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How flexible working is key for improving diversity in tech

Muslim woman working from home, flexible working

Diversity has been a historical challenge for the tech industry.

For example, a recent survey from mThree of 270 US business leaders found that 68 per cent felt there was a lack of diversity in their tech workforce. Nevertheless, female representation is on the rise and flexible working, such as freelancing, will be key for encouraging more women to join this profession. Here Ashmita Das, CEO of open talent platform Kolabtree, discusses why flexible working is key for improving female representation in tech.

If you were to search the internet for ‘tech’ jobs, you may be overwhelmed by the variety of job roles that exist. For example, Prospects.ac.uk lists over 25 jobs in its ‘information technology’ section alone, including cyber security analyst, information systems manager, IT consultant, software engineer, and web developer. Considering also that businesses in most sectors can benefit from some form of tech nowadays, it’s clear that the opportunities are many.

However, the tech workforce has historically lacked the same diversity. For example, a recent report from Tech Nation revealed that for every 100 people working in a tech job in the UK only 25 are women, an alarming statistic. Nevertheless, if we look at the broader picture, diversity is continuing to improve, and I don’t see reason for doom and gloom. On the contrary, there are now more opportunities than ever for aspiring female specialists.

New opportunities

The pandemic transformed the way that businesses operate and how many of us work. Remote and hybrid working became necessities, while companies’ HR policies and attitudes towards recruitment shifted to keep up with the evolving landscape — changes that show no signs of stopping. This shift has required companies to invest more in software and communications technology, and many are digitising at an increasing rate.

The opportunities for tech professionals arising from this shift are twofold. Firstly, it means that tech skills are now in very high demand, as IT experts are needed to develop, set up, implement and maintain these systems. Secondly, the fact that companies are now more equipped to work with external, remote professionals means that tech freelancing is a strong career option.

Freelancing offers an alternative route into the tech industry. As well as this, it provides several advantages that can help attract more and more female tech professionals and help them advance their careers.

Newfound flexibility

Control is a powerful motivator that’s important for life satisfaction and fulfilment, so being able to determine your own work and work-life balance is an attractive proposition. Interestingly, over 90 per cent of 542 freelance scientists that we surveyed as part of a social science research project said that flexibility was highly important to them. Freelancing gives people complete control over their schedule, pay, and the projects they work on, so only they are in charge of their careers.

On the other hand, traditional employment — having a permanent role in one organisation — can be very inflexible in terms of hours, so finding time for commitments outside the workplace can be a challenge. For example, if children need dropping off at school each morning, a typical 9-5 schedule can make it harder to accommodate. Meanwhile, freelancing gives skilled professionals the ability to work when and for how long they like and take on other responsibilities that life presents.

Career progression

Raising a family is one of the most rewarding things in the world, but it can sometimes be a hurdle for career progression. One example is parental leave, which often involves a complete severance from work for several months. Returning to work afterwards can be daunting and, when they do, some employees find themselves working a reduced number of hours. According to research by Ipsos Mori, almost three in ten women (29 per cent) thought taking maternity leave had a negative impact on their career, while less than half the number of men (13 per cent) noticed the same effect following paternity leave.  Therefore, there is a clear gender gap in perceptions towards the impact of parental leave.

Meanwhile freelance female tech specialists have the option of continuing to work during those first nine months, at a time and frequency that suits. Furthermore, when the usual parental leave period is over, the freelancer can increase their hours and take on more projects — although working and having a young baby will require some adjustments!

Building up experience

Another advantage of freelancing is having the power to expand your repertoire beyond what’s possible in a full-time permanent job. Traditional employers train staff to become skilled at their specific roles, for example maintaining IT systems in healthcare facilities or maintaining cybersecurity in financial firms. Therefore, in-house experts are often only exposed to the relevant skills required for that role, with limited opportunity to diversify.

