WeAreTechWomen launch partnership with Speakers for Schools to inspire the next generation of technologists

Speakers for Schools & WeAreTechWomen Partnership-1

WeAreTechWomen are proud to announce a partnership with Speakers for Schools to inspire the next generation of technologists.

Speakers for Schools help young people access the top opportunities through free inspiring school talks and eye-opening onsite and virtual work experience.

As part of this partnership, WeAreTechWomen and Speakers for Schools will be hosting an event – “What does working in Technology look like?” – on 02 November.

The event will bring together an amazing array of WeAreTechWomen’s award’s community with girls and young women, to help encourage them into STEM and technology careers.

The super-talented technologists, from across gaming, special effects, climate change, cybersecurity, web design, artificial intelligence, engineering, space technology and more, will share their career stories and advice.

During the event, there will be the opportunity to pose questions to our experts and to find out what a career in technology really looks like.

Vanessa Vallely OBESpeaking about the partnership, Vanessa Vallely, Managing Director, WeAreTheCity & WeAreTechWomen, said, “WeAreTechWomen are delighted to be partnering with Speakers for Schools to encourage more young people to consider careers in technology.”

“Our children’s tech conference will showcase the career stories of ten of our previous TechWomen100 Award winners and enable over 200 children to find out what it is really like to work in technology.”

“I am exceptionally proud to be partnering with Speakers for Schools and to be able to provide a platform for our award-winning role models to pay it forward and  inspire the next generation of technologists.”

Jason ElsomJason Elsom, Chief Executive Officer, Speakers for Schools added, “We are delighted to partner with WeAreTechWomen on this brilliant event.”

“In a world that is increasingly digitalised, there are a growing number of exciting job opportunities in the technology sector, but as they are less traditional by nature, young people can be less familiar with the career paths available.”

“Partnerships like this ensure we connect young women to careers in dynamic industries, no matter what background or circumstance.”

“This event is a fantastic opportunity to encourage young people into the industry.”

Discover more about Speakers for Schools below

Have you ever wondered how apps are made or how social media platforms are built? Have you ever seen computer generated images in movies and wondered how they did that?

Have you ever played a game online and questioned how those images were made or wondered how websites are built? The answer is technology – something we all use every hour of every day!

From buying tube tickets, to buying clothes online, Googling, making calls or sending messages. There are millions of technologists all over the world, in thousands of different jobs, who bring this technology to life. These individuals not only enable us to enjoy life through the use of technology,but they also build tech and systems that save lives and help solve big societal issues, like poverty and climate change.

Join Speakers for Schools and WeAreTechWomen as we take you on an incredible journey, where you will hear career stories from a group of super-talented technologists in gaming, special effects, climate change, cyber security, web design, artificial intelligence, robotics, engineering and space technology. The day will run from 10.30am-2pm on 2nd November. During this event there will be the opportunity to pose questions to our experts and to find out what a career in technology really looks like. What are you waiting for?


Companies need to strike the right balance with diversity and gender equality issues

Claudia Cavalluzzo, Director, Converge

DiversityResearch consistently demonstrates the positive impact of diversity on companies’ boards, such as better return on investment, improved sales, improved sustainability and better risk management.

It is well known that diversity of thought increases innovation, and that innovation is critical to grow companies of scale. What is less well known is that gender diversity, in particular, powers radical innovation in organisations.

Across the world, companies are striving to improve their diversity in order to meet their Environmental, Societal and Governance (ESG) goals. Leading investment firm Goldman Sachs has recently introduced diversity on company boards as a mandatory criterion for investing in companies to scale.

Improving gender equality in our companies is not just a moral imperative, but an economic one, and where better to start than with companies starting up in our academic institutions, where innovation drives growth?

Within the university spinout and start-up community, there are often challenges in addressing diversity and inclusion issues, with a lack of diverse board members available to work with early stage companies. Strong diverse boards with the right balance of skills and experience, suitable to the different and distinct stages of a company’s growth, are essential for helping companies to evolve and attract sufficient capital to scale.

Women on Boards, the UK’s leading organisation for developing and growing the availability of skilled women on boards, Women’s Enterprise Scotland, a Community Interest Company that drives gender equality and inclusivity in Scotland, and Converge, Scotland’s largest company creation programme dedicated to the university network, have joined forces to address this gap.

A pilot programme has been designed and is currently being delivered to ensure universities and their spinouts and start-ups are equipped for their entrepreneurial journey. Three Research intensive universities, the University of Strathclyde, Heriot-Watt University and the University of Dundee are involved in this initial pilot, which, if proven successful, will be rolled out to all Scottish universities.

Being on the board of a spinout or start-up is more hands-on than a traditional listed company and many professional women, who have come forward to participate in this pilot, may require additional skillsets and mindsets to adapt their experience to working with smaller, more agile high-growth companies.

The training, designed by Women on Boards and Women’s Enterprise Scotland, is designed to provide the context, skills and mindset to its participants.

