequently discriminated against in the tech workforce with 62% of Black workers reporting that they have experienced discrimination. This could range from being underpaid compared to a colleague doing the same job, to receiving less support from senior leaders or being passed over for growth and development opportunities. This makes tech jobs less accessible, and appealing, to those individuals.
Many businesses, particularly those in the "Big Tech" sector, have consistently stated their commitment to diversity. However, data on diversity in the tech industry shows that this has only modestly improved over time. More work is needed to increase racial diversity in the tech industry without a doubt.
How a Lack of Diversity in Tech Harms Businesses
A diversified workforce allows a company to better understand its consumers and end-users. People now have increased expectations for products and services that cater to their various requirements and tastes. Having a more diverse workforce implies having a wider range of viewpoints, opinions, and backgrounds. You'll have greater creativity, and a wider range of skill sets if you work with a diverse group of people. Plus, you'll have more options for solving business challenges, which will help your organisation succeed.
The world is bursting at the seams with diversity. Our tech-based world can't tap into the full variety of knowledge and experience of that diversity if there isn't diversity in tech.
We've seen how a lack of diversity in technology contributes to negative customer experiences, such as when AI fails to recognise customers with darker skin tones on several occasions. To prevent overlooking the blind spots in tech invention and development, we need to encourage more people from diverse backgrounds to enter technological professions.
Is your branding inclusive?
A recent study by PWC showed that 86% of female millennials and 74% of male millennials seek out employers with a strong record of diversity. One way to show these millennials of your commitment to diversity and inclusion is by visually showing a diverse workforce in your marketing materials. Are you able to use diverse imagery?
The Flexible Job Index says an estimated 87% of employees want to work flexibly – meaning if you want to have access to the best possible talent, you need to show that your organization is happy to support those who choose to work flexibly. Are you able to show your commitment to flexible working with real case studies? Include these case studies in your marketing materials.
Avoid sweeping statements such as ‘we value diversity and inclusion’ unless you follow them up with specific examples of what you’re actually doing to place value on D&I. What exactly is your organization doing to champion diversity and inclusion? Use real and specific examples in your branding and communications.
Are your job adverts attractive to all?
You can be sure that if an applicant is looking at nothing else – they’re looking at your job advert. Therefore it’s worth spending time ensuring your adverts will attract a variety of diverse individuals to your organization. There are a few easy ways to do this:
- Use a debiasing tool to ensure that gender-neutral language is used. Language such as ‘competitiveness’ or ‘assertiveness’ can discourage women from applying.
- Advertise the role with some degree of flexibility to ensure that parents can apply.
- Focus on competencies, attitude, and aptitude rather than formal education/qualifications.
- Instead of including a general equal opportunities statement, be clear in saying that the organizations actively encourage applicants with diverse backgrounds and perspectives and explain why.
- Describe the culture as inclusive and one that aims to fit around individuals – rather than wanting to hire people who fit into a specific culture that could be exclusive. Focus on looking for a ‘values fit’ rather than a ‘cultural fit’.
Make use of the variety of platforms and job boards that actively recruit people from underrepresented groups to advertise your vacancy. As well as listing your vacancy on your company website, utilise identity-based networks to advertise job listings.
Spend time cultivating networks of underrepresented groups by attending events and networking. Are you able to partner with one of these organizations?
How are you ensuring that bias doesn’t creep in when interviewing?
It’s an almost impossible task to prevent unconscious bias creeping in when interviewing someone. It’s not something to feel guilty about – it’s unconscious! But is it important to take steps to prevent it from occurring, and knowing when to recognize it.
Hiring managers are often reliant on ‘intuition or a ‘gut feeling’ when making hiring decisions. These feelings often occur when we like someone because we believe them to be similar to ourselves. Acting on these gut feelings results in a homogenous work culture where everyone comes from similar backgrounds/experiences – the very opposite of what we want to achieve.
The easiest way to avoid unconscious bias when interviewing is to ask competency-based questions. This prevents talented candidates from being filtered out of the interview process because of their diverse or individual differences.
When the final decision is being made, ensure it is made by a panel/group of people, rather than an individual. It’s much more difficult to act on feelings of unconscious bias when in a group.
Attracting more Diverse Talent
Companies must adjust their recruitment and hiring methods in order to increase diversity in the tech industry. When it comes to filling a job vacancy, hiring managers must play an active role in attracting a diverse pool of candidates. They can do so by undertaking unconscious bias training, forming multi-person interview panels comprised of diverse staff, and other methods.
An applicant may have no clue what your organisation is doing to assist diverse employees when they apply for a position. You can recruit more diverse talent by promoting your initiatives and recognizing diverse employees via marketing channels and in interviews themselves.
Posting a job post won't actively seek for diverse talent. Instead, go out to organizations that advocate and promote diverse IT talent, and form partnerships with organisations that can help bridge the gap.
Put Effort into Nurturing and Retaining Talent
Hiring a diverse pool of IT talent is merely the beginning of the solution. Companies must build an inclusive workplace after acquiring diverse talent in order to retain their hires. Many firms are aware of the diversity aspect of diversity and inclusion and understand that a diverse workforce is crucial to its reputation and success in a global market. It's the part about inclusion that many don't get - establishing a culture where individuals can be themselves, where their unique talents and perspectives are valued, and where they want to stay.
There are many of making your benefits when making the tech industry more inclusive and diverse:
- New Perspectives and Innovation- A diverse team allows businesses to be more innovative, creative, and productive. Employee diversity contributes to fresher and more diversified ideas, as well as a variety of different opinions and experiences, which can assist in solving challenges and promote innovation. Individuals with a variety of cultural backgrounds, religious beliefs, and skill sets make for well-rounded teams, allowing for faster and more informed decisions.
- Talent Pool- Making your recruitment process more inclusive implies attracting more candidates from various backgrounds and sources. You'll always reach the same type of people if you don't change the way your recruiting process is arranged. If you work to eliminate barriers to entry, you’ll have the pick of the most high-performing candidates, which enlarges your talent pool and improves your chances of finding the ideal hire.
Aside from diversity enhancing your existing business, 67% of people think about it when looking for work. It's critical to hire a broader range of people in order to attract more suitable applicants. Investing in tools that source qualified candidates across all backgrounds will allow you to access a larger talent pool.
- Improved Culture- A more diverse workforce fosters a more open and adventurous workplace culture. Working with people from various origins creates a fascinating day-to-day culture and allows employees to bond over their diverse backgrounds and past experiences and learn from each other.
- Tap Into New Markets - According to recent research from Harvard Business Review, diverse companies are 70% more likely to capture new markets. People from different backgrounds have knowledge of different market sectors, which can help businesses increase their pool of clients.
When companies introduce people from different social, geographical and cultural backgrounds into a team, they gain a new knowledge base for potential new markets. With the business economy becoming increasingly globalised, hiring a more diverse team gives companies the core skills they need to push the business forward. For example, having workers who can speak a second language, is itself, an opportunity for companies to expand their reach.
Having multiple nationalities and cultural backgrounds within a business can also make it more appealing to the outside world. Many customers want to support businesses that are committed to equality and diversity and provide equal opportunities to people from all backgrounds. In an industry like tech, which is known for having a lack of diversity, DE&I can even be a unique selling point.
To appreciate diversity and establish meaningful relationships, it is critical to foster inclusion and create a culture of belonging. It can provide possibilities for employees to learn from one another and collaborate on new ideas. When employees feel included in their work environment and have opportunity to develop new skills, collaborate with people from different backgrounds they are more likely to stay.
Many businesses have recognised the need of cultivating diversity and inclusion within their organisations and have begun taking significant actions to do so. However, much effort has to be done to enhance diversity in the tech world, as well as in tech-related occupations and professions in other industries. Diversity and inclusion in the IT business isn't just a "nice to have," it's a “must have” for the industry's future success.
by Robyn Trubey
The lack of women in technology is a controversial subject that is difficult to solve. There are many reports of bias, unequal pay, and restricted...
The lack of women in technology is a controversial subject that is difficult to solve. There are many reports of bias, unequal pay, and restricted opportunity. The tech sector is still having trouble locating, hiring, and retaining women despite data that shows a strong link between having more women in leadership positions and higher returns on invested capital and sales. With only 19% of the tech sector in the UK being female, women continue to be underrepresented. Only 26% of positions in the US's tech sector are held by women, and only 16% of those are at senior ranks.
As well as attracting more women into tech roles, companies also need to work harder at retaining female tech talent. Women leave the tech industry at a rate that is 45% greater than that of men, claims Forbes. According to a study done by Indeed, a lack of professional advancement is the main cause of this, closely followed by inadequate management and slow salary increases. Only 50% of the women polled in the analysis believed they had the same possibilities to hold senior leadership positions as their male colleagues, according to the report.
If the UK's industry is to continue to develop and stay ahead of competitors, gender parity in the tech sector must be achieved. According to the McKinsey Delivering through Diversity report, businesses were 21% more likely to achieve above-average profitability when comparing those in the top quartile for gender diversity on their executive teams to those in the bottom quartile.
What can businesses do, then, to recruit and keep women in the tech industry?
There are some practical steps you can take if you wish to increase diversity and benefit from the creative input of the other half of the human race. Here are some recommendations for tech companies looking to attract and retain outstanding female talent.
1. Actively Seek out and Employ Women
The first step to adding more women to your team is as easy as it sounds: actively seeking out additional female applicants. You should let people know that you wish to hire women for tech roles from both inside and outside of your networks.
2. Give women a voice
Creating mentorship programs and employee resource groups exclusively for women is one of the best methods to support and retain emerging female IT talent and enhance long-term engagement in a career. Although hiring more women for tech jobs is imperative, the only way to truly support and inspire women is to give them platforms. Examples of such platforms include inviting women to panel discussions, allowing them to share their experiences with various outlets, and simply giving credit where it is due internally. Their perspectives contribute to both the ongoing and upcoming conversations within our industry.
3. Competitive and fair salary
At the beginning of their careers and throughout, women in technology prioritise their salaries. Since the implementation of the gender pay gap reports, businesses must disclose their gender pay gap. Equal compensation for equal work is obviously of utmost importance. Therefore, implementing transparent pay practices ensure that women enter into companies on fair pay and do not undersell themselves at the interview stage.
A key strategy for attracting and retaining female IT talent is representation. It is possible to improve a company's reputation and set a good example by openly advocating and championing equality. Recruitment and retention are strongly related; for instance, if a female candidate observes women working for the company in high roles, it may inspire her to pursue a similar position. In the computer sector, 39% of women and only 8% of men see gender bias as a barrier to advancement. Giving women equal opportunities for advancement and highlighting their achievements is crucial for attracting and retaining women in tech roles.
5. Gender-neutral recruitment process
Tech organisations must develop a flexible recruiting strategy that considers the unique needs and goals of women in order to strive toward achieving a gender-balanced workforce. The hiring process can be improved by making little modifications, such utilising gender-neutral wording in job descriptions. According to research, job descriptions that deliberately discourage women from applying for positions—particularly in the computer industry—are skewed toward men. According to a study by LinkedIn, women believe they must satisfy all requirements before applying for a job, whereas men often do so after satisfying approximately 60% of them.
Blind hiring practices are another strategy to recruit female employees. These can include pre-employment tests, gender-neutral CVs, blind candidate screening, and even requirements that shortlists have an equal number of men and women.
6. Inclusive work culture
It goes without saying that if a company or place of employment develops a reputation for having a hostile atmosphere for women, it will deter female candidates and make it more difficult to keep women in the workforce. Companies must regularly review their workplace policies to support new diversity and inclusion initiatives.
Sending surveys to the workforce is one approach to accomplish this, allowing the workers to offer a candid opinion on concerns pertaining to culture and solutions. Introducing minimum standards can also contribute to a more inclusive workplace. For instance, businesses could mandate the presence of at least one female worker on internal committees that make decisions about dress codes, partnerships, and diversity initiatives.
by Isabelle Melton
One of the biggest issues facing the tech sector is still finding qualified and appropriately skilled workers. Nearly half of tech recruiters say...
One of the biggest issues facing the tech sector is still finding qualified and appropriately skilled workers. Nearly half of tech recruiters say they are having trouble finding qualified applicants, according to research released by CodinGame and CoderPad. To attract the top personnel in a candidate-driven market, IT recruiters will prioritise candidate experience during the hiring process in 2022, according to the same survey. Expanding the talent pool and considering how neurodiverse people could succeed in tech professions are two ways to address the present hiring problems in the industry.
Though many modern digital companies are getting better at ensuring that their workforces are diverse, it's important to note that a company is six times more likely to exhibit enhanced innovation and agility if it has an inclusive culture. How neurodiversity is managed at work is one sign of an inclusive culture. Fortunately, our understanding of how the human brain functions are improving. People are therefore better able to receive a diagnosis, therapy, medication, etc.
Implementing systemic support, however, is equally essential. Many business executives are unaware that neurodiverse people frequently do better in computer occupations. This is a strong argument in favor of embracing neurodiversity in the workplace, particularly in IT roles.
Neurodiverse Workers: An Untapped Talent Pool
While technology is transforming the way we work at an ever-increasing pace, there’s one seemingly intractable problem holding it back: the tech talent crisis.
• Recent studies indicate that the lack of tech talent is at its worst point since 2008.
• According to 65% of companies, hiring difficulties are affecting the tech sector.
• Data analytics, cyber security, artificial intelligence, and transformational skills are particularly hard to come by; if nothing is done, a 3 million-person worldwide tech job shortfall is predicted by 2030.
On the other extreme, neurodivergent people are more likely to be unemployed or underemployed, underpaid, and poorly supported. What’s more, many autistic workers are feeling unable to disclose that in their workplaces.
• More than 15% of the world's population, or one in seven people, has a neurodivergent condition, which is a catch-all phrase for those with autism, ADHD, dyspraxia, and other neurodevelopmental disorders.
• Around 85% of people who are neurodivergent are jobless or working lowly jobs that are much below their ability and testing level.
• Only 16% of autistic adults in the UK have a full-time paid job, while only 32% of autistic adults work for pay.
• Of autistic adults without jobs, 77% said they wanted a job.
Although the digital talent gap is a growing issue, there is a sizable population with the necessary abilities that has been completely ignored by the industry up to this point: people who are neurodiverse, particularly those who have autism.
Why Neurodiverse Workforces Matter
What are some of the most popular soft talents when looking for strong candidates for IT roles? Most frequently, job postings call for applicants who actively strategize novel approaches, think creatively, and so on. People with neurodiversity frequently excel at these talents. Of course, it's important to consider the benefits of having a neurodiverse workforce.
Benefits of a Neurodiverse Workforce
Gaining a Competitive Advantage in the Market
While neurodivergent people frequently struggle with social interaction, communication, and some cognitive functions, they are also more likely to show intense focus and subject knowledge because of their particular interests. In addition to possessing specialised knowledge or technical proficiency, neurodiverse people thrive in repeated jobs. In other words, they have the expertise that is currently particularly needed in the IT industry, where the digital revolution is compelling businesses to embrace more cutting-edge technology in order to satisfy client needs more quickly.
Tackling Skills Gap and Labour Shortages
Across the board, there is a severe talent shortage in technology. The sector's fastest-growing skill cluster, data analysis, is predicted to rise by 33% over the next five years, according to the most recent reports. Meanwhile, the biggest skills gaps in the UK's tech sector are in big data, data analysis, and architecture, as well as cybersecurity.
The population's neurodiversity may be able to address the main problem facing the sector: closing the IT skills gap. This underrepresented group of applicants has a wealth of talent and skill to offer. Despite this, among all handicap categories, those with autism have the startlingly highest unemployment rates.
Bringing Innovation into the Game
The term "neurodiversity" describes the various ways in which people's brains function and process information. Employees who are neurodivergent give fresh insights that can foster innovation, from coming up with answers to difficult problems to creating creative strategies and products.
Industry leaders are fast realising the great benefit neurodiverse teams can provide to organisations that strive for excellence and innovation.
Fostering a Culture of Inclusion
Employing neurodivergent individuals fosters an inclusive culture that benefits the entire workforce. Remarkable changes can be made to a workplace's culture by neurodiversity in teams, or the collaborative impact of working with individuals who have different cognitive ideologies. For example, communication becomes more effective and clearer, teamwork picks up steam, and employees feel appreciated for their distinctive individuality. Promoting both innovation and empathy within the organisation, is a fantastic thing to accommodate individual requirements from which everyone may gain.
How to Promote Neurodiversity in Tech Jobs
Supporting neurodiversity in the workplace frequently begins with the hiring process. A thorough hiring procedure is required for many tech positions to make sure that candidates possess the hard, soft, and social skills needed to succeed at work.
It's time to widen the hiring pool, though. Start by thinking about your recruitment strategy.
Many neurodiverse job candidates are looking for positions that will help them and offer the infrastructure they need to thrive and perform well. Everyone struggles in situations that seem to be working against them, and nobody wants to hide who they are at work.
Start by re-examining the terminology you employ during the hiring process. Do you actually provide accommodations for individuals with neurodiversity? Are open conversations between neurodiverse people permitted at work? Do you allow neurodiverse people to make adjustments and changes that suit them, which is even more crucial?
Educating hiring managers
Educating your hiring managers, recruitment teams, or business partners is also crucial. Numerous neurodivergent people find it difficult to maintain eye contact or reluctant to shake hands. There is no justification for discriminating against individuals based on these "atypical" behaviours during job interviews.
Refresh, renew, and customise the candidate recruiting process. The interview process is increasingly being co-created by some businesses and employees. Some people prefer to meet you in person, while others prefer to communicate with you via video call.
Embracing Neurodiversity in the Workplace
Your business will be able to develop the most innovative concepts, novel tactics, and successful plans by actively seeking out varied individuals.
Everyone benefits from building support mechanisms for a neurodiverse workforce. While gaining tangible business advantages like higher productivity, revenue, etc., you are promoting the humanity of your employees.
by Anthony Ham
The lack of diversity and inclusion in the tech industry is a widely acknowledged problem. Companies listened, and were soon hiring with an...
The lack of diversity and inclusion in the tech industry is a widely acknowledged problem. Companies listened, and were soon hiring with an increasingly inclusive mindset, becoming aware of the issues such as unconscious bias and the benefits of a varied workforce. But neurodivergent individuals are still often overlooked when compared to other minority groups, and this issue exists across multiple conditions and on a global scale.
The benefits of hiring a neurodivergent workforce are clear. However, many such individuals are often unintentionally disadvantaged by traditional recruitment methods, where processes favour neurotypical candidates and neurominorities are automatically screened out.
With a shortage of skilled workers and a lack of awareness of neurodiversity in many cases, we thought we’d speak to someone with first-hand experience of living and working with autism.
Finding qualified and adequately skilled tech workers remains a major challenge for the industry. According to a report released by CodinGame and CoderPad, nearly half of tech recruiters are having difficulty finding qualified candidates. According to the same report, 'candidate experience during the hiring process' will be a priority for tech recruiters in 2022 in order to attract the best talent in a candidate-driven market. However, not all candidates will be the same and the hiring process needs to be adapted in order to accommodate neurodiverse candidates. If hiring managers don't the right information or tools to support them at the interview stage resulting in missing out on their talent.
Expanding the talent pool, eliminating the stigma and negative preconceptions surrounding neurodivergent candidates, and considering how neurodiverse individuals could thrive in tech roles are some of the solutions to the current tech hiring challenges.
One of the solutions to combating the current tech hiring challenges is expanding the talent pool, eliminating the stigma and negative pre-conceptions surrounding neurodivergent candidates and considering how neurodiverse individuals could thrive in tech roles.
According to the CIPD Neurodiversity at Work report, when planning an interview with a neurodiverse candidate, you should consider the entire end-to-end interview process and tailoring your current interview process to support their needs. This could include providing clear directions to the interview (or assessment) location (preferably with visual cues) as well as more specific details on what to expect in the interview - including who they will meet, the length and format of the interview, and selecting a suitable quiet space free of distractions.
Peter is an IT Engineer who we recently worked with and we asked him about his job search experience throughout his career and he described it as “troubling”.
He said that from the minute someone found out he was autistic that they tried to find a way out of hiring him by saying he wouldn’t fit or was under- or over-qualified for the job.
“Autism is not understood and is a four-letter word to most MSPs. A lot of companies have a lack of understanding and training on all forms of neurological disorders.”, Peter says, “Lots of people [with autism] slink to the shadows, as they don’t want to cause a fuss.”
Peter mentions that helpdesk work isn’t the easiest, it’s “a constant barrage, hence people with disabilities struggle”, he says, although also adds that this doesn’t mean that they are not able to do the job. Peter suggests it’s about “learning what the triggers are and putting things in place to help them, like a 10-minute rest break”.
Accommodating neurodiversity in the workplace
While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to neurodiversity, there are some general inclusivity measures and practises you can implement to ensure that your entire workforce or team's patterns of thinking, feeling, working, and collaborating are accommodated.