However, freelancers can carefully select their projects and gain exposure to a wider array of experience. For example, a computer network expert that’s worked for schools has the freedom to work on a completely different project, setting up or improving a system in another field entirely, or maybe work for a start-up. The new projects are still within the freelancer’s skillset but will raise new opportunities to expand their reach.

Getting started

For aspiring freelance technology experts, becoming an external consultant can be as simple as registering with a platform and creating a profile. Once registered, the freelancer can upload a CV detailing the various projects they’ve worked on and set a desired rate. From, there, they can bid for projects that appeal to them and submit a proposal on how they would offer their services.

As an open talent platform targeting scientific and technology specialists, Kolabtree has over 15,000 experts registered across 175 countries. Its tech specialists have experience working in fields including cyber security, computer and data security, computer networks, wireless communication, computer software, artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Why not take the first step on your freelancing journey today? Simply visit https://www.kolabtree.com/, click on ‘Join as expert’, and start browsing projects.

Ashmita DasAbout the author

Ashmita Das is co-founder and CEO of Kolabtree, the world’s largest platform for freelance scientists. Ashmita founded Kolabtree to level the playing field in science, by helping small and medium-sized businesses access the skills and knowledge that they need and has been instrumental in its rapid growth since its founding in 2015. The platform now has over 15,000 freelancers on its books.


group of young multiethnic diverse people gesture hand high five, laughing and smiling together in brainstorm meeting at office, company culture

Is diversity the key to unlocking the potential of fintech and web3?

group of young multiethnic diverse people gesture hand high five, laughing and smiling together in brainstorm meeting at office, company culture

Work in Fintech is diverse by design, led by a male British born half-Chinese half-Irish fintech entrepreneur, a female former head of digital products at a leading investment bank who is a US national but born in China and a 12-year-old British Asian boy who is a NFT and crypto millionaire.

What do these three people have in common? They all share a love for fintech, a passion for education and they are all on a mission to give back. This tribe of like-minded people is actively helping the next generation build companies and careers in fintech and web3.

Initially, Work in Fintech was set up as a mentoring project in late 2019 by fintech entrepreneur and ipushpull CEO, Matthew Cheung, to help students from his old high school navigate the challenges of entering the workforce. However, things changed rapidly with the global pandemic which caused huge disruption within the school system. One thing in particular was conspicuous by its absence – work experience. Unfortunately, for 15- and 16-year-old students, work experience had completely disappeared as nearly every single company was grappling with their own challenges in 2020-2021.

For Matthew, the work experience he had when he was 15 directly led him to his first job in the City – which was a life changing event for him. As businesses were not offering this, he decided to take matters into his own hands and created a 6-week work experience programme for a group of teenagers from different races and backgrounds. This was a runaway success. The students gained real life experience with firms such as Revolut, TP ICAP and Goldman Sachs and even met the Lord Mayor of London while learning about fintech, financial markets and growing their own network.

Through a podcast series that first aired in February 2021 called ‘Interviews with Leaders in Fintech’, Matthew met Ying Cao and Benyamin Ahmed.

At the time, Ying had just left her role as Head of Digital Products at Barclays investment bank to set up an executive coaching platform called Liyt. Matthew and Ying quickly bonded over a shared passion for mentoring and giving back to future generations. Soon after, they met 12-year-old Benyamin Ahmed, who had gained notoriety by becoming the youngest person in the world to make a million dollars in crypto by creating NFT digital art collections. Although he has enough wealth to secure a comfortable future, Benyamin is keen to share his knowledge with other young people so that they can emulate his success.

With this impactful group of people, Work in Fintech is in full swing, providing mentoring, career advice,  and work experience to students, as well as helping graduates and young people find jobs in fintech and web3.

