London Tech Week

Recommended Event: 13/06/22-17/06/22: London Tech Week

London Tech Week

London Tech Week is a global connection of tech uniting the most innovative thinkers and talent of tomorrow.

Showcasing how tech is transforming both business and society, London Tech Week drives the conversations around transformation, diversity and innovation and gives the tech eco-system a platform to come together with decision makers, industry leaders, striving entrepreneurs and influencers to drive change. This year, the festival will feature six content streams, including:

Leaders & Innovation

Bringing together global leaders and innovators to challenge, create and champion the resilience and brilliance of the Tech Sector revolutions. From R&D and policy to Big Tech and industry.

Global Impact

The Global Impact Stream is a portfolio of events including Founders Forum HealthTech Summit and Founders Forum Climate Summit, not only tackling era defining questions but also highlighting and accelerating the positive impact technology can have on the global ecosystem.

Digital Enterprise

Highlights how traditional business practice is being put to the test through the adoption of digital strategies to help organisations meet the ever-changing demands of the consumer. From retail, marketing, financial services, transport and more, events in this stream will delve into how industries are transforming in the face of innovation and disruption

Knowledge & Skills

Creating a digital nation of significance through upskilling opportunities and exploring the Future of Work to the Future of Education.

Investment

Exploring the entire ecosystem of Funding & Investment in Technology from under 30 Founders of the Future through to Elevating Founders the flagship startup programme to the world’s biggest Tech Festivals. Matching the region’s top business ready startups with investors, vendors and customers to supercharge growth and discover the next Tech unicorn.

Diversity & Inclusion

Addressing underrepresentation in the technology industry and creating positive movements to change, through gender, BAME, social mobility and assistive tech. Ensuring the UK Tech Sector has equity, the fair treatment, access, opportunity, and advancement for all people, whilst striving to identify and eliminate barriers that have prevented full participation to date.

#LTW @LDNTechWeek


The Manchester Tech Festival’s role in forging digital inclusion

three people working on laptops smiling, digital skills

By Naomi Timperley, Head of Growth and Innovation, Manchester Tech Festival

The prospect of improved digital inclusion is something that drives me to get out of bed in the morning.

With our lives becoming increasingly ruled by devices that are connected to the web, access to these devices and the network that connects them is fast becoming as necessary a part of life as food, water and shelter.

Despite the UK’s tech ecosystem now being the third-largest in the world behind the US and China, a digital divide is still very firmly in place in some parts of the country. In October 2022, the first ever Manchester Tech Festival will be taking place in the city that’s well-known as a vibrant hub for startups and scaleups of all shapes and sizes. I’m proud to be part of the team delivering the festival.

But the city still suffers from socioeconomic gaps which mean that opportunities to work and thrive in digital aren’t open to everyone. And if we don’t have diverse teams, that won’t just affect the bottom line; It will also affect the hardware and software that we’re developing.

I recently attended the Tech London Advocates Tech for D&Iversity 22 event. While the various talks addressed the startling lack of women and different ethnicities in senior positions in London tech firms, as co-founder of Tech North Advocates I spoke about the difference in socioeconomic divide in the tech sector as Greater Manchester and the North has some of the most deprived areas in the country.

The UK is undeniably a diverse country and the event’s report looked at whether the sector had followed this trend for diversity and inclusion or not over the last five years. It concluded that with the pandemic and the process of Britain leaving the European Union, diversity and inclusion had slipped down the list of businesses’ priorities.

Yet the perception of diversity and inclusion remained. When asked if they thought UK tech had become more inclusive and diverse in the last half-decade, almost 60% of the respondents said they thought it had.

Inclusion in tech covers many different aspects and groups of stakeholders. As well as the socioeconomic gap that we want to bridge, consider the inclusion of groups like the neurodiverse; an Office of National Statistics (ONS) survey last year showed that only 22% of autistic adults were employed.

With our focus on socioeconomic factors, one of our festival’s missions is to support and help close Manchester’s digital divide caused by deprivation in parts of the city and encourage other cities and hubs to do the same.

It’s my belief that barriers to entry into the world of tech come right from school. In 2019/20, I worked on a project hosted by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) with Digital Advantage called GoDigital.