1. Implementing supportive technology
Interruptions, notifications, and other distractions can have a negative impact on focus and concentration for many neurodiverse people. It can be difficult to complete a task when you are forced to switch between tasks, projects, clients, or products in rapid succession.
Allowing your team to turn off notifications while working on a task and being accommodating to longer response times will help neurodiverse members of your team comfortably complete their work and respond to notifications when they can fully answer them.
If your team struggles with project or time management, implementing intuitive workflow applications will help them keep track of their tasks, see their priority level, and complete them on time. Trello, Teams Planner, and Basecamp are some examples of useful platforms.
2. Having a patient and accommodating attitude
Some neurodiverse people find sensory stimulation difficult, which can affect how they process information. Some meeting formats, such as group discussions, may not be as accommodating to people who find it difficult to process multiple voices expressing different ideas. Understanding this and encouraging your team to process information in the way that they prefer (whether through note-taking apps, visualisation, or mind mapping) will help.
Understanding that some people may struggle with the social complexities and unwritten facial cues of conversation will also go a long way towards assisting neurodiverse people. Again, because there is a wide range of how neurodiversity affects a person's social skills, some people 'socially masked,' others struggle with eye contact, and some can fit in anywhere, being sensitive to someone's level of comfort or discomfort will help them feel they have a place in your team regardless.
3. Educate yourself and your team with neurodiversity training
Neurodiversity training can help ensure that your company is truly hiring and operating with diversity at its core. It can help your hiring managers understand how unconscious bias can emerge when interviewing neurodiverse candidates (for example, making a snap judgement about a candidate who isn't making eye contact), how the social aspects of onboarding and 'breaking the ice' with small talk can cause anxiety for some, and much more.
Neurodiversity training will aid your future recruiting efforts while also ensuring that your current workforce is supported by empathic and supportive processes and systems.
The technology industry is made up of numerous diverse roles, from developers, cyber security experts, IT managers to software engineers plus many more. All of which can benefit from the skills possessed by many neurodiverse candidates.
With differences in thinking, neurodiverse people can bring alternative perspectives that may not have been explored before. It’s critical that businesses continue to prioritise cognitive diversity in their workforce, as every individual brings unique knowledge, experiences, and skills to the table and can help drive progress in technological innovation.
Peter, like so many others, is convinced that neurodiverse people have a lot to offer to the IT Industry:
“People who are neurodiverse have a wealth of talent for the IT industry. It’s a shame most people don’t trust them. We think like computers. Input and output, from completing simple tasks over and over again to tackling bigger tasks with lots of components. For example, I’m praised a lot for my out ‘of the box’ thinking.”
When it comes to attracting and hiring neurodiverse talent, Peter thinks recruiters and employers should simply “be kind, be honest […] and don’t treat us like a number or a statistic. Treat people as humans.”
Some companies might still need a gentle push in the right direction but “all in all it’s worth it, and your company will have a better reputation”, Peter continues. Recruiters could “be changing the world one company at a time, that’s what I’m doing with my own story. I, for one, am happy to answer any questions and will happily talk to teams to help.”
Diversity & Inclusion aren’t always easy to achieve, but we’re hoping to help by raising awareness, helping to educate people on the matter, tackling biases, and giving people a voice and a platform to share their story.
What are some of the most common soft skills when looking for strong candidates for tech roles? Job postings frequently request candidates who can think outside the box, actively develop strategies, new approaches, and so on.
These are frequently skills in which neurodiverse people excel. Of course, it's important to consider the benefits of a neurodiverse workforce.
It is a good idea to think about diversifying your workforce and introducing neurodiverse workers. Nobody should be denied a meaningful career because of the way their brain is wired.
Furthermore, neurodiversity should not be exploited for financial gain. Instead of simply hiring someone because you believe their brain wiring will allow you to make more money, it is critical to highlight, support, and develop systems that allow neurodiverse people to thrive.
We’d like to thank Peter very much for taking the time and sharing his thoughts with us, we wish him all the best in his new job and hope to stay in touch!
If you’d like to know more about hiring neurodiverse talent, feel free to get in touch and we can point you in the right direction.
by Dominique Lianos
While diversity, equity, and inclusion have come a long way, there is still a long way to go before women's professional achievements are valued...
While diversity, equity, and inclusion have come a long way, there is still a long way to go before women's professional achievements are valued equally with those of males. How can we enable women to achieve workplace gender equality?
According to the World Economic Forum, it will take 132 years to close the gender gap at the current rate. The pay difference between men and women over the world is about 57%. In some circumstances, this is because men and women perform the same jobs but are paid differently.
It's not always that easy, though. According to a survey from the World Economic Forum, women are more likely than males to work in professions that pay less. In highly compensated industries like finance and technology, men still predominate. Only 22% of managerial roles are now held by women globally. This occurs frequently because the current system penalises women who leave their careers to have children.
Women are given more career control when they are empowered in the workplace. You may secure their professional growth, which is crucial for developing long-term employees, by investing in training, mentoring, equality programmes, educational grants, and promotion into senior-level jobs.
Why empower women in the workplace?
Why is female empowerment so important? Why do we even need to bother? The quick response is that female empowerment gives women the resources they need to be in charge of their own life. As a result, women can realise their full potential, which benefits the entire planet. This implies that people can support economies, offer their skills to the workforce, and assist establish more stable job markets. Not to mention that having women on boards gives organisations access to a wider range of perspectives and ideas.
Amplify Women’s Voices
One of the most important methods to empower women is to guarantee that their views are heard in meetings and that they are given credit for their ideas. Start by giving women a seat at the table and a voice. If a woman has an excellent idea, support her and see to it that she receives credit rather than allowing another person to do so. This occurs most frequently in industries like technology where males have the majority of the authority and women are underrepresented.
Other workers need to make sure that women have a legitimate platform and devoted airtime in order to prevent these scenarios. There are strategies everyone can apply to avoid stealing ideas from women in group discussions. For instance, give credit to the author of the concept whenever you discuss it (even if it inspired a new idea of your own). Ensuring that everyone’s voice is amplified is a team effort and requires always having each other’s backs even if you don’t agree with everything that is said.
Remind Women that they are Valued
Women frequently feel scared to express their thoughts in environments where men predominate, for fear of coming out as overly frank. The inverse is also true, when they might attempt to pass for "one of the guys" in order to have their opinions heard.
Reminding women that they are valued for who they are and that you recruited them because of their special viewpoint, talents, commitment, and hard work ethic is crucial. Even while it might seem apparent to you, until you are in someone else's position, you cannot truly understand how they are feeling. You don't know how a coworker inwardly responds to situations or what they have personally experienced, even if you are also a female employee. So, do your best to be compassionate and honest with how you feel about every woman’s performance.
There are numerous ways that your company can put these values into practise. Training in bias awareness is the initial stage because until you address your actions, you won't know what you're doing incorrectly. The next step is to encourage a secure environment where everyone feels free to express their issues and challenges and knows where to find support. Promote specific training or activities for women, such as focus/support groups, public speaking competitions, and negotiations. All minorities should ideally be given access to these chances so that everyone can feel free to succeed at work as an expression of who they are.
Create Equal Pay
Even after the Equal Pay Act was passed in 1970, equal pay remains one of the largest problems with gender disparity. According to this law, all employees are entitled to equal pay for equally valuable work. However, the UN estimated that as of 2020, women continue to earn about 84 percent of what males do. The gender wage gap is still a problem because this figure is considerably lower for women of colour, women who are immigrants, and women who are mothers.
Equal pay for equal work is not only the law, but it also has advantages for your company. Women who receive equal pay are more likely to believe that their work is appreciated equally with that of their male coworkers.. This may also inspire female workers, boosting production and efficiency for your company.
Employers must make sure that men and women performing the same positions are putting in the same amount of labour in order to guarantee true pay equality. Because women are frequently held to greater standards than males, wages may not actually be equal. This is due to the fact that women may prove themselves by completing twice as much labour for the same pay. Pay equity audits are one easy method businesses can fix this. Keep an eye out for differences in pay rates. Then, regardless of an employee's gender or ethnicity, make sure that all employees with comparable experience in a similar function are paid equally to their counterparts.
Anyone who wants to build enduring relationships and move up the corporate ladder must be extremely adept at networking. However, for many women, networking can be crucial for surviving and moving up the corporate ladder. A vital, encouraging environment can be created by establishing a network where women can communicate with one another. This can make women feel comfortable talking about problems like equality and gender difficulties at work.
Women can share ideas and advise on how to advance in their careers through professional networks. Additionally, it can assist women in locating qualified mentors in their areas who can aid them in developing their skills. Male allies have the chance to propose qualified female coworkers or friends for positions by networking. As a result, when you post job openings, more women might apply, giving you a bigger pool of prospects to pick from.
Utilise Mentorship Schemes
Similar to networking, mentorship programmes help women develop the skills necessary for career advancement. Through a female mentor, women can be assisted in developing their knowledge and experience, which can boost both the mentor and mentee's confidence. Women may relate to female mentors more readily than they would a male mentor. Due to the likelihood that their experiences will be similar, female mentors can serve as more effective role models for women.
Mentorship programmes can not only provide role models but also assist women in realising their value. Speaking with other women about their goals might help dispel stereotypes that many women have been subjected to since they were young, such as the notion that being strong and outspoken at work makes one angry and unpleasant.
Many businesses all over the world provide mentorship programmes and other initiatives to aid in the advancement of women in the creative industries. Examples include Chicks in Advertising, Animated Women UK, SheSays, and Code First Girls. You may give your female employees a sense of empowerment and skill development by involving them in programmes like this.
Stand up Against Discrimination
The most crucial step toward empowering women in the workplace is undoubtedly speaking out against discrimination. Women shouldn't have to worry about discrimination at work, but it's also crucial for them to know that if it does occur, it will be reported. What would you do if you overheard a blatantly sexist remark or noticed that a woman was required to put in more effort than a man in the same position? Always speak up against this discrimination should be the response to this question.
Standing up for women who face discrimination at work will make them feel appreciated and valued. Although it won't solve the problem, how prejudice is handled in the workplace says a lot. When you do speak out against discrimination, make sure to do so in a respectful and safe manner. Make sure you have management's backing if you need it.
Every employee needs to know how to deal with offensive language and prejudice. This entails following the appropriate processes as well as discussing things out (and knowing when to do which).
by Charlotte Drury
As Pride Month comes to an end, we wanted to pull together all of the spotlighted communities and organisations of whom are working towards making...
As Pride Month comes to an end, we wanted to pull together all of the spotlighted communities and organisations of whom are working towards making the tech sector a more inclusive space for its LGBTQ+ members.
While the tech industry has made strides in recent years to promote greater workplace diversity, LGBTQ+ employees still have a long way to go. Despite the industry's lack of equality, a number of groups are working to change that by building communities and providing support for underrepresented trans, queer, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and gender nonconforming IT employees.
The 6 groups below are working towards closing the gap through networking, advocacy and championing more inclusive workspaces and within each profile we have included the website of each group if you wanted to find out any more information about it.
Out in Tech
Out in Tech is the world's largest non-profit community of LGBTQ+ tech leaders. Consisting of a global network of over 40,000 members, Out in Tech bring communities together through local and digital events, provide scholarships and support their members in networking and career development. They have active chapters in New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, London, Portland, Chicago, DC, Boston, Austin, Indianapolis, Philadelphia, Stockholm, and Bengaluru.
"We envision a tech industry where LGBTQ+ people are empowered, well represented, and have full agency, from intern to CEO."
Unicorns in Tech
Unicorns in Tech is a Berlin-founded LGBTIQ+ community which brings together tech talents, companies, and organisations working towards a diverse and inclusive corporate culture.
Since its inception in 2014 in Berlin, their 4000+ member network continues to rapidly expand via a myriad of events all year long and our online platform. They host monthly get-togethers to network within the industry and as a legacy of the Berlin LGBT+ Tech Week, they now organise the Unicorns In Tech Summit
""It's crucial for us to push for diversity in the IT field. The tech world is not as open as one would imagine and bringing together LGBTIQ+ people and other marginalised communities in this sphere is a concrete step in the right direction."
Lesbians Who Tech & Allies
Lesbians Who Tech & Allies is a welcoming community dedicated to increasing the visibility and inclusion of women, LGBT people, and other underrepresented groups in technology.
With over 100,000 members, including LGBTQ women, non-binary, trans, and gender nonconforming individuals. When it comes to colour, ethnicity, ability, age, and other factors, there are numerous intersecting identities of who are part of the community. Every year, 40.000 techies from over 100 countries attend their global Pride Summit.
- To be visible to each other by building a network of colleagues and friends in the industry.
- Be more visible to others and to highlight more queer, female, trans, GNC, and POC leaders as role models.
- To increase the number of women, people of colour, queer, and trans persons working in technology.
- To link our community with other organisations and businesses that are doing amazing things.
Tech London Advocates LGBTQ+
The Tech London Advocates LGBTQ+ working group is dedicated to helping "organisations to identify hidden bias and provide information on reducing bias and thus increase inclusivity." They aim to create more inclusive workspaces through a series of professional networking and mentoring events, panels and workshops.
They provide advice to tech companies on embedding inclusion and diversity into the DNA culture of their organisations and illustrate the benefits of visibility and authenticity of all facets of LGBTQ. They also partner with organisations around the UK to amplify visibility and support for LGBTQ entrepreneurs.
Their goal is to create a community of LGBTQ Tech Advocates of all and any level in order to support and empower one and other through strength and mutuality in order to cultivate and nurture tech leaders for the future.
Trans Tech Social
Trans Tech Social, founded in 2013 by tech entrepreneur Angelica Ross, provides training and job possibilities for transgender people, with the goal of reducing discrimination.
TransTech’s mission is to empower, educate, and employ those facing barriers in education and in the work-place, as well as to reduce instances of discrimination, with a concentration on trans and gender non-conforming individuals.
It focuses on economically empowering the transgender people in their community. It aims to facilitate learning and working together to develop skills and value within marginalized LGBTQ communities. TransTech members have access to online community and trainings as well.
Intertech LGBT+ Diversity Forum
Founded in 2012, Intertech LGBT+ Diversity Forum ("Intertech") is an NGO dedicated to promoting LGBT+ diversity in the UK tech sector. A forum for members of the LGBTQ+ community and their allies, they're working towards driving positive change for LGBT+ individuals. They do this through partnering with organisations in London's tech scene from the Google's and Facebook's of the world all the way down to the smallest start-ups, we provide a platform through physical events and online presence to bring the community together.
What InterTech do:
- Create networking opportunities for members to build professional relationships.
- Host educational events which focus on LGBT+ issues in their workplaces and broader professional development related to technology.
- Deliver mentorship programs which link LGBT+ members early in their careers with other more established members.
- Facilitate connections between leaders of LGBT+ networks and creating forums to share best practices.
- Encourage the pooling of resources in development and rollout of diversity & inclusion.
The above organisations and communities are great example of an initiatives and organisations of whom are incredibly passionate and committed to encouraging LGBT+ diversity and inclusion in the technology sector for the benefit of the individual, the organisations they represent and the industry overall.
by Isabelle Melton
Pride Month is all about celebrating LGBTQ+ communities across the globe and being proud of who you are no matter who you love.
Pride Month is all about celebrating LGBTQ+ communities across the globe and being proud of who you are no matter who you love.
The suggestion to call the movement 'Pride' came from L. Craig Schoonmaker who in 2015 said:
"A lot of people were very repressed, they were conflicted internally, and didn't know how to come out and be proud. That's how the movement was most useful, because they thought, maybe I should be proud."
Pride is celebrated in the month of June across the world in honor of the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan; a pivotal point in the Gay Liberation Movement. On June 28th, 1969, NYC police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay pub located in Greenwich Village.
The raid sparked riots when police roughly hauled employees and patrons out of the bar, which lead to 6 days of protests and violent clashes with law enforcement outside the bar on Christopher Street and in the neighbouring streets and parks. These riots served as a catalyst for the gay rights movement around the world.
Here is a round-up of some of the most influential and notable people in the tech industry who identify as LGBTQ+.
Name: Tim Cook
Role: CEO of Apple
Tim Cook isn't only one of the most powerful LGBTQ+ people in tech, but one of the most powerful people in tech EVER. Cook was Apple's CIO, prior to becoming the CEO in the summer of 2011.
Cook came out publicly as gay in 2014 in personal essay he wrote for Bloomberg Businessweek. He mentioned that whilst he wanted to keep his private life private, he felt it was his duty to come out in a way to help the gay community. In the essay, Cook said:
"It has been tough and uncomfortable at times, but it has given me the confidence to be myself, to follow my own path, and to rise above adversity and bigotry. It's also given me the skin of a rhinoceros, which comes in handy when you're the CEO of Apple."
Name: Arlan Hamilton
Role: Co-Founder & CEO of Backstage Capital
Hamilton is a managing partner at Backstage Capital, a VC firm she started in 2015 when she was homeless. Backstage invest in companies which are led by underrepresented founders, such as women, people of colour and LGBTQ+ individuals.
In a September 2018 cover story, Fast Company said Hamilton was "the only black, queer woman to have ever built a venture capital firm from scratch".
Name: Joel Simkhai
Role: Founder of Grindr
In 2009, Joel Simkhai founded Grindr, a dating app for men in the LGBTQ+ community. Simkhai told Business Insider that the app stemmed from his "selfish desire" to meet more gay men, which now has almost 4 million daily users.
Simkhai remained the CEO of Grindr until 2018, when the app was sold for more than $150 million to a Chinese gaming company.
Name: Leanne Pittsford
Role: Founder & CTO of Lesbians Who Tech
In her time, Leanne Pittsford has founded three tech-centric diversity initiatives:
- Lesbians Who Tech
- Tech Jobs Tour
Since 2012, Lesbians Who Tech has offered opportunities to give visibility and equality to LGBTQ+ women and non-binary individuals in the tech sector. Her other two initiatives are aimed at mentoring and recruiting underrepresented groups in the tech industry.
Pittsford got married in June 2017 to political consultant Pia Carusone.
Name: Megan Smith
Role: Former chief technology officer of the United States
Megan is an award-winning entrepreneur, engineer and tech evangelist. She was appointed in 2014 under President Obama as the first-ever female US CTO Prior to this, she aided with the launch of some fantastic initiatives such as Women Tech-makers and SolveForX during her time as VP at Google. To add, she was also the former CEO of PlanetOut – a leader of the online LGBT community back in the very first few years of the Internet.
After leaving the White House in 2017, Smith helped the Tech Jobs Tour to bring diverse talent into the tech sector. Smith is also the founder and CEO of shift7, a collective focused on bringing together figures in tech and public service.
Name: Leanne Pittsford
Role: Founder and CEO of Lesbians Who Tech
Pittsford has founded three tech-centric diversity initiatives: Lesbians Who Tech, include.io, and Tech Jobs Tour.
She defines herself as “an entrepreneur, investor and thought leader at the intersection of technology and economic opportunity for All Americans and believes that economic power is a driving force for cultural and societal change! Lesbians Who Tech is the largest LGBTQ community of technologists in the world – with over 40,000 members to boast and more than 5,000 attending the annual summit every year!
It offers programming and opportunities to give visibility and opportunity to LGBTQ+ women and non-binary individuals in the tech sector. The other two initiatives are aimed at mentoring and recruiting underrepresented groups in tech.
by Emily Jones
June is Pride Month, a month dedicated to honouring LGBTQ+ groups and celebrating the right to be oneself. It is a celebration of people coming...
June is Pride Month, a month dedicated to honouring LGBTQ+ groups and celebrating the right to be oneself. It is a celebration of people coming together in love and friendship to illustrate how far LGBTQ+ rights have progressed and how much work remains in some areas.
Acceptance, equality, honouring the achievements of LGBTQ+ persons, learning about LGBTQ+ history, and raising awareness of issues affecting the LGBTQ+ community are all part of Pride Month.
The initial organisers picked June to commemorate the Stonewall riots in New York City in June 1969, which sparked the contemporary gay rights movement. The majority of Pride festivities take place in June each year, while some areas celebrate at other times of the year.
But how did the last half-century of Pride become what it is today, and what are the best ways to celebrate? Let's take a look at Pride's history, its impact around the world, and what the future holds for the movement.
What is Pride Month?
Pride Month is an entire month dedicated to uplifting LGBTQ voices, celebrating LGBTQ culture, and advocating for LGBTQ rights, and it is founded in the long struggle of minority groups to overcome discrimination and be accepted for who they are. There have traditionally been parades, protests, drag performances, live theatre, and tributes and celebrations of life for members of the community who have died as a result of HIV/AIDS during the month of June around the country. It's a combination of political campaigning and a celebration of everything the LGBTQ community has accomplished over the years.
Where did it start?
Pride Month commemorates the June 1969 Stonewall Riots.
In the early hours of June 28, 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York's Greenwich Village, and began dragging customers outside. Tensions quickly escalated as patrons resisted arrest and a growing crowd of bystanders threw bottles and coins at the officers. The LGBT community in New York, fed up with years of harassment by authorities, erupted in three-day neighbourhood riots.