Diversity in every dimension is important to this founding team, who have strived to ensure a balance of race, gender, age, origin and socio-economic status in order to break through the poor track record finance generally has around the world. Both Matthew and Ying have spent their careers in finance, Matthew in the City and Ying in Wall Street. The lack of diversity in these global financial centres is stark. However, the great thing with fintech and web3 is that age, gender, ethnicity and any other differences are not barriers. It’s one of the most meritocratic industries where skills, ideas, passion and experience trumps everything else.

A fresher outlook, mindset and perspective of many fintech founders who are in their 20s, 30s and 40s means diversity and inclusion is crucially important. However, fintech and web3 firms that are rapidly growing are recruiting talent globally and – unfortunately – the majority of recruits is still white and male. This fact is not lost on fintech founders who want a diverse pool of candidates. This is something that Work in Fintech is solving for.

It’s actually a two-way street, fintech’s can’t find talent, especially those coming from DEI backgrounds, and young people are not aware of the great opportunities in the fintech and web3 space. Traditional finance has been recruiting graduates for decades and many students just aren’t aware of the job roles or the companies in fintech and web3 looking for talent, so they naturally gravitate towards banks and traditional finance.

To help increase the visibility of fintech, Work in Fintech works with corporates such as Adaptive Financial Consulting and Blockchain.com who are not only leaders in their field but have identified the shortage of talent from DEI pools as something they want to rebalance with investment and commitment. For students, Work in Fintech creates learning, networking and working experience to give them their first taste of fintech and web3. Ultimately, Work in Fintech will help students find internships and jobs at the innovative fintech firms that are part of the Work in Fintech community.

Uniquely, Work in Fintech is funding these programmes through NFTs. Benyamin has worked with a Black Brazilian artist, Massai, to create a NFT collection that will be sold to fintech’s and corporates. Each NFT holder unlocks access to a vibrant growing community of young people. The proceeds of the NFT collection will be used – and tracked on-chain – to help fund learning and work experiences for students from all backgrounds with a specific focus on helping students from DEI backgrounds.

Diversity is important in all industries as it helps provide opportunities for all. It improves decision making and it’s the right thing to do both socially and morally. It won’t be solved overnight but Work in Fintech is creating the on-ramps today that will unlock the massive opportunity in fintech and web3.


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Driving diversity in tech communications – why the onus isn’t just on women

diversity and inclusion, National Inclusion Week, inspirational profilesBy Vicky Sleight, VP of Diversity & Inclusion, Human Factor, TM Forum

Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) is finally recognised as indispensable for business success. In the two decades of working in the tech communications industry, I have witnessed the understanding of this function evolve from a nice-to-understand to a must-have. 

When I first landed in tech comms, it was unusual to find a senior female executive leading meetings in boardrooms or on conference platforms. The lack of a diverse and inclusive culture was reflective of a historical mindset that tech comms was a male and engineering-based industry.

Today, there are (just) six women CEOs leading 31 companies within the top global telco space. Professionals across the industry welcome this progress, but the journey the tech comms industry is on, still has a way to go.

Start with education

I feel a responsibility to teach younger generations, especially women, what it’s like to work in tech comms. It’s not an intimidating male-heavy space but rather an innovative industry that’s using technology to change the way we interact daily. If you’re passionate about collaboration, collective problem solving and driving change, then I truly believe tech comms is the industry for you.

We need women from different educational, professional and personal backgrounds to diversify the thinking in tech comms at one of the most exciting times for the industry. Working with schools and universities to showcase the potential of tech communications and the range of opportunities available will get us closer to achieving the diversity the industry craves.

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Networks of allies

While extremely rewarding, working in the tech comms industry can still sometimes be challenging for women. However, there are ways we can help level the playing field while we wait for individual corporate cultures to catch up with the prevailing desire for demonstrable D&I in wider society.

First, build a strong network of supporters. This isn’t just about talking to other women, but men too. The fight for diversity has never been just about women supporting women; it’s about involving our allies as well. The more diverse your network, the more different abilities and skill sets are available. Everyone will make mistakes during their career, but you can learn a lot from collaboration with other people with other viewpoints.