Emerging university companies have been selected by each participating university, with the majority being Converge Alumni. All participating businesses are underpinned by technology and innovation and their growth depends on the ability to adapt and respond to ever changing market needs. And that is what a board is there for - to help the executive team avoid pitfalls and seize new opportunities.

Amongst them are 2019 Converge Challenge winner In4Derm and 2018 Converge Challenge Runner-Up Myconourish. These companies are now at the right stage to start to form a board and have realised the importance of getting it right from the start.

By providing training, connecting networks and opportunities, this pilot programme aims to set the standard for future University spinouts and start-ups to give them a ‘leg up’ to inclusively lead the way to success. And you never know, Goldman Sachs might start investing in Scotland before we know it!

About the author

Claudia Cavalluzzo, Director, ConvergeClaudia Cavalluzzo is Director of Converge – the only programme of its kind that brings together academic entrepreneurs from every university in Scotland. Its mission is to empower people to take their future into their own hands. This is done  by providing intensive business training – tailored to academic entrepreneurs – a dynamic and supportive network and one to one guidance for staff, students and graduates. More details at www.convergechallenge.com

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.  

Don’t forget, you can also follow us via our social media channels for the latest up-to-date gender news. Click to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube

Two Female College Students Building Machine In Science Robotics Or Engineering Class

International Women in Engineering Day: How diversity and inclusion helps drive business success

Two Female College Students Building Machine In Science Robotics Or Engineering Class

Article by Laura Fink, VP People, Healx

Technology is one of the most sought-after sectors to work for in the country, yet representation within the industry fails to reflect this.

In fact, only 15% of the technology workforce is made up of people from BAME backgrounds, and 19% of all workers in the sector are women. This year’s International Women in Engineering Day offers an opportunity to reflect on the key benefits that diversity and inclusion bring - both to the tech sector and beyond - and inspire one another to take action and create company cultures where everyone can thrive. Because one thing is for sure: whether it’s bolstering growth and innovation, attracting world-class talent or gaining investor trust, diversity is key to long-term business success.

Bolstering growth and innovation

The secret to coming up with innovative ideas and solutions is asking a diverse group to deliver them. Teams from different ages, genders, races and backgrounds offer a melting pot of knowledge and experiences that a homogenous group simply do not. This allows them to solve problems more efficiently, moving the business forward at a faster, more considered pace and ultimately reaping greater financial rewards. Indeed, McKinsey found that companies which have a leadership team over 30% female were more likely to perform better than those with less executive representation. The message is clear: the more that businesses focus on creating a diverse workforce, the bigger the impact on innovation and growth. At Healx, we are passionate about bolstering diversity and inclusion in our business. Our leadership team currently stands at 36% women and non-binary representation, and in the last 12 months, we’ve increased the percentage of women and non-binary individuals from 9% to 33% in our technology team. This focus has provided our teams with countless new opinions, experiences and opportunities to drive innovation and change for rare disease sufferers.

Attracting and retaining world-class talent

There’s an old phrase that says, “you have to see it to believe it”, and that couldn’t be truer when it comes to nurturing talent. Employees - and potential new hires - want to be able to see themselves reflected in their work, their teams and their leaders. Where they can, they are more likely to join or stay with a company, but where they can’t, team members are left feeling demotivated, undervalued and unseen. It’s important that companies proactively seek to attract and retain diverse talent, and the COVID-19 pandemic has provided many organisations with a welcome opportunity to update their practices, so that they can become more flexible and inclusive. At Healx, some of the things that enabled us to make such a shift in the representation of our workforce included actively widening our hiring net beyond our Cambridge base and reviewing our interview and referral processes to ensure we attracted a diverse funnel of candidates. We also undertook an internal review of our employee policies to ensure we were supporting all team members equitably; this included introducing a fully-paid additional leave option to enable people to balance work and life commitments during the pandemic, updating our health and life insurance policies, improving our parental leave offering, and moving towards a hybrid model of working that empowered people to work in the way that best suited them. Like many companies, the pandemic really pushed us to bring flexibility and empathy further into the core of our culture, and we hope to continue building an environment where employees feel represented and supported. This is critical for business success and can help organisations attract - and keep - world-class talent that will drive forward their mission.

Aligning with investors

Many companies today rely on external investment to grow, but, increasingly, investors are expecting organisations to prioritise diversity and inclusion before they commit any money. Indeed, 63% of UK investors are now screening potential companies to ensure that they comply with internal diversity and inclusion metrics, whilst VC firms like Atomico and Balderton are amongst a cohort of investment companies benchmarked for their diversity and inclusion policies. Investors understand that inclusive hiring leads to a better understanding of the market, improved decision-making and enhanced performance - so it makes market sense for them to invest in companies who are already on the front foot when it comes to thinking about diversity and inclusion. For businesses looking for investment, it’s important that they demonstrate an active commitment to building a diverse and inclusive business, if they hope to secure funding and scale.

