Tech talent charter virtual hackathon featured

Recommended Event: 12/10/21: Tech Talent Charter (TTC) October 2021 Hackathon

Tech Talent Charter hackathon

Sponsored by Signatories, Experis and Nominet, we will stage our next hackathon in October with three groups of inclusion and diversity subject matter experts building new employer products for our Open Playbook

Timing: running for just over 4 weeks, the hackathon will kick off on Tuesday 12th October at 10 am and conclude on Thursday 11th November 2021.

Participants* in each team will be experts in the I&D topic areas outlined below and will work in small, virtual teams of 5 or 6, led by a team leader to deliver a new employer product for the Open Playbook to be judged by an expert panel.

Who is this hackathon for?

This opportunity is for people who have strong inclusion and diversity (I&D) knowledge and experience of at least one of the following areas:

  • Reskilling your existing workforce into tech roles
  • Setting and embedding inclusion and diversity targets to drive accountability
  • Developing inclusive promotion processes using data

This opportunity is ideal for people with experience of working in an Inclusion and Diversity, Talent, Learning and Development, or senior HR business partner role. As spaces are limited, we request that participants please provide evidence of having the necessary expertise of one of the three subject areas.

What's in it for you?

  • We often ask hackathon participants to join future TTC panels to showcase the products they produce
  • Cross-company learning
  • Networking
  • Personal and company PR
  • Deepen your understanding of the topic area
  • An opportunity to ‘give back', supporting our not for profit organisation to develop new employer resources.

All participants and companies will be credited on social media channels (especially the winning team!) and all participants are invited to add their TTC hackathon expertise to their LinkedIn profile.

The mission

There will be 3 teams. Each team will create one employer product that is designed specifically for use within a startup and/or scale-up company and the focus for each team will be:

  1. Team 1: How to reskill your workforce into tech roles to drive greater diversity
  2. Team 2: How to set and embed inclusion and diversity targets
  3. Team 3: How to run inclusive promotion processes using data

The employer product should be a high-level menu of the most important actions organisations should consider with respect to the specific topic. The goal is to “join the dots”, i.e. to signpost great resources. What we don't ask for is an exhaustive list of all actions employers of tech could do. Examples of products from previous TTC hackathons can be found on the Hackathon page on the TTC website and all products live in our Open Playbook.

Time commitment

Based on our recent hackathons, we anticipate the amount of time it will take teams to co-create their product will be approximately 10-12 hours over a month (done flexibly).

*Important point! If this hackathon sounds like a good fit for your skills and experience, before submitting the hackathon registration form, we kindly request that you double-check that you will have the capacity to commit to participating for the duration of the hackathon period. We anticipate the amount of time it will take teams to co-create their product will be approximately 10-12 hours over a 4 week period (done flexibly).

What is the TTC Open Playbook?

Our Open Playbook has six themes all focussing on driving inclusion and diversity in tech. Within each theme, there are several recommendations and resources shared by organisations and subject matter experts. In each section, you'll find lots of strategies, articles, tools and reports about how to address specific challenges and increase inclusion and diversity in tech teams.

The expert judging panel will include:

  • Martin Ewings, Brand Leaders and Operations Director, Experis
  • Beverley Hamblet-Bowes, HR Director, Nominet
  • Edleen John, TTC Director and Director - International Relations, Corporate Affairs & Co-Partner for Equality, Diversity & Inclusion, The Football Association
  • Debbie Forster MBE, CEO, Tech Talent Charter

The Tech Talent Charter is a non-profit organisation leading a movement to address inequality in the UK tech sector and drive inclusion and diversity in a practical and uniquely measurable way. Our ultimate goal: that the UK tech sector becomes truly inclusive and a reflection of the society which it represents. We work at scale, addressing the tech ecosystem as a whole to drive change. We focus on the how, not just the why of inclusion.

There are over 680 Signatories of the Charter and each organisation has made a number of pledges in relation to inclusive recruitment and retention practices. Although it is very much an employer-led initiative, the TTC is supported by the UK Government's Digital Strategy. Membership is free.

The TTC focuses on practical action --events are not a sales pitch or a promotional piece. We also believe in sharing what works rather than treating it like a "trade secret". Our working events are a great opportunity to learn, share and plan for action.

REGISTER HERE


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Tech Talent Charter devise 2020 plan to make the tech industry more inclusive

Tech Talent CharterThe lack of diversity in the technology industry is an issue that many wish to tackle.

Unfortunately, women still hold less that 20 percent of technical roles in the UK and only 35 percent of STEM students in higher education are female.

In 2016, Debbie Forster noticed lots of companies were trying to improve diversity within their organisation, but were struggling to make any progress. As a consequence, in 2017, Forster founded the Tech Talent Charter (TTC). The TTC, which is voluntary and free to join, is a not-for-profit which aims to bring together organisations that have an interest in making the technology sector inclusive and diverse.