As part of the Greater Manchester Digital Blueprint, the GMCA set out their vision to develop a future talent pipeline in Greater Manchester. The GoDigital programme was set up to help deliver this ambition, by giving 11-to-13-year-olds the chance to create digital products, experience the buzz of working in the digital sector and try their hand at a digital job.

To create GoDigital, three Greater Manchester digital skills organisations came together: HiveDigital Advantage and InnovateHer.

All three organisations are working towards the same goal of demystifying the digital and technology industry for young people, helping them develop the skills and confidence to pursue a career in the industry.

The 50 schools selected to participate in GoDigital were chosen because their students had not previously had the opportunity to take part in an activity like this before. More than 90% of them were in areas where there is not currently significant employment in digital.

The lack of such knowledge and the digital divide across the wider reach of Greater Manchester is preventing the area’s children from pursuing employment in the tech sector. With the festival, we want to reach across this divide and make a career in the field available to everyone.

The founder of the festival, Amy Newton, runs a diversity and inclusion consultancy called Inclusively Tech and offers workshops and courses to companies of all sizes, focusing on how to get the most out of the area’s tech community while reaching out and engaging with under-represented tech talent in the right way.

Working together, our festival will unite thousands of tech delegates, from software engineers, start-ups and scale-ups, investors, product owners, practitioners and more, to help people and organisations learn, create, thrive, and involve to ultimately shape Greater Manchester’s tech scene.


Manchester Tech Festival event imageManchester Tech Festival event image

Manchester Tech Festival is a week long festival in October 2022 which will highlight the diverse talent, showcase the innovative businesses and bring together the eco system and the community.



DWP Digital - Birmingham Hub 400x300

DWP Digital unveils new Birmingham hub creating 130 jobs

Birmingham Hub - DWP Digital

DWP Digital has announced it will be expanding its operation into Birmingham and creating 130 jobs with the launch of its newest digital hub.

The opening of the new office space will allow the department to leverage the digital talent of the West Midlands and build flexible, multi-disciplinary squads to support areas including Health Transformation and Universal Credit.

During this first phase of recruitment DWP Digital will be hiring delivery managers, product managers, technical leads, business analysts, user researchers, interaction designers, content designers, developers, DevOps engineers, service designers, QA testers and performance analysts.

The digital hub is located at the new Arena Central development, which is just a short walk from the heart of Birmingham New Street Station. The space has been designed with collaboration in mind, boasting a modern look and feel with a combination of desks, breakout areas and meeting facilities.

Speaking about the announcement, Mohammed Din, deputy director at DWP Digital, said, “When it was announced the Department for Work and Pensions was going to expand its hub network, we were excited to see which locations would be selected.”

“While it was a difficult choice to pick one it was felt that Birmingham, with its central location and surrounding area, was an ideal place to attract the digital professionals required to join us and help us to deliver our goals.”

“We are looking for highly flexible professionals who are looking for their next career move to continue the government digital agenda and make a sustainable contribution to delivering digital services to those who most need it in our society.”

Alongside its great public transport links, Arena Central boasts easy access to Birmingham’s city centre and excellent amenities. This location will also give new recruits the opportunity to enjoy the flexibility of hybrid working and squad or team collaboration.

The launch of the new space means Birmingham is the seventh DWP Digital hub location in the country, joining Blackpool, Leeds, London, Manchester, Newcastle, and Sheffield.

Anyone interested in digital careers with the Department for Work and Pensions can visit www.careers.dwp.gov.uk to see the latest job vacancies.

DWP Digital

One Tech World Virtual Conference 2022

01 APRIL 2022

Join DWP Digital at our One Tech World conference and discover what it’s like to work for them, career opportunities, and a chance to network with them.

FIND OUT MORE

Rising Stars Banner 2022 (800 x 600 px)

Nominations are now open for WeAreTheCity’s 2022 Rising Star Awards

Rising Stars Banner Nominations Open Banner

WeAreTechWomen are delighted to announce that nominations for WeAreTheCity’s 2022 Top 100 Rising Star Awards are now open!

