Futureproofing talent strategies for engagement, retention, and growth

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By Charles Butterworth, Managing Director of Access People

The current talent shortage and movement in the market reflects change across every industry.

At Access People, we captured some of the most pressing topics and ideas from senior HR leaders to discuss talent strategies that flex and change to meet the needs of the modern workforce. People are re-evaluating jobs and life choices at record levels. Employee wellbeing and expectations, including the rise of demand for self-directed learning, are critical priorities for every organisation. How can businesses engage and retain their people through championing learning, skills and talent acquisition? Leveraging technology to overcome challenges and acquire new talent will ensure HR leaders can stay ahead of competitors and make their employees feel both valued and motivated.

Shifting workplace demographics

Organisations can futureproof their talent strategies by hiring based on skillsets, as well as using technology to compartmentalise and view applications more holistically. This ensures a diverse, varied workforce. Many businesses are enticing staff with generous joining bonuses, gifts or competitive salaries. However, these are short-term fixes for retaining staff. Organisations must break down who they are attracting, how they set themselves apart from competitors and embrace current trends.

According to ONS, older workers are departing from careers at a heightened rate, meaning the workforce’s age demographic is shifting to become younger. What is the best way to manage and attract a younger generation? One approach is creating a workplace that promotes accessible and consumable learning, in an environment where people will want to progress and stay at the organisation long term.

Engaging and accessible learning content

Finding ways to improve connections into the flow of work via technology will ensure that employees feel engaged at work. The things that we enjoy about social media platforms like Instagram, TikTok and Twitter can be translated to our work environment to ensure everyone’s ideas, thoughts and experiences are shared democratically on online. Similarly, making learning resources more accessible and consumable will ensure the growing demand for self-directed learning is adequately met.

As digital transformation shifts our needs to upskill and reskill careers, and lean into new forms of automation and technology, the importance of personalised and intuitive learning will be paramount. In an age of burnout and disengagement, ensure your workforce is growing with your business, with well-rounded and topical learning courses. A key solution is making learning content available anywhere, anytime, and in a short consumable formats such as soundbites, podcasts and short videos.

One size fits all?

People have switched priorities over time – working from home has highlighted the time benefits and productivity changes from the traditional office model. Have organisations ensured they have shifted the way they retain and hire staff in line with these new priorities? As many as 41% of people do not wish to return to the office again, according to a recent Access People poll. Understanding and listening to the challenges people are facing in their personal and professional lives with allow for a conversation that can redesign the employee experience to avoid a ‘one size fits all’ approach.

As the world of work rapidly evolves beyond traditional models of working, HR leaders need to be as agile as possible to provide innovative solutions to motivate, retain and uplift staff. Understanding and listening to the way people want to approach their daily work will ensure a positive environment –  which will prove to be a vital and powerful competitive advantage.

About the author

Charles ButterworthCharles joined Access in February 2021, to lead the Access Group’s human resources, payroll, learning & development and compliance teams and solutions. His role includes further integration of company acquisitions into the Access People business for the benefit of customers, partners, and employees.

Charles is an accomplished leader of large teams across multiple locations and disciplines and has over 24 years’ experience in the technology, telecommunications and investment banking sectors, including as Managing Director, Experian UK & Ireland and EMEA. His responsibilities extended across all the data, analytics, and software business of Experian in the wider region.


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Why tech needs to top the C-suite agenda

woman coding on laptop, Code First Girls

By Christina Kosmowski, CEO, LogicMonitor

Technology dominates the business landscape. It’s become deeply embedded into organisations across every sector and is responsible for the success of many of the world’s most esteemed enterprises.

However, behind the curtain, technology is in a state of flux. Every day IT engineers and software developers are working tirelessly to keep pace with the rate of digital transformation. Even prior to the pandemic, staying ahead of the ever-changing digital landscape was a challenge that needed to be front of mind for all businesses, and has only since accelerated.

COVID-19 and the tech landscape 

COVID put a number of industries under immense strain, and the nearly overnight shift to remote working forced IT into the spotlight to solve a number of problems. This dramatically accelerated the adoption of digital transformation initiatives, and tech innovation somehow managed to flourish. In fact, exciting new technologies were rapidly developed across industries.

