George BrasherAs Managing Director UK&I, George is responsible for all consumer and commercial printers and PCs, mobile devices, workstations, thin clients, services, solutions and go-to-market activities, for the UK and Ireland. 

Brasher has more than 25 years of experience working at HP in a variety of roles. Immediately prior to his relocation to the UK, he was Vice President & General Manager of the WW Laser Printer business and LES Marketing & Strategy based in California.  Prior to that, he held a variety of leadership roles within HP spanning multiple regions and functions including  Vice President and General Manager of the US Printing and Supplies Category, responsible for the product portfolios and go-to-market strategies for Inkjet and LaserJet Printers and Supplies across both commercial and consumer business segments in the US.

Brasher also served as Vice President of LaserJet Supplies in the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region, responsible for managing the portfolio profit and loss, category strategy, business development and channel management in the region.  Prior to that, he held leadership roles in the Americas region, including vice president of the LaserJet Supplies and Transactional LaserJet Printer Category and vice president of the Inkjet Supplies Category business.

Brasher began his career with HP in 1990 as a financial analyst and, in addition to Category roles, has also served as sales manager for the Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club Sales Team in the US Consumer Business.

Brasher holds a Bachelor’s degree in business from Baylor University and Master’s degree in business administration from Pennsylvania State University.

Why do you support the HeForShe campaign?

I’m a firm believer that the more points of view a business can draw on, the better its products and the company as a whole will be.

Currently, women comprise only 17 per cent of the UK tech workforce. Over one hundred years on from women gaining the vote in Britain, the shortfall of women in the UK tech workforce is unacceptable, and we have to work together as an industry, to attract and retain more women.

What’s more given the rapid growth in the sector, striving towards gender parity and bridging the country’s digital skills gaps can help fuel business and economic growth, and securing Britain’s place as global leader in digital innovation.

Why do you think it’s important for men to support gender equality in the workplace?

I’m passionate about encouraging everyone to embrace gender equality in the workplace – and by extension, in all other areas of life. HP has the most diverse Board of Directors in Silicon Valley, and almost a third of our executives (director and above) are women.

However, we still struggle with a gender imbalance and addressing the under-representation of women is a priority for HP and me personally.

Here in the UK , we’ve recently made commitments to addressing this imbalance including: ensuring women account for at least 50 per cent of our intern intake; introducing a ‘Returners Programme’ to encourage women to re-enter the workforce after time away; and investing in unconscious bias training. We’re also a proud signatory of the Tech Talent Charter, and have recently redoubled our commitment by becoming a board member.

But there’s still a long way to go! And to get there, we need everyone on side.

How welcome are men in the gender equality conversation currently?

Speaking from my own experience as a man involved in the gender equality conversation, I feel not only welcome but inspired to involve others too.

I recently hosted a roundtable discussion on the barriers women face to joining the UK tech industry, and how together we can attract more women into the industry at every level. It was held in partnership with The Fawcett Society and Tech Talent Charter and brought together policymakers, business figures and, most importantly, young women.

For me personally, it was a proud moment to be able to share HP’s platform. All leaders, regardless of gender, have a responsibility to champion this cause and amplify the voices of the under-represented, who may otherwise go unheard.

Do you think groups/networks that include the words “women in…” or “females in…” make men feel like gender equality isn’t really their problem or something they need to help with?

Groups and networks defined in gendered terms provide a safe space for women to be included. As women are an under-represented demographic – specifically in the UK tech workforce – I support this, even if it does deter some men.

Looking at the bigger picture, though, the language we use to talk about this issue has changed. Now, we talk about ‘gender equality’ rather than ‘women’s rights’ – this reflects the fact that it’s not an issue that’s isolated to one gender, as it impacts everyone.

What can businesses do to encourage more men to feel welcome enough to get involved in the gender debate?

Leadership must keep gender equality elevated on the boardroom agenda. HP and all tech businesses have to remain accountable, continually setting ourselves goals and measurable targets to address the dire gender imbalance within UK tech. What gets measured, gets done.

For businesses, there’s both a moral imperative and a fundamental commercial imperative to address this issue. By incorporating action on gender equality into the day-to-day operations of a business (e.g. in hiring and buying policies) men will be automatically be involved.

Do you currently mentor any women or have you in the past?

I firmly believe in the benefits of mentoring, through both formal and informal arrangements. We need to elevate rising stars, building and broadening their skills to support them in realising their potential to be leaders of tomorrow. This is particularly important among under-represented groups – including women. Personally, I have many mentees.

Have you noticed any difference in mentoring women – for example, are women less likely to put themselves forward for jobs that are out of their comfort zones or are women less likely to identify senior roles that they would be suited for?

Mentoring shouldn’t be isolated to the business context. Early intervention is essential for encouraging girls to study STEM, preparing them for the jobs of the future and hopefully, building their confidence to pursue careers in the field.

According to new research commissioned by HP, one in five women who didn’t choose to study STEM said it was because they ‘didn’t know anything about it’. What’s more, 32 per cent of women who aren’t in technical roles said it was because they felt underqualified, This suggests negative associations with, or an initial lack of interest in, STEM start early and persist into adulthood.

The advantage of tech is that it is everywhere in our day-to-day lives. We can all be mentors, by empowering girls to interact with tech – and importantly, making sure they feel supported to choose to study STEM subjects.

Our research showed that when it comes to women’s career influences, family came out on top (46 per cent). There’s also an important role for parents and guardians to play here in communicating to children – particularly girls –  that these career paths are open to them.