The Stonewall Riots gave the global 'Gay Liberation' movement a new push. Encouragement of talks regarding the lives and perspectives of LGBTQ+ people was a key component of this movement, as did fighting for fundamental change in how LGBTQ+ persons were viewed by society. In the UK, for example, the Pride movement witnessed the emergence and establishment of grassroots organisations that sought to stop the mistreatment of LGBTQ+ individuals. The Campaign for Homosexual Equality is a key example of this.
Brenda Howard, a bisexual activist, organised the first Pride event in New York City on June 28, 1970. The first march, dubbed the Christopher Street Liberation Day March (after the street on which the Stonewall Inn is located), was a mix of celebration and protest. The next year, in 1971, Howard organised another event, and Pride marches sprung up all around the world.
The Stonewall Inn was designated as a historic landmark by the city of New York in 2015, and President Barack Obama later declared it as a national monument in 2016.
What has the Pride Movement achieved?
Since the Stonewall Riots, LGBTQ+ people have fought globally for their rights and liberties. In most countries, more than 2,000 years of homophobic, biphobic, and transphobic persecution have been significantly scaled back in less than half a century, which is a remarkable achievement. All of this achievement is the product of national and worldwide LGBT+ groups' courageous, imaginative, and unwavering campaigning despite all odds.
Following the first Pride, the number of nations that have legalised homosexuality has increased, and same-sex marriage is now permitted in over 30 countries. LGBTQ+ people today have personal and political rights in countries around the world, including Colombia, New Zealand, Iceland, Ireland, and the United Kingdom (for example, equal partnership).
The Pride movement is still fighting for LGBTQ+ rights in the twenty-first century. Following a protracted campaign for state support and safety, Serbian LGBTQ+ activists held a successful Pride march in Belgrade in 2014. In 2014, Denmark became the first European country to enable transgender people to have official documents (such as passports) that reflect their gender identification, thanks to the work of LGBTQ+ activists.
Why is the History of the Pride movement important today?
It is important to learn about and remember those who fought for the right to celebrate Pride in order to truly appreciate it.
1. Remembering that Pride began as a protest reminds us of how Pride can continue the battle for LGBTQ+ rights around the world today.
2. Knowing who founded the Pride movement serves as a reminder that Pride Month events must be inclusive.
3. Reflect on how the Stonewall rioters were treated highlights the significance of Pride as a celebration.
Learning about the origins and history of Pride and the Pride movement not only informs us about why Pride month exists, but it also demonstrates how this past is essential to how people will celebrate Pride in the future. Pride is "a reminder of the strength of standing together in spite of those who wish to divide us," according to Stonewall. Because of the efforts of LGBTQ+ activists and individuals from all around the world, Pride is a unique event.
We want to shine a light on the topic specifically for those working within IT Infrastructure. Whatever your business, there is no doubting the benefits of a diverse workforce. If you're interested in finding out more please contact us today.
Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg – there are many male leaders in tech. But what about the decades of further women...
Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg – there are many male leaders in tech. But what about the decades of further women technologists? From COO of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg, to CEO of YouTube, Susan Wojcicki, women have continued to make waves in the technology business.
Despite the fact that more women are dominating the headlines, they are still underrepresented in boardrooms around the world. According to theOffice of National Statistics (ONS), only 31% of UK tech jobs held by women, while women make up fewer than 20% of technology jobs in the US, according to Evia data.
Despite a number of studies confirming that gender-diverse companies perform better, gender equality and lack of inclusiveness remain paramount issue in the IT world, and women are still significantly underrepresented in tech. Recent stats show a record year of investment in the sector and monumental generational changes to workforces with the rise of the so-called “great resignation”. Despite the rise in female talent within the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) sector in recent years, there’s still a considerable way to go before we see equality in the tech industry.
There are many barriers that need to be overcome, including challenging stereotypes and providing more opportunities for women. Unfortunately, tech giants are not leading by example when it comes to gender equality among their employees.
According to Tech Jury, over 75% of Facebook’s global tech-related jobs are occupied by men, with Google and Apple following suit, and only 23% of women making up these workforces.
Those women who are employed in the tech industry still face further challenges. WeAreTechWomen recently reported that 75% of women in tech feel like there is a lack of support and respect from their male colleagues. A concerning two-thirds of respondents also feel ignored during work meetings.
Challenges for women in tech appear to be persistent throughout their careers, with gender inequality also present in promotion rates. This gap increased further during the pandemic, with 34% of men working in tech receiving a promotion, compared to just 9% of women. So, what can we do to improve these issues?
Thankfully, times are changing, and more women are being encouraged to join the ranks of inventors and creators who are driving world-changing technical advancements. Diversity is a significant societal issue, but it is equally significant in the corporate sector.
Diversity in the workforce amounts to a wider range of perspectives and experiences, making it a valuable business asset and a win-win situation for all.
The importance of gender equality in tech
Diversity brings a wealth of benefits – both intangible and material – to tech. It improves innovation and problem-solving. It attracts more talent from more places and backgrounds. And it can also improve customer relationships and opinions.
Having a diverse team — including a fair representation of gender identities — increases the range of viewpoints and insight available when making decisions.
Gender equality in tech is also a valuable way to promote the creation of better products. Products that are made with consideration for a variety of experiences and understanding. Meaning they take everyone in your target audience into account.
And, in terms of the bottom line, diverse companies perform better, hire better talent, have more engaged employees, and retain workers better than companies that do not focus on diversity and inclusion.
It all starts with education
Education is one of the barriers. Despite 74% of females demonstrating an interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) in middle school in the United States, just 0.4 percent choose degrees in this field, according to research from the non-profit organisation Girls Who Code.
Due to a lack of resources and information from a young age, as well as role models within the industry, just 3% of women choose a technology-based career as their first option, according to PwC's own study, Women in Tech: Time to Close the Gender Gap.
To encourage women to explore STEM subjects, we need to provide a welcoming learning atmosphere. Not only is the professional world dominated by men, but so is the educational world. As a result, it is critical to create an environment or community in which women feel at ease in STEM fields. Breaking down gender biases and supporting young women interested in STEM fields – regardless of their level of skill – should be a top priority for any modern company. Why? Diversity has been shown to boost workplace innovation, productivity, and, ultimately, profitability.
Making space for women in STEM
With the increasing demand for new technology, there is an urgent need for women to be better supported in pursuing STEM careers.
If barriers are to be broken, preconceptions challenged, and hurdles conquered in regard to women's participation in and contribution to innovation, educators, corporations, and individual mindsets must be broadened. More coding clubs in schools are needed. More female role models and mentors are needed. In the workplace, we must overcome gender bias. Companies must also provide more flexible working conditions for women, such as programmes to assist women who are returning to work or improved maternity leave policies.
In the future, the technology sector should contribute to a more gender-balanced world, honour women's accomplishments, and raise awareness about bias. It will aid the growth of the technological sector, stimulate new talent, and make a significant difference for women. While we've made significant progress in recent years, the technology sector still has a long way to go before it is genuinely diversified.
Investing in mentorship
Once they test the water in other career paths, many women are interested in making the switch to tech. However, factors such as lack of resources and a fear of the unknown may prevent them from making the leap. Tech organisations, therefore, should seek to offer mentorship schemes for women wishing to make the change, offering support and guidance wherever necessary. Mentoring programmes, combined with exposure to senior figures, is an effective tool in highlighting the success stories of women in technology.
Tech companies should feel the responsibility to ensure that the job transition process is as smooth as possible. By offering appropriate training and accessible female role models, organisations can help their new female employees feel welcome and comfortable. After employment, companies must seek to outline clearly the career progression opportunities for the individual’s role and continually support the employee with upskilling.
Schemes such as Coding Black Females and InnovateHer provide crucial resources to ensure girls from diverse backgrounds explore opportunities in tech. More crucially, this provides mentors with the much-needed confidence boost to reflect on their own careers and understand the next steps they need to take to progress higher up in the career ladder.
Mentoring programmes also work for women who are already in the technology industry. A recent study by Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations has shown such programmes have the potential to lead to a 15% to 38% increase in promotion and retention rates for underrepresented groups and women when compared with experiences of non-mentored employees.
Encouraging gender equality in tech is not about filling quotas. It’s not about forcing certain demographics into STEM. For women to come to a male-dominated industry is challenging, and the tech industry still has a long way to go toward gender equality in the workplace. Luckily, the situation is getting better every year. Women can drive real progress in any given tech organization, and companies that embrace diversity and inclusion are always more desired employers. At Franklin Fitch, we are committed to encouraging more females to enter the tech sector an tackling the gender divide.
We have signed the Tech Talent Charter pledging to help drive diversity and inclusion within the technoligy sector. The Tech Talent Charter is a non-profit organisation leading a movement to address inequality in the UK tech sector and drive inclusion and diversity.
We are providing a platform for those working within or interested in IT Infrastructure to share their experiences with us and to come up with possible solutions together.
by Dane Keenan
Diversity and Inclusion have been around for a while, but 2020 was the year that many businesses started to take the matter seriously. The global...
Diversity and Inclusion have been around for a while, but 2020 was the year that many businesses started to take the matter seriously. The global pandemic raised questions around remote working, coupled with the tragic murder of George Floyd and subsequent Black Lives Matter protests that swept the globe brought matters around diversity and inclusion to the forefront of conversations.
As a business, where is your place in this conversation? Hiring, retaining and nurturing a diverse workforce that is representative of the wider population is something that all organizations need to invest in.
Widening the diversity of your candidate pool will give you more chance of finding the best person for the job. Combined with studies from McKinsey and the Harvard Business Review which demonstrate that diverse teams have real benefits to business outputs, as well as it being “the right thing to do” – investing in a diverse and inclusive recruitment practice should be at the forefront of every business in 2021.
A diverse recruitment strategy alone isn’t enough – it has to be part of a bigger commitment to move away from the dreaded “cultural fit” to a more inclusive culture that fits around each individual, no matter what their background. Only by nurturing this diverse talent in a culture of inclusion, are you able to tap into the diverse perspectives and thoughts being offered by your workforce.
Hiring and retaining a diverse workforce can’t be done overnight – it’s a long-term commitment. Below, we outline some of the practices we use to hire diverse teams for our clients, as well as internally at Franklin Fitch.
Use a debiasing tool to ensure that gender-neutral language is used. Language such as ‘competitiveness’ or ‘assertiveness’ can discourage women from applying.
Advertise the role with some degree of flexibility to ensure that parents can apply.
Focus on competencies, attitude and aptitude rather than formal education/qualifications.
Instead of including a general equal opportunities statement, be clear in saying that the organizations actively encourage applicants with diverse backgrounds and perspectives and explain why.
Describe the culture as inclusive and one that aims to fit around individuals – rather than wanting to hire people who fit into a specific culture that could be exclusive. Focus around looking for a ‘values fit’ rather than a ‘cultural fit’.
Make use of the variety of platforms and job boards that actively recruit people from underrepresented groups to advertise your vacancy. As well as listing your vacancy on your company website, utilize identity-based networks to advertise job listings.
Diversity and inclusion is a long game, and isn’t something that can be “solved” overnight. It requires continuous work from organizations large and small. Don’t be afraid of getting things wrong – it’s a learning curve.
If you’re keen to hear more about how we hire diverse teams both in our external recruitment practice and internally at Franklin Fitch, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
by Robyn Trubey
We talk about diversity and establishing inclusive teams a lot as recruiters. A varied workforce brings to your firm an unique set of viewpoints and...
We talk about diversity and establishing inclusive teams a lot as recruiters. A varied workforce brings to your firm an unique set of viewpoints and opinions. In reality, businesses with a diverse staff outperform their competitors and report happier employees.
Despite the hype, just around half of firms have strategies in place to attract a diverse workforce. Approximately the same number of companies do not keep track of workforce diversity.
Unfortunately, bias – even if it is unconscious – can impede some businesses from naturally achieving diversity. It's critical for your recruiters to have initiatives in place that encourage more diverse hires in order to build inclusive teams.
Inclusive hiring can help your team develop more quickly, produce happier employees, form stronger teams, and help your company outperform its competition. Here are a few best practises for inclusive recruitment that your organisation can use.
The inclusive hiring process actively accepts a wide range of traits and viewpoints that candidates offer to the firm. It's not just about filling quotas by hiring persons from underrepresented groups or those with disabilities. Instead, inclusive hiring practises seek to level the playing field for all applicants in order to combat bias in hiring and discrimination in general.
It's difficult to avoid unconscious bias when examining a candidate's job application, even with the greatest of intentions. Organizations that want to improve their team's diversity and attract the greatest talent can't afford to have recruitment practises that unintentionally exclude specific groups of people. Bias can occur at any point of the hiring process, but the talent attraction stage, application review, and face-to-face interview are the most important to investigate.
Many candidates may be looking for jobs via print ads, contacting and visiting job fairs and boot camps, conducting searches on social media, or using their mobile devices to access job adverts. With this in mind, try looking for new employees in a variety of venues; this increases your chances of recruiting for a more diversified demographic.
Preventing and Exclusion in the CV Review
This problem has two solutions: removing identifying information from CV’s or abandoning CV’s entirely in favour of another way of candidate screening.
Blind hiring involves removing any information from resumés that could cause bias, such as age, ethnicity, gender, education, and geographic location. Ideally, only the facts that matter will be left: their skills, experience, and achievements.
The practice of replacing CV’s with skills testing is gaining traction in the recruitment industry. The idea is to hire based on skills rather than background. Candidates are tested for technical skills (such as coding) and soft skills (like communication), then graded and ranked according to their performance — creating a shortlist of top candidates without any identifying information.
The blind hiring method delays rather than removes bias if your recruitment process includes a face-to-face or video job interview. The key advantage is that you can rest assured that the shortlist of candidates for interviews was generated without bias, and that no promising candidate was screened out for the incorrect reasons.
Minimising Bias in the Job Interview
Screen questions for exclusive language
Ask every candidate the same set of standardized questions and stick to the script.
Use the same assessment criteria and debrief for every candidate.
Avoid one-on-one interviews. Have a panel of at least three interviewers.
Make sure your panel is diverse
Beware of hiring for likeability.
Don’t make a decision based on the interview alone.
Conduct panel interviews to reduce interview bias and provide for a variety of perspectives during the interview process. You can gather feedback, viewpoints, and ideas from people with a variety of requirements and expectations if you have a lot of people following along in the hiring process. Those outside of your recruiting and hiring staff should be involved in the hiring process. By reaching out to other departments, team members, and company executives, you can eliminate bias by considering other points of view and use their diverse experiences to build an inclusive workplace for newcomers.
The first step is to have an inclusive hiring process. Employees who don't fit a homogeneous mould will be unhappy in their new jobs if you simply focus on developing an inclusive hiring procedure and overlook your company culture.
You need to build an inclusive work atmosphere to persuade them to stay––and to actually enjoy their time at your company. Each employee has an unique voice in an inclusive workplace culture, which encourages them to be themselves. Not only are their particular needs met, but they are also encouraged to devote time to personal duties that they consider vital.
by Dominique Lianos
One of the biggest issues within IT Infrastructure recruitment is access to skilled IT talent. Some people argue that it’s a case of demand...
One of the biggest issues within IT Infrastructure recruitment is access to skilled IT talent. Some people argue that it’s a case of demand being too high for the supply of talent that is available, others say it’s a case of talent going unnoticed by recruiters. Today we’re taking a closer look at the latter one: untapped talent pools. Efforts to increase diversity in the tech industry are missing a critical element if neurodiverse hiring practices are not included.
According to, 72% of HR professionals said neurodiversity was not included in their people management practices, and 17% said they didn't know if it was. This untapped talent market exists primarily as a result of a lack of awareness and comprehension of neurodiversity.
There is a lot of ambiguity in the terminology. The term "neurodiversity" refers to people who have certain neurological conditions or who are on a neurodiverse spectrum. Autism spectrum disorder, dyslexia, dyspraxia (a neurologically based physical disorder), social anxiety disorders, and other conditions fall into this category. People on the neurodiverse spectrum frequently struggle with social interaction and communication in the same way that a neurotypical person would, but many people with these 'disorders' also have above-average abilities, often in areas such as pattern recognition, concentration, memory, or mathematics.
Autism affects more than one in 100 people which means a huge amount of talent. However, only 16% of autistic adults are in full-time employment, and out of the ones that aren’t, 77% would like to be according to the national autistic society’s research. So now you might think ‘how come to the tech industry hasn’t snapped all of these skilled workers up yet?’ Au contraire, many big tech companies like SAP, HPE, and Microsoft (amongst others) have already implemented processes and programs to access neurodiverse talent. For those who haven’t, it is probably a matter of one or some of the following.
However, when compared to other minority groups, neurodivergent individuals are frequently overlooked, and this problem exists across multiple conditions and on a global scale.
Profile fit and awareness
One of the main issues is that neurodiverse people often don’t fit the profile or the common notions of what makes a good employee. Things like communication, sales-person-type personalities, the ability to conform to standard practices, emotional intelligence, etc. Especially in larger companies HR and application processes are made to be scalable and applicable to the majority of the organisation. During an interview, a neurodiverse person might behave differently from a neurotypical person by making less eye contact or showing certain eccentricities. If the person interviewing isn’t aware of these conditions and doesn’t know how to work with them, the neurodiverse candidate might not get the job.
How can neurodiverse talent benefit a company's workforce?
Neurodivergent candidates are hardwired to think outside the box and are gifted with skills required for digital success. People with ADHD, for example, have exceptional focus and problem-solving abilities. Autistic people, on the other hand, are meticulous and have higher analytical thinking abilities.
Organizations can reap significant benefits from encouraging neurodiversity in terms of innovation, creativity, and thought diversity. It can also benefit neurotypical employees by allowing them to grow and prosper in a variety of ways.
How can organisations alter their hiring processes to attract neurodiverse talent?
Streamlining processes and procedures makes organisations scalable, efficient, and effective. However, employees on a neurodiverse spectrum might need accommodations outside the standard. Traditional hiring, employment, and workplace management models have a flaw in their design: they are centred on neurotypical people. A traditional job interview can be problematic because it favours neurotypical candidates while automatically excluding neuro minorities. You may struggle to understand social norms and nonverbal communication if you have a neurodivergent condition such as autism or dyspraxia. Autistic people are also prone to sensory processing issues, which makes a panel interview difficult to navigate because the candidate must focus on multiple people's verbal and nonverbal communication at the same time.
The interview process can also be modified to create a welcoming environment for neurodiverse candidates. Instead of a panel of interviewers, you could, for example, conduct a series of sequential interviews with one interviewer at a time. The interviewer can give candidates extra time before and after the interview to settle in and have the best opportunity to demonstrate their technical knowledge and communication skills. In addition, an external job coach can help candidates prepare for interviews and provide support throughout the hiring process — and even afterward.
What are some effective strategies for creating an inclusive environment for neurodiverse candidates?
It is critical to educate neurotypical employees on the dos and don'ts of communicating with neurodiverse employees. Managers and team members must be trained in advance in order to get the most out of neurodivergent individuals. Greater education and understanding of our cognitive differences will not only help to dispel some of the misconceptions but will also encourage neurodiverse employees to feel more comfortable opening up to their employers and make it easier for managers and colleagues to understand the type of support they require.
Inclusion can also be seen from the standpoint of physical space in the office. According to the research, neurodiverse people are more sensitive to noise, smell, light, and crowded places. As a result, placing their workstations in less congested and dimly lit areas of the office can boost their productivity. Organizations can also provide noise-cancelling headphones to their neurodiverse employees to create a distraction-free environment.
When communicating with a neurodiverse individual, managers and team members should be clear, concise, and complete. They should avoid asking open-ended questions and be specific about who needs to do what by when. It is also preferable to use literal expressions rather than metaphors or ambiguous messages.
Creating a neurodiverse-friendly hiring process and workforce will require hiring managers and employees to take a step back, remove assumptions and communicate in a new way. The bottom line is that inclusion is worth the extra effort and ultimately companies are missing a critical element if neurodiverse hiring practices are not included.
Awareness, Training, and Development
As with most things, there needs to be a plan and a strategy. Neurodiverse employees, like all employees, deserve career progression, training, and development. Furthermore, neurotypical employees and managers need to be trained on working with their neurodiverse colleagues to avoid friction. This can be supported through social partners such as government or non-profit organisations that are committed to helping neurodiverse people obtain jobs. Managing neurodiverse employees means for some leaders have to further individualise their leadership and work with the individuals to find out what works best for them and the company.
Awareness is a big factor when hiring neurodiverse talent. Apart from the above, neurodiverse candidates bring a lot of benefits to employers. The biggest one is: A different way of thinking.
