happy business people

New research by Samsung reveals UK business leaders’ clock off at 3.06pm

happy business people

From Twitter to Meta, layoffs mount in the tech industry.

With more than 35,000 tech workers across 72 companies having been laid off this month alone. But despite Elon Musk’s decision to ban remote working at Twitter and claim that he would be working and sleeping at Twitter's San Francisco headquarters until the "org is fixed", this type of demonstrative dedication to work isn’t an ideal shared by other business leaders.

New research commissioned by Samsung, surveying 1,000 UK business executives, reveals that gone are the days when burning the midnight oil was the norm. With the average ‘clocking off time’ for business leaders now 3.06pm. Further still, one in five business owners (20%) said they only work when they want to, while just 14% stick to a traditional 9-5.

Prioritising self-care and family life, setting their own hours, working holidays; all define the new ‘fluid’ British business owner

  • 47% of entrepreneurs have ‘no fixed hours,’ with 9-5 becoming the exception.
  • 97% perform non-work activities during their newly defined ‘working day’.
  • 37% of entrepreneurs have been on a ‘working holiday’.
  • 51% have upgraded their work phone to enable them to work from anywhere.

Work is headspace not a physical space

More than ever, work is about focus not location, with the average business owner not having set foot in an office for 148 days, and one in five never having done so at all. Instead, almost two-fifths (37%) of entrepreneurs have taken a working holiday without telling clients, with the practise far more common amongst those aged 25-34 (48%) compared to just 20% of those over 55. That confidence seems linked to technology, with more than half (51%) upgrading their work phone so they can operate anywhere, on their own terms. There is, however, a continuing sense of dedication, with 43% of small business owners taking less holiday time, preferring to continue to work from wherever they are.

Mental and emotional wellbeing are major considerations, and there is growing sentiment that work should not be all encompassing even among business owners; 71% said they put their family life ahead of their business, with 27% saying the same for friends. In a sign of how much the conversation has shifted, half (49%) said they prioritise their emotional health ahead of their business.

Modern entrepreneurs aren’t just trying to improve their own work/life balance though, they’re encouraging their staff to do the same. Half (49%) let their employees change their working hours to fit in with their lives, a third (35%) are happy to let their staff choose their working hours so long as they get the job done, and remarkably, almost a quarter (23%) will let staff come in late if they’ve been out the night before. That duty of care is being taken seriously, with 36% allowing their employees to take “mental health days” if needed.

Making the most of time spent working

The days of being deskbound are almost over, with 97% of respondents performing non-work activities during the traditional “working day.” Self-care is clearly a priority, with three-quarters (74%) taking time out to exercise and, almost half (47%) to develop a new skill, such as learning a language. In a further uplevelling of work/life balance, respondents spend an average of 1 hour and 12 minutes on household chores, and 39% spend up to 2 hours playing with their children. More unusual work-time activities include learning to knit, bathing a pet iguana, attending a football match and 46% admit to getting their hair done during their office hours. Apparently far more normal is the habit of napping, with one in five (22%) taking daily siestas to help them perform better.

Commenting on the research, Joe Walsh, Director of B2B at Samsung UK said: 

“UK business owners are the backbone of our economy, and their dedication and commitment inspires me every day. This research reveals, that they are also leading the charge on transforming our preconceived ideas of how we should work. For modern entrepreneurs, work is wherever they find the right headspace. It’s all about finding new ways of working that bring more individual satisfaction and reward.”

“Multi-tasking, multi-screens, multi-priorities; all are now commonplace, with a refreshed focus quality over quantity. As many of the respondents expressed, if their business can be run effectively from a beach in Greece or after picking up their kids from school, why shouldn’t it be? Technology is at the heart of this change, with the right tools empowering them to juggle what they need to do and what they want to do, without missing a beat, and driving growth.”

Serial investor and founder of 10x10 Capital, Andy Davis explains,

“The stereotype of how a business owner must work and act is being rewritten. It’s now about what is most effective both personally and professionally. For me, speed is everything, so I need technology that develops alongside my workflow and is easily accessible wherever I go. My Samsung Z Fold4 has helped me grow from being a good to communicator to a great one, because it literally lets me see the big picture.”

To find out more about Samsung’s range of business focused products and services visit: https://www.samsung.com/uk/jointhefold


black-friday-image-ashkan-forouzani-c6597HEP82E-unsplash

Black Friday - the tools you need in your kit to blunt the hit

black Friday sale image

Expected to be one of the most heavily discounted on record, amidst the cost-of-living crisis and looming recession, this year’s Black Friday holds promise for those banking on a sale before Christmas.