The diversity challenge within the tech sector won’t be solved overnight. However, if businesses want to remain ahead of the curve and drive change, they must make equality and inclusion a concrete priority. Diverse teams provide companies with opportunities for growth, improved talent acquisition and retention, and alignment with value-driven investors. This International Women in Engineering Day, companies must understand why embracing diversity and inclusion is critical, or they will risk lagging behind forever.

Laura FinkAbout the author

Laura has over 20 years' experience in international HR roles across a variety of industries including media, sales and tech. She has worked in HR, recruiting, employee engagement, organisational change and diversity roles in both blue chip and start-up companies and is passionate about helping companies scale effectively. Mostly recently Laura led the HR function at a fintech in the blockchain space. Previously she led EMEA recruitment teams at Google to help scale the company during a period of incredible growth.

At Healx she is responsible for building effective people programs that enable us to attract great talent and drive the growth and development of our people and the business.


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

Don’t forget, you can also follow us via our social media channels for the latest up-to-date gender news. Click to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube

Recommended Event: 29/06/21 - 29/07/21: TTC Hackathon: How to drive inclusion and diversity within a start-up or scale-up environment | Tech Talent Charter

Tech Talent Charter

The Tech Talent Charter (TTC) will stage our next inclusion and diversity (I&D) hackathon in June. This hackathon will focus on actions specific to start-up and scale-up companies.

The hackathon, sponsored by Spinks, kicks off on 29th June when four groups of inclusion and diversity subject matter experts will collaborate to build new products for our Open Playbook.

Timing: running over one month, the hackathon kicks off on Tuesday 29th June and concludes on Thursday 29th July 2021.

Participants for each team will be experts on specific topic I&D areas 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.

Host: Tech Talent Charter Event sponsors: Spinks

Who is this hackathon for?

We are looking to recruit subject matter experts to contribute their expertise and develop the TTC's Open Playbook, our open-source resource for all employers. The TTC is specifically seeking people who have strong inclusion and diversity (I&D) knowledge and experience of at least one of the following areas specifically related to startup or scale-up environments:

  • Cultivating an inclusive culture
  • Reward and retention
  • Hiring diverse tech talent: accessing all of the talent pool (ie. attraction strategies, job advertisements, pathways offered etc)
  • Hiring diverse tech talent: assessing talent (shortlisting and selection methods, alternatives to interviews, hiring managers etc)

As spaces are limited, we request that participants please provide evidence of having the necessary expertise of one of the above subject areas.

What's in it for you?

Participants will have an opportunity to connect and learn from subject matter experts at other organisations; deepen their understanding of the topic area and what other organisations are doing in this space; participate in creative co-design sessions and support the TTC by developing our Open Playbook.

All team members and the winning team will be credited on social media channels. Additionally, all participants will be invited to add their TTC expertise to LinkedIn.

The mission

There will be 4 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 cultivate an inclusive culture
  2. Team 2: How to reward and retain talent
  3. Team 3: How to access all of the available tech talent
  4. Team 4: How to assess talent

Each team's mission will be to produce a 'roadmap' - this 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. For teams that would like it, the TTC will provide a list of recommended resources already in the Open Playbook on the topic (by no means exhaustive). If not, the team can choose to start with a blank sheet.

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.

Hackathon timing and key dates

Each team's specific meeting dates/times will be confirmed once participants are in teams (meetings will be set up by team leaders). The below dates and6 times are confirmed at the outset:

  • 10.00, Tuesday 29th June: hackathon begins with a briefing led by TTC followed by 30 mins with your team
  • 29th June - 26th July: Teams work together to create their 'product' (the roadmap)
  • 17.00, Monday 26th July: Strict deadline to submit product
  • 15.00, Thursday 29th July*: Feedback session with judges

*Feedback session: This session is when judges will provide their feedback and where teams will provide a very high-level overview of the key elements of their roadmap.


Looking for more events or networking opportunities? WeAreTechWomen has a dedicated events calendar with thousands of different events to help broaden your network and learn new skills. We have also launched WeAreVirtual - a series of free webinars to help expand your learning online.  

Don’t forget, you can also sign up to our bi-weekly newsletter to keep up-to-date with our upcoming events and webinars. 

How the tech industry and digital transformation can champion diversity and inclusion | Genefa Murphy

DiversityMicro Focus CMO Genefa Murphy has experienced many twists and turns on her journey to become chief marketing officer to one of the world’s top 10 enterprise software companies.

Here she talks about the state of play for diversity in the technology sector, the role digital transformation can play in creating a working environment where inclusion, diversity and belonging can thrive and the experiences that have shaped her own career path.