CAST YOUR NOMINATION

Now in its eighth year, the Rising Star Awards are the first to focus on the UK’s female talent pipeline below management level. Our strategic goal, set in 2015, aims to showcase 1,000 outstanding women by 2025. By highlighting the accolades of these women, WeAreTheCity are not only promoting the amazing female talent that exists across the UK, but actively encouraging organisations and business leaders to invest in and recognise these women as leaders of tomorrow and individual contributors to their respective industries.

These awards will recognise and celebrate a further 100 female individual contributors from over 20 different industries that represent the leaders and role models of tomorrow. These winners will join our award’s alumni of 750 previous winners, across the UK and India.

We are now once again inviting you to nominate an amazing woman, champion, man or company. The nominations process for all categories, our Rising Star Champions, Global Award for Achievement, Company of the Year and Men for Gender Balance Awards are now open via the Rising Stars website.

For details of the criteria to enter the awards, visit here.

The process

Nominations are now open via the Rising Stars’ website and will close after a eight week period on 08 March.

A shortlist of ten women from each industry category and ten from the Champion, Global Award for Achievement and Men for Gender Balance categories, alongside three shortlisted companies for the Company of the Year award, will be chosen by an esteemed panel of judges. Once the shortlist is announced, we will also open the public votes of support, which enables individuals to show their support for a specific shortlisted individual.

All winners will be announced in May 2022 and will be invited to celebrate at a prestigious award’s ceremony on 14 July 2022.

Rising Stars Banner 2022(1)

Alongside our Rising Star categories, we are also calling for nominations for Champions, Men for Gender Balance, a Company of the Year, and Global Award for Achievement.

Our Champion award recognises the achievements of five senior individuals, male or female, who are actively supporting the female pipeline outside of their day job. Nominations for this award are individuals who have demonstrated their commitment to gender, eg HeForShe supporters, Network Leaders, Directors, MD’s or C-Suite individuals who are championing women either inside or outside their organisations.

Our Men for Gender Balance award recognises the achievements of five senior men who are championing women and gender balance either inside or outside their organisation. Nominees must be at least Director level (or equivalent) or above, must demonstrate that they have actively supported the female pipeline either through their current work role or external activities and must be working in the UK.

The Company of the Year award recognises the achievements of a company who can clearly demonstrate that they are actively supporting its female talent pipeline through their initiatives, training, development programmes and internal employee relations and diversity network groups.

The Global Award for Achievement category expands our search for global talent. This category is a female individual who works within any industry, outside of the UK, whose current position is below director level.

FIND OUT MORE

Who should nominate?

  • Self-nominations are encouraged
  • Organisations looking to recognise their emerging talent pool
  • Organisation wishing to obtain recognition for their initiatives
  • Individuals who would like to recognise their efforts of their champions/role models
  • Individuals/colleagues/friends/clients/mentors/sponsors of the nominee

NOMINATE NOW

Awards Nominations Tips and Tricks with Vanessa Valley OBE

Have you ever looked at WeAreTheCity’s Rising Star awards and thought about entering? Have you ever seen the winners announced and thought, next year I am going to enter those awards!

Well before you pen your nomination, you might want to join us behind the scenes for this awards nomination tips and tricks, session with founder and serial awards judge, Vanessa Vallely OBE.

During this session Vanessa will explain:

  • Why awards can help raise your profile and give you a platform to do more
  • Why Rising Stars are different to other awards
  • Top tips for constructing a powerful, concise and impactful nomination
  • Insights in to what a judge looks for when they are reading awards nominations
  • Why you should pay it forward and nominate others
  • The beauty of self-nominations

Award’s timeline

Nominations open
10 January 2022

Nominations close
08 March 2022

Shortlist announced
26 April 2022

Public vote opens
27 April 2022

Voting closes
10 May 2022

Shortlist celebration
19 May 2022

Winners announced
24 May 2022

Winner’s celebration event
14 July 2022

POWERED BY

Royal Bank of Canada

SPONSORED BY

Rising Stars Sponsors 2022

One week until nominations open – who will you nominate? | WeAreTheCity’s 2022 Rising Star Awards

Rising Stars Banner 2022

Just one week to go until nominations open for the 2022 Rising Star Awards!