At the same time, retailers are gearing up for one of the busiest periods of the year, whilst couriers face delivery loads of up to 100 parcels a day over the weekend.

With that in mind, WeAreTechWomen and WeAreTheCity spoke to ten industry experts to get their insights into what businesses should be aware of ahead of the busy season.

2022 - the calm before the storm

This year has been a tough one for many businesses, with cost of living concerns reducing consumer spending.

As Alex James, CTO of Ascent, explained, another part of the problem for retailers is that: “times have been unusually good for the last 13 years as the world recovered from the financial crisis of 2008. Despite its huge global impact, the pandemic has accelerated online sales for many companies – combined with governments printing money to keep consumers spending it seems like a perfect storm of conditions causing many digital retailers to have over-extended or grown a little chubby.”

Jamie Cairns, Chief Strategy Officer at Fluent Commerce, agrees. “Retailers are sitting on much more inventory than they were last year. Many have stocked up on items that they were unable to get hold of last year due to the global pandemic, border closures and supply chain disruptions. Without visibility of inventory, across stores, online or in warehouses, retailers will leave the customer disappointed and potentially never to shop with the retailer again.”

Businesses are not the only ones at risk this Black Friday. The weekend is a popular target for cybercriminals who will target unwitting consumers with phishing emails, fake websites, and various other forms of increasingly ingenious subterfuge.

Don’t let tech be your downfall

On Black Friday and Cyber Monday, falling prey to a cyber attack would be disastrous. “Some retailers may have already been exploited, with ransomware lying dormant until it can do maximum damage. By holding off, the impact of the hacker’s attack doubles: a retailer’s entire operation has been shut down on the most profitable day of the year, all while being held to ransom,” elucidated Chris Rogers, Technology Evangelist at Zerto, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company.

 

Stephane Cardot, Director Presales EMEA Quantum, concurred: “Retailers can expect cyber attacks to come in all shapes and sizes - from DDoS to Magecart, or most likely, in the form of ransomware. The effects of these attacks can result in complex malware destroying computers and computer systems.”

Alongside fending off cyber attacks, businesses need to also ensure their technology can keep up with the increase in sales.

Rob Gilbert, Managing Director for Commercial & Logistics Business at Totalmobile, elaborated: “The popularity of next-day and same-day delivery, often in narrow allocated time slots, has put increasing pressure on courier services to deliver more in a shorter space of time, often without the support of additional staff. If courier services are going to succeed this holiday season, having the right solutions at their drivers’ fingertips is non-negotiable.”

Speed, safety and service standards - not something to be treated like a new years resolution.

Another crucial element in ensuring Black Friday is a success, is having the speed, safety and service standards to keep up with the peak in sales, security risks and consumer demands.

Gregg Mearing, Chief Technology Officer at Node4, explained that it is vital that e-commerce software and content management systems are updated because “even a 1-second delay in website performance could lead to a potential 7% drop in sales on one of the busiest shopping days of the year.”

Businesses also need to assume they have the right technology, suggests Liad Bokovsky, VP of Pre-sales Consulting at Axway. For example, "APIs enable applications to exchange data and functionality easily and securely, and underpin almost everything we do in the digital world - be it comparing the best Black Friday prices, ordering through a third party app, or tracking your parcel delivery.”

It is imperative that business systems operate to the best of their ability all year round, not just as we approach the Christmas shopping season. Daniel Hudson, Director UK and Europe at FarEye, highlighted that “the retail sector is driven by loyalty - provide the right price and service and consumers will return. However, with interest rates rising and everyone having to tighten their belts, consumers will start to shop around to find the best prices. Loyalty is more important than ever – and more fickle than ever. It's imperative that businesses provide the best service possible.”

Ascent’s James concluded, “next year digital retail will need to look at strengthening the basics again, including scaling back on heady sales targets and budgets. The focus will shift to leveraging data, with organisations setting core KPIs around efficiency and unit costs, streamlined and clear user experience and targeted customer acquisition over blitz scaling. Running a smaller but more efficient and tighter digital channel might be the name of the game in 2023.”

And finally, some advice for the consumer - if it sounds too good to be true, it most certainly is!

Businesses are not the only ones at risk this Black Friday. The weekend is a popular target for cybercriminals who will target unwitting consumers with phishing emails, fake websites, and various other forms of increasingly ingenious subterfuge.

Robert Sugrue, Product Director of Cyber Security at Six Degrees, advises consumers: “Don't get carried away, do not click through links on emails, genuine emails will provide voucher or discount codes, do not hand over credit card details to people you do not know; and, most importantly, always ask yourself “Is this really a good deal? Do I really need it?””