The technology industry, the pioneers, the inventors, the early adopters. In many ways the technology industry is ahead of the game – forging forward faster than many other sectors in terms of developing new solutions, new approaches and new talent. It is undeniable that inclusion and diversity, including the role of women in leadership, is finally having its moment in the tech spotlight, with the CEO of Oracle, executive chairman of IBM and the CEOs of YouTube, PagerDuty, TaskRabbit plus many more tech giants all being female. However, despite this progress, there is still more work to do. While it’s great to see more companies being transparent and embracing the broader inclusion and diversity agenda as well as being open and honest about what they are doing to support the cause, the fact remains that in many cases a person’s gender, race or sexual orientation is the descriptor that defines them – not their skills or capabilities. This is particularly acute amongst the underrepresented minorities who still have to fight harder and longer to attain equality.

The tech industry and tech employers have a huge opportunity to be beacons of best practice when it comes to inclusion and diversity. So much of our lives centre on the digital age that tech employers can “lend their privilege” – to borrow a phrase from fellow tech leader Anjuan Simmons – to the wider community and the broader markets to help further the agenda.

In that context, digital transformation also presents another major opportunity. Digital transformation by its very nature opens borders, diversifies candidate pools and helps bring a broader variety of talent to the table, because jobs are no longer dependent on location but on access. Social prejudices often prevalent in face to face encounters are replaced with digital “anonymous” exchanges, and artificial intelligence done right can help organisations remove biases from tasks such as candidate screening. By embracing this and making diversity and inclusion – or broader social responsibility – a core part of who a company is, employers have the opportunity to create a more empathetic, transparent workforce and a working environment where inclusion, diversity and belonging can thrive. This in turn can become the starting point for a highly successful overall strategy. After all, as research will tell us, the organisations that can create brand intimacy which is built on relationships of reciprocity can expect their customers to be more loyal and they can develop more price resiliency.

My own career path to the C-Suite has taken many twists, turns and stops along the way. Yet with each opportunity I have been able to learn a new skill, see opportunities through a different lens and gain additional perspectives. That variety of role at different levels and the importance of taking next steps which were lateral as well as more senior have been my guiding principles when looking for my next role or opportunity. My goal was never to make it to the C-suite. It was to be the best at my job and develop a rounded backlog of experiences, perspectives and relationships that I could call upon to complete the tasks at hand, whether they were small or large. I wanted to be able to earn the seat at the table and know that I earned it through hard work and determination, and then use that knowledge to add value so that even when others may have doubted me, I could believe in myself. That’s why I purposefully picked roles which were adjacent to one other: from a researcher completing my PhD to a consultant so that I could shift from learning about technology to implementing it; from a consultant to product manager so that I could turn theory into reality and create instead of implement; from a product manager to a marketer so that I could learn how to connect with customers through words and creative story-telling instead of the technology alone.

One common theme throughout all the roles I have taken to get to the C-suite is the importance of relationships and building a network. It is that network, and making every twist and turn – whether good or bad – into an opportunity to learn, be better, adapt and create my own personal approach that has made me who I am and gotten me to where I am today. Yet there is still more to go, more to learn and many more winding roads to travel.

About the author

Genefa MurphyGenefa Murphy is the chief marketing officer for Micro Focus, one of the world’s top 10 enterprise software companies. The role provides a unique position to work across Micro Focus’ 40,000 global customers and partners who face the challenge of being able to run and transform their business.

In her role, Genefa and team define the narrative for Micro Focus in the market, and represent the voice of the customer back into the organisation; influencing product direction, Go-To-Market (GTM) models, and ensuring Micro Focus provides its customers with a unique and prescriptive point of view on how to address the challenges of today’s hyper competitive market. As CMO, Genefa is also responsible for ensuring the success of Micro Focus’s own Digital Transformation – helping the company to make the technology selections that will enable Micro Focus to advance its own engagement with customers.

Genefa has more than 12 years’ experience across various disciplines in the field of technology from consulting, to product management and strategy. Previously, Genefa was the global vice president of corporate marketing and enablement. Genefa holds a BSc in Business IT and a PhD in New Technology Adoption.

If you are a job seeker or someone looking to boost their career, then WeAreTechWomen has thousands of free career-related articles. From interview tips, CV advice to training and working from home, you can find all our career advice articles here. 

Embracing inclusive leadership - three key principles

Article by Agata Nowakowska, Area Vice President, Skillsoft

DiversityWith diverse companies more likely to win top talent, improve customer orientation and employee satisfaction, the benefits of building inclusive workplaces are endless.

But how do leaders embed inclusivity into their thinking and behaviour, and by extension, the thoughts, words and deeds of their organisation as a whole?

The challenges are significant, but leaders can set out their approach to embracing inclusive leadership by adopting three important principles: 1) leveraging power and privilege to enable inclusion, 2) becoming a thoughtful and effective ally for underrepresented groups and 3) embedding inclusive behaviours as a way of doing everyday business.

  • Understanding power and privilege is crucial to enabling inclusion

Put simply, power and privilege are the rights, benefits, and advantages exclusively granted to particular people. They manifest themselves in every workplace, and in a wider sense, are part of a much larger system that exists to protect the majority systems and power across society.