The same philosophy extends to allowing others to access your skillsets and advice, and mentoring is one way you can give back. Be a mentor and a mentee, and make sure you champion someone different to you. You don’t want to create a carbon copy of who you are or who your mentor is; you want someone different to learn your skills and benefit from your experience. In this way, we help deepen diversity even further.

The journey towards true equity is still very much a work in progress. However, no business or individual should go at it alone. It’s a collaborative effort that needs buy-in at all levels to succeed. Once the collective drive and strategic understanding are set in stone, we can start to action real change and develop a healthy environment that attracts and retains the right talent to capitalise on the tremendous growth the industry is seeing and create the future workplace.

About the author

Vicky SleightA cultural diversity and inclusion executive with 20 years’ experience in the global tech communication’s industry, Vicky Sleight is leading, influencing, and driving change at international level in culture change, equality, diversity and inclusion.  She has a successful track record of fostering innovative approaches to D&I and cultural change through collaboration with key stakeholders in industry, government, NGO’s and academia. 

At TM Forum, as VP Human Factor and Diversity and Inclusion, Vicky has built and is leading the global industry collaboration and Executive Advisory Board for Diversity and Inclusion along with the Digital Organisation Transformation & Culture program – the mission to accelerate digital transformation and succeed in the digital economy through ensuring tech communications is the most diverse industry in the world.   


Diversity in Tech 2021 Report | Tech Talent Charter

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The Tech Talent Charter (TTC) is committed to securing the future of the tech talent pipeline.

A key driver of this is the annual Diversity in Tech report, which showcases curated diversity and inclusion (D&I) data we amass from our Signatory base of companies with tech needs in the United Kingdom.

The purpose of this survey is to harness the power of data to help organisations make significant headway in this critical growth area. When UK businesses are willing to share good D&I data — what’s actually working or not working for them — it yields deep, nuanced insights that can benefit Signatories, other organisations, and more broadly the UK economy and society. As such, another aim of this report is to inspire more business leaders to share their D&I data with us so we can create a more nuanced and complete picture of the state of diversity and inclusion.

DOWNLOAD THE REPORT

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Breaking the cycle: Why we must encourage diversity in our tech sales teams

Female working in a Technical Support Team Gives Instructions with the Help of the Headsets. In the Background People Working and Monitors Show Various Information, SysAdmin Day

Article by Louise Fellows, Public Sector Director at Softcat

For many years now, sales has been an industry largely dominated by men, as has tech.

Currently, there are only 39 percent of women in sales roles, whilst only 31 percent of tech jobs are held by women. Combine the two, and the diversity issue surrounding women in tech sales is hard to ignore.

But as the first and only female Director of Sales at Softcat, my mission is to change this by inspiring the next generation of female sales talent and education technology business leaders about the benefits of having a more diverse sales workforce.

Why is sales so male dominated?

The tech sales industry has traditionally been dominated by men and the imbalance becomes greater the higher up the ladder you go. And this has knock-on effects on women when it comes to applying and sticking with a career in sales.

The “bro culture” found in some (not all) sales departments can mean women are left to feel alienated from their colleagues and managers, and this is also often echoed client side, making it more difficult for female salespeople to build a quick rapport or find common ground.

The model upon which most sales departments are based can be also seem daunting on the surface to women. Sales is often a target and commission-driven role which men, by their nature, find more appealing. It can also alienate women who need more financial security in their careers, especially those with children.

When women do follow their dream of being a top salesperson, the lack of role models in leadership positions can affect the longevity of their careers. With no one to look up to, it can be easier to give up than to push harder.

Plus, despite most organisations are improving their policies on maternity leave, a lot of women who are working their way up the career ladder in sales have no option but to take a break if and when they start a family. In a sales environment, this can mean hard-earned customer relationships are broken which can be difficult to re-build.