If you grow your team in a diverse way, employing talent that thinks differently you might end up changing processes for the better. Innovation is fuelled by differences. Changing the perspective on a problem often brings the solution. That is exactly what a neurodiverse workforce can do for you. Research shows that teams with neurodiverse workers become more productive. Neurodiverse workers often have the ability to spot patterns others do not see.
by Charlotte Drury
One of the biggest issues within IT Infrastructure recruitment is access to skilled IT talent. Some people argue that it’s a case of demand being too high for the supply of talent that is available, others say it’s a case of talent going unnoticed by recruiters. Today we’re taking a closer look at the latter one: untapped talent pools.
Diversity and inclusion have been important topics all-round, but especially in the fight against skills shortages. At Franklin Fitch we are committed to raise awareness and tackle biases towards diversity & inclusion matters within IT infrastructure. Diversity and inclusion cover many areas, the most known being diverse ranges in sexuality, cultures and philosophy. Today we’d like to talk about a diverse range of different modes of thinking a.k.a neurodiversity.
The term “neurodiversity” is used to describe people with certain neurological conditions or people who are on a neurodiverse spectrum. This includes conditions like autism spectrum disorder, dyslexia, dyspraxia (a neurologically based physical disorder), social anxiety disorders, and others. People on the neurodiverse spectrum often have difficulties with social interaction and communication in the way a neurotypical person would cope with them, but many people with these ‘disorders’ also have higher-than average abilities, often in areas such as pattern recognition, concentration, memory or mathematics.
Autism affects more than one in 100 people which means a huge amount of talent. However, only 16% of autistic adults are in full-time employment and out of the ones that aren’t, 77% would like to be according to the national autistic society’s research. So now you might think ‘how come the tech industry hasn’t snapped all of these skilled workers up yet?’ Au contraire, many big tech companies like SAP, HPE and Microsoft (amongst others) have already implemented processes and programs to access neurodiverse talent. For those who haven’t it is probably a matter of one or some of the following.
One of the main issues is that neurodiverse people often don’t fit the profile or the common notions of what makes a good employee. Things like communication, sales-person-type personalities, the ability to conform to standard practices, emotional intelligence etc. Especially in larger companies HR and application processes are made to be scalable and applicable to the majority of the organisation. During an interview a neurodiverse person might behave different from a neurotypical person by making less eye contact or showing certain eccentricities. If the person interviewing isn’t aware of these conditions and doesn’t know how to work with them, the neurodiverse candidate might not get the job.
Conformity to standardised procedures
Streamlining processes and procedures makes organisations scalable, efficient and effective. However, employees on a neurodiverse spectrum might need accommodations outside the standard. Things like installing different lighting, or providing noise-cancelling headphones or separate workstations aren’t usually too expensive but require businesses and managers to individualise where they would usually standardise.
Awareness, Training and Development
As with most things there needs to be a plan, a strategy. Neurodiverse employees, like all employees, deserve career progression, training and development. Furthermore, neurotypical employees and managers need to be trained on working with their neurodiverse colleagues to avoid friction. This can be supported through social partners such as government or non-profit organisations that are committed to helping neurodiverse people obtain jobs. Managing neurodiverse employees means for some leaders that they have to further individualise their leadership and work with the individuals to find out what works best for them and the company.
Awareness is a big factor when hiring neurodiverse talent. Apart from the above, neurodiverse candidates bring a lot of benefits for employers. The biggest one being: A different way of thinking.
Diversity and inclusion have one big advantage – variety. As Steve Jobs put it “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do”. If you grow your team in a diverse way, employing talent that thinks differently you might end up changing processes for the better. Innovation is fuelled by differences. Changing the perspective on a problem often brings the solution. That is exactly what a neurodiverse workforce can do for you. Research shows that teams with neurodiverse workers become more productive. Neurodiverse workers often have the ability to spot patterns others do not see.
If you’d like to know more about hiring neurodiverse talent the following links might be useful for you: https://www.autism.org.uk/, https://specialisternefoundation.com/,
by Robyn Trubey
International Women’s Day (IWD) is a day to celebrated annually on the 8th of March. The purpose of the day is to highlight how far women have...
International Women’s Day (IWD) is a day to celebrated annually on the 8th of March. The purpose of the day is to highlight how far women have come in society, politics and economics, whilst addressing the inequality women face and what we can do to minimize these issues going forward.
IWD stemmed from the labor movement in 1908, which saw 15,000 women marching through New York demanding shorter working hours, better pay and the right to vote. One year later, the Socialist Party of America declared the first National Women’s Day.
Clara Zetkin, who was an advocate for women’s rights, suggested the creation of an international day to celebrate women. She put her case before the International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen in 1910, where a 100 women from 17 countries, agrees unanimously.
IWD was first celebrated in 1911 in various countries in Europe, before the day became official in 1974 by the United Nations. The day adopts a different theme year-on-year, with this year calling for women around the world to #BreaktheBias.
In the build up to IWD, I have been highlighting numerous influential women in STEM. I wanted to put the spotlight on just a few of the many female role models, working tirelessly to make the technology industry more visible and accessible to others, helping to close the gender gap. This series considered what these women are doing to encourage greater diversity and representation in their fields.
1. Kimberly Bryant
Name: Kimberly Bryant
Role: Founder & CEO of Black Girls Code
Bryant earned a scholarship to Vanderbilt University, where she studied an electrical engineering degree with minors in mathematics and computer science. After graduating, she took on technical leadership roles in several pharmaceutical and biotech companies.
Later on, her daughter's interest in computer science highlighted the lack of Black women in STEM professions. She realized this wasn't due to a lack of interest, but very few opportunities to access and gain exposure to these topics.
Bryant founded Black Girls Code in 2011, a San Francisco based nonprofit that exposes girls of color ages 7 to 17 to STEM subjects. This provides the opportunity for them to learn in-demand skills as they think about what they want to be when they grow up. The organization has the goal of teaching 1 million Black girls to code by 2040. Today, the organization has 16 chapters across the US and 1 chapter in Johannesburg, South Africa.
2. Safra Catz
Name: Safra Catz
Role: CEO of Oracle
Catz immigrated to the US from Israel at age 6. She earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School and her Juris Doctor from Penn Law.
Catz began as a banker at Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, working her way through the ranks and eventually becoming the senior vice president of the firm. In 1999, Catz joined Oracle as their senior vice president. She joined the company's board of directors in 2001 and was named president in 2004.
Under Catz's direction, Oracle initiated more than 130 acquisitions and mergers over the next decade. The most well-known of these acquisitions was direct rival PeopleSoft, which Oracle acquired in 2004 for $10.3 billion.
In 2014, Catz became co-CEO of Oracle, along with Mark Hurd, and later became the sole CEO in 2019. She also teaches accounting at the Stanford School of Business and was elected to the board of directors of the Walt Disney Co in 2017.
3. Ellen Pao
Name: Ellen Pao
Role: Co-Founder & CEO of Project Include
Pao learnt how to code at age 10 from her mother, who was working as a computer engineer at the University of Pennsylvania. Pao later graduated from Princeton University with a BSc in electrical engineering and a certificate in public policy. She also earned a Juris Doctor from Harvard Law and an MBA from Harvard Business School.
After working for several Silicon Valley companies, she became the technical chief of staff at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, a San Francisco venture capital firm. She later sued the company for bias and gender discrimination.
In 2013, Pao became Reddit's head of business development and strategic partnerships, then interim CEO in 2014. Pao is an advocate for women's rights and transforming corporate culture, and she banned the use of unauthorized nude photos on Reddit. This move inspired other social media platforms to institute similar policies.
Pao later resigned from Reddit and founded Project Include with other #WomenInTech. The group's mission is to address and prevent sexism and gender discrimination in Silicon Valley, and to improve diversity and inclusion within tech companies.
4. Susan Wojcicki
Name: Susan Wojcicki
Role: CEO of YouTube
Susan Wojcicki originally pursued a career in academia, after graduating from Harvard with a BA in history and literature. In her final year of study, she developed a passion for technology. She went on to earn a MSc in economics from the University of California Santa Cruz and a MBA from UCLA.
She returned to Silicon Valley to work in Intel's marketing department and later moved to Menlo Park, where she rented her garage as office space to Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the founders of Google. Wojcicki was Google's 16th employee and very first marketing manager, assisting in the creation of Google Images and Google Books.
Wojcicki helped develop AdWords and AdSense, Google's advertising and analytics products. She became Google's senior vice president of advertising and commerce, where she led the company's advertising and analytics division, including Google Video.
She proposed acquiring YouTube, who was a direct competitor of Google Video. In 2006, Google purchased YouTube for $1.65 billion. She became the CEO in 2014, and continues to lead the Google subsidiary in its role as one of the most influential and frequently used platforms on the internet.
5. Reshma Saujani
Name: Reshma Saujani
Role: CEO of Girls Who Code
Originally graduating from the University of Illinois with a bachelor's degree in political science and speech communication, Reshma Saujani went on to receive her Master of Public Policy degree from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and her Juris Doctor from Yale Law School.
In 2010, Saujani was the first Indian-American woman to run for US Congress, when she campaigned for a New York House seat. She was the first person to run a political campaign using Square to receive donations. Whilst visiting educational institutions as part of her campaign, she witnessed the gender gap in computer classes.
In 2012, Saujani founded Girls Who Code to address the gender gap in the tech industry, with programmes from grades 3 all the way through to college. The organisation offers online resources, books, summer immersion and campus programs, clubs and college alumni programs. To this day, the organisation has served more than 450,000 girls, approximately half of which are from underprivileged communities; made up of Black, Latina and low-income girls.
Saujani published a book, Girls Who Code: Learn to Code and Change the World, in 2017, to promote the tenets of her organisation.
6. Gwynne Shotwell
Name: Gwynne Shotwell
Role: President and COO of SpaceX
Gwynne Shotwell achieved a Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in mechanical engineering and applied mathematics from Northwestern University. Shortly after graduating, Shotwell enrolled in Chrysler Corp.'s management training program to begin her career in the automotive industry. However, she quickly changed course to work on military space research contracts with Aerospace Corp. in El Segundo, California. There, she became the chief engineer of an MLV-class satellite program, where she researched and developed policies for commercial space exploration for the Federal Aviation Administration and NASA.
In 2002, Shotwell's interested in space made her a ideal candidate for #SpaceX, who brought her on as their 11th employee and VP of business development. She is now the company's president and COO, so is responsible for day-to-day operations and company outreach and development.
SpaceX was the first private company to launch a commercial satellite into orbit, and is now the world's largest commercial satellite constellation operator. They were also the first private company to send humans into orbit and to the International Space Station.
Shotwell was introduced to the Women In Technology International Hall of Fame and was named one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people in the world in 2020.
We have come a long way since IWD officially began in 1911, however, there is still so much that can be done to create a fairer society for people of all genders. This year, IWD has encouraged individuals to ‘think globally, act locally’, so do your bit that the future for girls is bright, equal, safe and rewarding.
At Franklin Fitch, we are committed to diversity and inclusion and are passionate about breaking down some of the unseen barriers in technology recruitment. If you would like to find out more about our inclusive infrastructure then please click here.
by Algida Gaidyte
What is LGBT+ History Month, and how can your company get involved? We've got all the answers right here, so keep scrolling to learn more.
What is LGBT+ History Month, and how can your company get involved? We've got all the answers right here, so keep scrolling to learn more.
What is LGBT+ History Month?
It is a month-long annual celebration of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans, and non-binary (LGBT+) history. It is also an opportunity to reflect on the history of LGBT+ rights and related civil rights movements.
When is LGBT+ History Month?
Every year LGBT+ History Month takes place in February because that was when it was initiated by the LGBT+ Education charity ‘Schools Out UK’ in 2005.
Sue Sanders and Paul Patrick founded LGBT+ History Month in the UK as part of a Schools Out UK project in 2005, following the repeal of Section 28 of the Local Government Act in 2003, which stated that a local authority "shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality" or "promote the teaching of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship in any maintained school."
What is the goal of LGBT+ History Month?
The month's goal is to raise awareness about the challenges that the LGBTQI+ community faces, as well as to educate young people about the history of the LGBT+ rights struggle and to promote an inclusive modern society.
Why is it important to foster Diversity and Inclusion in the workplace?
It's no secret that a diverse perspective fosters innovation, creativity, and a sense of belonging among employees, enabling them to bring their whole selves to work. The need of fostering a culture of inclusion and human rights efforts in the workplace is recognised by most organisations.
According to a recent poll, 25% of the LGBTQ+ population has faced discrimination at work because of their sexual orientation, and 31% have felt sad or depressed as a result. These figures alone demonstrate the relevance of educational awareness initiatives such as LGBT+ History Month.
Recognizing your LGBT+ coworkers' successes, learning more about LGBT+ history, celebrating diversity, and considering how you can help to create a more inclusive society as an employer.
What should businesses be doing for LGBT+ History Month?
Several LGBT+ History Month initiatives are available to help businesses honour and support LGBT+ employees during this time.
• Take actions to make workplaces more inclusive to LGBT+ coworkers and customers, such as evaluating corporate regulations and putting in place safeguards for LGBT+ personnel.
• Host webinars to raise awareness of LGBT+ topics and concerns affecting LGBT+ persons.
• Encourage lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender employees to talk about their experiences at meetings, events, or webinars to raise their visibility.
• Share LGBT+ resources with coworkers to assist them better understand what it means to be LGBT+ and how it may effect their employment. In the Inclusive Employers member's area, you can get this and other resources for free.
Returning to work after a few weeks of relaxation, indulgence and festive celebrations can be slightly daunting. The fresh feeling of New Year...
Returning to work after a few weeks of relaxation, indulgence and festive celebrations can be slightly daunting. The fresh feeling of New Year – a blank page that’s waiting to be filled over the next 12 months- quickly disappears.
It's natural to feel melancholy, with colder mornings, dark evenings and especially after the excitement and bustle of the Christmas season. As well as huge expectations of New Year’s Resolutions bringing about massive changes.
Typically, January Blues manifests itself as feelings of low mood, sadness, lack of motivation, tiredness and low energy. It is also the peak season for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)*, which can induce serious depressive episodes during the darker months.
This emotional lull is to be expected, but it is unavoidable. The days are getting longer by a few minutes each day, and your first month of 2022 can be a great start and serve as a springboard for the next 11 months. Rather than succumbing to "The January Blues," why not learn how to overcome them? Here are our suggestions for making the best start to 2022; use them to avoid falling into the gloomy cycle of cold, dark January and instead feel enthused and motivated by the start of a new year full of exciting possibilities.
Regular exercise has been shown to give you the following benefits
alleviate depressed tendencies – the endorphin release gives your body a happy feeling.
Exercise can take any form, including light or moderate exercises such as jogging, yoga, or simply a short lunchtime walk.
So, why not introduce a short walk outside as part of your regular routine? After a long day at work, getting some fresh air can be really relaxing and help to reset your mind, especially today that we are all spending more time indoors. Do the type of exercise that you enjoy so that it becomes a part of your daily routine. Even if you don't feel like it, try to motivate yourself to be active. Exercising almost always makes you feel better.
Sleep is a game changer. In a good and bad way.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, healthy adults require between seven and nine hours of sleep per night. Sleep deprivation can have a negative impact on your mental health, making you irritable, anxious, and worried.
In the evenings try reducing your screen usage to have a leisurely, technology-free winding down period, this will allow your brain to switch off and get a decent night's sleep. Getting a good night's sleep can have a positive impact on your happiness, productivity, and long-term health.
Getting stuck in your own head, especially when the thoughts are gloomy or fearful, can lead to a downward spiral in your mood. By clearing your mind and allowing you to start over, a little meditation can do wonders for your mood. Meditation can help you enhance your focus and concentration throughout the day, as well as boost your mood and reduce stress. There are various apps and services available to assist you with meditating, which can help you become more mindful. You might start to emotionally process circumstances differently and perceive life through a different lens if you meditate and be aware every day.
We are what we eat.
What we put into our bodies has a significant impact on our mood. When you're depressed, you're more likely to eat poorly, either too much or not enough. A nutritious, varied, and well-balanced diet is essential for your health, gives you more energy, and can improve your mood. It may seem like a good idea to make up for Christmas overindulgence by skipping breakfast, but skipping meals has a negative impact on your mood and focus. Instead, we should concentrate on consuming meals that increase our energy levels and make us feel good. Consume plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, in which can be great sources of minerals and vitamins and ensure you satisfy your carbohydrate cravings, such as pasta and potatoes.
Try Something New
Trying a new hobby can be a great way to lift your spirits and enhance your self-confidence through a difficult January. Perhaps you've always wanted to learn a new language, play an instrument, join a new sport, or learn a new programming language. Focusing on something exciting and creative can make you feel better about the season and will give you a sense of accomplishment and confidence. Studies demonstrate that when you use your creativity, you lessen your stress levels and have fewer depressive symptoms. Giving yourself a new sense of purpose, this month may make you feel more fulfilled, confident, and connected to others.
After the holidays, we can feel very deflated, so it's critical to establish plans and surround ourselves with others. The dreary weather of January, combined with a lack of funds, might make it very tempting to stay indoors. Rather than giving in, figure out how to be active and social. If you're feeling lonely or depressed, catch up with an old friend, go for a walk with your family, and talk to someone.
We hope these tools and tips will help you stay positive in January. If there's one thing you should keep in mind, it's that you can help to control your mood. You will be unhappy this month if you make a conscious effort to be so. But think and do happy and you’ll be much better placed to ride the January Blue waves.
*Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which can cause significant depression episodes during the darker months, is also at its peak. It can persist for a few weeks, leading up to 'Blue Monday,' the year's most depressing day. Please seek professional advice and help if you think this affects you.
by Gareth Streefland
Diversity and Inclusion isn't a new concept. For years, business functions have worked to make their teams as diverse as possible, bringing...
Diversity and Inclusion isn't a new concept. For years, business functions have worked to make their teams as diverse as possible, bringing together people with different ideas, perspectives, and working styles to increase team effectiveness by up to 35 percent. In business, diversity and inclusion are all about ensuring that all employees have a level playing field, and that your staff reflects the broad mix of society. Your team should be made up of a diverse group of people with various backgrounds and experiences.
Here is a vast array of benefits when making the recruitment process more diverse. Here are our top benefits of a more diverse recruitment process:
New Perspectives and Innovation- A diverse team allows businesses to be more innovative, creative, and productive. Employee diversity contributes to fresher and more diversified ideas, as well as a variety of different opinions and experiences, which can assist in solving challenges and promote innovation. Individuals with a variety of cultural backgrounds, religious beliefs, and skill sets make for well-rounded teams, allowing for faster and more informed decisions.
Talent Pool- Making your recruitment process more inclusive implies attracting more candidates from various backgrounds and sources. You'll always reach the same type of people if you don't change the way your recruiting process is arranged. If you work to eliminate barriers to entry, you’ll have the pick of the most high-performing candidates, which enlarges your talent pool and improves your chances of finding the ideal hire. Aside from the fact that diversity enhances your existing business, 67% of people think about it when looking for work. It's critical to hire a broader range of people in order to attract more suitable applicants. Investing in tools that source qualified candidates across all backgrounds will result in you being able to access a larger talent pool.
Improved Culture- A more diverse workforce fosters a more open and adventurous workplace culture. Working with people from various origins creates a fascinating day-to-day culture and allows employees to bond over their diverse backgrounds and past experiences and learn from each other.
Faster Time to Hire- Vacancies are filled faster when there are more candidates, and they are of higher quality. You'll have everything you need to move through the recruitment process quickly if you create a more inclusive and diverse pool of candidates.
There are numerous advantages to making your recruitment process more inclusive, including the ability to attract high-quality individuals from all walks of life. Businesses that actively seek to ensure that they appeal to a diverse variety of candidates will distinguish themselves against the competition.
by Robyn Trubey
Meeting on Greenwich University's Computer Security and Forensics course in 2015, Princess David Okoro and Ologide Oghenero have...
Meeting on Greenwich University's Computer Security and Forensics course in 2015, Princess David Okoro and Ologide Oghenero have gone on to have successful cyber security careers in their respective field.
Nero’s professional career spans engagements with several well-known, established Multinational corporations working as a strategic leader in Digital Transformation, Cyber Security and Digital Forensics. Princess is an Associate Consultant at Aon, focused on providing advisory and consulting support for organisations so they can improve their cyber security posture and adhere to security policies, expected controls and regulatory requirements.
After discovering that the same issues they suffered with at university were still institutionally ongoing; they decided to break the cycle and invest their time and energy into ensuring that minority groups and historically under-represented individuals are given the opportunities they deserve to excel in cybersecurity.
This decision led to the creation of HerCyberSpace; an online community platform that is commited to helping shape the future of women in cyber security. The aim of the initiative is to empower women to join the Cyber security workforce through Learning, Networking and Mentoring opportunities and build a generation of the next female cyber warriors.
What roles are you both currently in at the minute?
Ologide: I'm currently a cybersecurity freelancer. I want to be able to work on different projects, with different companies, and I love working with start-ups.