Alongside a surge in innovation, however, comes new technical challenges that organisations must address in order to maximise the potential of new technology. While it’s great news that tech can help solve some of the issues organisations face, the additional hardware and systems can also bloat the tech stack and contribute to an increasingly muddied picture.

With this in mind, it’s now more important than ever that organisations make thoughtful choices when it comes to their technology strategy, starting with a broader business understanding that goes beyond IT teams.

Why should the C-suite care?

Despite the pandemic creating an urgent need for companies to go digital, whether it be to offer online services or allow employees to work remotely, the C-suite still often treats tech as an afterthought. As a result, many organisations struggle to keep up with the rapid pace of digital transformation needed to stay ahead of the curve.

To better understand the benefits of aligning business and IT, the C-suite must start by putting the customer at the heart of everything their organisation does. Fully understanding how customers are using your product or service, and continuing to build and innovate with them at the centre, will allow you to offer a product that solves their true pain points and works exactly as customers need it to. This deep understanding of customer needs must also be extended to your IT team. The closer that IT is to the customer, the better they can understand what customers value and what technology’s role should be in delivering that value. Building this level of integration starts with CEOs making sure that tech leaders are part of the inner circle. Additionally, developers need to be embedded into product and sales teams to co-create the things that customers want.

What solutions should the C-suite implement?

While modern enterprises and IT teams are under an immense amount of pressure to deliver productivity gains and ensure the business operates seamlessly, many business leaders are unaware of the barriers IT faces. One of IT’s biggest barriers is the siloing of teams and subsequently their data. Siloed data within an organisation makes it extremely difficult to safely, efficiently and effectively deliver it to those who need it, but the C-suite can help tackle this obstacle.

Investing in solutions such as observability and monitoring software can not only help organise and interpret data, it can streamline your tech stack and predict and resolve problems before they even arise. With the ongoing tech skills gap in the UK, this also frees up your staff so you can invest in up-skilling and ongoing training, ensuring they’re equipped to deal with the ever-changing tech landscape.

For technology to be maximised within an organisation, business leaders need to truly understand its value and the role it plays. For those who aren’t able to do this, they’ll unlikely reap the rewards that come with it. Ultimately, making the right decisions when it comes to tech strategy could make all the difference when it comes to organisational success.

Christina KosmowskiAbout the author

Christina Kosmowski is currently CEO at LogicMonitor, the cloud-based infrastructure monitoring and observability platform provider. Prior to her roles at LogicMonitor, Christina established her career creating customer success at hyper-growth companies Salesforce and Slack. She spent 15 years at Salesforce, helping it grow from $20 million to almost $10 billion in revenue, and subsequently spent four years at Slack, scaling from $90 million to approximately $1 billion in revenue.


Recommended Event: 13/06/22-15/06/22: CogX Festival

CogX event image

Be part of the world’s biggest and most inclusive Festival of AI, Blockchain, the Metaverse and all the latest Transformational Technologies.

CogX are excited to offer members of WeAreTechWomen a free pass to this year’s CogX.

This year’s festival takes place 13th-15th June in King’s Cross, London.  Across the festival we are Showcasing 200+ speakers including the host of Europe’s biggest podcast, ‘The Diary of a CEO’, Steven Bartlett, Vice President of Civility and Partnerships at Roblox, Tami Bhaumik and Pushmeet Kohli, Head of AI for Science at DeepMind to name but a few.

Our good friends at CogX have given us a free code which allows you to claim a Standard Pass for the 3 days for free (RRP £695).

You can claim your free pass by selecting the standard festival pass here and entering your code: STANDARDWTW


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How to use data to create a more equal and inclusive workforce

Article by Sruthi Mohan, Senior Solutions Engineer, Cloudera

Diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) initiatives are crucial to creating and fostering a thriving workplace, helping to spur creativity and innovation as well as to improve employee engagement and business performance.

For DE&I initiatives to be successful, organisations should not treat them as a box-ticking exercise but rather an opportunity for using data to better inform and equip their programmes. By doing so, businesses can establish a truly equitable and inclusive workforce.

Data breaking down bias

There has been much discussion about using the power of data to enhance technological efficiencies and customer solutions, but what about when it comes to developing a more equitable environment and breaking down biases?