However, all is not lost and with small changes, honest conversation and cross-sector collaboration, we can all enjoy the benefits of a more diverse sales workforce.

The value of gender diversity in the sales workforce

According to experts, by 2025 women are expected to overtake men and become the “richer sex”, owning 60 percent of the UK’s wealth. And for the most part, this is the outcome of more women excelling in their careers.

And in the sales arena, it seems women often outperform men too. In fact, a 2019 study revealed 86 percent of women achieved their targets in comparison to 78 percent of men.

From a business’s perspective, this can be hugely valuable and those not tapping into the growing pool of well-educated, ambitious and confident women to fill their sales positions risk being left behind.

A career in sales can also be hugely rewarding to women – both financially and emotionally.

Despite being underrepresented, women are naturally very well suited to building long-term relationships with customers.

A growing body of research tells us that women naturally have high levels of empathy, understanding, listening and curiosity skills, outperforming men when it comes to emotional self-awareness – all traits that make successful salespeople.

The role of business leaders

In recent years, there have been many bold initiatives to encourage women into more senior leadership roles in tech. But seeing a female sales manager, director or head continues to be rarer than it should be.

Creating a culture where women can thrive must start at the top. Boardrooms hold the power to set the standards for female representation across the company, providing pathways to success for women and strengthening leadership with new ideas and diverse perspectives that come from having more women in senior positions.

If leaders aren’t committed to guaranteeing or improving diversity, initiatives can quickly crumble. Sometimes, to shake up the status quo some big changes are needed in how an organisation is run, how it hires, and how it communicates. And this can only happen with the backing of those who hold the power and budget to make them.

Looking to the future

There has been some incredible progress made in the technology sector in recent years, but we cannot become complacent.

As we look to build back better from the pandemic, we need to keep challenging ourselves to use all the talents of our workforce and open up the top ranks in traditionally male dominated roles to more women.

While life might not be returning to the “normal” we once knew, there is a unique opportunity to create organisations that better suit and get more out of their talent. The growing popularity of hybrid working is helping staff achieve a better work-life balance, while still offering the structure and stability of the office environment for part of the week.

For women in tech sales, this could be just what they need to thrive. In fact, a recent study on hybrid working found more women than men saw the personal benefits.

With the power of choice and increased flexibility, women are likely to experience higher levels of job satisfaction, which boosts productivity, leading to better results and more commission.

Louise FellowsAbout the author

Louise joined Softcat in January 2021 as the company’s first female sales director, after spending two years as Director of Public Sector UK&I at Vmware and twelve years in strategic public sector roles at Telefonica and its subsidiary UK telecommunications branch, O2. In her role, Louise is responsible for driving Softcat’s Public Sector business by continuing to attract the best talent whilst using her experience to grow new and existing customer relationships and segments with Softcat’s vendors and partners.

 


WeAreTechWomen covers the latest female centric news stories from around the world, focusing on women in technology, careers and current affairs. You can find all the latest gender news here

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The business of diversity: Building a better tech industry

Article by Maya Gershon, Chief Revenue Officer at Vade Secure

DiversityDiversity is a word you hear a lot in the tech business - but you don’t see enough of it.

I’ve spent my entire career striving to be the very best I can be, working hard and climbing the ladder whilst holding down a very demanding second full-time job: motherhood. I’m a huge believer in the positive power of diversity and unlocking the talents of people from every gender, ethnicity and background. But the IT industry needs to do better. How are we going to get to where we need to be?

As an engineer, business school MBA, researcher, developer, sales leader and public speaker, I want my story to inspire others to try. When advising others, it’s a good idea to set a good example. How can we lecture other industries about efficiency when we squander so much of our talent pool? We need to be more diverse and inclusive if we are to show others how to make the most of themselves. As an  example, in sales presentations, I have always found that stories create a much better impact than statistics. So here are a few things I’ve learned along the way.