Nick Hogg, Director of Technical Training at Fortra, added: “Trust your instincts – if an offer looks too good to be true, then it probably is. It is important to be vigilant, as you could end up paying for knockoffs, never receiving any of your purchases at all, or providing personal information and card details to scammers.”


Konstantin Vasyuk awarded BCS Fellowship for leading wartime growth of Ukraine's tech industry

IT Ukraine Association Chief, BCS Fellowship

The IT Ukraine Association’s Executive Director has been awarded Fellowship of BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT in recognition of his contribution to the growth of the country’s tech industry during the ongoing difficulties they currently face.

Konstantin Vasyuk has conducted research and created relationships across the world - helping the country’s technology industry to thrive, support the war effort and create new international business.

Latest figures from the IT Ukraine Association demonstrates continual growth of their IT sector, maintaining its position as a major technology powerhouse in Europe despite the conflict the country is currently facing.

Ukraine’s IT industry generated US$5.5 billion in exports so far this year, almost a 13 per cent increase on the previous year, with exports to the UK second after the USA. Overall, the industry’s turnover was US$6.8 billion in 2021.

Vasyuk said: “I am honoured to receive the Fellowship, on behalf of Ukrainian technologists. My deep appreciation goes to BCS for this award. Ukrainian tech remains attractive and competitive in the global market.

Despite all the threats, we are ambitious to scale up the Ukrainian IT industry, transforming risks and challenges into opportunities.

"Since the war started, we have demonstrated the sustainability and flexibility of Ukrainian tech. We have provided uninterrupted service to our customers and also gained unique expertise in military, unmanned tech and cybersecurity. The IT Ukraine Association will continue its activities in the UK and together with our partners, create new business opportunities for Ukrainian tech companies in both European and global markets.”

The IT Ukraine Association and BCS recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding which made a commitment to using IT to create peaceful, prosperous societies.

Rashik Parmar MBE, Group Chief Executive of BCS, who presented the Fellowship at this year’s UK IT Awards, said: “Konstantin Vasyuk is a committed and tireless ambassador for the role of IT in making the world a better place and we are delighted to grant him a BCS Fellowship which recognises his outstanding contribution to the IT industry.”

“Konstantin and his team at IT Ukraine Association continue to promote the work of their members, despite the horrific circumstances of the war - making the point that they are very much open for business on the global stage - thanks to the strength and courage of Ukraine’s IT industry.”


Looking to get into the world of tech? Applications now open for the free AWS re/Start Programme

AWS re:Start programme

AWS re/Start and Coding Black Females have teamed up to offer a free, online program in Bristol, Bath, Somerset, and Gloucester to help individuals get into the world of tech.

The AWS re/Start Programme enables candidates to enter the tech industry and, through scenario-based learning, hands-on labs, and coursework, learners gain the skills they need for an entry-level cloud role.

Apply Now: AWS re/Start application page

Only applications from people who are willing to relocate to the West of England (i.e. Bath, Bristol, Gloucester, Somerset) are being accepted.

Eligibility Criteria

  • Over 18
  • Black or mixed heritage
  • Woman or gender minority (we may have some spaces for men, so we encourage men to also apply)
  • Be willing to work in the West of England
  • No prior experience is required, but we'll be looking for evidence of an interest in technology, this is for absolute beginners

Course Details

  • Course Length: 16 weeks long (3 evenings a week and all day Saturday)
  • Course Start Date: 23rd January 2023
  • Applications Close: 16th December 2022
  • Free

Application Process

  • Go to the AWS re/Start page to find out more about the course and complete your application
  • Complete a learner assessment (no experience required)
  • Submit a screening video

APPLY NOW


young-people-working

Recruiting Tech Talent: What Gen Z Workers Really Want

young-people-working

The competition for talent, especially tech talent, is more fierce than ever before as companies compete for top candidates to fill software and information technology roles – a need that’s being driven by the limitless pace of digitalisation.

Generation Z is the digitally savvy workforce of the future that’s expected to take the tech world by storm. But as this year’s graduates and school leavers move into the job market, they’ll be looking for more than just a salary.

Prepared to work hard for a business that shares their values, these new recruits are looking for employers that will support their physical health, mental wellbeing, and provide flexibility for a great work-life balance. But that’s not all.

To attract and retain the best talent, companies will need to revamp outdated workplace policies and rethink their recruitment and retention strategies. By looking beyond borders, companies can discover that perhaps the “war for talent” is a myth after all and engaging talent where you find them is the way forward to avoid getting left behind.

Closing the expectations gap

The traumas and disruptions in recent years have forced many people to think deeply about what they really want from life – including their careers. In 2021, an ONS Labour Force Survey revealed the highest ever recorded spike in people voluntarily quitting their jobs.