The challenge leaders often face in relation to power and privilege is that they are unaware of the role it plays in their thinking, behaviour and in the management processes they establish - both formally and in ‘unwritten ground rules’. Equally important can be the negative reaction of those with power and privilege to the personal impact of change, even in the pursuit of equality. It’s an issue perhaps best summed up by the widely used phrase: “when you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression”.

But acknowledging power and privilege are vital points on the journey to inclusive leadership, and getting there is about self-awareness, growth, and empowerment. It’s only when leaders recognise its existence and impact — in the many ways it manifests itself — can they leverage it to truly empower others who are underrepresented, and deconstruct embedded and divisive norms.

  • Allyship means taking positive action for underrepresented groups

Allyship is the practice of promoting social justice, inclusion, and human rights by members of an ‘ingroup’, to advance the interests of an oppressed or marginalised ‘outgroup’. Everyone has the ability to be an ally, as privilege is intersectional. For example, white women can be allies to people of colour, men can be allies to women, and cis people can be allies to members of the LGBTQI+ community.

Becoming an ally requires active, consistent, and determined commitment to a process of unlearning and reevaluating, during which a person in a position of privilege and power seeks to operate in solidarity with a marginalised group. In practice, allyship requires those with power and privilege to engage at the systemic level to redefine policy. They must speak up about issues of inequality even when they feel uncomfortable, and then use their privilege to benefit underrepresented groups. And leaders should acknowledge that even though they might find change uncomfortable, the discussion is not about them - it’s about the holistic development that is part and parcel of building workplace equality and inclusion.

  • Enabling everyday inclusion is a permanent commitment

As we have seen, mindset and attitude play a central role in the emergence of inclusive leadership. Inclusion should not be addressed as a special interest or a side project - it needs to be embedded into every phase of the employee lifecycle: from recruitment to retirement, including training, rewards, and recognition. Only then can it become a ‘given’ - an automatic and natural part of working culture and interpersonal behaviour.

Those in leadership roles must set the tone for building an enduring and respected inclusive culture, and must drive the conversation. They can enable meaningful, everyday change by allocating adequate budget, personnel, and resources to increase inclusion and belonging across the organisation. Sponsoring an employee resource group (ERG) or Inclusion Council to proactively assess systemic policies and practices are proven ways to support the wider process.

Inclusive leadership requires genuine commitment and an open-minded approach that welcomes change. Lacklustre attempts face the very real risk of being judged as virtue signalling, and could justifiably be called out as such from people within the organisation or beyond. Instead, leaders must always have their eyes on the benefits, because building an open, honest and fair organisational culture where opportunity and reward don’t discriminate isn’t just good for every stakeholder, it’s also good for business.

About the author

Agata Nowakowska, SkillsoftAgata Nowakowska is Area Vice President at Skillsoft, where she leads a team of field based, enterprise-sales Regional Vice Presidents for UK, Benelux and DACH regions.  Before embarking on her 17 year career at Skillsoft, Nowakowska held leadership roles at SmartForce and Tulip Computers.

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.  

Don’t forget, you can also follow us via our social media channels for the latest up-to-date gender news. Click to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube

three women in tech working on laptops, gender diversity

Four steps to creating a more diverse and inclusive workforce

By Vijayanta Gupta, Global VP, Product & Industry Marketing, Sitecore

three women in tech working on laptops, gender diversityWhile the tech industry has taken strides in encouraging diversity and inclusion in recent years, the lack of representation of certain groups still needs to be addressed.

Recent research from McKinsey found that companies with diverse workforce have unlocked greater profitability and value creation, resulting in 33 per cent higher revenues.

The greater variety in background, thoughts, and experiences provides unique ideas that lead to more effective decisions being reached. People with different backgrounds and experiences often see the same issue in different ways and come up with a variety of solutions, increasing the odds that one of those could be the right fit for the business. They are also able to understand and have a better view of the different audiences an organisation is looking to reach. In a fast-changing ever-competitive environment, such responsiveness leaves businesses of all sizes and across all industries better equipped to adapt and succeed. Furthermore, research suggests that having a strong diversity and inclusion strategy can help your organisation attract top talent. So, what better motivation for companies to adopt such policies than clear ROI and employing the brightest people in the industry?

In recent years, organisations have tended to focus efforts on encouraging demographic diversity and embracing employees and teams from different races, ethnicities and genders. We have made some progress, though there’s still a lot more to be done. To fully maximise the benefits of diversity, businesses in the technology sector and beyond must now focus on a parameter of diversity that most likely doesn’t get enough attention. They need to look beyond diversity in terms of physical or visible traits and achieve cognitive diversity.

While one may think that having a large, expanded network would automatically help build diversity, In his book Rebel Ideas: The Power of Diverse Thinking, Matthew Syed discusses diversity as having a paradoxical property, meaning that when people are part of broader communities, they’re likely to form narrow networks of like-minded people. He further argues that despite its promise of inclusion and interconnection, the internet has created highly cohesive groups “linked not by kin or clan, but by ideological fine sorting”. Therefore, the whole concept of cognitive diversity can become problematic and difficult but not impossible to achieve, if we take conscious and meaningful steps to do so.