Military discipline

After university, my career started at Unit 8200, a top-secret cyber intelligence unit of the Israeli Army. Obviously, I can’t tell you exactly what I did during my time in the Army, but I can say this: it was more egalitarian than the IT industry. I was one of thousands of people who took an entry exam to get into this elite unit. I wasn’t chosen because I was a woman - I was selected on aptitude alone. The Israeli Army is very practical and makes the fullest use of its resources. Under those circumstances, it selects the best person for the job. The general in charge said we were doing a job that was given to adults in equivalent agencies in the rest of the world. There was gender parity because it was vital to get the best possible outcome from the human resources we had.

This points to an important truth. You don’t achieve diversity by fixing the game. You build it by opening up the playing field so anyone can compete. Women don’t need help to get to the top. They just need an opportunity to succeed. Closed doors and sealed networks are no longer acceptable in business. Neither are they likely to be profitable. Open up and you will soar. Close down and you will sink.

Early years

I believe the problems with diversity start early, particularly when it comes to encouraging women to take a job in the tech world. It’s a problem of education and expectation. I was lucky because I grew up with an older sister and two older brothers I was close to. That meant I could be who I wanted. I played with boys’ toys, learned about electronics and I liked building things. My parents encouraged me to develop my interests and I was not restricted to dolls and dressing in pink.

However, when I went to college, I was one of only five women among 250 men. Things have changed a little and Israel is more progressive than a lot of the world but the change is still painfully slow. I was shocked when I went to give a lecture at my son’s school. My talk, which was designed to inspire entrepreneurs, was entirely attended by boys. Meanwhile, the girls were all packed off to dancing class. That lack of expectation is the essence of the problem with our industry. If you can see it, you can be it. Girls should be given role models from the get-go, showing them why tech is a great industry for young women to join.

Education is a priority and it takes a generation to achieve change. To that end I am passionate about encouraging more young women to have the confidence to study technology. We need to instil that self-belief. Meanwhile, there is a more short-term fix. I would train more women to work in the IT industry, even if they have no technical foundations. There are many positions they could make their own in sales and pre-sales. If you take people that are smart and have an aptitude for learning they can thrive. Women can be very ambitious and effective without the ‘right’ background. They can build a bridgehead.

Supporting working mothers

It’s not easy to juggle children with a full-time career. At one stage in my career, I was working by day, studying for my MBA at night, reading to my children at bedtime and then attempting to stay awake while answering my customer’s queries. Meanwhile, my husband had been called up by the army to serve his country and there was footage of the war being beamed onto our televisions. I was so exhausted that one day, when my son fell over and started crying, I joined in. I phoned my sister and she gave me some stern but great advice: be strong and get help. That is the advice I would give to all working mothers. Don’t be afraid to pay for help or even use anything the state can offer you. It’s not easy to get to the top, so make sure you’re using every resource at your disposal. We can build a better tech industry - but we need to work together.

About the author

Maya Gershon featuredMaya Gershon is the CRO at Vade Secure, where she is taking the lead in efforts to grow the company's footprint in the U.S., UK and Japan. Maya has 25 years of experience in the technology sector, including time with Unit 8200 where she trained with the Israeli defence team and progressed to Staff Sergeant. Over the years, Maya has held a variety of engineering, sales and marketing roles at industry-leading organizations such as WeWork, Intel, Cisco, Amdocs, Keysight Technologies and more. Maya is a computer and electrical engineer with a strong technical background in R&D and product strategy and a Kellogg Business School graduate.


WeAreTechWomen covers the latest female centric news stories from around the world, focusing on women in technology, careers and current affairs. You can find all the latest gender news here

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Why the software sphere is crying out for diversity

diversity, boys club

Article provided by Daniela Aramu, Head of User Experience, Thomsons Online Benefits

Just 16.8 per cent of people working in the UK tech sector are women.

Addressing this imbalance should be a priority for businesses. And not just to reach gender parity – which is a worthy goal in and of itself – but because it’s a commercial imperative, particularly when it comes to software development.