Now in its eighth year, the Rising Star Awards are the first to focus on the UK’s female talent pipeline below management level. Our strategic goal, set in 2015, aims to showcase 1,000 outstanding women by 2025. By highlighting the accolades of these women, WeAreTheCity are not only promoting the amazing female talent that exists across the UK, but actively encouraging organisations and business leaders to invest in and recognise these women as leaders of tomorrow and individual contributors to their respective industries.

These awards will recognise and celebrate a further 100 female individual contributors from over 20 different industries that represent the leaders and role models of tomorrow. These winners will join our award’s alumni of 750 previous winners, across the UK and India.

We are now once again inviting you to nominate an amazing woman, champion, man or company. The nominations process for all categories, our Rising Star Champions, Global Award for Achievement, Company of the Year and Men for Gender Balance Awards open on 10 January 2022. Nominations will take place online via the Rising Stars website.

For details of the criteria to enter the awards, visit here.

The process

Nominations will open online on 10 January via the Rising Stars’ website. Nominations will close after a eight week period on 08 March.

A shortlist of ten women from each industry category and ten from the Champion, Global Award for Achievement and Men for Gender Balance categories, alongside three shortlisted companies for the Company of the Year award, will be chosen by an esteemed panel of judges. Once the shortlist is announced, we will also open the public votes of support, which enables individuals to show their support for a specific shortlisted individual.

All winners will be announced in May 2022 and will be invited to celebrate at a prestigious award’s ceremony on 13 July 2022.

Rising Stars Banner 2022-1

Alongside our Rising Star categories, we are also calling for nominations for Champions, Men for Gender Balance, a Company of the Year, and Global Award for Achievement.

Our Champion award recognises the achievements of five senior individuals, male or female, who are actively supporting the female pipeline outside of their day job. Nominations for this award are individuals who have demonstrated their commitment to gender, eg HeForShe supporters, Network Leaders, Directors, MD’s or C-Suite individuals who are championing women either inside or outside their organisations.

Our Men for Gender Balance award recognises the achievements of five senior men who are championing women and gender balance either inside or outside their organisation. Nominees must be at least Director level (or equivalent) or above, must demonstrate that they have actively supported the female pipeline either through their current work role or external activities and must be working in the UK.

The Company of the Year award recognises the achievements of a company who can clearly demonstrate that they are actively supporting its female talent pipeline through their initiatives, training, development programmes and internal employee relations and diversity network groups.

The Global Award for Achievement category expands our search for global talent. This category is a female individual who works within any industry, outside of the UK, whose current position is below director level.

Who should nominate?

  • Self-nominations are encouraged
  • Organisations looking to recognise their emerging talent pool
  • Organisation wishing to obtain recognition for their initiatives
  • Individuals who would like to recognise their efforts of their champions/role models
  • Individuals/colleagues/friends/clients/mentors/sponsors of the nominee

Start preparing your nomination now! Download our nomination forms below:

DOWNLOAD OUR NOMINATION FORMS

Awards Nominations Tips and Tricks with Vanessa Valley OBE

Have you ever looked at WeAreTheCity’s Rising Star awards and thought about entering? Have you ever seen the winners announced and thought, next year I am going to enter those awards!

Well before you pen your nomination, you might want to join us behind the scenes for this awards nomination tips and tricks, session with founder and serial awards judge, Vanessa Vallely OBE.

During this session Vanessa will explain:

  • Why awards can help raise your profile and give you a platform to do more
  • Why Rising Stars are different to other awards
  • Top tips for constructing a powerful, concise and impactful nomination
  • Insights in to what a judge looks for when they are reading awards nominations
  • Why you should pay it forward and nominate others
  • The beauty of self-nominations

Award’s timeline

Nominations open
10 January 2022

Nominations close
08 March 2022

Shortlist announced & public vote opens
26 April 2022

Voting closes
10 May 2022

Shortlist celebration
19 May 2022

Winners announced
24 May 2022

Winner’s celebration event
13 July 2022

POWERED BY

Royal Bank of Canada

SPONSORED BY

Rising Stars Sponsors 2022-1

Every click matters: the importance of our digital life-brand

Team of young coworkers working together at night office.Young woman using mobile laptop at the table.Horizontal.Blurred background

By Irina Soriano, VP and Head of Enablement at Seismic

When you were younger and beginning to build your online presence, did you ever ask yourself how your digital fingerprint might impact your future?

