How businesses can work towards a more diverse workforce

Front view of diverse business people looking at camera while working together at conference room in a modern office

Article by Poonam Flammarion, Head of Talent Academy, Cloudreach

It’s no longer a case of ‘if’ business will adopt the cloud but a matter of ‘when’.

IT professionals need to be competent when it comes to the implementation and management of the cloud, this is especially true for new talent entering the sector. However, it’s not only a cloud skills deficit the industry needs to wrestle with, but a diversity gap too. In Europe only 2% of the tech workforce are from Black, African or Caribbean backgrounds and just 17% of tech workers are women.

Not just tokenism

The benefits of a diverse workforce are well understood, there are numerous case studies and enough research out there to show that output is boosted when a workforce is more diverse and inclusive. According to a McKinsey study, there is a positive correlation between a more diverse executive team and the financial performances of the companies they studied. So, the argument for diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) is a well understood one. Balanced teams across the board produce better results for shareholders, which in turn produces better solutions for customers and overall lead to a much more engaged workforce.

That is the key term in all of this – ‘balanced’ – DEI hiring targets can’t just be a numbers game and tokenism. Setting yourself the challenge of hiring five more ‘diverse’ candidates this quarter isn’t the way to develop your teams and nurture talent. Especially if businesses want to fix their cloud skills shortage as well.

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Training talent

The sector can’t rely on traditional talent pools to fix either of these problems. Candidates who are in the jobs market and have extensive experience in the cloud are few and far between. Competition for those candidates is fiercer than ever and businesses are no longer able to win attractive candidates with substantial compensation packages alone.

To really close the diversity gap and the subsequent skills gap, businesses need to look away from their usual avenues of recruitment and invest in schemes internally that look beyond your typical tech backgrounds. These fast-track schemes and training programmes will be important to businesses looking to diversify their workforce as many female candidates and those from minority backgrounds don’t follow the traditional channels into tech.

Recruiting and training candidates through hiring initiatives which focus on a broader range of background can help solve skills shortfalls and improve DEI at the same time. These diverse candidates bring with them a wealth of transferable soft skills, which in many cases are harder to teach than technical skills. Developing programmes and schemes that are more open and inclusive removes the barriers that people from disadvantaged groups face, all while allowing you to nurture the next generation in cloud talent.

The talent crisis is not one that will disappear overnight. The lack of supply for cloud ready candidates is connected to the need for improved DEI. Balanced teams have been shown to perform better and in the long term the sector needs so much new talent that it cannot rely on traditional talent pools to solve the shortages.

Poonam FlammarionAbout the author

Poonam Flammarion is Head of Talent Academy at cloud consultancy firm Cloudreach. During her time in the role she has lead the charge in developing the organisations talent academy, a commitment to improving diversity within the tech sector.


women in tech, soft skills featured

How companies can help break down barriers for women in the industry

women in tech, soft skills

Article by Barbara Cooke, Global Head of Managed Services at Cloudreach

Despite ongoing initiatives to empower more women to enter the tech industry, it is still a male-dominated place and it can be hard for a woman to find her place in it.

I’ve been in my current tech role as Global Head of Managed Services at Cloudreach for nearly two years. I love it, but I have had to overcome many challenges, all of which have made me stronger and more confident than before.

Women seeking a career within the tech industry are faced with barriers such as pay and benefits inequality compared to male counterparts – both inside and outside the workplace. Women ultimately have to work harder in order to be noticed, and this needs to change.

When searching for a job, it’s important to find a company that pays attention to gender equality and diversity, to ensure that pay and benefits are the same for both women and men. As a woman, you also have to challenge yourself to break through the barriers. That includes being decisive, results-oriented and not intimidated. When you go outside of your comfort zone, by acting fast and making bold decisions, you break down those barriers and start earning respect. The challenges don’t necessarily need to be big, but incrementally they will bring significant change for women in tech.

Another important aspect for women looking to break into the industry is focusing on talents and skills to bring to the table. Technology skills and expertise can be learned, but achieving positive results and making a personal impact on a company is what sets star performers apart. Soft skills and competencies will help, but it’s hard to stay in the industry long-term and earn credibility if you don’t learn the hard skills, too.