Princess: I work as a cyber security consultant for a company called Aon. I help organisations improve their cybersecurity posture. So based on performing risk assessments, helping them policy developments as well, and to giving advice as well too.
Let’s start at the very beginning, tell me about your journey and how did you fall into tech?
Princess: I always wanted to be a lawyer. As a child that was my dream job; I always believed that was the right career path for me. However, I came into this country in 2014, and jumped into a programme called Foundation of Business, Culture and Society and one of the modules was computer science.
With my parents' help, I enrolled in a computer science degree with no prior experience or knowledge of science-related courses; it was really difficult, but I enjoy a challenge. I had to learn programming from the ground up. I wouldn't sleep until 2 a.m. because I wanted to catch up with the rest of my class because they'd been programming for who knows how long.
During my first year, a lecturer came in to talk about computer security and forensics, as well as how this degree relates to the types of jobs available. This programme piqued my interest since it allowed me to combine my initial offer of law school with my newfound passion for technology and science into a single degree. Over the summer, I received a crash course on networking from a friend, and the rest is history.
Ologide: My background is not exactly the opposite. I also did fall into cybersecurity but I have a science background and I knew as a child that I wanted to work in the field of science. I started out in Applied Mathematics and had a difficult time. During my time studying math in Nigeria, I moved to the United Kingdom and chose to pursue a career in engineering. I planned to pursue a foundational degree in Network Engineering, similar to Princess's, but the course was prematurely cancelled.
I remember going to the Student Centre and asking, “What would you advise someone to study if they wanted to do something in computing?” – the answer: Computer Security and Forensics. I did my research and found out that the industry making an impact in people's lives through the work they do. After finishing my degree, I pursued an MBA in International Business in order for me to help bridge the gap between the business and technology industries.
I also encountered a lot of difficulties during my first year, because then I realised that it was more technical that than anything else, but I was ready for the challenge. I met Princess on my degree, so somehow, our paths crossed each other and have been doing some amazing things together. We were the only black females, in our department; so, we faced a lot of adversity and challenges but it's just some of the things that we had to learn how to navigate.
Being a black female working in the tech industry what was the journey like?
Princess: I think it's the problem of proving yourself. I've always been a high performer regardless of the industry that I delved into, and it was the pressure that I created for myself to be the best. You’re not taken seriously because you're seen as the girl. I had to demonstrate that I was deserving of the position and that I had put in a lot of effort to get here. And I believe that after a while, I became accustomed to the notion that I may be the only black female in the room, as well as the only female in the business.
I want to use this platform to encourage other people to venture into this industry that I'm currently working on because it's very rewarding, and that I have grown since when I decided to kickstart my career in cybersecurity. I want to assist the journey into cybersecurity as much as I can as I remember coming to this country with zero skills and now fast forward six years, I’m where I am today. Sometimes I just sit down and reflect and I'm quite thankful and grateful that I made the choices I made when I made them.
What advice would you give to women who are considering a career in tech?
Princess: Just do it. It’s important to understand the different career paths within cybersecurity. This is where the confusion lies, because when people sell cybersecurity, it's been sold as a very technical field. You need to have some level of technicality; however, you'll also require a diverse set of abilities. Regardless of your degree, are you inquisitive? Are you willing to learn? The industry is continuously changing, and we're just trying to keep up with the latest developments.
Ologide: Many of the challenges we encounter in cyber security are institutional in structure. I found myself in circumstances where I was afraid to raise questions because I was a woman. Women who wish to change careers and have the skills but lack the experience are not warmly welcomed. There's a lot of masculinity in that profession, and males seem to believe that women can't perform the technical things that men can. It leaves women stuck. They have no one to talk to, no role models who have the time or capacity to sit down with them and guide them through their journey.
What do you think can be done to help ease the journey for women into tech?
Princess: I believe that institutions can do more to promote cybersecurity to students, job changers, and various demographics. They need to have tolerance to answer the questions and give them more of an explanation. There have been some improvements; professionals are beginning to take the time to discuss cybersecurity career options and assist in the mapping of transferable skills, which are the things that can be used to excel in the field of cybersecurity. If you can harness them and combine them with a person's eagerness to learn, you may achieve incredible results.
Let's talk about HerCyberSpace. What an incredible initiative-but what was your reasoning for creating this? What's the mission for the company?
Ologide: We used to talk about all of these issues at university and how we were dealing with them. We wanted to break the pattern and guarantee that others who came after us didn't have to face the same difficulties we had. And we were really conscientious about it. People were still having the same difficulties years after we left, and the problems were not going away anytime soon and we discovered that everyone was dealing with this issue; the UK security landscape is relatively quiet.
We wanted to create a community for women with a strong interest in cyber security or a place where women looking to enter the field of cyber security can develop their skills and share their passion for technology. We wanted to foster relationships with women in leadership who can serve as role models to come to our platform and help individuals at various stages. We wanted to be able to collaborate with these institutions as well, by connecting students and realistically telling them what they are going to encounter in the future.
Princess: When it comes to mentoring and community building, it's always been undervalued. Throughout my career, I've encountered people who have influenced me and helped me make better judgments at various times. I've been able to depend on the community I've established for myself when I've struggled with a piece of work or needed an additional brain to think about something, and it's made all the difference. I was always the top student in school, but when I started working, I was plagued with impostor syndrome, and I lost my voice and confidence. However, in the last year, as a result of fostering a feeling of community and encouraging open discussion, I've started to remember that I'm actually good at this stuff.
Looking to the future for HerCybSpace, what’s next?
Ologide: We're not even close to where we want to be in terms of growth. To have the impact that we want to have, I believe that we need to build these strong relationships with worldwide organisations that are aligned with our objective, which is to bring 10,000 to 100,000 women into the cybersecurity sector. When you read any of these papers and studies regarding the gaps, such as the gender gap or the skills gap, you'll notice that they work with numbers, and those figures change every year. We want to make a significant contribution to that number, and we can only do so by working relentlessly with organisations that can help us achieve our aim.
We aim to empower women to join the cyber security workforce through three key areas, which are Learning, Mentoring, and Networking opportunities and hopefully build the next generation of female cyber warriors to help close the gender gap in the cyber security industry. Within the next few years, we see ourselves as a community that is growing in number, and also in impact.
We're currently collaborating with schools and universities to develop awareness programmes, as well as with students who are closer to entering the workforce, such as third- or fourth-year students, and post-graduate students, to develop boot camps where they can learn about some of the less well-known domains in cybersecurity, governance, risk, and compliance. There are a lot of hacking-focused programmes out there, so we're aiming to address the governance, risk, and compliance side of things to encourage more women to enter the sector, which has a lot of opportunities.
Thank you to Princess David Okoro and Ologide Oghenero for sharing your experiences with us for this article. For more information on HerCyberSpace please check out their website or LinkedIn page.
by Dominique Lianos
Akua Opong is a Senior Analyst in the London Stock Exchange Group's Corporate Technology team. She mentors new team members, including interns...
Akua Opong is a Senior Analyst in the London Stock Exchange Group's Corporate Technology team. She mentors new team members, including interns and graduates, and gives technological advice and guidance to her colleagues across the Group.
She is passionate about her role as a STEM Ambassador and the opportunity it gives her to coach and mentor young people, interns, and graduates in the skills they need to build successful careers, as well as increasing the visibility of women in the industry.
Akua is a strong diversity and inclusion advocate, a mental health champion on the LSEG Wellbeing Committee, and the community lead for LSEG's Women's Inspired Network outside of her primary position.
As a neurodiversity champion, Akua collaborates with the Change Ambassador Network at LSEG through the Accessible Network, researching and testing accessibility solutions and raising awareness about creating an inclusive environment for neurodivergent employees. She received the Inspiration CEO Award 2019 at LSEG in recognition of her charity initiatives and contributions and has been shortlisted for the Women in Tech Global Awards 2021 and Tech100Women.
We had the opportunity to talk with Akua about being a woman in technology and how she goes about taking down barriers and breaking new ground in the technology world.
How did you become interested in working in tech?
When I was growing up I initially wanted to be a paediatrician and then moved onto to looking at working in the army in emergency response but with an IT intelligence role.
I went on to study Business Studies with Sociology and Religious Studies/Philosophy, followed by a BSc (Honours) in Computing and IT (Sandwich Course) at the University of Surrey, which really sparked my interest in IT. My first job was in retail, however throughout all my experiences I made up my mind that I wanted a career in tech; I now have over 8 years’ experience working in IT in different industries from hospitality to consulting and financial services.
Can you tell us about your journey into tech as a black woman?
I completed a one-year industrial placement at Rolls-Royce as part of my degree course at university; but then I struggled to get a job in technology. This was a challenging period of time as I was informed that I didn't have enough experience or that I needed IT certifications, despite having an IT degree with a year in industry. My first IT position was assisting the Dubai Royal Family across their UK properties, followed by over five years at Rathbones, and now Desktop Services Team within Corporate Technology at LSEG.
In every job I've had, I've been the first or only black woman on the team, which has driven me to want to make a difference and promote diversity and I do that through participating and collaborating with many different initiatives and charities. When I first started out, I didn't see many women in tech jobs, especially black women, which I thought might affect my ability to grow in the future.
If you could go back in time to the beginning of your career in tech and give yourself or any black female entering the tech industry a piece of advice, what would you say?
There are four main areas in which I would give my younger-self advice:
1. Surround yourself with a group of individuals you can trust to be a sounding board for your ideas, to push you, to help you identify and grasp new possibilities as they arise, and to help you advance your career and grow both personally and professionally. Jennifer Burns, Rav Bumbra, Bev Shah at City Hive, Neelam Kaul, Jo Thackwray, and Anna Znachko are some of the wonderful mentors that have been there for me over the last several years. By having open talks and sharing similar experiences I've learnt so much from each of these wonderful ladies. This is why I mentor young people in STEM fields to help them advance in their careers - I want to pass on my skills so that others can be the best versions of themselves.
2. Continuous learning: Develop a growth mindset and acquire new abilities, even if it's only 15-30 minutes a day to learn a programming language. To progress, you must have a growth mindset, which is critical in the IT sector.
3. Fear of the unknown: You will encounter numerous obstacles and unfamiliar scenarios, such as hosting, facilitating, or being a panellist in public speaking situation. Some of these situations are unfamiliar, and they are there to push you out of your comfort zone. Take advantage of these opportunities – they indicate progress and the capacity to build and improve your skill set.
4. Be open to multiple possibilities, don’t allow imposter syndrome or a lack of confidence to stop you. Be brave enough to go for it! This also includes looking for role models in the industry and helping to set a benchmark for others. When we see others that look like us in a room, it gives us a chance and makes us feel like we belong. Never stop believing in what you can become in the future.
"For me, becoming isn't about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim. I see it instead as forward motion, a means of evolving, a way to reach continuously toward a better self. The journey doesn't end," Michelle Obama wrote in her memoir Becoming.
I chose this quote as I attended the Becoming book tour at the O2 in London. Michelle Obama is a massive advocate for young girls to be given a chance to succeed regardless of their background. Each person should be given opportunities, in a world that is fair and equal. It is about uplifting, empowering and not about competing with each other, but working for each other - for the young girl or woman's voice to be heard.
What can tech companies do to make the industry more inclusive of Black women and other people of colour?
More diversity across the group is a must. The world is a beautiful place because of all the different countries, cultures, communities, networks and religions – that’s why we travel – we want to explore and learn more about other people and places. We need to create an environment that lends itself to learn more about diversity of all kinds.
Secondly, encourage talent from within. Keep training and retaining talent within the firm. There are so many incredible black women that are incredibly talented, give them the space and tools to grow into these wonderful future leaders that we all aspire to become. Host events and webinars for colleagues to discuss important subjects. Create a fair and inclusive environment for women – especially black women - to thrive.
How can we encourage more women, especially minority women, to get into the industry?
To start with, in order for women of colour to join organisations, we must see other women who look like us at all levels of the organisation. What kind of diversity and inclusion networks, as well as mentorship programmes are there? Are there any organisations that promote women of colour? When I was younger, I was constantly looking for role models, and when I wanted to join a company, I looked at their Executive Team and senior leadership teams to see if I could progress.
BYP, Coding Black Females, Black Girls in Tech, CityHive's Talk About Black Mentoring programme, and Tech London Advocates - Black Women in Tech are just a few of the fantastic organisations that constantly showcase the many careers of black women in the sector. These organisations have helped me improve tremendously in the previous year. I've grown so much in the last year, and it's all because of the organisations with which I'm now affiliated.
Can you tell us about a challenge you have faced and how you overcame it?
This year, I found out that I have Dyslexia and ADD. I found a wonderful Neurodiversity coach through Wired Differently and learning skills coach through A2i Dyslexia Association who have helped me to study more efficiently. I am now close to achieving more than 12 certifications for the year including ITIL, Project Management, Prince2, Microsoft and Multi cloud. This demonstrates what you can achieve with the right support. I changed a challenge or obstacle into something very positive.
How have you helped to promote diversity and inclusion in the industry?
I want to help to drive organisations to change structurally and to look at black talent in a different way, to look at female talent in a different way. I want to see words get put into action.
In order to drive initiatives for diversity and inclusion, I have participated in mentoring with both City Hive and Like-Minded Females (LMF) mentoring schemes to help drive change in gender equality and diversity. At LSEG, I have participated in the existing mentoring scheme, Reverse Mentoring, coaching for black employees, unconscious bias training, organised a training session with Show Racism The Red Card and highlighted intersectionality across the business.
What has been your career highlight?
Seeing how my generation is questioning the concept of work/life balance and speaking out against injustice and inequality has been a professional highlight for me. For me, success is spreading awareness about neurodiversity and assisting young women in achieving their STEM aspirations.
A personal career highlight is being featured in the Tech London Advocates book – The Voices in the Shadows. This article showcases black women in technology and gives young girls and women hope for what they might achieve in the future.
Thank you very much to Akua Opong for taking the time to talk with us for this interview. Be sure to grab your copy of The Voices in the Shadows book and if you have the time to vote for Akua for the Global Women Tech Community and Mentor of the Year Awards.
by Steven Ewer
Nina Nduwayo is an experienced Data Scientist and Consultant. As a Senior Scientist at Ravelin, she specialises in using machine learning, data...
Nina Nduwayo is an experienced Data Scientist and Consultant. As a Senior Scientist at Ravelin, she specialises in using machine learning, data analysis to advise and enable global brands to make smarter data-driven decisions. Originally set to become a surgeon, Nina left medical school in pursuit of something more. She started learning to code through online classes, where she learned web programming skills and was introduced to data science. She now has 6+ years experience working in the industry and enjoys using data to solve complex challenges and mature her clients business intelligence capabilities.
As Director of Outreach for Black in Data, Nina is a big advocate of increasing awareness of data career opportunities and using this platform to encourage individuals from underrepresented backgrounds to pursue careers in technology.
What is your current role/ bit of background to what you do now?
Currently I work as an Investigations Data Scientist at Ravelin where I work closely with clients to understand and prevent their fraud challenges. I enjoy using data to solve complex challenges and seven years into my tech journey I’m still engrossed and excited by my work. I am also the Director of Outreach for an organisation called Black in Data and hope to use this platform to raise awareness of the roles and opportunities in the data industry, especially amongst state school students at a crucial stage when they are beginning to make decisions about their future careers.
How did you become interested in working in tech?
At school, I took GCSE IT, which was probably my first exposure to the IT industry. I recall liking the class but had little knowledge of the tech sector at the time and had never met anyone who worked in it. I didn't start attending Technology Entrepreneurship Societies and learning about the many applications of technology until I went to university. The start-up world intrigued me, and the more I learned about technology, the more I wanted to know. I began studying to code in my spare time after graduation and was then recruited by a food tech start-up.
Tell us about your journey into tech as a black woman?
For me, the first year in IT was daunting. As a complete newcomer to the field with no experience, I found myself continually doubting myself and my ability. And there were times when I doubted my place in the industry. Attending tech meetings like Muslamic Makers and AI Club for Gendered Minorities helped me to meet other women and minorities in the field from whom I could learn and seek advice. Having a support system in place helped me get my bearings in the IT world and pushed me to keep progressing. More significantly, it made me aware of the obstacles we encounter and gave a secure environment in which to consider how to deal with challenges at work.
If you could go back in time to the beginning of your career in tech and give yourself a piece of advice, what would you say?
Pay close attention to your feelings. What excites and motivates you? Find any opportunity to incorporate that into your working day and hold on to that feeling. Ask questions, open-ended ideally and see where the conversation takes you. Some of the best learning and advice I've had has come from random conversations. And finally, enjoy the process and remember to celebrate the small wins.
What advice would you give to black women entering the tech industry?
For me, I would say make sure you network and find a community with people who can understand and relate to you. It’s important to find somewhere you feel comfortable with, where you can be yourself and show vulnerability. The ability to share your experiences as you're learning is imperative, and to be able to express the frustrations, fears, and insecurities that you have too. It helps to have other people who are going through similar experiences.
I also think allow yourself to take risks and try new stuff. When I started, I would often think about everything 100 times before making a decision. Yes, I wanted to make the right decision, but it has been the moments when I’ve trusted my gut instinct and gone for something where it’s worked out the best. Try not to overthink; those have been some of the moments where I've I find myself learning and growing the most.
What can tech companies do to make the industry more inclusive of black women and other people of colour?
Within the industry, there is a lot of effort to bring minorities into the companies, but it's often not easy for those minorities to then excel in those companies. When people don't feel supported and free to be themselves, they just leave and seek chances elsewhere. Not having to think about your race, your religion, your sexuality, your gender, and be free to just being able to be yourself is the best type of work environment. If companies can adopt cultures and practices that are inclusive it would help with not only bringing people in but retaining them as it allows employees to have the freedom to excel.
It's about striking a balance between wanting to employ for diversity and inclusion while also not hiring someone to check a box. When minorities are brought in as a tick box exercise, they quickly realise they aren't here to contribute but rather to fill a quota. It used to be that you should stay at a firm for at least two years, but in today's work world, shifting and moving about is much simpler. People want to be happy and fulfilled by their employment, and if they don't feel included and accepted inside the team, they will quit, affecting the company's labour turnover.
How can we encourage more women, especially minority women, to get into the industry?
We need to invest in those grass roots initiatives in which engage with minorities to expose them to new and exciting careers in tech and help raise awareness to the opportunities out there.
In the industry there isn’t much representation and it's not the norm that someone from your background would end up in a position of power, so when I see someone who looks like me or who I can relate to, speaking about her experiences or delivering a technical talk, there's a part of me that simply says, well, okay, if she can do it; so can I.
What’s has been your career highlight?
I would say my career change: going from a Medical Student to a Data Scientist. I was initially set on becoming a doctor and was three years into my pre-clinical studies at Cambridge University when I decided to leave it and explore other opportunities. It wasn’t an easy journey, and I spent several years trying to find my footing and figuring out what it was that I wanted to do. I went on a journey from knowing nothing about technology to learning how to code and being able to building a Data Science Proposition from the bottom up. It’s been a big learning curve but it’s also one of those situations where I can look back and think "Wow, I did that!"
You are the Director of Outreach at Black in Data. Tell us about your role there and what the goal of the organisation is?
The organisation itself was set up by Sadiqah Musa and Devina Nembhard who are Analysts at The Guardian. Through the work that I was doing, Siddiqa reached out, and determined that we have the same vision. For me I noticed that early on, we didn't really have any awareness or access to the industry. Prior to working at Black in Data I was going into schools to expose them to the industry and show them how data interacts in every-day society. At Black in Data, my role is about connecting with people at the early stage, removing some of that fear of “where do I start”?
The first time trying to learn online can be intimidating in terms of the language, references and terminology used, and if you’re not a part of that world, you really have no idea what is going on. At Black in Data, we are there to help ease the transition and make it more relatable and break it down into simpler terms. The most important thing is showing people that it's not as difficult as they might think it is. It’s really useful, regardless of what you want to do, you can still like make use of the skills that you gain from working with data.
Thank you so much to Nina for taking the time out of her busy schedule to talk to us in this interview. If you want to find out some more about Black in Data head to their website to find out some more information.
Jessie Auguste is a Psychology graduate who transitioned into software engineering early 2021. She was eager to work in software after gaining...
Jessie Auguste is a Psychology graduate who transitioned into software engineering early 2021. She was eager to work in software after gaining exposure to the tech industry whilst working at a cyber security start-up, CybSafe, first in marketing and then in customer success.
With the aid of self-study and encouragement from many online groups and her employer, she was able to make the career transition into tech. Outside of work, Jessie is passionate about equality, diversity, and inclusion, and she volunteers with organisations that help underrepresented people break into the tech industry. She assists Coding Black Females with event planning and social media as a part of the leadership team. She's also part of the Black Valley team, an intensive professional mentoring programme that provides support and community to black people working in IT.
How did you become interested in working in tech?
I had no clue I'd end up in technology. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do after a couple of years living overseas and teaching. A recruiter approached me about a position as a Market Development Specialist at CybSafe, and I immediately fell in love with the company's purpose, vision, and team spirit. From then, I acquired insight into the sector, which set off a chain reaction in my IT path.