“All you’ve got to do is guarantee that you're doing something internally, that you're willing to collaborate, to share best practice, and to give me your data,” Forster explains.

This means that being part of the Tech Talent Charter is a privilege, and no matter how big and well-known your company is, you must adhere to the rules to ensure you remain part of the programme.

Forster explains "Both years that we had our report, I have cut members. If they don't give me data, they get removed. I removed 15 percent of my members this year and about 20 percent last year, because what we found is, when companies weren't sharing their data with us, it was because they didn't have the ingredients that they said they did. They didn’t get senior buy-in and they were really not comfortable in collaborating or sharing.”

Any company that is expelled from the programme can rejoin after a year, while knowing that Forster will be having some difficult discussions with them upon their return.

The TTC has recently release its diversity in tech benchmarking report which gives statistics from over 300 companies that are members of the organisation.

Although there isn't complete 50/50 gender parity, Forster is happy with the progress that the results show. Across TTC's signatories, women hold 24% of tech roles, compared to the current UK average of 16%.

One of the key parts of being involved in the Tech Talent Charter is adopting an inclusive recruitment process. This includes making sure job adverts are gender neutral and that all interview panels are gender diverse. This is in the hopes that, wherever possible, women are included within the whole interview process.

“What’s fantastic is to see that what we've been promoting is starting to bear fruit,” she says. “This is a great piece of incentive to bring back to people.

“It also shows that our companies are already indicating that they plan to develop a strategy. More [organisations] are planning to have those targets for shortlists, supporting returners and retraining people, which I think is going to be a game changer.”

Collaboration

In September 2019, the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport announced its third round of funding for the Tech Talent Charter, generously contributing more than £350,000 in support of the initiative.

For Forster, collaboration is at the heart of the charter. In 2016, she was frustrated that so many companies were trying to improve inclusion and diversity in the tech industry without even reaching out to others who were trying to do the same, to find out how they were going about it.

“We bring together employers, recruiters, consultants and people who are working with under-represented groups to help them collaborate," she explains. "We think most of the pieces of the puzzle are out there but it's about bringing them together.”

The Future

In January this year, TTC held their third annual event, where people from across the tech sector come together to find out what members and supports of the Charter had achieved in the past year. During the event, Forster also shared her vision for the future and what goals she hopes the Tech Talent Charter will achieve.

In regards to long term targets, Forster has spoken of one very specific goal she hopes the 2020 Tech Talent Charter will achieve. She wants to not only focus on the lack of gender diversity, but also take a closer look at how (un)successfully organisations are hiring ethnic minorities, LGBTQ+, disabled, neurodiverse and socially diverse employees. Forster has also noted that, when it comes to gender, she wants signatories to look beyond binary definitions. As Forster noted at the event, if we only bring in more white, middle class women, that’s not diversity.

She said at the January event: “I want our members to know they can find the tools, the information, the strategies, the organisations, in order to genuinely move the dial on all aspects of inclusion and diversity. I want our members to be able to find posts in our open playbook and our mapping. I want to see those ingredients inspire more returning and retraining programmes, more targeting in terms of diverse shortlists and then really continuing to pull ahead of the pack when it comes to tech.”

The Tech Talent Charter has an exciting year ahead. For its signatories, the next 12 months are about continuing to build an inclusive working environment for diverse employees, as well as helping TTC to welcome in more organisations with the same vested interest.

“The time to act on it, to focus on the practical and move the dial is now,” as Forster concluded.


Debbie Forster featured

Inspirational Woman: Debbie Forster MBE | CEO, Tech Talent Charter

 

Debbie Forster is a recognised figure in the areas of diversity, tech, innovation and education, first as the UK CEO of Apps for Good and now as CEO for the Tech Talent Charter, an industry collective which aims to deliver greater gender diversity in the UK tech workforce.

Signatories of the charter make several pledges in relation to their approach to recruitment and retention. Debbie was awarded an MBE in January 2017 for “Services to Digital Technology and Tech Development” and Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) named her Woman of the Year for 2016, describing her as “an exceptional and inspirational woman... an extraordinary role model.” She has also been named on Computer Weekly’s list of “25 Most Inspirational Women in UK IT” in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017.

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

I am originally from the US, but have lived in the UK since 1989 and have dual nationality—the UK is definitely home for me. Like many women, I “fell into tech”, but quite gradually; it had happened before I realised it. I began as an English teacher of all things, but in the 90’s if you used a computer in schools, you rapidly became an “expert” and I found myself involved more and more in technology. I was not a “natural “ techie; I didn’t love the tech per se, but I loved what it could do, the creativity it unlocked.

When I was a headteacher, I was one of the first to adopt a scheme called Computer Club for Girls. As a result of this, I was becoming more and more involved in working with business people and government around tech in education. I eventually left the school and worked for 2 years as Head of Education for e-skills UK (now Tech Partnership). While working there, I came across the founder of Apps for Good, fell in love with the idea and joined just as we began reaching out to schools. I became the Co CEO there and we grew from 40 students in 2 centres to reaching over 75,000 young people in 5 years, 50% of whom were girls.