In years gone by, we’ve become much more aware of how our online activity can affect our personal and professional lives. Virtually everyone is now digitally active with smartphone usage increasing, putting our digital futures easily at our fingertips. Social media has also allowed us to create our own personal digital content libraries. Every photo, video, audio recording, and even those old film pictures from 20 or 30 years ago, can still see the light of day.

But can you remember every single piece of content that is potentially tied back to you? Even just from a simple ‘like’?

While we might not be able to recall every action or piece of content we’ve posted or interacted with online, it can all have a major impact on the current and future state of our lives. The views and beliefs that we share online can unintentionally bring damaging repercussions, even with our so-called “private” accounts. That’s why, without being too drastic, we need to control our digital content library – or life-brand – so it can help us establish, drive and be successful in the professional corridor of our lives.

Understanding your life-brand

Adults in the UK spend around three and a half hours online every day on average. Therefore, there’s plenty of opportunity for us to make an error in judgement that may cost our reputation later in life.

The truth is that social media isn’t as private as we would like to believe. Our actions might be stored in the cloud or screenshotted on someone’s phone to be unearthed another day. Every piece of content we share digitally becomes a part of who we are and what we are known for – this is our one and only life-brand.

Your life-brand must not be confused for ‘personal branding’. A personal brand is cultivated through an intentional effort to form our public perception, whereas your life-brand expands this concept to also consider any public display of our (un)intentional language and behaviour. Ultimately, your life-brand will continue to develop whether you want it to or not. It can take control of itself if you are not aware of it, and it can gain power and strength over the course of our lifetime.

A life-brand consists of two major components: your identity and your chosen life purpose. Your identity is defined by how you behave and the language you use on social media or in a public setting, while your purpose is created by your passion, ideas and expertise in a certain field. Closely managing the combination of and connection between the two is essential to controlling your life-brand so it doesn’t open the floodgates and tarnish your education and career. This ensures that the life-brand doesn’t control you but rather, you control it.

To promote your life-brand’s integrity, these two components need to shine through into other areas of your life. Sharing your purpose with the world through social media channels is an intentional act, a controlled effort you undertake. But thanks to the wide reach of social media, it can have a genuine and positive impact on your life and others, going beyond the online realm.

Taking control of your digital life

The next generation will have a much tougher task in controlling their life-brand, which will have likely started from a very early age. To safeguard against potential social media mishaps in the future, the first critical step is simply to acknowledge the existence of our own individual life-brand so it can be managed effectively. The sooner we reach such awareness, the greater chance we have in carrying out the appropriate action to control our life-brand before it’s too late.

When we’re in control, proactively building integrity in our identity and purpose helps to establish our own unique life-brand voice and, in turn, advance our professional lives. But it’s also important to remember that the voice of our life-brand can directly influence and inspire other people and entire communities to make a positive impact on society as a whole. By maintaining integrity and sincerity when communicating your purpose online, your life-brand can encourage others to also do great things both online and offline that improve the world.

In summary, your life-brand thrives when you’re in control of your chosen purpose and public perception. In doing so, it becomes a powerful vehicle in impacting, reaching and influencing others.

Understanding the concept of a life-brand and the ability to control and nurture integrity between your purpose and identity will allow you to establish a life-brand that is not only unique, but a life-brand that makes its mark on wider society in a positive way. The earlier this is determined, the greater the possibilities to actively control it and lead by example.

About the author

Irina is a TEDx speaker and the author of Generation Brand, a modern playbook for cultivating our life-brand. She currently serves as Vice President at Seismic, the leading sales enablement and marketing orchestration company.

She has held senior positions across EMEA, Asia-Pacific, and the US. This experience has exposed her to working with and mentoring an extremely diverse group of men and women across multiple industries in different parts of the world. Irina has built a strong life-brand around her passion for making a significant contribution to closing the gender gap by enabling the next generation of girls and young women to drive a cultural paradigm shift toward gender equality in business and beyond.


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Using digital to help young peoples' mental health

By Eleanor Bradley, MD, Registry Solutions & Public Benefit, Nominet

The NHS has labelled the issue of addressing mental health among young people as ‘in crisis’, as the support available fails to keep pace with the alarming increase in demand for it.