Dubbed the Great Resignation, this reshuffling of talent has forced employers to sit up, take notice, and respond to shifting employee expectations and needs.

Increasingly, employee retention now depends on accommodating the individual preferences of employees in terms of when and where they work, together with ease of access to skills and development training.

Any organisation demanding tech employees spend five days a week in the office will struggle to recruit Gen Z job candidates. For this cohort of workers, when, where, and how work gets done doesn’t matter as long as they deliver what is required of them to the deadline. Plus, they will expect full agency over how they undertake and complete tasks.

Firms that listen and respond to these intrinsic new workforce expectations will be well positioned to offer the workplace flexibility, hybrid working options, and personal development opportunities that Gen Z workers want and expect.

Making it personal and feeling valued

Gen Z expects employers to tear back decade-long policies that no longer resonate with their human-centric workplace expectations.

From gamification and interactive learning that’s instantly applicable to their day-to-day tasks to collaborative platforms, peer-to-peer networks and mentoring that enable them to address individual and team or project challenges, they’ll expect to be given the tools and capabilities that will enable them to be productive.

They’ll also expect to encounter a truly inclusive workplace culture where their contribution is noticed and valued. That includes having managers who are invested in them personally, will help steer them to their next career goal, and understand exactly who they are and how they are feeling professionally.

This last point on active listening is key. Managers need to have their finger on the pulse when it comes to workforce sentiment, because having their views heard and acted upon is increasingly important for today’s employees.

Last year, when Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, told his workforce they’d have to return to the office, several tech employees published an open letter stating “Over the last year, we often felt not just unheard but at times ignored” and many quit in response.

Don’t scrimp on perks and benefits

Tech talent is increasingly demanding more money – and getting it. But offering a competitive salary isn’t enough. Stock options and equity are a honey pot for top-tier tech talent and can be highly motivational for individuals who know the rewards will be significant if a company goes public.

Other incentives that can help companies create an employer brand that truly stands out include health insurance, company health and mental wellness programmes, and attractive professional development plans. Benefits like unlimited holiday or sabbatical options that enable employees to pursue other interests in the knowledge they can return, are also becoming popular offerings. Plus, access to the latest cutting edge tech tools will be a hot favourite for tech project managers, developers and analysts.

That said, a growing number of organisations are also coming to recognise that Gen Z staff and potential employees also regard a company’s actions and track record on equality, diversity, and broader societal issues such as ESG (environment, sustainability and governance) as being just as important as the terms that are on offer in relation to pay or flexible work practices.

Make work meaningful – rethinking business as usual

Organisations looking to recruit Gen Z tech talent are increasingly looking to showcase ways in which the work on offer is purposeful and meaningful. Whether that’s highlighting how candidates can apply their cybersecurity skills to make the world a safer place, or how they could use their AI skills to transform and drive innovation in the healthcare, transport, and energy sectors.

Undertaking meaningful work has a strong resonance with Gen Z candidates who want to feel that their work matters,  that it aligns with their social views and will make a difference. In other words, they want to work for companies that give them a sense of purpose and enable them to engage with projects that will be a catalyst for change.

One thing is for sure, we’re moving into a pivotal moment of time as companies rethink working practices and their corporate mission in order to help their organisations stand out. Those that are able to reframe the world of work in a way that truly connects with the next generation of tech talent will be well positioned to sustain their future ambitions when it comes to recruiting and retaining staff.

Nick AdamsAbout the author

Nick Adams, VP EMEA at G-P (Globalization Partners)

Nick is Vice President, Sales, EMEA region, at G-P. In this role he leads the company’s European expansion and the team that supports it. Prior to joining G-P, Nick held roles of increasing responsibility with global staffing, talent management and total rewards platforms. He has deep industry experience and expertise, with portfolios that have spanned the globe, and has been instrumental in helping businesses expand their European presence. Nick is a board member of The Global Tech Advocates Future of Work Group, a rapidly growing global think tank. He is incredibly passionate about the future of work, with an emphasis on creating a future where everyone can participate.


Female software engineer with projected code

What can be done to encourage and retain more women into STEM?  

Female software engineer with projected code

8th November marks STEM Day, which aims to encourage more people into the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) industries.

It’s a well-known and standing fact that women are underrepresented in STEM; women make up only 16% of engineering and technology graduates.

We asked female leaders of prominent tech companies to share what they think should be done to encourage women into and retain women in STEM:

Time for businesses to take charge

“Businesses and institutions need to change. There is no excuse in 2022 not to have balanced, diversified, and inclusive teams.” Liz Parnell, COO, EMEA, Rackspace Technology argues. “Teach unconscious bias as part of your company onboarding; and walk the talk every day with your policies, behaviours and level of transparency.”

