“Diversity on boards is crucial” says Baroness Martha Lane Fox as she is welcomed at Twitter

Baroness Martha Lane Fox has penned her thoughts on becoming the newest member to join Twitter’s board stating, “diversity on boards is critical to sustaining and advancing performance.”
Baroness Martha Lane Fox
Baroness Martha Lane Fox

Lane Fox announced last week that she would be joining the social media giant’s board by tweeting that is would be the “best job ever.”

It was also announced that Pepsi’s chief financial officer Hugh Johnston will be joining the board. In February Twitter posted a quarterly net loss of $90m (£64m).

Lane Fox was the UK's Digital Champion until 2013, the same year she joined the House of Lords. She is best known for founding lastminute.com with Brent Hoberman in 1998. The company was sold in 2005 for £577m.

More recently she founded a national body called Dot Everyone, that champions digital innovation.

Speaking to the BBC she said: "I'm absolutely over the moon to be part of the journey of an iconic company that I love using."

"Watch out Silicon Valley - the Brits are coming."

In an article for the Telegraph she wrote: “I'm incredibly excited to join Twitter on its journey to more deeply focus on inclusion and diversity at all levels including board, and be a part of the amazing team that will help shape the platform's future development of products, services and ideas.

“Diversity on boards is critical to sustaining and advancing performance and having worked in the tech sector since its early days, I find it astonishing that there’s already a profound gender imbalance - at every level - in an industry that didn’t even exist 30 years ago.”

“Having worked in the tech sector since its early days, it still surprises me that the original promises of the internet - to empower, be universal and uphold democracy - have somehow stalled.”

“A strong and dynamic tech sector is essential if Britain is to flourish in the digital world. We won’t – and shouldn’t – always compete on price. The battles we should be looking to win hinge on innovation, skill and creativity. However, we’re currently playing this game with one hand tied behind our backs.”

Doteveryone recently published data giving an overview of women in technology finding that only 17% of tech jobs are occupied by women and that less than one in 10 of these are in leadership positions.

The research also found that women make up only 3% of partners in venture capital firms, 20% of tech founders and 4% of software engineers.

"If we don’t rectify the gender imbalance [in technology], we are missing out on 50 per cent of the talent pool."

According to a McKinsey Global Institute report $12 trillion could be added to global GDP by 2025 by advancing women’s equality.

Lane Fox added: “On a global scale, we see that women entrepreneurs are poised to lead the next wave of growth in global technology ventures. Research shows the high-tech companies women build are more capital-efficient than the norm.”

She said that as a nation we need to do more to support women in tech: “This fast-growing sector needs to offer flexible working hours to make a tech career a lifelong career for more women. Some companies get it. These are the most agile and best placed to thrive as they take advantage of the untapped pool of talent.

“It's also difficult to raise money to build your own tech business from external sources if you have no traction, revenue, or impact in the marketplace. Pre-seed funding needs more focus and attention from investors so that more women can have the confidence to find their feet during the transition from business idea to execution.”

Dame Wendy Hall and Baroness Martha Lane-Fox made Distinguished Fellows by BCS

Professor Dame Wendy Hall and Baroness Lane-Fox of Soho have been made Distinguished Fellows by BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT.

Both were presented with their awards by HRH, The Duke of Kent, BCS Patron at the Institute’s annual dinner recently.

The announcement means Dame Wendy Hall and Baroness Lane-Fox join the likes of Bill Gates, Sir Tim Berners Lee and Vint Cerf in the distinction.

Dame-Wendy-Hall-thumbDame Wendy Hall is a Professor of Computer Science and Executive Director of the Web Science Institute at the University of Southampton.  She was Dean of the Faculty of Physical Science and Engineering from 2010 to 2014.

She was one of the first computer scientists to undertake serious research in multimedia and hypermedia, with her current research including applications of the Semantic Web and exploring the interface between the life sciences and the physical sciences. She is Managing Director of the Web Science Trust.

Paul Fletcher, BCS Group CEO, said: “This honour is not only to recognise Professor Dame Wendy Hall as one of the most influential people in IT, both in the UK and world-wide, but also for her tireless work in championing women in technology for more than thirty years. The influence of Wendy’s work has been significant in many areas including digital libraries, the development of the Semantic Web, and the emerging research discipline of Web Science.”

Professor Dame Wendy Hall said: “I am delighted and deeply honoured to receive this award.  When I joined the BCS many years ago as a junior lecturer at the University of Southampton, I never imagined I would ever join the ranks of such a distinguished group.  There is no doubt that being a member of BCS played a significant part in the development of my career, and I am very privileged to be able to accept this award.”

Baroness Martha Lane FoxBaroness Martha Lane-Fox is renowned for co-founding website lastminute.com with Brent Hoberman in 1998. She was also the UK Digital Champion, appointed by the government, from June 2010 until November 2013.

Last year she founded doteveryone.org.uk a national organisation, committed to making the UK brilliant in the network age. She was appointed a crossbench peer in the House of Lords in 2013 and in 2014 she was appointed Chancellor of the Open University. In addition she is chair of the digital skills charity Go ON UK.

In 2015 Martha joined the board of the Creative Industries Federation, the Scale up institute and the Open Data Institute. Martha has also founded her own charitable foundation Antigone.org.uk and serves as a Patron of AbilityNet, Reprieve, Camfed and Just for Kids Law.

Fetcher said: “Baroness Lane-Fox of Soho has inspired many people through her extensive work. This honour recognises her distinguished career in IT as a business woman. Our purpose at BCS is making IT good for society and we believe that Martha is an embodiment of this philosophy with her work in successfully developing new technology services, her commitment to digital inclusion and championing new approaches to public policy to ensure that no one gets left behind in this digital age.”

Martha Lane Fox said: “I am delighted to be honoured by BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT. We are moving very fast from an industrial age to a network age that presents great opportunities but also new challenges and ethical choices. The UK’s future economic prosperity and social well-being are critically dependent upon our being a world leader in the new network age. I passionately believe that promoting and protecting the original promises of the internet - openness, transparency, freedom and universality – are essential if we are to harness the full potential of the internet and that we must ensure everyone in the UK has the digital skills needed to benefit from the network age.”