According to the Nuffield Trust, the number of 4-24 year olds reporting a longstanding mental health issue has increased six fold in the last 20 years.

What else has changed in the last 20 years? In less than a lifetime, digital devices and the internet have infiltrated every corner of our lives. Young people today are growing up in a digital world; their lives have been changed by it, for better or worse.

While some have tried to combine these two facts as cause and effect – and there is some evidence of internet addiction and its harmful consequences – what is more productive is to accept that technology can’t be removed from our lives but can be used as a solution rather than merely a (potential) problem. After all, tech is neither good nor bad – we must use it as the great enabler it can be.

Digital is the medium by which most young people conduct their lives, and is an ideal way to integrate additional support with existing offline support as 99% of 12-25 year olds are spending more than an hour a day on their smartphones and online. They are familiar with digital tools and know their way around them, plus some of the characteristics of the online world – anonymity and privacy – make it easier to talk about sensitive, potentially embarrassing subjects like their own mental health.

It is well accepted that the NHS has limited resources and is struggling to meet the needs of the young when it comes to mental health. It is a space charities can step into, using digital to refine their offering and better reach the young people they seek to help. Of course, this presents various challenges that must be overcome, not least having the right expertise to create digital solutions and having the money behind them to support this work.

Digital mental health services can also serve the NHS by allowing tools to be created at scale that are easily accessible and get support to those in need quicker than the average waiting time for care. It can also create opportunities for self-care and integrated care, creating complementary packages that combine appointments with a practitioner with a digital service that provides reassurance in moments of isolation or vulnerability.

At Nominet, we get excited about finding opportunities for which technology can be harnessed for good – it’s something that guides our public benefit work and helps us meet our target of impacting the lives of one million young people a year. We have recently entered a partnership with the Samaritans, helping to create the technology tools that will ensure they can connect with people online – notably the many young people who indicated the internet as a place they would most like initial support.

This topic – the symbiosis between mental health, young people and digital services – is a topic we have delved into more deeply as we seek to identify the areas of potential, the need, but also the associated challenges. To that end, we have commissioned a new report, Charities, Young People and Digital Mental Health Services, through which we have started to identify some areas in which charities, who naturally try to fill gaps left by the NHS, could further refine their work in order to access young people and support young people in a way that will be even more effective.

The findings have been interesting and insightful in how we can refine the existing processes of care for young people. For example, our report found an interest in creating a mental health passport for young people to improve the continuity of the care they receive, and a need for better signposting so that young people know where to find the support they want. We also need to ensure that services are offered at scale, which again is the ideal challenge for digital to meet – a multitude of apps can be created and accessed far and wide. We also recognise that charities face challenges such as funding and a lack of technical expertise, but solutions can be found with the proper understanding of what resources can help and where. For example, the Samaritans needed digital tools but needed funding, support and technical expertise to create them, so Nominet was able to help fill that gap.

It is not enough to simply wring our hands at the worrying rise in mental health issues among young people. We must understand the challenges and identify opportunities to overcome them, using technology to support them in the best way we can. Let’s meet an age-old problem with new tools and technologies to finally start to turn the dial.

Eleanor Bradley mid 1About the author

Eleanor Bradley is MD of Registry Services & Public Benefit at Nominet, the technology company known for running the .UK internet infrastructure. Eleanor has over 20 years’ experience in the internet industry and in her current role leads the teams responsible for commercial activity related to Nominet’s registry business as well as the company’s public benefit initiatives.


Future of Work - Digital

Recommended Event: 05/10/2021: The Future of Work: Digital | FT Live

The Future of Work - Digital - FT Live

Achieving more productive, efficient and meaningful interactions through innovative workplace technologies

The evolution of working practices hinges on the availability and adoption of new technologies. As a result of the pandemic, many organisations have fast-tracked their plans, adapting quickly to implement new technologies that can ensure effective communication and collaboration in a crisis.

But as the ‘new normal’ becomes ‘normal’, digital strategy needs to be iterated to keep up with the fast pace of technological change. The need for new investment and innovation must be balanced with equally pressing financial concerns, all the while maintaining business continuity through the uncertainty. Technology leaders, and their teams, will continue to be instrumental in reshaping the new world of work.