Then last year I decided it was time to start a new chapter. I left Apps for Good as CEO (though I’m still on the Advisory Group) and soon became CEO of the Tech Talent Charter (TTC). The TTC is a not-for-profit organisation which brings together companies from across industry to move the dial on diversity in tech.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Good heavens no, not in any long-term way. At the start of my career, I just took whatever seemed the next step whenever the opportunity arose, working my way up the ladder. Then after being a head for 6 years (and therefore at the top of that ladder), I realised I didn’t want to just keep doing that role again and again.

To some people, my choices were crazy—leaving a set career path and a steady job made no sense. But I loved learning new skills, connecting with industry and policy makers. Then after 2 years I left that to join a start-up charity, some thought I was mad. But the great thing with age is learning what makes you tick, what makes sense to you. Each jump was scary but I loved it. I know now that at 3 years, I get an “itch” in a job, and if there isn’t a significant new challenge, by 5 years, it becomes a rash! I like doing things I am passionate about, taking on new challenges and I’m happiest in “start-up mode”, taking a great idea or concept and just making it work. So now that is how I “plan” my career—I understand what I need, what I’m best at and try to never be afraid to take that chance or make that leap when opportunities present themselves.

Have you faced any challenges along the way and if so, how did you deal with them?

Absolutely, every step of the way! And like many women, I suffer dreadfully from imposter syndrome. But now I recognise that I actually thrive when facing a challenge and am at my best when I am a wee bit terrified! And one of my mantras is, “Hope for the best, plan for the worst, and always have 2 back up plans.”

On a typical workday, how does you start your day and how does it end?

My day generally starts early but slowly, and with lots of caffeine—I am a night person trapped in a morning person’s world! I usually get up, put the kettle on for a ridiculously large cup of tea and hit my emails. Then by the time my other half is up about a half hour later, I’m ready for some civilised conversation and then off for meetings or on my laptop to tackle the day’s work.

It typically ends with a long hot bath and if I’m being virtuous (and decadent) reading before bed. Though I have to admit I am terrible at going through my inbox before I turn the light off. It’s an awful habit and I’m trying (with mixed success) to break myself of it this year.

How would you encourage more women and girls into a career in STEM?

At the moment, that is actually part of my job! The reason I’m at the Tech Talent Charter is that it is such a huge problem now that no one person, company or initiative can solve it in isolation, it is going to take joined-up work. There is some great work out there at all parts of the broken pipeline, from inspiring young girls in school, to changing how we recruit, to offering more re-training routes, etc. But to date, they’ve not been joined up and there has been too much overlap and replication. Our mantra is that we are determined not to re-invent the wheel but to connect the dots. And we are making progress--more companies are joining every day, more initiatives working and collaborating with us (including We are the City). There is a huge amount to do, but I genuinely believe together we can make a difference in the UK

Why is it important for companies to join the Tech Talent Charter?

Because no one company can solve this themselves and even if you come up with a great strategy, it is like buying a great new fishing rod but still fishing in the same leaky barrel as everyone else. The TTC members are committed to sharing ideas, trying new things and working together. And we have the full range of companies, not just tech but broadcasting, transport, food and leisure, not for profits; we have start-ups, SMEs and big multinationals. So it is the place to be if you want to learn, collaborate and share, not just with your type of company but across sectors and sizes.

It is also a great way to show publicly that your company is committed to doing things differently, to take action rather than just talking about it.

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you ever had a mentor or do you mentor anyone?

Mentoring is fantastic, I’ve had great mentors and mentees. For women in particular, having someone to share and learn from, to offer perspective, encouragement and challenge is invaluable. And I love mentoring, because you always up learning more about yourself as well as others.

If you could change one thing for women in the workplace, what would it be?

Greater flexible working for all, not just women, for it to be the norm. I think flexible working is a great way to have not just a more diverse workforce but a healthier, more rounded one. I think this is equally important for men, because while it is often seen as a weakness for women, it can be seen as career suicide for men in some companies. In my experience, I’ve got so much more from my teams when we’ve offered flexi working. It isn’t easy, but it can be transformational.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

Tough question! I should probably say my MBE, but it isn’t. On one level it would probably be my fearless 20 year old daughter, but I can’t really take credit for that. I’d like to say my greatest achievement hasn’t happened yet. There is much I am proud of, but I’m far from finished!

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

Getting TTC really growing and sustainable and showing genuine impact. There is so much to do, but I’m seeing more and more amazing people and companies getting involved so I am incredibly optimistic about it. I want to be able to look back on this in 2 years and really be able to see and to say this year was the year we genuinely started moving the dial on diversity in tech.

Oh, and work-life balance. I’m utterly rubbish at that. But this year, I really want to make a breakthrough on this.