By capturing data on employee demographics, a business can better understand the diversity of its employees, the equity of its internal policies, and identify any trends of potential concern.

For example, rather than only outlining the ratio of males to females within a business, it can go further to highlight how many of those females are in leadership positions compared to their male counterparts. At the same time, it can spotlight anomalies when it comes to retention, engagement and promotion rates.

Tapping into data for the use of DE&I crucially allows businesses to diagnose internal discrepancies and eliminate any unwanted bias that may have otherwise gone unnoticed.

At Cloudera, we are doing just that by using data to examine and address wage gaps between employees who are comparable in terms of years of experience, role and responsibility – ensuring compliance at all levels and eliminating discrepancies.

Moreover, to level the playing field for underrepresented communities, we have committed to regularly providing financial contributions to non-profit organisations dedicated to creating a more equitable environment for those groups.

 Using data to enact change

To better understand how we use data to drive diversity forward and create positive change, we spoke with renowned civil rights activist and former chair of the United States Commission on Civil Rights, Dr. Mary Frances Berry.

She noted that many DE&I projects that companies engage with are not as effective as they could be due to inefficient and unproductive use of data. As such, it is important that organisations collecting a high density of diversity and inclusivity data find a way to disaggregate that data.

By doing so, businesses can discover the nuances that need to be overcome for them to create initiatives that truly tackle the related issues. In turn, they are better positioned to communicate their intentions and take action that manifests into positive change for employees.

At Cloudera, we believe data is vital in the pursuit of diversity and organisational effectiveness, and it’s this belief that led us to create the Technology for Equality (TeQ) Consortium – an open digital platform that enables individuals and groups to address bias and equity using data, analytics, AI and open-source technology tools.

It’s human nature to have blind spots when it comes to interpreting our understanding of how others are feeling, and often our biases are unintentional. Here, the goal should be for each of us to recognise and have a greater awareness of our unconscious biases and develop methods that are able to overcome them. Only then can we truly create policies and initiatives that are inclusive of the entire workforce.

Diversity of thought

While we have discussed how data can be used to highlight where marginalised demographics persist, it is also imperative to understand why it is important for businesses to achieve a diverse and inclusive workforce. One reason is that it encourages and facilitates diversity of thought, meaning a greater range of mindsets, thought processes and perspectives can be found within an organisation’s workforce.

Having diversity of thought at all levels is critical for businesses to have a better chance of troubleshooting problems and for fostering innovation. These differences can then be harnessed to an organisation’s advantage.

Take for example the role of the data scientist. Research indicates that the discipline has a gender gap which is problematic as its related fields play a key role in shaping society, so having equal and proportional representation is important. It’s no secret that men and women think differently – with women typically being more empathetic and compassionate – so it stands to reason they are likely to interpret data differently. This is important when working with data models that impact real-life decision-making especially when we consider that women are more communicative than men, enabling for better collaboration and problem-solving.

For this reason, businesses must look to create a diverse workforce that encapsulates different groups and backgrounds as it allows for greater representation and the bringing of new perspectives and insight to the table.

If not, businesses might find themselves recycling the same ideas and be out of tune with their customers’ needs – limiting their potential growth. To help tackle this problem, we’ve launched Cloudera Now, a initiative we’ve built to illustrate best practices when it comes to how companies can use their data for the greater good, such as their DE&I initiatives.

Power of data 

While it’s positive that DE&I initiatives are becoming part of the boardroom conversation, organisations must look to ground these initiatives with insights based on data. Only then can businesses identify where inequalities persist to take the decisive action required to remedy them and be able to start harnessing workforce diversity not only for their competitive advantage but for the benefit of society.


Women in STEM - March8 LIVE

Recommended Event: 23/06/2022 - 24/06/2022: Women in STEM - TECH LIVE LONDON | March8 LIVE

March8 LIVE - Women in STEM, WeAreTechWomen media partner

March8 LIVE hosts Women in STEM as part of TECH LIVE LONDON, bringing together the leading change-makers in the tech industry who are passionate about elevating women in leadership.

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Mark your calendar for June 23rd – 24th for this unmissable hybrid event, in-person at Tobacco Dock in London or tune in virtually to view all sessions online.