Key themes include:

  • Omnichannel Workplace – What does the next generation ‘Omnichannel workplace’ look like?
  • Privacy and Security – Addressing the associated privacy and security concerns of increasingly dispersed workforces.
  • Virtual Reality – How is VR being applied in the workplace to create more personalised and meaningful interactions?

WeAreTechWomen are delighted to confirm we have 20 per cent discount to attend. To claim your discount, register below using the discount code WATCVIP.

BOOK YOUR TICKET

woman and man looking at a computer screen with coding, carving a career in tech, digital exclusion

Upskilling communities to eliminate digital exclusion

woman and man looking at a computer screen with coding, carving a career in tech, digital exclusion

Digital exclusion remains a growing issue all around the world and the pandemic has brought the problem into even sharper focus.

The past year has demonstrated how a lack of digital skills or connectivity can create an additional layer of social exclusion and exacerbate social and economic problems for communities.

Last month, local councils in the UK announced a collaboration to build a stronger data picture of digital exclusion in their areas, as part of the CCIN Policy Lab Understanding the Digital Divide project. But it’s not just the responsibility of the public sector to address the issue of digital exclusion.

Technology companies have a large role to play in helping to upskill communities and equip them with the ability to be successful in their digital lives. This will also be crucial for addressing the widening STEM skills gap, which is affecting society and industry more broadly. According to a new report from the Institute of Engineering and Technology, 93% of engineering firms do not have the right skills to meet 2050 climate targets.

Here, WeAreTechWomen speak to Sarah Atkinson, director, corporate social responsibility at global software company, Micro Focus, on the role of technology companies in helping to upskill communities and eliminate digital exclusion.

Can you provide us with a brief overview of your career and how you got into running CSR programmes?

I’m a former news journalist, with over 20 years of experience with organisations such as Cisco, BEA and most recently, ten years as Vice President, Communications & Social Responsibility at CA Technologies. Purpose has always been important to me and around 2008, I felt that I wanted to make more of a difference, not just in terms of the workplace but more broadly regarding inclusion at all levels.

I took on my first non-exec role at techUK (a member organisation representing the IT industry in government on topics ranging from economic policy to skills and diversity). Here, I worked closely with the government on various digital skills and I&D initiatives, such as Gender Pay Gap reporting, Returners Programs. I was a founding supporter of the WISE Campaign’s People Like Me Digital, which aims to influence 200,000 11-15-year-old girls to consider a career in STEM. I also had an amazing opportunity to collaborate with Girlguiding to help incorporate STEM subjects into their badges and attended Camp CEO as a role model for Girl Guides.

I joined Micro Focus in 2019 to establish and lead their CSR program globally. Today, I am also a board director at the Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), Chair of the Nominations & Governance Committee and a member of its Skills, Education & Employment Advisory Panel as well as the LEP’s I&D Champion. I am also a long-standing member of techUK’s Skills & Diversity Council and a trustee at Berkshire Youth, a social enterprise that works to support, empower and inspire young people.

Why is addressing the problem of digital exclusion so important?

Today every business is a digital business. As more and more services move online as digital transformation becomes more pervasive, it is important that nobody is left behind. Industry must continue to play a key role in helping to address this issue, as digital exclusion can also widen inequalities on many levels, including health, social and economic mobility. It spans all aspects of society – whether it’s a school child not being about to submit homework or take part in online lessons. Or those in the community not having the right skills to access important government services, or missing out on competitive energy tariffs. It can impact in many ways.

How has the last year exacerbated the issue of digital exclusion?

Overnight our lives went digital – schooling, socialising, shopping , staying in touch with each other and working from home (where possible) meant that those who did not have access whether broadband, devices or the skills were marginalised even further. We also changed our approach as we quickly transitioned from delivering in person workshops at schools to virtual workshops, where employees were able to connect with hundreds of students in the classroom virtually.

What is the role of technology companies in helping upskill communities and eliminating digital exclusion?

Tech firms can and do play a major role in helping, on many levels.  The Micro Focus INSPIRE program is focused on helping equip communities with the right skills to be successful in their digital lives.  Every employee has four days a year to volunteer and through a number of our non-profit/charity partnerships we have been able to help multiple communities around the world. For example, at the beginning of the pandemic, volunteers in Bulgaria and Italy used their volunteering days to help upskills teachers to get online to deliver lessons.