Laura Malins, VP Product, Matillion agrees: “Greater transparency is important. Companies’ values need to be made clearer so women can identify an employer whose values mirror their own. That will give them the freedom and support needed to test out different areas of tech and find roles that provide them both with the right work-life balance, and the opportunity to add value to the business.”

“Businesses need to make a conscious effort to recruit employees from a diverse range of backgrounds.” Clare Loveridge, VP and General Manager EMEA, Arctic Wolf states. “This will allow businesses to attract more talent and develop more creative ways of thinking, contributing to the development of highly innovative solutions to the complex challenges facing leaders today.”

Siobhan Ryan, Sales Director Ireland and Scotland, UiPath remarks on how businesses can help their female workforce: “Businesses need to ensure women are inspired and able to contribute, participate and enjoy their roles. Mentoring programmes, community networks, and supported learning opportunities can help women to grow and succeed.”

Businesses need to carefully think about their approaches to diversity and inclusion strategies to make change, argues Pam Maynard, CEO, Avanade: “Fundamentally, there is an issue with the way some organisations approach DE&I, only paying it lip service to keep employees happy and avoid difficult conversations. It's time for change, and diversity needs to be tackled head on and from the very top.”

“Despite the sector having strong female leaders in the NHS, with the national CIO and CTO being women, we continue to overlook providing the right funding and support for women pursuing STEM careers in health at every level.” Katherine Church, Tech+ Director, Grayce offers an insight into closing the gender gap in health tech. “We need to increase the levels of VC and PE funding for Femtech and female founders so that women’s health issues and careers are properly addressed.”

Fostering opportunities 

“STEM Day comes as a needed reminder that we must continue to encourage girls and women to study STEM subjects and provide opportunities that will help them to develop skills in the space.” says EJ Cay, VP UKI, Genesys

Estella Reed, Head of People, Distributed argues that those not from STEM-oriented educational backgrounds should still be encouraged into STEM: “When government and businesses dismiss so-called “softer” or “mickey mouse” university courses and qualifications, they are limiting the diversity of their workforces and ability to access the best talent. Many of the best software engineers working in the industry, for example, come from arts and humanities backgrounds.”

Sue-Ellen Wright, Managing Director of Aerospace Defence and Security, Sopra Steria, agrees that diversity in recruitment is essential: “The challenge the tech industry faces is that, to increase creativity, it must improve diversity to further encourage a broader range of perspectives and ideas.”

“In a male-dominated industry, it is critical we continue to pursue diversity of thought, especially as we seek to apply the “digital” truths we have learned from the past thirty years or so.” Caroline Vignollet, SVP Research & Development, OneSpan gives her view on the importance of diversity in tech. “For example, as we explore new technologies and digital experiences, such as in web 3.0, we are doing so with all the available talent, understanding and approaches at our disposal.”

Accessibility is key, Jamie Lyon, Vice President of Strategy and Development, Lucid Software notes: “It's important for STEM-related educational and career development opportunities to be more accessible to women. These build a foundation of interest and technical skill sets for women wanting to enter the tech industry.”

Women need to be able to access the same educational opportunities as their male peers to succeed. “Recent research shows that men are over a third more likely to receive digital upskilling than their female counterparts.” Mairead O'Connor, Exec for Cloud Engineering, AND Digital  observes. “This needs to change.”

For Poornima Ramaswamy, Chief Transformation Officer, Qlik, this education should include data and digital skills: “We must ensure girls are taught relevant data and digital skills at an early age to prepare them for the increasingly data-centric world we now live in. Our research found business leaders and employees alike predict that data literacy will be the most in-demand skill by 2030.”

The importance of self-confidence

Najla Aissaoui, Talent Acquisition & HR manager, Venari Security states: “For girls and women looking at a career in STEM, never underestimate your power and skills. Don’t be afraid to try and fail, just make sure to learn from your failures.”

Pantea Razzaghi, Head of Design, Automata encourages women to not bow down to pressure: “For women in STEM, it can feel like there’s added pressure to succeed and even outperform, as the industry is still very much male-dominated. However, often we are our biggest critics. My advice for young women early into their science and engineering journey will be to not dwell on mistakes for too long. Mistakes are a critical part of scientific discovery – that’s how innovation works.”

“My sincere advice; don’t listen too much to what others have to say about you or your ability to thrive in this sector.” Renske Galema, Area VP, North EMEA at CyberArk concludes. “Follow your own mind and find the fun in continuous learning.”