Let’s dive in deeper into what we mean by cognitive diversity and the type of measures companies should put in place in order to achieve it.

Embracing cognitive diversity

Achieving cognitive diversity means creating a workforce that includes a plurality of mindsets and outlooks. Building teams and organisations that are cognitively diverse starts with hiring people with a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds and upbringings, as they will bring different life experiences and perspectives to the business, and therefore enrich the discussion and decision-making processes.

It is also important to embrace neurodiversity within the workforce, including employing more people with ADHD, dyslexia or autism, for example. This further encourages diversity of thought and provides a different approach to overcoming challenges and making business decisions.

Once a diverse team is in place, companies must create an environment where everyone is listened to, respected and taken into consideration. This is to ensure that everyone feels empowered to share their views and opinions even if they sit within junior teams or have opposing solutions to senior management. When all team members believe that their ideas and opinions matter, are considered and the company understands that difference strengthens the business and isn’t something that should be changed or supressed, businesses will thrive.

Finally, steps must also be taken to ensure that decisions, at any and every level, are being made based on the opinion and perspectives of everyone involved. Beyond simply listening to what everyone has to say, business strategy and plans must reflect the knowledge that everyone within the business brings to the table.

Laying the right foundation

As well as creating diverse teams and workforces within tech companies, the industry also has a responsibility to ensure there is a more diverse pipeline and talent pool being developed through education. With only 3% of female A-Level students considering a career in technology as their first choice, there is a lot of work to be done to make careers within the technology sector more appealing to young women.

Tech companies can help by doing more work at a grassroots level, encouraging both girls and boys from a variety of backgrounds to study STEM subjects at GCSE level, A-Level and as degree choices. Going into school and universities to encourage young people to enter the industry or offering them work experience, internships or graduate schemes, where students can get first-hand experience of the industry, are effective ways to bring awareness of tech-sector careers to those who may have not otherwise have considered one.

Addressing gender disparities

Encouraging girls to enter STEM sectors at an early age is one way to overcome the gender imbalance which is still an issue within the industry, as shown by the Office for National Statistics which found that women account for only 16.8% of the UK’s tech sector workforce. However, when you consider research from PwC , which found that only 5% of leadership roles in the industry are held by women, more needs to be done to address this imbalance and support women so once they are in the industry, they too can climb the career ladder.

One way to redress this balance is to put more measures in place to support women to continue to advance their careers throughout various life stages, such as offering competitive maternity packages and support when returning to the workplace. Getting back to work after maternity leave can be overwhelming, so making sure that new mothers feel supported and valued as they re-enter their career is essential. While this has been improving, particularly in the technology industry, it remains an issue with one in four women in 2019 facing a skills gap that prevented them from returning to work after having children. Furthermore, new mothers may feel pressured and torn between their careers and home life, as they are often perceived to be unable to do both to their full potential  with two thirds being the primary carers for their children as well as working full time.

Formal training and programmes to upskill women in new or updated skills that they may have missed out on whilst on maternity, would not just make them feel more comfortable in their abilities at work more quickly, but would also be beneficial for the success of the business in the long run.

Ensuring an unrestricted recruitment process

Finally, employers must make efforts to expand the recruitment process and talent pool to get access to more talent from across different areas.

To do so, HR and recruitment teams should consider more applicants from non-traditional backgrounds and experiences, which may not have been looked at in the past. For example, those without university degrees may not have the qualifications often required for technical roles, but could have transferrable skills gained through other work or life experiences, which can be easily adapted to suit a role.

Secondly, with home working becoming more prevalent due to the pandemic, the potential recruitment opportunities will also widen. For example, those with diverse skill sets and backgrounds who would have otherwise discounted certain roles due to unfeasible commutes will now be added to the talent pool. However, in order to ensure this approach works for both organisations and employees, businesses need to create an inclusive environment. Being sensitive to employee’s personal and family needs is a crucial, for example, an employee may have an elderly family member to care for or a child that needs dropping to nursery during traditional working hours. Therefore, being inclusive about individual needs will not only attract a diverse talent pool, but boost employee/employer trust.

Lastly, it is key that HR and people teams have undergone unconscious bias training so that when they interview candidates, they don’t discount someone because they unconsciously look for people like themselves, and therefore dismiss those that do not.

In conclusion, addressing diversity and inclusion within the workplace has been on the agenda for businesses for some time. While we cannot deny that some progress has been made, there is still a lot more work that needs to be done. From putting recruitment policies in place, to introducing training programmes for all employees and taking part in grassroots activities such as university career fairs, we must all continue to develop and improve to truly create a diverse industry. There is so much that is yet to be done which goes far beyond the conventional box-ticking exercise or using diversity as a source of competitive advantage. Diversity and inclusion must be seen and treated as an on-going process which always has room for improvement.