What are the specific steps technology companies can take to address this issue?

Engaging your employees is a great first step. Tapping into the talent and passion you have in your organisation can provide you with an army of volunteers and role models – whatever the size of your business. Secondly, empowering and enable employees to take time in work hours to volunteer. And thirdly, supporting educational organisations/non-profits/charities who are working in this space.

What skills do we need to equip people with to help them be more successful in their digital futures? How does this relate to closing the widening STEM skills gap?

Today every job requires some level of digital skills. Therefore, it’s important to help young people understand that whatever career choices they make, digital skills will be required along the way. In terms of the skills gap, yes there remains a chronic STEM skills shortage in the UK. While improvements are being made, we still have a long way to go.  The issue must be addressed from the classroom to the boardroom – over coming stereotypes, biases and providing more role models as a starting point.  Engaging young people to study STEM subjects and pursue jobs in tech is important. However, we cannot rely solely on the next generation to solve the problem. Reskilling existing workforces for the jobs of tomorrow is critical, as many low-digitally-skilled workers will be impacted by automation and AI, leaving them without the right skills to be successful in the future.

Employers can play a key role in helping to keep their workforce up to date through investments in ongoing learning and development, amongst other things. Attracting a diverse pool of talent also remains an issue. Tech needs talent from all backgrounds. Research has shown time and time again, that to drive innovation we need diverse thinking, ideas and problem solving.  Let’s not forget it is also about equality and fairness. Not all talent gets the same opportunity so we need to help create opportunities for all but also then ensure we have inclusive environments where all talent can thrive.

Sarah AtkinsonAbout Sarah

An experienced leader and former news journalist, Sarah Atkinson has over 20 years of experience in multinational organizations including Cisco, 3Com and most recently spent ten years as Vice President, Communications & Social Responsibility, EMEA at CA Technologies. A member of the company’s leadership team, she also led Create Tomorrow, a program designed to inspire and excite young people, particularly girls, about careers in STEM, as well as the company’s Diversity & Inclusion strategy in EMEA.

From 2015 to 2018, she served on the main board of techUK, a non-profit representing the companies and technologies that are defining today, the world that we will live in tomorrow.

Today, she is the Vice Chair of the Diversity & Skills Council at techUK and is actively involved in several Diversity & Inclusion programs including Gender Pay Gap reporting, Returners Programs and is a founding supporter of the WISE Campaign’s People Like Me Digital which aims to influence 200,000 11-15-year-old girls in the UK to consider a career in STEM. In 2018, she also worked with Girlguiding to incorporate STEM into their badges and attended 2018 Camp CEO as a role model for Girl Guides.

She was listed in Cranfield University’s School of Management 100 Women to Watch report – a supplement to the Female FTSE Board Report 2018 and in the Computer Weekly 100 Most Influential Women in Technology in 2017 & 2018.

A regular commentator on STEM, equality and inclusion topics, she has appeared on BBC News, BBC World and in various publications.


Diversifying Digital - Institure of Coding & Deloitte

New research from the Institute of Coding and Deloitte looks at what motivates women to work in digital

Diversifying Digital - Institure of Coding & Deloitte

Recent research from the Institute of Coding and Deloitte has taken a look at what motivates women to learn and work in digital, in the hopes of creating a more diverse digital workforce.

Though much broader diversity is needed in the sector, the research has been focused on women in order to grasp a deeper understanding of what attracts them to work in digital.

Despite the fact that there have been many interventions to date, unfortunately there is still a lack of women in the sector. For this reason, the research hoped to better understand women's motivations by listening to women's view and opinion so that necessary action can be taken.

The research – completed by the Institute of Coding and Deloitte in 2019 and 2020 – suggests that women at different stages in their education and careers see the digital sector as exciting, innovative and creative. Digital is seen by women to offer varied and interesting work and a chance to make a positive difference in the world, as well as an industry that offers the prospect of good salaries and career progression. The research also suggests that we can help overcome perceptions that may inhibit women from choosing digital jobs or training, such as not knowing how to retrain, or believing they lack the right qualifications.

To read more, please click the link below to view a research summary report.