Women on a desktop

Gender gap in STEM subjects remains high

Women on a desktop

Sarah Gilchriest from tech startup Circus Street on STEM Day and the crucial role businesses can play in getting more women into tech.

Despite receiving a lot of attention in recent years, the gender gap in STEM subjects remains high. Only around 35% of graduates are women - a figure that has remained largely unchanged for the past five years. When you break it down to subjects such as computer science and engineering and technology the statistics are even worse - 16% of graduates are women. STEM Day is the perfect time for us to reflect on why there is such underrepresentation and consider how we can do more to redress the balance. What is clear is that the current approach isn’t working.

The lack of women taking on STEM subjects is cited as the number one reason there is such a gender imbalance in the UK’s tech industry. Only one in four people who work in the startup scene are women, with the number of female tech CEOs and founders depressingly low. There is an element of chicken and egg. How can young women and other underrepresented groups see themselves pursuing careers in tech or engineering if these industries look overwhelmingly male and white? On the other hand, how can we address diversity issues if there aren’t enough qualified people?

The reality is that we all make incredibly important career choices, usually without realising it, at a very young age when we choose what subjects to study in school. In fact, the factors that influence our choices are often engrained at an even earlier age. I’ve recently had first-hand experience of this when I talked to my 13-year-old daughter about what career she might like to have. She has already made many sweeping judgments about what she does and doesn’t want to do. In all likelihood she will change her mind as she learns more, however, many young people stick to their guns or simply do not learn enough in time to challenge their own decisions. Consequently, a lot of people end up set on certain career paths in their teenage years. By the time we realise what we actually want to do it can seem too late or difficult to change course.

However, blaming the education system isn’t going to solve the problem nor is it the full story. There is actually a lot more businesses can do to improve diversity and consequently encourage women and other underrepresented groups to study STEM subjects with a view to working in the tech industry. A major way this can be achieved is through a nationwide upskilling scheme.

Upskilling offers people a second chance to develop their career in the direction they want without the cost and impracticality of going back into full time education.

People can be guilty of thinking of upskilling as simply learning a new trade. It’s not just that - it’s about giving people the skill sets, mindsets and behaviours that they need to develop a huge range of skills applicable to different circumstances. It’s a continuous and nuanced process. We aren’t necessarily talking about training legions of fully-fledged data scientists, for example, we’re saying that we need to give everybody basic data skills so they can apply this knowledge to their own professional circumstances. These individuals may go on to learn coding, marketing or IT skills that combine to make them a highly skilled worker in their field.

In essence, through upskilling, individuals can replicate the core skills businesses look for from STEM graduates. If we applied upskilling nationwide via businesses we would give everybody an opportunity to develop into the careers they want. It will inevitably mean more women and other underrepresented groups will be able to get into the tech industry. If young students see people that look and sound like them in the tech industry they will be more likely to consider it a real option and choose subjects to meet that ambition.

Sarah GilchriestAbout the author

Sarah Gilchriest is Global COO of Circus Street. For the past seven years she has helped to lead the international expansion of Circus Street. She originally joined as a marketing consultant in 2016 and in the time since has overseen Circus Street expand five times larger to support a range of global companies including Nike, Adidas, Hershey’s, P&G and Coca Cola.

If you would like to find out more about Sarah you follow her on twitter and LinkedIn.


Diversity and inclusion progress in UK data industry stalls

Sad diverse woman sitting at desk, head in hands, diversity  and inclusionThe data industry has long been celebrated as ethnically diverse.

However, dig a little deeper and shocking statistics around pay and opportunity emerge not only for Black professionals but for gender diversity and people with disabilities too.

New research carried out by Rockborne on behalf of parent company Harnham, the global leaders in Data and Analytics recruitment, has shown that there has been little change in the diverse make-up of the industry over the last 12 months. This is despite employers hailing it as a priority.

Harnham’s annual State of Diversity in Data and Analytics report involving 9,500 respondents takes a deep dive into the state of play of Diversity and Inclusion across the data industry, focusing on gender, ethnicity, race, disability, and age. It reveals a mixed landscape, with pockets of both progress and stark stagnation.

Whilst acknowledging that there are initiatives being taken by employers to actively improve diversity, the findings highlight the need for the industry to continue to put its money where its mouth is if it hopes to remain trailblazing and innovative.

Ethnic diversity lags behind

When it comes to ethnic diversity, Rockborne research found that White/Caucasian professionals made up a smaller percentage of the Data & Analytics industry (75%) than they do of the UK population as a whole (86% nationally). This makes the data industry across the board one of the more ethnically diverse industries in the UK.