Tell us about your journey into tech as a black woman?
My journey wasn't very typical, as I hadn't considered it a goal until I was already there. It was just not a place where I could see myself fitting in. I didn't believe it was feasible for me to fit in. I could see myself transitioning into a technical job after being so warmly welcomed by the CybSafe team,
However, after being so welcomed well as the support and growth possibilities offered by groups like Coding Black Females and Black Valley.
If you could go back in time to the beginning of your career in tech and give yourself a piece of advice, what would you say?
Stop doubting yourself!! You do belong there. You will understand those tough concepts and you can become competent. Give yourself the time and space to learn and reflect, don't push yourself too hard. We are all beginners once, and the experience you have in other areas will come back to benefit you in the long run.
What can tech companies do to make the industry more inclusive of black women and other people of colour?
Don't just focus on the statistics and setting hiring incentives. What are you doing to retain and develop your diverse talent? Make sure the black women and people of colour that you have hired, have all the support they need to succeed. You might not know what that support needs to be, and that's ok, but make sure that there is space for that dialogue to happen, ask them what they need and check in!
How can we encourage more women, especially minority, to get into the industry?
I strongly believe that representation matters. It was through communities that I got to see black women in senior technical positions, which made it all seem possible to me. Hiring for entry level roles diversely isn’t enough. Develop diversely! Make sure that there are opportunities for women to attend sessions where they get to ask questions about how you are addressing the inequity and inequality within your organisation.
What’s one piece of advice you would give to black women entering the tech industry?
Find a community for support. It does not always have to be for learning purposes but having a group of people who understand your experience, who can understand you when you don't quite have the words to articulate how you're feeling, can make all the difference.
What’s has been your career highlight?
My biggest career highlight has been being able to give back to the community that inspired and supported me. Leading events and workshops where I am able to teach other black women the things I thought I would never be able to understand.
How do you think diversity and inclusion drive innovation and business growth?
Diversity of people inevitably leads to diversity of thought and ideas. This has an incredible impact on innovation. By fostering values of belonging for all people from all backgrounds, an organisation has the potential to create an environment where everyone feels driven and valued, which will be a massive driver of growth.
by Dafydd Kevis
Esther Ogunmefun is a junior software developer at CompareTheMarket, currently working on the Android mobile team.
She has firmly established...
Esther Ogunmefun is a junior software developer at CompareTheMarket, currently working on the Android mobile team.
She has firmly established herself in the IT sector after graduating from the Code First Girls and Makers program; going on to receive the 2021 Software Power List Award for not only doing extraordinary work in tech herself but also motivating, mentoring, and supporting other women. She is a strong advocate for female and black representation in technology, speaking at CTM on Diversity and Inclusion. Esther is dedicated to creating work settings in which individuals can be themselves and feel like they belong, no matter where they are.
Since joining CompareTheMarket she has been keen to help drive and promote Diversity and Inclusion where she can. As someone who took a somewhat ad hoc path into tech, she is there to advise and encourage those who want a career in tech but don't know where to start.
How did you become interested in tech?
That’s an interesting story; when lockdown hit back in 2020, I wasn’t working in tech. It was a very fast career change; and one that was unexpected and not one I was thinking about.
One of my friends forwarded me a link to the CodeFirstGirls web development course. Essentially, I had time on my hands during lockdown as I was working in marketing, and so naturally everything was put on hold. I chose to take the CodeFirstGirls course. One of my mentors observed how quickly I picked up the skills and training and told me about a job opportunity at CompareTheMarket through the Makers Academy. I didn’t think I would get it because obviously, I had no experience in tech. But I did, and as a result, I'm here. I began in September 2020, completed three months of training, and then began working with CompareTheMarket in January 2021.
You're a perfect example of how getting into tech has no expiration date. Tell us about your perspective going into something completely unfamiliar?
Last year, especially during lockdown, it was that time of year when people like to re-evaluate their lives. The opportunity for me with CodeFirstGirls arose, I didn't need to have a tech background and I was thinking that if I'm going to try something new, I should attempt it now or I’ll never try it. It was unexpected, but bittersweet because there was a purpose for the lockdown, but I had plenty of time to think about it and start this new chapter.
Now you've been in the industry for about a year and have a deeper understanding, what would your professional advice be to your younger self pre-tech?
I'd recommend finding a mentor as soon as possible. I had a mentor myself, but looking back, I wish I had had one earlier as having someone with industry knowledge, who can send you in the right direction to the appropriate websites to develop and learn, really does help.
I would have also advised myself at the outset to learn independently outside of CodeFirstGirls and Makers to broaden my knowledge and abilities and ensure that I am always improving. Tech is such a huge field with so much to study that you never truly know what you want to pursue unless you dabble in a few different forms.
So, are you enjoying working in tech now? Do you feel like it's been a positive career change for you?
I love it. I feel like this is always supposed to be. I don't believe I could find another career that would make me feel as fulfilled or as enjoyable every day.
In today’s world, there has been such a big shift of focus on companies trying to embrace and promote diversity and inclusion within the business. How would you encourage more Black Females to get into the industry?
I think, obviously, programs like CodeFirstGirls, Makers, Black Girls in Tech, there's a lot of initiatives and communities that help people get into tech. I was lucky that my friend sent me the link, but if you are lost there are lots of communities in which offer advice and people are there to help. So, for someone that's really new, I would just say find a community that properly suits you, whether you're a black girl, whether you're a female, whether you're a minority, there's communities available for you out there. They're very willing to help, which is the reason they started their communities, even if it's just a few questions. It also can encourage independent learning, because anyone can go on Udemy, or similar websites, just to learn a bit more information as a starting point. It can be overwhelming at first but once you start understanding and developing it can lead to great opportunities.
The connection between having a diverse and innovative workforce is undeniable. But the statistics of females and people of colour within the industry don't reflect that. What do you think tech companies as and in industries, as whole can do to make it more inclusive for promoting a diverse workforce?
I believe it can be difficult for recruiters in these sectors to discover a pool of candidates because, if you simply go via the mainstream process, it's usually the people with the flashy degrees or who have worked their way up in the field that apply or who attract the spotlight. But I often stress that projects like Makers and CodeForGirls are great places to start since they're aimed at individuals who don't have a computer science degree or who don't want to go the traditional route but have the skills and qualifications necessarily for the role. I believe that businesses should recognize that it doesn't take much time to do some research into what organizations help and train people who are the minority.
When companies like CompareTheMarket, Google, and the Financial Times collaborated with Makers, I was delighted since it was such a great opportunity. However, I believe they should do it on a larger scale, because even at CompareTheMarket, there were only two open positions in London and perhaps eight or ten in Peterborough. In a firm of 1000 individuals, that's only ten people, which isn't representative or diversified. I'm an example because, even though I've only been here a short time and came through the Makers Pathway, I've tried my hardest to do my best in the company and make the most of the experience. My degree wasn’t in computer science, but the fact that I've been at here for over a year implies that I'm benefiting the firm in a positive way. Companies need to realise that there are a lot of places you can recruit from and different avenues to go down not just going down the mainstream one and if they do, they can experience the benefits of having a more diverse and inclusive work culture.
Regarding the accolades you mentioned, it's fair to say you've been dominating it in the IT world, winning the 2021 Software Power List Award, which is incredible. Is this a professional high point for you?
It is, without a doubt, a career highlight; I would be lying if I said otherwise. It came out of nowhere; I had no idea I'd been nominated, so it was a great surprise. However, most of my professional highlights have occurred inside my team. It makes me love my job when I feel appreciated and valued by my co-workers. I believe I put in a lot of effort in my position, therefore I enjoy it when it is recognized or rewarded. You can be sent a note on CompareTheMarket with a voucher if you have done something well and I think those moments are always really, lovely.
From working at a company that is trying to obviously move forward, represent and celebrate diversity. How do you think diversity and inclusion drives innovation and business growth?
I believe that having a diverse workforce is one of the most essential aspects in driving innovation and growth. Look around at the world we live in; it is incredibly diverse and full of individuals from all walks of life. Even within a single nation, such as the United Kingdom, we are so varied that the market is always shifting. There are several issues that must be addressed. And there are so many various types of clients that are target customers for businesses, but each one is unique and necessitates a distinct understanding or expertise.
So having a diverse team allows you to truly understand different types of consumers and individuals. You can gain greater insight into things you might not have considered. So, if you recruit employees from diverse backgrounds, individuals of a certain age range, different genders and religions, you can understand the challenges they encounter, as well as issues you may not have considered, such as accessibility, services, or rewards. We live in a multicultural world with a diverse population, so why not reflect that in your workforce. At the same time, you may build a mentality that allows you to break free from your own way of thinking and think about the entire market, open-mindedly and holistically.
Thank you so much to Esther Ogunmefun for taking the time to talk to us in this interview. We wish you all the luck in your future endevours.
by Charlotte Drury
Adanna Igbokwe is an accomplished IT professional who specialises in video conferencing and TelePresence systems. With over 20 years of IT...
Adanna Igbokwe is an accomplished IT professional who specialises in video conferencing and TelePresence systems. With over 20 years of IT expertise, Adanna has worked as a Technical Consultant for Dell and as a Consulting Systems Engineer for Cisco, where she dealt with client concerns and provided technical assistance to partners in the evaluation of solutions.
We were lucky enough to catch up with Adanna to ask her a few questions about her journey in tech and how we can help encourage more future leaders to get involved within the tech industry…
My interest in IT was first piqued when, as a young HMRC Tax Officer, I was fortunate to be part of the team that tested the implementation and rollout of Windows operating systems. It was after this that I decided to retrain and go back to university where I studied Information Technology.
My first role as a graduate was working as a 1st and 2nd Line Support Engineer for a dial-up internet service provider (BT LineOne). I used the work experience to hone my customer service skills and further advance my technical knowledge. I was then fortunate to have been headhunted for a role as a Solutions Consultant working to configure and install servers and storage. Through a previous work connection, I was able to discover a passion for video conferencing - I am always delighted at being able to configure systems to join live video-based meetings. I’ve been at Zoom for almost three years, as a Solutions Engineer delivering unified communications and collaboration solutions that meet today’s challenging work and learning environments.
Don’t settle - persevere in hard times, be confident in your ability and reach higher to achieve bigger, better goals. More importantly, I’d tell myself to embrace the new experiences and use it to gain knowledge and confidence.
What’s one piece of advice you would give to black women entering the tech industry?
Don’t let rejection stop you! Believe in yourself, turn up and stand tall. You’ve worked hard and earned your seat at the table and deserve to speak and be heard. Enjoy the journey, continue to fill in knowledge gaps with educational programs and engage in communities like TLA Black Woman in Tech to expand your network. Don’t wait to apply at time that you think you’re ready; jump in.
What can tech companies do to make the industry more inclusive of Black women and other people of colour?
Make space. Representation in tech really matters, especially when it comes to making the industry more inclusive of Black women and other people of colour. People need to see someone who looks like them in these roles and on tech platforms. Tech companies have come a long way, with ground-up approaches to start to make the workplace more inclusive. Approaches such as establishing principles, focus on Diversity & Inclusion, and being better at creating recruitment programs to attract more diverse talent.
However, organisations can do more to embrace an inclusive environment that welcomes, respects, and includes different backgrounds, cultures, and opinions to create a much richer talent that’ll perform at their best.
Education and awareness are the key for both women and organisations. Women should always try to find time to attend conferences to network in a desired area of focus. Network communities and organisations need to do more to collaborate with educational institutions and bring together a dynamic group of black techies, start-ups, and entrepreneurs to host trade shows.
As a wife and mother of two beautiful daughters the biggest challenge was often trying to find the right balance between work life and home life. Particularly as you may be aware of how it can be difficult to be taken seriously due to gender perceptions. For me it required the support of my husband and family, and I was also fortunate to have approachable managers who were willing to accommodate the occasional requests for flexibility.
Thank you Adanna for taking the time to answer our questions, we wish you all the best for the future!
by Robyn Trubey
Meet TLA Black Women in Tech’s Flavilla Fongang: The Award-Winning Serial Entrepreneur Changing the Tech Industry.
Flavilla Fongang has...
Meet TLA Black Women in Tech’s Flavilla Fongang: The Award-Winning Serial Entrepreneur Changing the Tech Industry.
Flavilla Fongang has established herself as a technology pioneer thanks to her continued dedication to increasing the number of black women in the UK Tech sector. One of the most prominent women on the UK Tech Scene, a world-renowned bilingual keynote speaker and an award-winning serial entrepreneur; Flavilla Fongang is shaping the tech industry whilst advocating for diversity and inclusion. Her acclaimed non-profit organisation, Black Women in Tech, is the 2nd largest organisation of the TLA group and is a global community dedicated to building bridges of opportunities in tech which supports and empowers black women to successfully launch their careers in the industry.
Before founding the BWIT initiative, Fongang created 3 Colours Rule, an award-winning creative branding and marketing agency enabling tech businesses to become market leaders, and is also the author of "99 Customer Acquisition Strategies." She has been the recipient of the ‘She’s Mercedes’ Businesswoman Award by Mercedes Benz, which she shared with Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's COO. Computer Weekly named her the 2nd Most Influential Women in UK Tech, and Fongang was named the most influential businesswomen by LinkedIn.
But most importantly; Flavilla is extremely passionate about diversity and inclusion in order to ensure equal chances for future generations. In this interview we explore her background and journey into tech, whilst exploring critical issues revolving around diversity and inclusion within the technology industry.
Let's get started at the beginning, you are now one of the most influential black female leaders in the tech industry. But I'm interested to hear about your journey and what the driving force was that got you to where you are today?
It's a very good question. So, I'm going to go back to my birthplace. I was born in Paris, France. And that's interesting because when you and I think about Paris, you probably picture it as glamorous and lovely, with our Eiffel Tower and the Louvre. That was not the case for me. I was raised in a ghetto in Paris by a strong woman, my mother, as part of a family of five children. I came to London with only the intention of improving my English; nevertheless, I quickly fell in love with the city and realised there were many more opportunities. For me, as an ambitious person, Paris at the time was not as entrepreneurial as it is now, so I decided to leave for London.
I worked in the fashion industry, the oil and gas industry, and we were similar to the great hairdressers with bad hair. We take care of the people but not of ourselves. What several industries quickly realised was the need to stay focused; one of the drivers was technology. I recall reading a short story, from a BBC documentary about a young black girl who invented a device that allows students who travelled long distances to school to find their way home if they get lost. It was lovely, and I marvelled at how someone so small could come up with such a brilliant idea that could benefit so many others.
That's when we decided on a niche, and we went with technology because I felt it was a fantastic opportunity to build a scalable approach to engage with people that are game changers and who want to do things differently. I was used to being the only female or black female in the oil and gas sector, except when I went to African nations, but I realised that couldn't be right. Technology is so dominant in everything we do; we can't have not enough diversity when we are creating policy that affects all of us.
I then met Russ Shaw, the founder of Tech London Advocates, at a private lunch and one of the topics we discussed was how there would be a digital skills shortage. This was confirmed by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, who stated that by 2030, there will only be 440,000 unfilled jobs due to a shortage. I knew every company was going to be aggressively looking for talent- but where are they? If we haven’t put them through the pipeline, we are always going to have a shortage of talented black women. This interested me greatly and I decided to develop something to address it. Because I was certain that there were great black women out there, and even though I couldn't see them, I knew they existed. So, I started TLA Black Women in Tech with the intention of growing my network to 40/50 individuals. Fast forward to now, and we have just celebrated our second anniversary, with 1500 members, including both black women and allies, since the goal was not to be exclusive, but inclusive to all.
Well, that's very interesting because it goes to one of my next questions; you've worked in the industry for many years and in a multitude of areas and forms whilst collaborating with a wide variety of organizations. Do you believe businesses are doing enough to promote diversity and inclusion? Do you believe they aren't genuinely educated or scared to act because of the potential backlash?
Well, there's a little bit of both; there are those who are doing something about it, and then there are those who aren't, because they don't consider the commercial element of diversity. For me, I've always seen that because my team is extremely diverse, around 80% are female but from all sorts of background. I believe we've always enjoyed the idea that we all come from various backgrounds, and in the creative industry, we thrive on our diversity. So, in order to come up with great new ideas, it's critical for me that we don't think the same way. However, I believe that in the IT industry, people think in terms of "I need someone who can perform the job," and that is what concerns me. Once they realise that they need to think about diversity, it’s too late and they have hired 200/300 of the same employees. When it comes to diversity in businesses: some people are doing nothing, some people are doing something, some are uneducated, and some do fear backlash and pushback.
What people need to realise is that we all have unconscious biases, and we all need to be able to understand what they are, so we can do better. It's so interesting, I was at an event on Monday, where Hillary Clinton was talking about her journey. She was sharing how, when she was a lawyer in office she would send an email to some of the partners, with just the initials HC, for Hillary Clinton, and even the president responded to it saying "I don't know if you're a man or a woman, but if you are a man, make sure you put a picture of your family on your desk, and if you are a woman take them off."
With men the perception is you are reliable because you have a family and you care about your job but, if you're a woman, it means that you're seeing this as a distraction. How crazy is that? Obviously unconscious bias is what we think about when we hire someone, and that's what we're dealing with in today's society and tech industry. I think that behind Black Lives Matter, some things have changed, but I think people also viewed it as a trend, and have now forgotten about it. A lot of people don't know what to do and need to realise that if you want to attract talent, be more specific in terms of where you look. There's nothing wrong with advertising positions on Indeed and other similar sites, but if you're seeking specific skillsets, check out diversity event networks and initiatives that specialise in identifying diverse talent; these may be quite helpful.
Companies are now realising that having a more diverse workforce is a major driver of creativity and innovation. What do you think in the companies in the tech industry can do to make it more inclusive to black women and other minorities?
It's been shown that companies with a more diverse workforce perform better and have recognised the commercial value of diversity, as opposed to those who haven't figured it out or simply don't care.
It feels like we keep having the same conversation and the answer is: there are many different options in terms of how you present your brand and what you can do internally to not only attract but also retain your diverse employees. As a black woman, I just now realise the number of invisible barriers I've encountered, which not only drove me to create my own company, but also taught me that being brilliant at what you do isn’t enough. For example, when I receive an email stating that someone has been promoted, I think to myself: I wasn’t even considered for the position. You need to be visible, and you need to do more than simply be great at what you do. What motivates you to create a personal brand? Why are you out there trying to build internal relationships with people?
One of the mottos of Black Women in Tech is to ‘inspire, educate, and create opportunities to support female entrepreneurship and mentorship’. Whilst this growing network is having such a big impact there's still a long way to go. How can we encourage more women, especially minorities, to get into the industry?
There are different things. From a company point of view, be vocal about it. Encourage and involve women from diverse backgrounds, but don't hire a black person to represent everything about diversity. Be very transparent about how you do it because I've seen numerous firms do the same thing where they hire diverse candidates purely to tick a box. From a black woman's viewpoint, and as I usually tell them, we've heard so many ‘No’s’ that you stop trying at some point, but I'd say keep persevering and putting yourself out there. Women in general, not just black women, do not boast about their accomplishments enough. I'd advise you to brag a lot about what you do. People will not notice you performing your job until you say anything, and they may take you for granted. So don't be scared to put yourself out there and tell the world what you're up to.
We were doing an event and one of the top senior leaders, a black woman said: “Sometimes, when an opportunity comes to the table, different candidates from within the business put their CV forward and if we look at your CV and don't even know who you are- forget it. You’re not getting the job. Who are you? Who is this person? If they have never heard of you and have no idea who you are- you're never going to get it.”
Developing external relationships outside of your department is just as important as building internal ones if you want to be recognised. I've had a number of chances come my way as a result of individuals speaking up for me when I wasn't invited to the table. That is why I refer to allies as being external. Allies can be black woman, white men, asian women, or anybody else who can help you develop strong relationships with individuals who can speak up for you and say, "I want this person to work on this project for me." This has occurred several times and is quite powerful.
Looking back on your career, you've undoubtedly navigated yourself through many various positions, sectors, and countries. There must have been many highs and a few lows. What is one piece of advice you wish you could have provided to younger Flavilla or the future generation of leaders?
One thing I would recommend is to find a mentor as soon as possible; it makes a huge impact. I had never worked for another agency before starting my own, and I made a lot of mistakes. I usually tell people that you either win or you learn; one or the other. For any person out there, consider where you want to go. I believe that having clarity in terms of where you're going is important, and if you don't know, then explore and be open, be curious, and ask as many questions as you can in terms of where you want to go.
When you've decided what you want to pursue, identify a key player in the industry and ask them to mentor you. For example, if you want to be a top coder, a top developer, or whatever it is, locate someone who is the greatest in their industry. Although obtaining Elon Musk or Mark Zuckerberg may be difficult, there are other exceptional individuals in the industry. I'll add that while you shouldn’t offer openly, "Can you be my mentor?” always say, "Can I take you to lunch?" Because everybody loves food! Or, perhaps, “Can I do an interview with you?” which would be a fantastic opportunity for them to get to know you more naturally and give more guidance. When you've established that relationship, you'll be able to ask for mentorship.