TECH LIVE LONDON features inspiring keynotes and lively roundtables alongside fireside discussions and Q&A sessions from some of the world’s largest companies and innovative start-ups.

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The future of women in technology – how we can ‘break the bias’

Article by Linda Dotts, Chief Partner Strategy Officer, SS&C Blue Prism

Women are often the unsung heroes of many businesses, but too often they are undervalued and underrepresented across the tech industry.

This year’s International Women’s Day theme focused on ‘breaking the bias’, referring to the gender-based biases, stereotypes and discriminatory behaviors women encounter in their everyday lives.

Breaking the bias means working towards a world where women are valued and their success is recognised. Today, women in the UK represent only one in six tech specialists and one in ten IT leaders. These statistics are a poor reflection of female capability and potential. Although there has been recent growth in the number of women working in IT roles, overall female representation in the technology sector has halted over the last ten years. Meanwhile, Deloitte’s latest Global Women in the Boardroom shows that only just under a fifth of board seats are female. The number of women in FTSE 100 boardroom roles has increased by 39% over the last 10 years, indicating a slow rise in female presence, but concerns remain around these figures hiding an ongoing lack of diversity.

The term ‘women in tech’ is a closed, rather than open, door; it suggests a woman with complex digital skills suited for the role – when in reality, this expertise can be learned on the job. The stereotype of a woman in tech is generally a highly-skilled coder or someone at the bottom of the working hierarchy, in an entry-level role. This bias persists in part because of men in leadership positions being comfortable with the status quo and their ignorance to the issue, but the reality is that unless we push through that, nothing will change.

It’s time to break down stereotypes

The intelligent automation (IA) market is rapidly growing. 67% of companies accelerated their automation and AI capabilities in response to the pandemic and this trend is projected to continue. We already know that IA is about processes and improving efficiency, which is a human skill –  a skill that I believe is a natural talent to women. So why are these skills not recognised as valuable in the workplace?

Put simply, the industry challenge is not due to a lack of skills – but rather to inherent misconceptions and a perceived lack of access for women trying to break into the tech space.

Automation has enabled many women to bring their talents to life. It’s allowed women to flourish and make their vision a reality by connecting them with the tools they need to get there. Automation is about transforming the way we all work to accelerate operational efficiency and agility – which allows everyone, including women, to take control and work smarter. Working smarter frees up employees from mundane tasks, enabling them to prioritise decision-making tasks that require concentration.

While there have been great improvements with getting women into tech leadership roles, we still face serious challenges of stereotypes and discrimination when it comes to breaking the bias. While McKinsey’s Women in the Workplace Report revealed that 73% of women experience bias at work, only 22% of employees say they’ve witnessed such bias in the workplace. Women are often not heard in the same capacity as their male counterparts or are blamed for not speaking up enough. Clearly, there is a lot of work to be done – and businesses must go further to make sure women feel supported in all aspects of their careers.

An organisation can have all the right policies and programs in place, and that’s a great step in the right direction, but the more important and challenging hurdle is changing the culture of a workplace to support the success of women. All employees at every level should be contributing to breaking the bias. We should all embrace the power of efficiency in the workplace and simultaneously elevate women, who are just as worthy and capable of boardroom positions as men. And by harnessing the power of RPA across a company so that all employees, including women, can engage in more fulfilling and value-adding tasks, we can genuinely start to break the bias.


What are the emerging trends that will shape tech’s future growth?

Female working in a Technical Support Team Gives Instructions with the Help of the Headsets. In the Background People Working and Monitors Show Various Information, SysAdmin Day

Article by Ritam Gandhi, Director and founder of Studio Graphene

The tech industry has been one of the UK’s standout performers over the past decade, accumulating significant capital growth and accruing global reputability as a source of innovation and home for investment.

Running in parallel, the industry has also undergone something of an internal makeover, shedding much of its prior bad image and setting itself into a strong position to continue to grow over the coming years.

Just last month, it was reported that the UK’s tech sector had reached a valuation of $1 trillion, becoming the third country to reach this milestone behind China and the US. The UK is now responsible for creating more than a third of Europe’s new tech unicorns, underlining its position as the growth leader on the continent.