That said, just because there are fewer white professionals than the national average, not all other ethnicities are experiencing increased representation. Indeed, while Asian/Asian British professionals account for 15% of the industry (vs 7.8% in the 2011 census), Black/African/Caribbean/Black British professionals only account for just 3% of the (vs 3.5% in the 2011 census).

On top of this, the report reveals that the ethnicity pay gap is up over 50% from where it sat 12 months ago, with the highest-paid individual group in the Data & Analytics industry being White/Caucasian men. They earn an average of £69,260 per year, whilst the lowest paid group are women from a Black/African/Caribbean/Black British background, with average earnings of £53,850 - a pay gap of 22%.

Diversity decreases as seniority rises

Equality doesn’t improve higher up the chain either, with a significant trend of diversity decreasing as seniority rises, coming to light. For example, representation of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic professionals falls sharply from 42% at Entry-level to just 16% at Head of/Director level.

Sadiqah Musa, founder of Black In Data works closely with Harnham and provides her thoughts on the findings:

“People of Afro/Caribbean heritage make up only 3% of data professionals and have the widest pay gap. If you are, as I am, a Black female working in data, you are likely to be paid 22% less than your white male counterpart. 

Black people are often given the double burden of experiencing racism and discrimination, and then being expected to fix it.

This year, the theme of Black History Month is ‘Time for Change: Action Not Words’. I challenge all of us in the data industry to be courageous, educate ourselves, and take action for greater equality.”

Gender in early careers talent edges closer to parity

In terms of gender, 28% of Data & Analytics professionals across the entire industry are women – the same as Harnham’s 2021 report. However, the gender balance in professionals who are in their first role in data, has moved significantly closer to parity, increasing to 40%, up from 28% across the entire industry.

Gender pay gap decreases overall but a gap between professionals with parental responsibilities opens up.

There are some more promising signs, though., The gender pay gap across professionals in Data & Analytics now stands at 6% - a figure which is not only an improvement on last year, but also falls below the UK average of 9.8%.

But there are certain areas calling out for improvement, such as for parents. Male professionals with parental responsibilities earn £76,700 on average, whereas female professionals in the same position take home significantly less – an average of £65,580 (a pay gap of 14%).

These figures are tempered by the fact that all specialisms surveyed reported a gap smaller than the UK average, ranging from 9% in Data & Technology to -1% (as in the gap favoured women) in Marketing & Insight.

Harnham’s CEO David Farmer believes that “while we should be positive about the progress the industry has made, this is clearly not the time to hang up our boots.”

Farmer continues: “It is vital to us at Harnham that we continue to monitor the industry’s progress and do not shy away from revealing where gaps exist. There is no benefit in burying our heads in the sand, we must instead continue striving forwards. 

“We know that change takes time, but I firmly believe that if businesses and, crucially, educational institutions keep pushing for better diversity, we will see significant change over the next five to ten years.”

These statistics drive home the reality that the data industry still has some way to go if it wants to continue to hail itself as innovative and disruptive. There are employers actively trying to improve diversity, and the industry should use data like this as grounds for following their lead.


Solving the great European tech skills shortage

While there is no shortage of tech jobs in Europe, there is a growing IT skills gap.

To close it and simultaneously up the supply of capable technology professionals, do we need to revisit our approach to where and how we train and employ professionals and get more women on board?

Approximately 870,000 tech and digital job vacancies were available in the UK alone between January to May 2022 - the highest in 10 years, with similar demand for technology skills arising across the globe. However, Eurostat showed that 55% of companies struggled to fill their ICT vacancies.

The skills gap has considerable ramifications for Europe as a whole - McKinsey shows that Europe is lagging behind global leaders in most growth-enabling technologies such as applied AI and distributed infrastructure. If this continues, it will have a knock-on effect on future investment on the continent.

The looming recession will only further serve to increase the chasm between the supply and demand of tech professionals, for digitalisation tends to underpin initiatives to cut costs and increase efficiency. As economic difficulties increase, companies that fold or cut jobs will release a new wave of unemployed jobseekers who will need to find new opportunities, perhaps by reskilling for work in the technology sector.

Incorporating soft skills to ensure readiness for work

Government initiatives to boost ICT skills may serve to increase the number of IT professionals available in the market but the main issue isn’t the availability of training provision: a 2021 report by European Software Skills Alliance (ESSA) about the current and future needs for software skills and professionals in Europe found ‘no shortage of supply in training of the most relevant software skills (e.g.programming languages)’.

Examining the nature of the skills developed, the pool of people engaging in ICT training and the relationship between training providers, learners and employers, the report points to a mismatch between the skills produced with those sought by businesses, who are seeking soft skills in addition to ‘hard’ technical skills. Current training that develops sought-after soft skills including critical thinking, problem solving and self-management within ICT-oriented programmes, is generally limited. Companies want technically competent employees who are rounded individuals and add to the company culture, communicate and collaborate with people across the business and within their teams.