What has been the most difficult challenge you've experienced in your career? And how did you overcome it?
It's a very good question. You know, it's funny, I’m often underestimated, but I enjoy it. I love to prove them wrong. I'm lucky that in the job I'm fully fulfilled, and I love what I do. I always say to people, everybody deals with imposter syndrome, we all have it. It's all about how you handle it. I don't look my age, and when I walk into a board meeting with a bunch of white males who are wondering to themselves, "Is she going to make the coffee?" No, you'll be listening to me, which is a lot of fun. I don't mind being underestimated. Probably one of my favourite phrases is “If nobody in the room looks like you, you were supposed to be here”, which I say all the time. Who else is going to change the narrative about what it means to be a woman or a black woman? If nobody's in that room looks like you, you are meant to be there for everybody else who looks like you.
Show them and help them in changing their ideas about how they think and what they believe. And that's critical. I basically have a "I don't give a damn" mentality; I do what I'd do, and if it works, it works; if it doesn't, it doesn't, and I'm not ashamed to share my failures. I believe it is an aspect of learning that occurs every day and in every moment. If you don't face certain obstacles, you'll never grow and evolve as a person.
You've built an award-winning agency, launched a global tech initiative, been a key-note speaker at some of the world's most prominent events, and have won numerous accolades, so I'm sure this question will be tough for you to answer. What has been the pinnacle of your professional career? Is there a specific one, or is it a combination?
Writing a book called "99 Strategies to Get Customers" in my non-native language was definitely my professional highlight, and I'm glad it was well received. The second pinnacle was that when I first started my career as a speaker, one of my marketing team members booked me for an event in Budapest. I forgot to ask how many people will be attending and I didn't confirm which stage I'd be on ahead of time.
They put me on the first stage. I wanted to view the room before but was told: 'No, we'll be coming in five minutes early.' They brme on five minutes before I was due to start, and it's this huge, gigantic movie theatre room. It was so intriguing because when you walk in, you can't see the room until you're already inside. And as I turn around to face the front, there are 5000 people there, and this was just my third talk. It was at that point that I realised I had two options: I could go back to my hotel room and my career as a speaker is over, or I could go ahead and do it.
I had controlled my imposter syndrome and just do what I'm here to do; what’s the worst that can happen. And I did that. And after that, the rest of my career has just been full of great, amazing stories and I've had a lot of fun. I always say to people the most beautiful things in life happen when you step outside of your comfort zone and do things you've never done before. Its imperative to stay curious, and explore fields you've never explored before. At the end you will feel so fulfilled.
Well, this takes me to my final question. I just want to talk to you about the decision to create Black Women in Tech. As a black female in the tech industry, what was your hope when you first started that what you wanted to achieve? And now that it’s grown so exponentially- what does the future hold?
As I already stated, my mother was my sole black female role model when I was growing up. When I initially arrived in London and turned on the television, one of the first shows I saw was EastEnders, which made me believe that anyone can be an actor in this country.
It makes me laugh, and the concept behind it was that my mindset had completely changed as back in France, my main ambition was to be an assistant manager. My guidance counsellor in school had recommended for me to pursue a career as a secretary. Fortunately, I did not listen to her, but today's society leaves young people with a lack of aspiration because they do not see enough individuals who look like them.
I feel that Black Women in Tech evolved naturally as I saw that black women in the industry would progress through their careers with no one listening to their stories. The goal of Black Girls in Tech is for women in the field to be able to share their experiences while also motivating the next generation of black women in technology. We want to concentrate on bringing the technological agenda ahead rather than focusing just on diversity.
It was also to just change the narrative about how black people are perceived in the business by demonstrating that there is opportunity for more of you. When you talk to talented women, they often say things like, "I thought I was a unicorn, but there are more people out there just like me." If you watch Kung Fu Panda, one of my favourite cartoons, you'll notice that when he comes, he thinks he's the last panda left, but he discovers a slew of other pandas. It's amazing and fulfilling to feel like you've finally found a place where you can be yourself and understand yourself from a new viewpoint.
Black Women in Tech was created to provide chances, to develop and build bridges of opportunities, and truly form a technological community and this is because there are so many great people as allies. So, I don't breed black woman, but I can inspire the next generation.
A huge thank you to Flavilla Fongang for dedicating her time to speak to us for this interview. If you were interested in getting involved with TLA Black Women in Tech be sure to check out their website.
by Jasmine Ellis
In the United Kingdom, October is Black History Month; a time to reflect, honour and celebrate Black achievements.
At Franklin Fitch, we want...
In the United Kingdom, October is Black History Month; a time to reflect, honour and celebrate Black achievements.
At Franklin Fitch, we want to shine a light on a few of the female Black pioneering leaders in the industry; some just starting their journey and some influentially established. Each of them has a story to share, and we'd like to share it to celebrate some of the most inspiring, influential, and prominent black voices on the UK tech scene.
We know that when it comes to employing minorities, the IT industry is notorious for trailing behind the rest of the labour market. Yes, much progress has been made since the 1900s, but let's face it: when it comes to black women’s representation, equality, and equity in technology, we still have a long way to go. In today’s society there is a clear diversity gap; women and minorities are under-represented with black women only making up 0.7% of the tech workforce in 2020.
This has long prompted appeals for more diversity in the tech industry, not simply for the sake of it, but to ensure that the next generation of diverse talent feels empowered to participate and succeed in the field. We need to encourage more people from minority ethnic backgrounds to pursue careers in technology and improve representation. As a result, there will be more diverse teams, more inclusive innovation, better goods, and better customer experiences, all of which will lead to increased loyalty and profitability. As a result, the bottom line improves.
Companies with high levels of ethnic and cultural diversity were 33% more likely to outperform their competition, according to McKinsey's Diversity Matters study.
Over the last few years, we've seen the emergence of a number of impactful initiatives – from Coding Black Females, which is dedicated to building a thriving community of black female developers, to TLA Black Women in Tech, which is dedicated to enabling black female talents to excel and companies to have access to black women of talent - there have been a number of initiatives and organisations- who have made it their aim to make the UK's IT industry more ethnically diverse.
Over the next month, we'd wanted to highlight a handful of our industry's Black pioneering female leaders, to provide a platform for diverse technologists throughout the industry, and to highlight the inspirational women who are breaking stereotypes in the UK tech sector.
We wanted to recognize and celebrate some of the inspiring women who are breaking stereotypes in the UK IT sector over the next month. We've put together a series of interviews with some of these incredible voices that we'd want to share with you, and we hope you'll take the time to read and reflect on their experiences as well as the critical industry themes like diversity and inclusion.
Thank you to the remarkable women who have participated in these interviews!
by David Annable
Franklin Fitch is proud to announce the launch of Programme One. We have joined forces with some of our fellow recruitment agencies to address the...
Franklin Fitch is proud to announce the launch of Programme One. We have joined forces with some of our fellow recruitment agencies to address the significant underrepresentation of Black talent within the recruitment industry. We are thrilled to be part of this programme. As a collective, we want to remove the barriers for Black talent to enter the sector.
As a member of Programme One, we are signing up to deliver against four strategic objectives:
We are eager to play our part in making this happen.
"The recruitment sector is diverse, but the Black community is severely under-represented at all levels within it”, says Founder and Director of Franklin Fitch, David Annable.
“My ultimate hope is that Programme One creates parity between black people within our communities and within our industry. Programme One's first target, and therefore initial success, will be the attraction, mentorship and retention of 100 more black recruiters within the UK."
To find out more about how you can get involved with Programme One, please visit their website.
by Charlotte Drury
This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, which focuses on the theme of nature. During the long months of the pandemic, millions of people globally...
This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, which focuses on the theme of nature. During the long months of the pandemic, millions of people globally turned to nature as a coping mechanism - with 45% of people reporting that being in green spaces had been vital for their mental health.
There is lots of research to support the role that nature can play in protecting our mental health. This week, the Mental Health Foundation is encouraging those who can to spend some time connecting with nature.
We care deeply about mental health at Franklin Fitch. Our charity of the year for 2021 is Heads Together, who are fighting the stigma around mental health. We've shared some of the ways in which we are connecting with nature this week, and encourage you to do the same.
Algida Gaidyte: 'I'm going to give my houseplants some extra love this week."
Richard Shayler: 'I'm growing some basil plants"
Charlotte Drury: 'My friend and I are growing spring onions from the end bit of old spring onions that we had in the fridge. They've already shot up after only a couple of weeks.'
Dane Keenan: 'I'm going to make the effort to eat my lunch outside rather than at my desk.'
Konstantin Ehrenberger: 'I'm going to take a picnic to Brickwell Park, where the oldest Oak tree there is over 600 years old.'
Carmen Hiemisch: 'I'm cycling to work this week rather than getting public transport.'
Parnian Faqiryar: 'I'll ditch the bus this week in favour of walking to work.'
Luned Jones: 'I'm spending a day at Kew Gardens with family and friends.'
Patrick Griffiths: 'I've been growing apples from the seeds, I even had to re-pot them this week'.
Dominique Lianos: 'Myself and my housemates are growing various herbs that we've already used in our cooking'.
Mona Aboud: 'I plan to take a walk in the forest this week.'
Maike Nenninger: 'I'm going to my parents' place with a protected landscape area for a family walk in the woods.'
Gareth Streefland: 'I'm going surfing in Swansea at the weekend.'
How do you plan to connect to nature this week? For resources, tips and more information on Mental Health Awareness Week, please visit the Mental Health Foundation website.
by Dominique Lianos
The shortage of cybersecurity professionals is nothing new. The unemployment rate in cybersecurity has been at 0% since 2011 – a fact unmatched...
The shortage of cybersecurity professionals is nothing new. The unemployment rate in cybersecurity has been at 0% since 2011 – a fact unmatched by any other industry. According to Cybersecurity Ventures, there will be 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs worldwide by the end of the year, up from 1 million positions in 2014.
This issue has only been exacerbated by the pandemic. Businesses globally were forced to adopt a remote working model where employees were often working from personal PCs, laptops and phones with limited antivirus software.
According to IBM, remote working increased the average cost of a data breach by $137,000. Despite these heightened security threats, many businesses are still cutting their cybersecurity budgets as we move through 2021.
Even with the ever-growing threat of smarter and more advanced security breaches, the security industry is under-resourced to fight hackers.
What can be done to address this issue?
Upskill more people
Sounds simple, but giving people the skills needed to fill these roles is the single more effective way to close this talent gap. It’s clear that there isn’t enough talent to fill the roles needed, so businesses, organizations and educational programs need to take responsibility in training people in the skills needed.
Organizations already have the wheels in motion for this. Massachusetts-based MassCyberCenter is partnering with businesses, academia and the public sector to train new cybersecurity workers to fill the more than 9,000 vacant cybersecurity jobs.
The NYC Economic Development Corporation has launched Cyber NYC, which aims to grow the city’s cybersecurity talent pool through training and education programs.
The Cyber Innovation Center in BossierCity, Louisiana, plans to broaden its cyber skills preparation to 10 million students and 50,000 teachers in K-12 across the US – building a pipeline of young cybersecurity talent.
Build a youth movement
Encouraging and nurturing young people to become future cybersecurity experts will ultimately solve the cyber skills shortage of the future. Instilling enthusiasm and excitement around cybersecurity and STEM from an early age will organically grow a new generation of talent.
Various organizations are doing this already. Girls Scouts of the USA have joined forces with Palo Alto Networks to deliver the first-ever Girl Scout Cybersecurity badges for girls in K-12.
The National Security Agency has been educating young people in cybersecurity through their GenCyber program since 2014. The NSA’s summer camp, Camp Cryptobot, runs annual cybersecurity camps to build the next generation of cybersecurity workers.
Focusing on the impact that a cybersecurity professional can have on people, businesses and even nations can encourage young people to become invested in the industry. Framing cybersecurity as a career that helps people, does good and is morally right is something that young people in today’s world are keen to make time for.
Diversity and Inclusion
Diversity and inclusion are particularly important in the fight against skills shortages. Untapped talent pools exist that often go unnoticed in the recruitment process.
How can the cybersecurity industry tap into neurodiverse talent pools, for example? Autism affects more than one in 100 people which means a huge amount of talent. However, only 16% of autistic adults are in full-time employment, and out of the ones that aren’t, 77% would like to be according to the national autistic society’s research.
The lack of awareness around neurodiversity often acts as a barrier of entry for neurodiverse professionals looking to enter the cybersecurity space. Educating decision-makers in unconscious bias is one way to create a more inclusive hiring process that can open doors for unnoticed talent.
As recruiters in the cybersecurity space, we know too well the need for talented candidates in this space. Do you have a cybersecurity role that you’re struggling to fill? We have a pool of talent that could be the perfect fit for your role, so don’t be afraid to get in touch.
by Charlotte Drury
What actually makes a real difference in driving greater inclusion and diversity in tech?
This was the question that framed the Tech Talent...
What actually makes a real difference in driving greater inclusion and diversity in tech?
This was the question that framed the Tech Talent Charter Inclusion in Tech Festival, which took place at the end of February. We attended the virtual festival as a signatory of the TTC, which ran nine sessions that presented headlines from their 2020 Diversity in Tech Report. The festival shared the key insights and strategies from experts and employers of tech, with a focus on actionable insights.
Day one started by looking at where we are on diversity and inclusion in 2021. Pulling on data and key insights from the 2020 Diversity in Tech report, it was encouraging to see “slow but steady” progress within the tech industry. TTC signatories reported that 22% of their tech engineering roles are occupied by women – up from 17% in 2019.
There is still more work to be done. Although more than 80% of respondents agreed that “initiatives in the workplace to improve gender and ethnic diversity in tech roles are necessary”, 22% would have concerns raising a D&I issue, rising to 32% among ethnic minority groups.
Panellists discussed how unconscious bias training alone is not very effective at changing behaviors. We also need to look at key systems and processes to remove the opportunity for bias to unintentionally creep in.
Tough conversations are the start of meaningful change. While many businesses have the right diversity intentions, reluctance to speak up due to fear of saying the wrong thing often prevents inclusion. These conversations might be tough, but they’re essential in order to close the digital skill gap.
“You need diverse people at the table to help design the solutions”, said Steve McCrystal of Unilever. “We must design for inclusivity”.
Although it’s expected to take time, it’s important to move to a culture where people are genuine allies to their colleagues in different situations from them. This is how we create inclusion at work.
The conversation on day two focussed on diversity outside of gender. Letting individuals decide for themselves what they need rather than assuming their needs – what one black colleague wants is different from what another wants.
Panellists stressed the importance of such initiatives coming from the top of an organisation. The tone needs to be set by the leadership team that diversity and inclusion is a resource, rather than ‘another thing to do’.
The term BAME is often used when discussing ethnic minorities, yet this category is too broad when looking at diversity in tech workers. For example, Indian tech workers make up a much higher percentage of the workforce than black tech workers.
When thinking about recruitment, diversity and inclusion must be baked in from the start – not as an afterthought. Spending time creating diverse shortlists is essential, which often requires stretching beyond our usual networks.
Take inspiration from digital tech skill training providers who have inclusive and specific approaches and are training black people.
Day three of the festival focussed on the practicalities of opening more doors into tech. TTC signatories are already making moves to get more people into tech. Across signatories, women represented 25% of technical role holders compared to the UK average of 19%.
The TTC’s ‘Doing it Anyway’ campaign focussed on women who retrained and found new careers in tech. Some of these women shared their insights and experiences on day three of the festival.
When it comes to a career in tech, don’t be afraid to rethink your approach. There are so many different routes into tech – find the learning style and route that suits you.
The phrase “squiggly careers” was used to describe the often non-linear careers that people can have and still be successful. Diversity of experience is vital to bring fresh ideas to the table.
The final takeaways of the festival were around continuing to learn. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, but be accountable. By acting now, we can improve the future of tech talent so that everyone benefits.
by David Annable
Franklin Fitch is a signatory of the Tech Talent Charter - a commitment by organisations to work together to increase the inclusion and diversity of...
Franklin Fitch is a signatory of the Tech Talent Charter - a commitment by organisations to work together to increase the inclusion and diversity of the tech workforce in the UK.
They recently launched a new campaign designed to improve gender diversity in the UK tech sector.
The campaign, entitled ‘Doing It Anyway’ aims to encourage working-age women to consider a career in tech, and features stories from women from a variety of backgrounds who have found careers in technology through inspiring, non-traditional paths. The women were selected from more than 300 candidates nominated by Tech Talent Charter signatories.
In order to support women who may be considering a career in tech, Tech Talent Charter have worked with their signatories and the wider tech industry to create a substantial database of digital skills courses and retraining programmes, which can be found here.
As a signatory of the Charter, we take responsibility to tackle the diversity problem within the tech space. Our Inclusive Infrastructure campaign actively promotes diversity and inclusion in our interaction with candidates and clients, as well as the way we run our business. We provide a platform for those working within or interested in IT Infrastructure to share their experiences with us and to come up with possible solutions together.
Franklin Fitch is an equal opportunity employer. We are committed to encouraging equality, diversity, and inclusion among our workforce and eliminating unlawful discrimination. The aim is for our workforce to be truly representative of all sections of society and for each employee to feel respected and able to give their best. Our organisation - in providing recruitment services - is also committed against unlawful discrimination of clients, candidates, or the public.
Do you work in tech with an inspiring story to share? We want to have more conversations about the state of diversity and inclusion within the IT Infrastructure space, so please get in touch!
by Steven Ewer
Diversity is a continuous challenge in the tech industry. Figures from 2017 show that women make up 19% of tech workers in the UK, while ethnic...
Diversity is a continuous challenge in the tech industry. Figures from 2017 show that women make up 19% of tech workers in the UK, while ethnic minorities make up 15%. This is clearly not representative of the UK population, but has led to a growing number of initiatives to promote diversity and address this gap in the UK. To mark Black History Month 2020, we are celebrating a few of the current influential and inspiring black voices within technology.
Not only is Simi Awokya a Cloud Solution Architect at Microsoft, but founder of Witty Careers. Their mission is to equip black women in the tech industry with the skills to succeed in their careers. Witty Careers offers free events, resources, mentoring and practical tech skills workshops, to help black women in tech break out of junior roles and gain recognition for their skills. Awokya was also named as one of Forbes 30 Under 30 this year.
Mark Martin MBE
Mark Martin founded UKBlackTech with the aim to make the UK the most ethnically diverse tech hub in the world. Martin is globally recognised for his contribution to this mission – so much so that he was awarded an MBE for services to education, technology and diversity in UK tech. His passion lays in helping schools use technology to improve teaching, while also promoting cultural diversity within UK tech companies.
Charlene Hunter created Coding Black Females in 2017 in order to grow, educate and support black female developers in the UK. Coding Black Females is the biggest platform for black female coders in the UK and also presents opportunities within the industry through their job board. Hunter also hosts Meetup and Code – a community of coders who meet, network and work on projects together.
Topping the Powerlist2020, Ahmed founded money-transfer app World Remit after struggling to send money back to his family in Somalia. Ahmen began to develop the idea for a money-transfer app that would be more cost-effective than banks and traditional money transfer systems, launching World Remit in 2010. The app can transfer money globally, quickly, securely, and inexpensively – which has continued to grow in its ten-year lifespan.
This is only a fraction of the influential black voices within the tech industry. We’re sure there are many more to add to the list. Who do you think should be mentioned as well?
written by Evangeline Hunt
by Leonie Schaefer
Here we finish off our week of female-focused coverage with the inspiring story of Rosie Brown. She is the perfect example of what you can do if...
Here we finish off our week of female-focused coverage with the inspiring story of Rosie Brown. She is the perfect example of what you can do if you seize the opportunity. Don't let anyone ever tell you different....
At 26 years old, Rosie Brown has already done more than many people will do in a lifetime. Just over 18 months ago, she walked into the London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) as a graduate and felt immediately at home. The fact that the majority of her colleagues are significantly older than her and the number of men vastly outnumbers the number of females, doesn’t faze her at all. In fact, her colleagues say they wouldn’t be surprised if one day she was running the place!
“I didn’t sleep at all the night before I started as I was so nervous, but when I got here I just felt like this is where I was meant to be,” says Rosie. "It was an incredible feeling.”
Rosie speaks highly of the LSEG. She describes it as an incredible organisation, which despite being a traditional male-dominated financial services environment, is working hard to promote women’s wellbeing and progression with seminars, special events and a great support network.
“I may be the only female in the risk team, but there are other women out there,” she says. “I’m definitely not alone.”
Stepping outside of your confort zone
Being the lone female is nothing new for Rosie. Having grown up with four brothers she is accustomed to being in the minority. She is also used to stepping outside of her comfort zone. During her undergraduate studies in microbiology at Newcastle University, she set up Beauty by the Geeks, a company aimed at demystifying the science behind beauty products. It also had a corporate social responsibility arm which encouraged young girls into technology.