In turn, investment in the sector has increased by close to tenfold in the last decade, up to £11.3 billion in 2021, with much of this uptick generated in the second half of the decade. This indicates a sense of security among investors to back scale-ups and blue-chip brands alike. As a founder of a digital agency that develops solutions with businesses at both scales, this sense of confidence certainly rings true.

Of course, an extended period of success does not necessarily mean any guarantees of ongoing prosperity – this has been evident in the varying fortunes of the tech sector over a number of decades. However, the fine health of UK tech today indicates a position of strength moving forward – and some key trends which will likely prove influential in determining the shape of the next decade for tech here.

Tech boom

Technology has never been more far-reaching than it is today. The hyper-capitalisation of the sector has inspired founders and big tech alike to consider which new corners of our lives can be optimised with innovative digital solutions. The previously unthinkable prosperity of the big tech companies in recent years underlines this – and raises the ceiling of possibility for all new ventures.

We hear a lot about ‘disruption’ as a motivating factor for startups, yet too little about how wider conditions can influence this. Following a global pandemic which placed many of our long-held social norms under scrutiny, many believe there is an increased appetite for disruptive technologies, and so more opportunities for the tech industry to capitalise.

This is encouraging for the growth of emerging tech products. Big data, the internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence, and augmented reality are all being used in increasingly innovative ways, and with tech literacy on the rise, are connecting with consumers and investors more quickly than before.

In research conducted by Studio Graphene last year, taking in the views of business leaders, we found that big business was particularly keen to invest in previously unexplored areas of technology, including AI and IoT – including more than three quarters (76%) of the largest businesses.

Contrast this with the 2000s, when cloud-based technology was prepared to revolutionise how most businesses conducted their operations – yet there was a muted reception. It took many years of concerted effort to communicate the value-adding benefits of this platform before it took hold. Today, tech startups can expect their products to be more readily received by businesses looking to invest in innovation and steal a march on their competitors.

Culture change

For many years, the tech industry was tainted by image problems. The ‘tech bro’ aesthetic had built a wider perception of the sector as exclusionary, and containing limited fields of background and experience at both developer and leadership level.

Unfortunately, this remains largely borne out in the statistics. The Tech for Diversity 22 report found that a majority of tech workers identified women as holding a minority of leadership roles, while three quarters reported close to no ethnic minority representation. Recent figures indicate that 23% of tech director roles are held by women – compared with 29% in the wider economy.

Addressing the digital skills crisis will naturally remedy many of these issues. Already, there are a growing number of coding and development bootcamps which offer fully-funded places for individuals from under-represented backgrounds. The industry is growing rapidly, and so will continue to look for creative ways to attract, recruit and retrain new talent.

Much of this work is already well in hand. From employer review aggregator Glassdoor’s top 15 companies to work for in 2022, seven were tech organisations. This drive to improve culture is not, as is commonly posited, an optical endeavour consisting of complimentary breakfast and pool tables. In my experience developing products alongside a vast array of new startups, these are substantive efforts to build an appealing culture that benefits their employees while rewarding the business with loyalty.

Increased emphasis on flexibility, particularly when it comes to remote working, has allowed startups to hold up their end of the ‘war for talent’ against the deeper pockets of the big tech brands, and should position businesses well to appeal to people from minority backgrounds considering retraining in tech.

Certainly, the success of the continued drive to attract and re-train employees from different sets of backgrounds will be critical to the ongoing health of the UK’s bustling tech startup culture. The appeal of the industry to investors is now well-enshrined, and momentum is in the sector’s favour. If startups are successful in tackling the skills shortage through embracing greater diversity in leadership and coding roles, the industry looks well set to have a bright future.

About the author

Ritam Gandhi is the Founder and Director of Studio Graphene – a London-based company that specialises in the development of blank canvas tech products, including apps, websites, AR, IoT and more. The company has completed hundreds of projects since first being started in 2014, working with both new entrepreneurs and product development teams within larger companies.


Shot of confident business woman looking and speaking through the webcam while making a video conference from the office

Women deserve to have their voices heard in the workplace: Here’s how to get it done

 

Shot of confident business woman looking and speaking through the webcam while making a video conference from the office

While women in tech have come a long way, there are still many challenges ahead, especially in the male-dominated OTT streaming solution tech industry.