If you are a job seeker or someone looking to boost their career, then WeAreTechWomen has thousands of free career-related articles. From interview tips, CV advice to training and working from home, you can find all our career advice articles here

She Talks Tech Podcast on 'Diversity in Tech - How do we build a culture of inclusion?'

Listen to our latest She Talks Tech Podcast on 'Diversity in Tech - How do we build a culture of inclusion?'

She Talks Tech Podcast on 'Diversity in Tech - How do we build a culture of inclusion?'

Today, we hear from Sheree Atcheson (Global Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Peakon), Seyi Akiwowo (Founder and Executive Director of Glitch), Christina Scott (Chief Technology Officer at News UK), Shefali Gera (Head of Diversity & Inclusion and Wellness at Goldman Sachs).

The panel will be discussing the best practices lived in organisations to foster greater inclusion. They will focus on examples of how organisations have attracted and nurtured their diverse talent, and also talk about why inclusion and diversity in tech is key to the future success of the industry and to society as a whole.

You can find out more about and connect with our panel on LinkedIn.


‘She Talks Tech’ brings you stories, lessons and tips from some of the most inspirational women (and men!) in tech.

From robotics and drones, to fintech, neurodiversity and coronavirus apps; these incredible speakers are opening up to give us the latest information on tech in 2020.

Vanessa Valleley OBE, founder of WeAreTheCity and WeAreTechWomen brings you this latest resource to help you rise to the top of the tech industry. Women in tech make up just 17 per cent of the industry in the UK and we want to inspire that to change.

WeAreTechWomen are delighted to bring this very inspiring first series to wherever you normally listen to podcasts – and the first three episodes are now live!

So subscribe, rate the podcast and give it a 5-star review – and keep listening every Wednesday morning for a new episode of ‘She Talks Tech’.

Produced by Pineapple Audio Production.


Tech for Good: Driving gender equality in the workplace

gender equality, gender balance

By Leena Kalani

On June 7, 1968, female machinists working at Ford Dagenham in London went on strike in protest of the gender pay gap.

The demonstrations eventually resulted in the passing of the UK’s Equal Pay Act of 1970 and subsequently the Equality Act of 2010, which provides a legal framework to protect the rights of individuals and advance equality of opportunity for all.

Although it’s been over 50 years since the introduction of the Equal Pay Act, the issues of gender inequality and pay gap remain. According to the Office for National Statistics UK, the gender pay gap among all employees is 15.5%, which means, on average, women are paid 86p for every £1 paid to men. While employers recognize these gender imbalance issues, they often lack insights into where the pay gaps are, the reasons behind them and the best way to address them.

By leveraging technologies such as Open Banking APIs and machine learning, businesses can be better equipped with the insights needed to achieve their diversity and inclusion objectives.

Using Open Banking to Identify Pay Gaps

Open Banking – which provides third-party financial service providers with access to consumer banking transactions and other financial data through the use of APIS – is a recent advancement in the world of banking and financial services in the UK and EU. As part of this data-sharing service, third-party providers and fintechs can use Open Banking API technology to consolidate data from customers’ multiple bank accounts with their explicit consent. Although Open Banking is predominantly aimed at providing innovation in banking, its potential can be extended to solve the deep-rooted problem of gender inequality.

Employers in the UK and several EU countries are required to report metrics about gender pay gaps to the government or authorized bodies. No such regulations exist as yet for many other regions, however, such as the U.S., Ireland, China, UAE, Austria and Hungary. But in either case, reporting this information doesn’t equate to taking action on it. With technology-driven practices, businesses could gain not just visibility into gender pay gap issues but also clarity into where they’re most acute, which would better inform their strategies on how to close the gap.

Under the Open Banking framework, data-aggregation fintechs (i.e., account information service providers), such as Revolut, Yolt and Plaid, or job posting sites such as LinkedIn and Glassdoor, could combine forces with regulators or work councils to produce a dashboard highlighting sector-specific metrics on gender pay, as well as insights into areas of discrepancy.

The salary data obtained by data aggregators with the user’s consent could be further enriched with elements such as age, gender, organization, industry sector and job title. This enriched dataset could reveal pay gap trends across industry sectors and job roles.

With such a dashboard freely available in the public domain, businesses would gain vital input for formulating their diversity and inclusion policies and monitoring their progress without having to invest in the technology infrastructure or data gathering themselves.

Financial services organizations and investment firms may also have a role to play, especially new types of businesses like The Big Exchange, an investment firm that invests only in companies that contribute to a positive social and environmental impact. The firm is already leveraging the Open Banking framework to offer an aggregated view of investments to its customers. It could extend this capability to also develop a gender pay gap dashboard, working with regulators through Open Banking standards.

Machine Learning Can Fix the ‘Leaky Pipeline’

Another gender equality issue that could be addressed through technology such as machine learning is “the leaky pipeline,” or the number of women who leave the technology profession. According to the WISE campaign, the percentage of tech professionals who are female has remained consistently low, at 16%, for the past decade. In the UK, although 35% of higher-ed STEM students are women, they make up only 24% of the STEM workforce.