Does it matter who develops tech?

End users’ own experiences will shape how they engage with software and technology. For this reason, all good technologists should place audience demands and preferences at the centre of their designs.

If customers are struggling to use a product or feel that its functionality isn’t up to scratch, they’ll stop using it and go elsewhere. And there’s so much choice available to consumers now that if they don’t like one option, there’ll be half a dozen more to try, with new products launching all the time.

So, unless software is really tailored to their needs, people will likely move on.

Having people on board who can relate to different users and understand how they think and operate will help these considerations to be weaved into the earliest stage of the development process.

For designers, empathy is second nature. The role is all about understanding user needs and working with developers to transform that idea into a real product with real code. For developers, empathy is not such a prerequisite, but it is an incredible advantage, as they will be more willing to change their code structure to reflect user mental models.

When considering the above, it becomes apparent why there’s such a dire need for greater gender diversity in tech – and particularly on the development side. Developers do not have that much exposure to the needs of users, nor are they really taught to empathise. Increasing gender diversity in teams is one of the simplest ways to ensure the needs of women are considered in the development process.

But is it just women?

Of course, gender diversity is not the only thing that makes software development stronger. Different backgrounds, experiences and specialities all contribute to a richer development process and better end-product.

For example, my background lies in psychology; something which I regularly apply to developing the user experience of Thomsons’ software. In fact, studying people’s behaviour and perception turned out to be the perfect fit for my job in tech.  And my team is full of people with a range of backgrounds – everything from interior designers to border control. Each one can bring new perspectives to the design process.

We’re all united by logical thinking and a real curiosity about human behaviour, but crucially, our experiences and backgrounds mean we approach problems in very different ways.

Building cohesion in a diverse team

Having a diverse team is fantastic for getting the job done – we have people from all over the world working together. But it’s really important to be conscious of people’s backgrounds when communicating with them. For example, the world of software often comes with its own, complex language and shorthand. When people are new to the field, or new to tech in its entirety, you must take the time to give proper explanations and technical descriptions.

Bringing people on board can therefore be a fairly time-intensive task, but it’s a small price to pay for the diverse ideas and perspectives you get in return.

Bringing the best on board

For those in charge of hiring new tech talent I would urge them to broaden their candidate criteria. Of course, they need to have the skills to get the job done. But beyond that, should what university you attended, or if you even attended one at all, be a deciding factor in shortlisting prospective new recruits? Should your background or prior work experience?

I would say, no. In fact, it’s not something I particularly consider when recruiting for my team. I’m more interested in how people problem-solve and what their drivers are in building a product. This naturally leads to a more diverse workforce, where women are better represented, and teams are much more representative of the people that will use their products.


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What are the key challenges for diversity in tech in 2020?

diversity, boys club

Article provided by Rachel McElroy, chief marketing officer cloud and technology-focused managed service provider Solutionize Global

With emerging trends firmly focused on Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and the increased use of tech in vital sectors such as healthcare, building a diverse workforce in this evolving landscape is now more pertinent than ever before.

It’s imperative for enterprises to build solutions encompassing many voices and reflect the input of the talented individuals throughout their teams – to prevent inherent bias in the innovation they bring to the marketplace.

Digital developments introduced by organisations must be truly representative of their end users’ wants, needs and interests. But what does that mean when tackling the immense diversity challenges within the sector that exists and how that will impact on what lies ahead?

To understand the best way to approach this is by reviewing the cool, hard facts on diversity. Yes, times are changing in the technology world – and more importance is being placed on building a diverse and inclusive workforce – but top, diverse talent is still battling to break through into an industry that has innovation and disruption at its heart.

Delving into the data

For example, in 2014 key Silicon Valley companies – including Apple, Google, Microsoft and Facebook published their diversity numbers for the first time – revealing how their teams were predominantly white or Asian men.