Ultimately, for women, it’s not about getting in the door. It’s about making your voice heard. After all, data shows that 78% of women in tech feel they have to work harder than their male coworkers to prove their worth.

To women in tech, it’s time to move forward with confidence, even when it may seem challenging to do so. The numbers show you’re needed. And to tech companies worldwide, it’s time to start investing in women.

More women = more success

Promotions for wo,men happen at a slower rate than for their male counterparts. A mere 86 women are promoted to manager for every 100 men at the same level, according to McKinsey’s Women in the Workplace 2021 report, coauthored with LeanIn.Org.

Those numbers are even more skewed for technical roles, with only 52 women promoted to manager roles for every 100 men.

But McKinsey research has also shown that a strong relationship exists between diversity on leadership teams and the likelihood of financial outperformance for companies. More specifically, the most gender-diverse companies are 48 percent more likely to outperform the least gender-diverse companies.

Failing to promote and retain women in tech roles can have lasting consequences on a company’s financial and cultural livelihood. Companies where women are well represented at the top earn up to 50% higher profits and share performance.

Companies are starting to realize this. 

Today, more and more tech companies incorporate  systematic approaches to advancing women in technical roles. Companies are now creating a more inclusive, diverse and better-performing workforce.

To develop this new environment, tech companies now understand they must provide women with more opportunities to advance. This includes:

  • Designing processes that seek to eliminate bias in promotions
  • Providing equal access to skill-building tools and opportunities
  • Providing mentors and advocates who know how to support women with empathy, encouragement and goal-oriented advice

How companies can provide a foundation for women to grow and succeed

Tech companies need to show initiative and create a workplace where women have a solid foundation to thrive and succeed. To do this, workplace leaders need to create opportunities to help female employees mature in their roles and prepare them for their future within the company.

Companies can provide an enhanced, structured path to early promotions by installing manager training programs and making their expectations clear as to when promotions should be expected. This allows women to ask questions regarding their performance and/or if they’re meeting those expectations. It’s also imperative for companies to encourage women to call out any biases they see along the way. An open line of communication and transparency is key.

Additionally, learning opportunities focusing on prioritizing career development and how to improve in promotional interviews can be pivotal to women’s success  in the workplace.

Women should also connect  with seasoned managers and sponsors. Experienced colleagues can help in the development and grow female workers just starting out in the tech field. Companies should take the time to ensure women are in contact with those with more experience. This will only help in accelerating their performance and growth within the company.

Make your voice heard

Women are just as instrumental in the success of a company as their male counterparts. Your voice is equally as impactful — it deserves to be heard. Here’s how to get it done:

  • Remember you are capable as anyone else to do the job. This type of thinking will help you build your own voice and ultimately role within a company.
  • Do not sit on the outskirts of a meeting. You deserve to be there. Place yourself at the head of the table so to speak. Be confident.
  • Do not be overly apologetic. Just because you have an idea that goes against the grain or is new does not call for an apology. Your views and opinions are just as important as your counterparts.
  • Do not let failure hold you back. Everyone fails from time to time. Women are no more prone to failing than men.  Move on, learn from it and grow.
  • Be your own advocate and have the courage to speak up even when you feel self-conscious. You must push yourself out of your comfort zone.

Looking ahead

For too long, companies have failed when it comes to providing women equal opportunities in the workplace. While great strides have been made, there’s still work to be done.

Companies can take a monumental step toward a more equitable work environment by listening to the voices of the women they employ. Now, the evidence cannot be ignored — they will need women as the industry continues to become more and more prominent.

Shraddha PednekarAbout the author

Shraddha Pednekar is Vice President of Project Management at ViewLift. With over 15 years of experience in the technology industry, Shraddha has led teams at several major companies like SnagFilms and Avis Budget Group. An expert in the industry, she has worked with some of ViewLift’s biggest customers to provide only the best experiences. Shraddha holds a Bachelor of Engineering from the University of Mumbai.


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Get into tech with these free training courses

Are you in the tech industry and looking to learn new skills? Or do you want a career change and are unsure of where to start?