There could be several reasons for women leaking out of STEM careers, including hostile work environments, lack of mentoring, lower recommendations, lower pay and work-life balance issues. These reasons could be discovered through the use of technology tools.

Companies that are already leveraging emerging technologies could feed data attributes like salary, benefits, bonuses, promotions, performance reviews, commute time, family details and maternity details into machine-learning algorithms to score employees on satisfaction levels. These algorithms could predict attrition patterns among its female employees and highlight the underlying reasons for departures by attributes such as department or job level.

By coupling HR data with employee survey data, feedback mechanisms and reviews on job posting sites, businesses could then apply sentiment analysis to identify ways to increase retention among women employees. For instance, analysis might reveal that women were unhappy about overtime and travel but satisfied with pay and management restructuring. Through these insights, organizations could better understand the probability and causes of female attrition and work on focused targets for remediating the issue.

Bringing it into Play

Data-driven insights could provide a jumpstart for informed diversity strategies but technology shouldn’t be considered a silver bullet for resolving gender inequality issues. Bias in data collection could cause unintended discrimination against a particular segment. Businesses need to ensure the right controls and processes are in place so that technology- enabled decisions are fair and accurate.

In my conversations with clients, it is clear  that different organizations have different objectives when it comes to their diversity strategy; some are moving forward because it is the right thing to do while others are seeking tangible business benefits before inching ahead. Either way, research shows that gender diversity is clearly correlated with profitability, but women still remain underrepresented.

With right mix of technology, behavior and cultural change, gender inequality will no longer be a “blind spot.”. From promoting gender balance in decision making to incorporating equal pay, it’s about time we acknowledge the half of our population as equals.

About the Author

Leena KalaniLeena is a senior business consultant at Cognizant supporting banking and financial services clients through their digital transformation journey. A TechWomen100 award winner, she has worked with marquee names in the industry to implement open banking interface, payment modernisation and data governance thereby delivering seamless banking experience to their end users. She is an active contributor in the Thought Leadership space delivering value to businesses through ideas, point solutions and innovation. Between working on various technologies, Leena is also a strong advocate for diversity and inclusion at workplace.

Leena can be reached at [email protected]

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

Don’t forget, you can also follow us via our social media channels for the latest up-to-date gender news. Click to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube

Shot of a group of young business professionals having a meeting. Diverse group of young designers smiling during a meeting at the office.

Half of UK’s tech sector calls for more to be done on fostering a diverse workforce

Shot of a group of young business professionals having a meeting. Diverse group of young designers smiling during a meeting at the office.

Half of the UK’s tech sector has said they feel their employer makes token gestures that feel surface level when it comes to diversity and inclusion.

According to a new report from UK-based tech-for-good developer, Culture Shift, 49 per cent also admitted they believe diversity seems like less of priority in the workplace currently.

Despite 79 per cent of employees across the industry confirming that working somewhere with a diverse workforce is an important factor for their happiness at work, 48 per cent think their employer could do more when it comes to diversity. The same report also uncovered that 21 per cent of respondents are calling for training to the workforce on diversity and inclusion.

Diversity and inclusion have long been key factors for ensuring a positive and happy work environment, however the events of recent months, such as the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement, have resulted in these climbing up the agenda of many employers.

Speaking about the findings, Olive Strachan MBE, founder of Olive Strachan Resources Ltd, global business woman and diversity and inclusion specialist, said, “The insights on diversity and inclusion uncovered in Culture Shift’s report really do resonate with me, as they shine a light on the lack of true representation across the UK’s positions of power."

"Employees are calling for their employers to focus on recruiting people from more diverse backgrounds, while providing training to the workforce on diversity and inclusion, confirming action really does need to be taken."

“If organisations want to create a happy work environment then they should take heed, as most employees confirmed working somewhere with a diverse workforce was an important factor to their happiness at work.”

The research found that fostering a diverse workforce representative of reality is a key factor for creating a positive culture and a key component for most employees’ happiness at work. With many calling for more to be done when it comes to ensuring that not only do under-represented groups have a presence in businesses, but also a seat at the table and a voice, there are various factors organisations should be keeping front on mind whilst planning for the future.

Gemma McCall, CEO, Culture Shift, said, "To create an empowering culture for all employees, it’s absolutely essential for organisations to be diverse, inclusive and showcase true representation across all levels of the business."

"Not only do recruitment processes need to be inclusive, but promotion opportunities too, and employees from marginalised backgrounds need to be supported through their career, as well as other employees."

"We firmly believe this is an incredibly important conversation to have and the insights uncovered in our research solidify that we’re not alone in believing more action needs to be taken by those at the top."

"It’s a shift that won’t happen overnight, but there needs to be clear intent from employers to keep diversity and inclusion at the top of their agenda."

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.

Don’t forget, you can also follow us via our social media channels for the latest up-to-date gender news. Click to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.