Once you get your foot in the door, challenge yourself to learn as much as you can. Try different roles in your field as it's not always a linear progression. If you’re in operations, give marketing, project management or sales a chance. It gives you a broader, more well rounded outlook, and exposes you to different types of challenges and experiences that you are more able to draw upon in future.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve seen steps in the right direction to closing the gender gap within the tech industry, but there’s much work to do. True change will happen when organisations have more female leaders. Until that happens, we need to do all we can to ensure we’re on the right path to this destination.


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Belén Ripoli featured

Inspirational Woman: Belén Ripoll | Global Partnerships Business Manager, Cloudreach & Founder, Wagora.io.

Belén RipoliBelén Ripoll is Global Partnerships Business Manager at Cloudreach and founder of Wagora.io.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

I have been working at Cloudreach for nearly 4 years, and have held different roles. I currently work as Global Partnerships Business Manager, and prior to that I led our Talent Acquisition team.

Before moving into the tech industry around 6 years ago, I worked in the sports industry for about 10 years, both in Spain and the UK. I started working at the age of 16 as a tennis coach a few hours on the weekends, and a couple of years later, while at university, I started combining my studies with a full time job in the same company where I held different roles in 7 years.

After 7 years, I knew that in order to take my career to the next level I would need to be proficient in English. I decided to move to the UK not speaking English fluently at all, and consequently, I had to take a couple of steps back in my career to start off with. Scary times back then but it has now paid off!

In my spare time, I lead a community of women in tech called Wagora which I founded a few months ago. Wagora is a community dedicated to empower, connect and advance women and underrepresented genders working or aspiring to work in tech. Wagora was born from the back of some Tech Women meetup groups I had been organising for about 3 years. I had been wanting to do it for a few months but I barely had time - then the pandemic hit and there was no excuse (the only silver lining!)

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

If we talk about 3-5 years planning, not really. Even if I plan that far, I'm sure it'd divert somehow! However, I follow an 'agile career plan', where I set myself goals and areas of development for the year ahead and work towards them. Having a good mentor is key.

The technology industry often moves at a fast-pace, and new opportunities arise as your skills and knowledge evolve.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?

I have indeed faced some challenges. My biggest one was to move to the UK not speaking the language, or understanding pretty much anything. I knew I had to take a step back in my career because of that, and that was mentally challenging. It was not only challenging career wise, personally my first year in the UK was a difficult one, yet one of the best ones.

I'm an ambitious person and a bit impatient at times I have to say... Mentally, it was tough. I knew I could do much more but at the same time, I really couldn't - it was very frustrating but I'd do it all over again.

Being a young immigrant and trying to fit in when you can’t speak the language isn’t easy, and I'm very thankful to those who have helped me and supported me along the way.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Overcoming my biggest challenge has been my biggest achievement.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success? 

My hard-work, curiosity and resilience. You can always learn new skills and acquire new knowledge, but your attitude and effort will always set you apart. Attitude is a multiplier of your skills and knowledge.

What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology?

As I just mentioned, attitude is key. Be curious, work hard, be a team player. Help people around you without expecting anything in return - it’ll come back to you.

I also highly recommend to network and find a mentor. Don't be afraid to ask for help and guidance.

Do you believe there are still barriers to success for women working in tech? If so, how can these barriers be overcome?

Yes I do. Objectively, looking at the number of women in leadership positions, women entering the industry & women backed by VC companies, there has been no meaningful improvement in the last 10 years - numbers have remained the same.

There are still barriers for women to succeed in tech, and people will have different opinions on what these are. Amongst other things, we need more women in leadership positions and decision makers to change the status quo.

What do you think companies can do to support the progress of the careers of women working in technology?

Firstly, companies should put their money and effort where their mouth is. What is your company meaningfully doing to support and advance women? It is great to have D&I and employee resource groups, but action needs to follow. Work with the community and other organisations out there to really make an impact and drive change.

Secondly, companies need to make sure their environments, policies and processes are inclusive. Diversity and inclusion go hand in hand, and should your company not be inclusive, you're just doing a tokenism exercise.

There is currently only 17 percent of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

More women in leadership positions.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

You should check Wagora's website: wagora.io . We're always looking for volunteers and like-minded partners that want to drive change in advancing women in the tech industry!

3 book recommendations: Rebel Ideas: The Power of Diverse Thinking, Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men & The Chimp Paradox.


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