There are an abundance of companies and social enterprises that can provide you with free training. Here at WeAreTechWomen, we have pulled together a number of great opportunities for you to explore.

A number of these organisations provide online distance learning, whereas some also provide the opportunity to join them at events and to be part of their communities!

Go explore, and if we have missed an organisation that provides these opportunities for women to get into tech, you can drop us a note at [email protected].

Code First Girls


Code First Girls has become the largest provider of free coding courses for women in the UK, having delivered over £40 million worth of free technology education and teaching three times as many women to code as the entire UK university undergraduate system!

Find out more

Coding Black Females


Coding Black Females was created in 2017. We are a nonprofit organisation, and our primary aim is to provide opportunities for Black female developers to develop themselves, meet familiar faces, network, receive support and build relationships through having regular meetups.

Find out more

OpenLearn


Produced by The Open University, a world leader in open and distance learning, all OpenLearn courses are free to study. We offer nearly 1000 free courses across eight different subject areas. Find free science, maths and technology courses below.

Find out more

TechUP Women


TechUP is a training programme that focuses on training individuals from minority groups into tech careers. Working closely with industry the TechUP team creates a programme tailored to industry needs whilst also ensuring every participant gets an amazing learning experience.

Find out more

LinkedIn Learning


Advance your career with LinkedIn Learning. Learn from courses taught by industry experts in leadership, management, marketing, programming, IT, photography, graphic design, web and interactive design, 3D animation and much more.

Find out more

Trailhead by Salesforce


Start your adventure by learning the way you want with Salesforce’s Trailhead. Learn at your own pace with learning paths designed just for you, take classes taught by Salesforce experts, and get answers from fellow Trailblazers in our community.

Find out more

Discover more free training courses


We've rounded-up a number of different organisations that offer free coding clubs, training courses and ways you can get into the tech industry.

LEARN MORE

Why democratising AI is important & how to go about it

artificial intelligence

Article by Heather Dawe, Head of Data at UST.

Democratising AI is the term given to the ways in which we seek to ensure the development and delivery of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is available for all.

In today’s technology-driven market this is a common sales-pitch for data science and AI platforms – some of which strive to ensure the development of AI is accessible to people other than experienced data scientists, making it easier faster and cheaper for businesses to leverage and benefit from the implementation of AI.

While speed, ease and cost are important arguments for democratising AI, I would argue that these are not the most important and that they carry their own risk, as there is a quality angle that also must be considered. While it is straightforward to develop a machine learning model using a democratic AI platform, it can be very difficult for the person who is developing it to understand if the model is fit for purpose. The ways in which the quality of machine learning model can be assessed can quickly get highly technical and nuanced, requiring a trained data scientist to assess.

Machine learning models that are not fit for purpose not only mean poor quality AI services, they can lead to adverse outcomes such as inaccurate recommendations, the wrong decision or prejudiced behaviours. If such poor quality leads to me being recommended a fly-fishing book by Amazon when I have absolutely no interest in fly-fishing, this is not too much of a problem. However, if the outcome is the wrong clinical decision or seemingly racist behaviours by a social media platform then the impact can be severe. While I’m taking this argument to extremes to illustrate the risks, it is important to reflect on the relative impact of poor quality AI. There are times when a lower quality AI service matters less than others and the cost-savings facilitated by democratic AI platforms can be highly beneficial.

In my view democratising AI goes beyond facilitating the development of machine learning models and AI by citizen data scientists using technology in the shape of technology platforms. It is also very important to democratise further by ensuring diversity in the data-scientists who develop AI.

The effectiveness of AI can be significantly impacted by bias. Sources of bias in AI include the data machine learning models are trained on. While it is very important to be aware of and try to eliminate these biases from the data, they can be hard to control as they reflect the biases and prejudices that exist in society.

Another source of bias is in the developers themselves – the data scientists. Given that globally the data scientist workforce is currently predominantly male, this is an acknowledged issue. And it goes beyond gender. One of the key elements in ensuring the AI we develop is fair for all is in ensuring that we actively train and recruit a data science workforce that reflects the equalities in society we are striving for. Sometimes this will be through positive discrimination, in helping those with less access to the high-quality education that itself discriminates, and actively seeking to ensure that under-represented groups are present within data scientist communities.