Along with her fellow student entrepreneurs, Rosie attended many science fairs and conventions to promote Beauty by the Geeks, and it was there that she met women working in the technology space who inspired her to change the direction of her career. “They opened my eyes to coding and that was it,” she says. “I was hooked.” Rosie then studied for a Masters in epidemiology at Imperial College London, but now works in risk, which incorporates a lot of programming and statistical analysis.
Who is this woman?
By her own admission Rosie is a very chatty person who is capable of going at 100 miles an hour without stopping. “Men often look at me and say ‘who is this woman’?! I am always ready to share my opinion around innovation which people don’t necessarily expect, but I love taking them by surprise.” Still, even she has to push herself outside of her comfort zone and is very pleased she took a year out to go traveling, when in reality she would have preferred to sit in her room coding.
One issue Rosie has encountered in her male-dominated workplaces – she also interned in the NHS where she ran an IT compliance programme and was the only female on the team - is ‘mansplaining’. This, she says, is when a man basically takes your idea or opinion and claims it for their own. The solution to this, she says, is not clear cut. “Sometimes you have to shrug it off. Other times it’s worth fighting for.”
“There is definitely a sense that you have to keep the boundaries firm,” she says. “If you give them any leeway they will keep pushing.”
No one should encounter barriers
This could happen whatever your gender however and Rosie has always been aware of the importance of inclusivity. Even when she was running her beauty business she was conscious that beauty products were traditionally focused on the female population and that as a result, they were missing out on the other half.
“The key is to make sure that there aren’t any barriers for anyone, whoever they are,” says Rosie. “Diversity and inclusivity is much more on people’s minds these days but we need to ensure it is fully embedded in the corporate world.”
“The most important thing is for everyone, whatever their gender, to be able to be themselves. We are all different and have our own voice. We are not robots. Once companies accept this, they will be able to unlock true potential.”
(Thank you to all the amazing women who have taken the time to share their stories with us this week. We hope that their experiences have gone some way to showing that not only is anything possible, but also that a diverse workforce is a better place for all. #EachforEqual.)
by Claire Shoesmith
by Leonie Schaefer
Today we meet Akua Opong, an inspiring young woman who's breaking new ground in the technology world.
Think high-powered doctors...
Today we meet Akua Opong, an inspiring young woman who's breaking new ground in the technology world.
Think high-powered doctors saving the lives of young children in medical dramas such as ER and Greys Anatomy and that is how Akua pictured her future working self whilst growing up. However, the softer side of her personality, and in particular the idea of passing sad news onto families, made her decide a career as a pediatrician wasn’t for her after all.
Instead, she chose computing, believing it to be another area where she would be involved in ground-breaking work and ultimately be able to push the boundaries. During her studies at the University of Surrey, she enjoyed an internship at Rolls Royce and BMW, and has since had a series of technology-related roles in a variety of different organisations, including the London Stock Exchange, Rathbones Brothers Plc and even Carphone Warehouse. Her main focus is client services support and IT project work, where she enjoys the fact that no one day is ever the same and she is constantly learning new things to drive change.
Women are definitely in a minority
“When people think of IT roles they think of men,” says Akua. “I have come across some women but they are definitely in a minority and there’s a feeling that they have to work harder than their male counterparts if they want to progress up the ladder.”
By her own acknowledgement Akua is a bit of a workaholic. She always gives 110% and is happy to go the extra mile, taking on extra tasks and responsibility. Her main focus is always on the needs of the team rather than her own personal development.
“My way of thinking: how will what I do impact on other members of the team, is definitely more of a female approach than male,” she says. “I put a lot of pressure on myself and it’s not always easy.”
Women are equally as capable as men
Still, that said, her experience as a female working in mainly male-dominated environments has generally been good. “Women are equally as capable as men and want to be given the right platform to achieve our very best,” she says.
Akua is a big supporter of programmes to increase the number of women in technology-related roles and is grateful that so many now exist that didn’t when she was starting out. Today she is involved in a range of forums and acts as a mentor to several younger women working in technology roles. “In an IT environment you are constantly learning something new and support from another female in the industry is a great help,” she says. “It is really good to bounce ideas off each other.”
Role models are important
Role models such as Katherine Johnson, the black mathematician whose work helped send the first astronauts to the moon, are important too and while Akua hasn’t become a real-life Arizona Robbins (for those that don’t know, she was the head of pediatric surgery in ABC’s television drama Grey’s Anatomy and held the job that Akua thought she wanted when growing up) she is pleased with where she’s got to. She is confident STEM ambassador programmes and special coding and physics groups for girls will help encourage more females into the technology world and hopes that ultimately women won’t have to work harder than their male colleagues to earn the same pay, respect and career prospects.
(Outside of her working role, Akua is part of the Women’s Inspired Network (WIN UK Chapter) and the Wellbeing Forum.)
by Xenia Armbrust
Today's succesful female in the spotlight is Xenia Armbrust, practice manager for Franklin Fitch's Frankfurt office. For Xenia, a...
Today's succesful female in the spotlight is Xenia Armbrust, practice manager for Franklin Fitch's Frankfurt office. For Xenia, a specialist in server and database recruitment, the key to success, particularly as a woman, is resilience.
Since she joined the company as a graduate in December 2014, Xenia has given everything to the role. “It’s not like HR where most of the managers are women,” she says. “Most of the decision makers we deal with are technology managers who are mainly men. You have to give 110% for them to see you as an equal.”
Progress is being made in gender equality
Going that extra mile is a personal choice for Xenia, but the fact that she’s dealing mainly with men isn’t. While progress is being made in gender equality in many industries, the tech sector isn’t one of them. Figures from the UK’s Office of National Statistics (ONS) show that of the 998,000 people working in IT and telecommunications, just one in six are female, whilst the ratio falls to just one in eight when it comes to programmers and software development professionals.
“People just assume that because you’re female you’re not interested in technology and so you have to give it everything you have,” she says.
Women have the chance to go far
For Xenia this is not necessarily a bad thing as she believes it helps show commitment. She also believes that once a woman has proven herself and won the trust and respect of senior males, she has the chance to go far. “You have to work harder to get their attention, but once you have it, you can give them insight which is far more valuable and comes from a totally different perspective,” she says. “This is a great asset to any business.”
Whilst Xenia’s experiences in relation to her gender within the walls of the Franklin Fitch family have been overridingly positive, she has unfortunately encountered a few issues when working with clients. These have however not put her off, and if anything, have made her stronger and even more determined to do a great job.
Believe in your ability
The key to success in recruitment and technology, Xenia believes, is to be confident in what you do. It doesn’t matter whether you’re male or female, you need to be resilient, not over sensitive and make sure you believe in your ability. You need to constantly be open to learning new tasks and ways of doing things, be willing to listen to the advice of your colleagues and superiors and willing to push yourself out of your comfort zone.
“Motivation is key,” she says, adding that it needs to come from you. “It’s the same for ambition and passion. Without it, doing your job will be difficult.”
by Leonie Schaefer
In the week of International Women's Day, we continue our female-focused coverage with the first in a series of profiles featuring women who...
In the week of International Women's Day, we continue our female-focused coverage with the first in a series of profiles featuring women who are succeeding in the technology world. Despite working in what are generally male-dominated environments, they are great models for the future.
Blazing a trail
Claireypoppins is how Claire Gray, a highly experienced leader and technology project manager, has been described by her colleagues. “You come in, you change things, you make it happen and then you disappear into the night.”
And here’s why. Gray’s ability to understand the intricate technicalities and successfully communicate them to a wide range of audiences is a rare find in the tech sector. Traditionally dominated by men, the tech industry is known for its jargon, action and focus on things rather than people.
“Taking time to understand something and explain it is more associated with females than males,” says Gray. “Women tend to think of the bigger picture. They probably even communicate too much, but it means that they’re prepared for every eventuality and as a result, generally not affected by curveballs.”
You don’t need to lose your femininity, but you may need to make adjustments
Gray has spent most of her working life in male-dominated environments. As a self-confessed tomboy and a confident individual this hasn’t been an issue, although there have obviously been moments where the heavily masculine environment has had an impact on the conversation and working atmosphere.
“You don’t need to lose your femininity, but you may need to make adjustments,” she says, adding that the key is to ensure you are good at what you do and can stand your ground. You also shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions.
“There’s no harm in taking a step back and taking time to ensure that everyone understands what’s going on,” says Gray. “Women are often afraid to ask what they think is a stupid question, when in fact there is no such thing as a stupid question. You aren’t going to look stupid if you ask a question that will help you understand something more clearly and do a better job.”
It would be great to have more females to address the balance
Having worked in 12 different, mainly tech-related roles, Gray has encountered a wide range of mainly male-dominated work environments. She has had both positive and negative experiences. In one firm, which she describes as an ‘old boys club’, she recalls being told to “leave it to the boys as she wasn’t techy enough.” She ended up taking the issue to the male CEO, who was horrified, but struggled to change things so she left.
“It’s very much a company by company situation and I’ve worked in lots of organisations where there has been no difference between males and females,” she says, adding that in her current place of work there are five women in a total workforce of almost 60. “There’s a lot of joviality and jokes, but I never feel that anyone is looking down on me because I’m female. It would be great to have more females here though to address the balance.”
For Gray, being female in a male-dominated environment may be easier than for others. She’s at the top of her game and is confident in her ability. The key to success, she believes, is to be yourself and be open. Immerse yourself in the role and (unless you have to) don’t take a job just because it pays the bills – make sure it’s something you’re passionate about.
We are crying out for more women
“It’s a tough world breaking into IT as a female, but we are crying out for more women,” she says, adding that out of 70 applications for an open position in her current firm, only one was from a woman. “We need to get the message out that just because it’s IT it’s not scary”
“It is in fact a gender-neutral industry that has been branded as male-orientated. Everything should be an open opportunity for everyone.”
by David Annable
Today, on International Women’s Day, a celebration which originated more than 100 years ago with the aim of achieving full gender...
Today, on International Women’s Day, a celebration which originated more than 100 years ago with the aim of achieving full gender equality, we start our week of specialist coverage looking at women in the technology and recruiment sectors.
Despite significant progress being made in many areas, women are still in a minority in the technology world. Over the course of this week, we'll look at what can be done to address this issue and also speak to a series of women who are blazing a trail in the technology world. How can we use their experiences to encourage more females into the technology sector and show them and their potential employers that an equal world is an enabled world? #EachforEqual.
It's time for change
The 2020 GB Olympic team is expected to make history in Tokyo this year as the first British team to have more women than men. It may have taken almost 125 years to get there, but if female athletes can do it, then why can’t female technology and IT workers?
Hailed as an historic achievement that will steal the show and change the focus on women’s sport forever, the 380-strong team is expected to have a 55-45 split in favour of women. This compares with the same ratio, but in favour of men, at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
A general shortage of females with technology skills
Unfortunately, it is difficult to replicate this progress in the technology world due to the general lack of females in the industry. As was previously the case with Olympic athletes, there is a shortage of women pursuing, and particularly progressing in, technology careers and as a result, achieving any sort of gender diversity is hard enough, let alone gender equality.
“We find that a lot of our clients are keen to redress the gender imbalance, but that unfortunately more often than not, those candidates don’t exist because for many years not enough women have entered the technology market,” says Steven Ewer, director of Franklin Fitch’s UK and US operations. “What we need is to find ways of encouraging more women to pursue a career in technology and in time, hopefully, this will filter up the chain.”
Erika Percival, founder and CEO of specialist corporate governance advisors Beyond Governance, agrees. “Part of the issue is the pipeline,” she says. “Over time that will change but for that to happen the dynamics of life and work also need to change. More needs to be done around flexible working to enable women to really get involved.”
The tech sector is lagging behind
According to the UK’s Office of National Statistics (ONS), just over half of the 6.5 million Britons working in professional occupations are women. However, among the 998,000 working in IT and telecommunications, the ratio falls to just one in six, and just one in eight of the UK’s 338,000 programmers and software development professionals are women.
While these figures show that progress on gender equality is being made in some areas, others, and in particular the tech sector, are lagging behind. So, what can be done to address this? Should businesses be using quotas and targets to fill roles with certain types of candidates, and if so, do they work and are they fair? Would it help to have more female role models and better press coverage of their achievements?
Here we look at what businesses can do to address this issue:
Increase flexible working options
According to a study by part-time recruitment specialist Capability Jane, 80% of women and 52% of men want flexibility in their next role, while 30% would prefer flexible working to a pay rise. Unfortunately, however, it also found that fewer than 10% of advertised jobs openly offer flexibility, deterring a large number of women in particular from applying.
Introduce returner programmes
Returnships are a simple way for employers to help women easily transition back into work - and even take on more senior roles - after a career break. A report by PwC released in 2018, suggested that if the majority of women on a career break returned to work, UK GDP could see a potential boost of £1.7bn, so it’s win-win for all.
Reduce the gender pay gap
A 2018 report by the UK government found that around 78% of large organisations admitted to having a gender pay gap in technology, with males earning more than females. A separate report also found that women earn up to 28% less than their male colleagues in the same tech roles. Removing this gap is an easy step to addressing the inequality and encouraging more females into the industry.
Improve education, remove bias in job adverts and utilise role models
A study by PwC carried out in 2017 found that more than a quarter of female students were put off a career in tech due to the perceived male domination of the sector. This needs to be changed, and the earlier that girls are exposed to the STEM (science, technology engineering and maths) subjects the better. Role models, both in the wider world and within the senior ranks of your own company, can play a big part in changing this perception. (The high-profile successes of athletes such as Serena Williams, Jessica Ennis-Hill and the UK women’s national football and hockey teams are believed to have played a major part in increasing the number of girls taking up sport and progressing to professional levels.)
The way adverts are worded can make also have a big impact on who applies for a job and is something that should be considered carefully. (We will return to this in a future blog post.)
Use of targets or quotas
While some people are critical of introducing quotas and targets in a bid to increase gender diversity, many believe that it is the only way forward. After all, we set targets for most things we are serious about achieving in our lives, including revenue growth, so why not do the same for the gender make-up of the business. In reality it doesn’t mean you will achieve them, but you should be showing that you’re serious about the goal and have a strategy that demonstrates you’re doing everything in your power to realise it.
Benefits of a diverse workforce
Whatever your business, there is no doubting the benefits of a diverse workforce. While International Women’s Day and other such campaigns are a big help when it comes to profile-raising, the time has come for organisations to stop just paying lip service and start acting on their words.
“Improving diversity and inclusion is not just a box-ticking exercise,” says Steven. “It requires a fundamental culture change in the way businesses hire, communicate, and ultimately operate.”
To find out more about Franklin Fitch's own diversity campign, click Inclusive Infrastructure.
by Leonie Schaefer
Franklin Fitch has confirmed its commitment to inclusion and diversity by joining the UK’s Tech Talent Charter (TTC).
The TTC is a...
Franklin Fitch has confirmed its commitment to inclusion and diversity by joining the UK’s Tech Talent Charter (TTC).
The TTC is a non-profit organisation which addresses inequality in the UK technology sector and seeks to drive inclusion and diversity. The group’s aim is to ensure the UK tech sector is truly inclusive and a reflection of the society it represents. “We focus on the how, not just the why of inclusion and we bring communities together and support the underrepresented,” the TTC says on its website.
For Franklin Fitch, this is another example of our commitment to inclusion and diversity. We are already members of Women in Recruitment in the UK and support the CYBERWOMEN platform in Germany. We believe strongly in the importance of equality and the benefits it can bring to a business, and are in no doubt that a diverse workforce is more productive and better placed to face today’s challenges. Internally within our own business we have a 60-40 male-female split and externally when recruiting for clients, we are focused on ensuring our job adverts are fully inclusive with the aim of hiring the best person for the role.
“This is yet another example of our commitment to diversity and inclusion,” says David Annable, Franklin Fitch’s founder. “It is something that matters to me as a leader and I’m very keen to share this philosophy with my employees.”
The TCC is supported by the UK government and is aiming to have 600 signatories by the end of 2020. Its members are spread across all sectors - from recruitment and technology through to banking and entertainment, and all sizes of organisation - from small start-ups to large multinationals.
by Steven Ewer
With yet another school holiday upon us, the struggle to juggle working and childcare rears its head again and with it, the issue of flexible...
With yet another school holiday upon us, the struggle to juggle working and childcare rears its head again and with it, the issue of flexible working.
With school children getting an average of 13 weeks holiday a year – that is 65 working days, compared with 28 days (including bank holidays) for most private-sector employees, it is not surprising this is an issue. For many working parents, this can lead them to question their priorities and in the worst cases, to quit their jobs. Offering flexible working can help alleviate some of these issues, and in fact, has been shown to increase productivity and make workers happier and healthier. It’s a win-win for all.
The way people work has changed a lot over the past decade and the desire for flexibility is no longer just the preserve of working parents. Improvements to technology have made it easier for individuals to work from remote locations and an increased tendency to spread teams around the globe means that 9-5 working is not always necessary. Moreover, Millennials, who account for the largest proportion of workers, have been reported to value flexibility over remuneration, meaning that if businesses want to target the biggest talent pool, they need to be open to flexible working.
As a result, businesses are increasingly providing their employees with the option to decide where, when and how they would like to work and the benefits are being seen on both sides. According to IWG’s 2019 Global Workplace Survey, flexible working could save 115 hours of commuting time a year – equal to 14 million working days. Given the large percentage of workers who cite commuting as the worst part of their day, working closer to home is becoming an increasingly popular option.
A study by the London School of Economics (LSE) found that in addition to increasing productivity, flexible working also helps to reduce absenteeism and enhances employee engagement and loyalty. It also significantly widens the pool of applicants for vacant roles, as well as helping to retain the existing skilled staff.
As with anything, there are also possible disadvantages. For some, the line between home and work life can become blurred, leading to an inability to switch off. For others, being given the opportunity to work flexibly can fuel a feeling that they owe the company more. There is also the possibility of fewer benefits and lack of career progression prompted by the reduced hours and minimal face-time in the office. Furthermore, missing out on the camaraderie and social aspect of the office environment can have a significant impact on some employees and leave them feeling both uninspired and isolated.
What’s more, one school of thought believes that flexible or part-time working is responsible for a significant element of the gender pay gap. Women who work part-time tend not to progress so far or as fast in their careers and earn significantly less over their working life than men in full-time roles.
For the employer, giving employees the option to work flexibly is effectively a gamble. After all, what works for one individual doesn’t necessarily work for another. Allowing one employee to work flexibly can lead to resentment amongst others who feel they too should be given this opportunity. In reality however, the success of flexible working depends on the role concerned and the mentality of the individual themselves. If not carefully managed, flexible working can lead to inefficiencies and a drop in quality of work, but with the right management and communication the benefits mentioned above can work for all sides.
As already mentioned, flexible working is no longer just about parents working. It concerns anyone who wishes to work part time, job share or work alternative hours in order to fit around other commitments or simply to improve their work-life balance. (UK employment law stipulates that anyone who has been with their employer for more than 26 weeks has the right to request flexible working. The employer however doesn’t have to grant it.)
While significant progress has been made - more than half of UK workers work flexibly in some way, according to a study by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), there is still a lot of unmet demand. The same study also found that 68% of employees would like to work flexibly in a way that is not currently available.
The key to achieving this is about more than individuals requesting flexible working. Instead, there needs to be a change in the habits and mindset of many organisations. There is plenty of evidence to showcase the benefits, it’s now time for society to acknowledge them and challenge the preconceptions about working practices.
by Leonie Schaefer
Diversity and inclusion are very important topics for businesses across all industries. We want to shine a light on the topic specifically for those...
Diversity and inclusion are very important topics for businesses across all industries. We want to shine a light on the topic specifically for those working within IT Infrastructure.
We’ve seen a lot of women in tech initiatives over the years yet still only 10% of participants in this market and skills report were female. Although we were hoping that this is not a representative number, day to day conversations with industry specialist show a similar result.
We are supporting events like CYBERWOMEN 2019 in Germany and hope that initiatives like these will give women and girls the confidence to take on a career in IT Infrastructure.
Although we are huge fans of initiatives encouraging women and girls in tech, we think that this is not enough. Diversity & Inclusion is not only about the female-male divide. It is about tackling biases based on gender, race, religion, ethnicity, disability, sexual preference and age (just to name a few) and ending discrimination completely.
We would like to provide a platform for those working within or interested in IT Infrastructure to share their experiences with us and to come up with possible solutions together.
We are conducting interviews with industry experts who are willing to give us their opinions and insights on diversity and inclusion within IT Infrastructure.
Interested? Contact Leonie Schaefer for more information +44 203 696 7950, firstname.lastname@example.org.
We pride ourselves on trusted partnerships, whether you're looking for a new role in IT Infrastructure, talent for your team or considering joining Franklin Fitch. Why not start that partnership today?
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