In our case, we’re on track to train 15,000 - 20,000 individuals per year. Students graduating from our courses receive access to mentoring, hard and soft skills - plus, a job at the end. Working with companies that need tech workers also enables us to tailor our training specifically to align with the needs of real businesses.

Flexible working patterns open the door to more female techies

The female demographic has traditionally been underrepresented in IT and is an untapped candidate pool. According to WEF, not only does IT have some of the lowest female participation, it is an industry where women are hard to recruit. Concurrently, the job sectors where women currently dominate are those in decline (Office and Administrative, and Manufacturing and Production).

Traditionally, women more than men, especially those with childcare/carer responsibilities, require work that is flexible. Fortunately many tech and IT roles can be carried out remotely and adapted to afford flexibility. Plus, arguably, responsibilities such as childcare and caring can organically foster certain soft skills development.

Interestingly, some central European countries seem to be succeeding at growing the number of women in their IT workforce. Romania has only 2.4% of its workforce in the ICT sector with 26.2% of those specialist roles filled by women, similarly Greece (2.0% ICT jobs, 26.5% women) and Bulgaria (3% ICT jobs, 28.2% women) - a stark contrast with only 15.5% of women in the ICT sector across Europe as a whole.

Central Europe is also a growing hub from which to recruit a young and ambitious IT workforce. Nearshoring to support existing teams or create entirely new teams to central European countries offers an attractive opportunity for businesses. It enables them to benefit from often English-speaking, cost-competitive employees in similar time zones to them and whose countries sometimes offer tax incentives for their employment.

While we consider the skills gap, it is worth noting the European Commission’s Digital Decade program which aims to employ 20 million ICT specialists by 2030, consisting of an equal proportion of men and women. Conscious efforts to innovate tech and IT training to better fit companies’ needs; initiatives to close the gender gap and explore alternative markets to recruit from are essential keys to solving the problem.

About the authors

József Boda, CEO of Codecool and Michał Mysiak, CEO of Software Development Academy explore the challenges facing Europeans as a result of the ever-widening IT skills gaps and potential solutions.

Sources:

[1] https://technation.io/news/uk-tech-jobs-people-skills-report-2022/

[2] Over the course of 2019, Digital Skills and Jobs Platform, EU

[3] The Future of Jobs Report, the World Economic Forum

[4] Needs Analysis Draft Report I Europe’s Most Needed Software Roles and Skills, ESSA

[5] Needs Analysis Draft Report I Europe’s Most Needed Software Roles and Skills, ESSA


Computer Weekly announces the Top 50 Most Influential Women in Tech for 2022

This week, Computer Weekly released this year's list of the top 50 Most Influential Women in UK Technology for 2022, including this year’s winner, Flavilla Fongang, founder of 3 Colours Rule and the Global Tech Advocates Black Women in Tech group.

Since it's inception in 2012, the list has grown from featuring 25 women to now showcasing 50 of the most incredible females in the industry. After the success of this accolade, Computer Weekly have gone on to launch an annual list of Rising Stars, to ensure as many women in the sector as possible are recognised for their work.

Flavilla Fongang featuredThis year's winner, Flavilla Fongang, who is also the recipient of the 2022 TechWomen100 Editor's Choice Award, was inspired to make  the move into the technology sector from the fashion industry after seeing the potential to work with disruptors and game changers in the sector.

Fongang made it her mission to make more role models in the industry visible, leading her to set up the GTA Black Women in Tech group. The not-for-profit organisation aims to inspire, support and connect the tech sphere to allow more Black women to excel and tech companies to perform better through diversity & inclusion.

She also published a book, Voices in the Shadow, showcasing the journeys of 51 Black women in the UK technology field. After the success of Volume 1, they have announced Voices in the Shadow Volume 2, sharing the stories of a further 51 Black women who have positively impacted the tech industry.

Others among the list include Charlene Hunter, CEO and founder, Coding Black Females, founded to help black female software developers meet each other and network; Sheridan Ash, co-CEO and founder, Tech She Can, an award-winning charity with over 240 member organisations, which together work with industry, government and schools to improve the ratio of women in technology roles; Anna Brailsford, CEO, Code First Girls, an entrepreneur who works to encourage more women into the tech sector by providing software development skills and education and Kike Oniwinde Agoro, founder, BYP Network, founded in 2016 to help black professionals network and have easier access to jobs.

You can view the full list here.

Computer-Weekly-logo_620x350