Five years on, Apple’s diversity figures still make for grim reading. The phone giant employs the same amount of black technical workers (six per cent), despite 13 per cent of the US population being black.

Meanwhile, delving into Facebook’s released data, 23 per cent of its technical workforce is female – which has seen an increase of 15% since 2014 – and Google reported similar numbers too. And although Amazon don’t publish their numbers concerning the split between technical, distribution and other employees, the e-commerce firm reports that 42 per cent of its workers are women.

When some of the most well-known US tech giants are struggling to make a substantial difference to the overall demographic of their staff list, how can other enterprises realistically make a difference? And how does that translate when thinking about the UK tech landscape?

Analysing the nation’s digital workforces

According to the most recent Tech Nation Report on diversity and inclusion – which analysed 12.5 million UK businesses registered with Companies House – only 19% of UK tech workers are female and 15 per cent are from BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) backgrounds.

In addition, when it comes to leadership roles, 22 per cent of tech directors are women. Comparatively, in the wider business community, such figures are only a little different – with a 71/29 per centsplit between the male and female sexes.

Although things are improving, albeit at a slow pace, it can still make for depressing reading – especially when considering how the last two decades of data show that the proportion of women in tech boardrooms has simply plateaued. And this all comes off the back of many high-profile campaigns and a renewed awareness of how a diverse directorship or senior leadership team can directly, and positively, impact a company’s bottom line.

As the UK tech evolution grows three-times faster than the overall economy – contributing an impressive £200 billion a year – it shows how much it is revolutionising enterprises and providing the exciting, myriad of roles now available to the motivated and digital savvy staff member.

So, why is diversity still such a challenge?

Perhaps something can be said with regards to the lengthy, historical backdrop of poor representation that technology has played when being viewed as a viable career choice for women.

Additionally, education has an important role throughout, as it possesses the opportunity to empower the workforces of tomorrow and showcase the incredible force that digital disruption embodies. For example, ICT has typically been viewed as a sector working in silos and only suited to men with analytical minds. However, it should be highlighted as an exciting, collaborative and innovative career that can truly change the face of how companies now operate.

It’s time to challenge recent research that reveals how 48 per cent of women feel that a lack of mentors was a blocker towards a technology career. This needs to be tackled as an industry and by those working in it.

These are the statistics that really matter to analyse and truly affect change. The Bank of England’s recent analysis shockingly revealed that ethnic minorities in the UK earn around 10 per cent less than white workers.

Could 2020 be the year when enterprises truly focus on recruiting a diverse mix of top tech talent from a range of backgrounds and providing them with a workplace that is inclusive and rewarding to all? Let’s hope so.

It all comes back to one simple question – how can the right digital products and services be built to provide a viable solution for everyone if we all have the same voice?


One HealthTech featured

One HealthTech

One HealthTech is a volunteer-led grassroots community that supports and promotes women and other under-represented groups to be future leaders in health innovation.

We inspire, celebrate, enable and champion diversity in healthtech. The OHT community comes from many different sectors, countries and backgrounds, and includes health and care providers, startups, corporates, academics and charities, as well as individual chaos-creating innovators.

Having started as a small meet-up in London in late 2015, OHT has grown to now have hubs all over the UK, as well as internationally, in Ireland, Sweden and Australia. All hubs are led by local community-builders, passionate about healthtech in their region.

We inspire the community through showcasing, connecting, profiling and laughing. We bring together doers, thinkers and trailblazers to change the face of future healthcare. The community is free to join – we feel our resources and the opportunities we provide should be as accessible as possible.

Vision:

That healthtech is vibrant, open and accessible.

Mission:

To empower local grassroots communities to thrive by inspiring, celebrating, enabling and championing diversity in healthtech.

Beliefs:

We believe innovation in heathtech should be accessible to everyone. We also believe in the power of human networks and communities to drive change, and that every voice should be heard so that technology can positively impact all.

 

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