How the tech industry could do more to attract and retain top female talent 

In this article we hear from Annika Albert, Head of People Operations at Scoro, a software company with an equal ratio of men to women across its global workforce.

Why every tech company needs more women

We often hear about the need for more women in the tech industry, and there’s plenty of advice out there targeted at those women looking to carve out a place in the tech workforce. But, what about the responsibility of tech companies to improve this diversity? There’s a lot of things we can do as thoughtful employers to ensure we are not only attracting, but also retaining, top female talent. With research from academics at the Universities of Glasgow and Leicester showed that companies with more than 30% female executives were more likely to outperform companies that don’t, it’s a no-brainer.

Another report from McKinsey also revealed that diverse companies perform better, hire better talent, have more engaged employees, and retain workers better than companies that do not focus on diversity and inclusion. That’s why we at Scoro are proud to have maintained our 50/50 gender split throughout our growth as a company to 160 global employees; we know that the diversity of our team is also the power of our team.

Being conscious of gender diversity, from the top down

We are proud to be the kind of company where our extended management team consists of 15 women out of 31, so the culture of gender diversity really comes from the top down. We have made sure that being female in our software company is not unusual. And more broadly, I believe it should not feel extraordinary to be a woman applying for a job in tech, it should never have been. In fact, it should be something that women naturally consider as an option for their career, as there are a great number of fulfilling and varying roles across the tech industry.

Tech companies need to hold up their end of the bargain in making this a reality, by actioning meaningful change in their culture and practices. There are a few specific ways companies can attract and retain top female talent, for example, at Scoro we have a 4-day work week. This might enable those who have small children at home to continue to pursue their full-time career in tech, or for those where part-time may never have been an option; this completely free Friday with no reduction in salary means, for just one example, those that might need the extra time after maternity leave to still be able to focus on family while maintaining a full-time job. More than this, it could encourage men to use flexible working in a way that creates a better schedule for parents, restoring a more balanced home-life in general.

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Aside from a 4-day work week, which is a big commitment and takes a lot of operational upheaval, there are of course more immediate and quicker wins companies can implement to attract and retain female talent. For example, making sure their brand is consistently representing its female employees. Whether it’s the career page, about page, social channels, etc; they should all reflect the diversity a company has so that when candidates first find that job advert and do their due diligence, they can see themselves working there. This means pictures and examples of females in every type of role, from technical to sales, marketing to HR. When it comes to retaining this talent, it’s important to ensure there is no pay gap; constantly evaluating pay ranges and being aware of, and correcting, any imbalances so that women know they are rewarded in the exact same way for their hard work. This applies also to reviewing salary after returning from maternity leave. The support system created at the workplace is also paramount to successfully retaining any talent, but being aware that the needs of individual employees will vary, and catering to these needs with true flexibility is key.

Building a positive environment for women in tech

Beyond what we can do as a company to attract great female talent, there is also an onus on the tech industry to be part of the movement from the ground up. When giving women the confidence to pursue a career in STEM a lot of it is grassroots, to have the opportunity early is a game changer for boosting the amount of female role models we see in the software space.

When we talk about making change, and taking real action, we should be seeing this play out with companies taking on an even split of male and female interns, in the hope they will start to build a track record of successful, diverse internships that turn into full-time roles within the company. Similarly, it is why businesses should consider taking their engineering team members along to different career events and have them participate in evaluation committee work at universities. Any tech company should be proud to be part of the movement towards better gender diversity by taking action in their community; from initial opportunity, and through to hiring, training, and promoting female tech talent.

There is still work to be done

With one report revealing that  the tech workforce more broadly is made up of 81% men, and 19% women, there is much to be done in the industry to improve gender diversity. Being conscious of hiring patterns, rethinking how the company is outwardly presenting its culture and employee diversity, introducing flexible working schemes, and being active in the local community are just some of the ways tech companies can ensure they have an equal split of talented women and men across their teams.

Whether a tech company is looking to hire a new senior management position, a HR role or a software engineering role; it should never be unusual to interview and hire as many women as they do men. It’s about time the tech industry showed everyone that it’s not extraordinary to be a woman here. But, it’s clear that there is still  some work to be done in being purposeful about, and conscious of, gender diversity before the tech sector can reach that point. We are proud of our company for being part of the movement towards greater equality in tech, and we are continuously looking for ways that we can do better.

Annika AlbertAbout the author

Annika is an experienced HR professional passionate about creating an excellent employee experience and advocating for a healthy work-life balance. She believes that a work culture where people feel autonomous, trusted, and happy results in engaged and driven teams committed to delivering the best outcome.


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How to plug the UK’s digital skills gap

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Article by Linda MacDonald, HR Director, Kubrick   

As over 80% of all jobs advertised in the UK now require digital skills, UK businesses are increasingly facing a skills shortage crisis. If left unresolved, estimates suggest the digital skills gap costs the UK economy as much as £63 billion a year in potential GDP.

As UK businesses seek to prepare and future-proof themselves for the digital-first age, leadership teams are rightly shifting their focus to ensuring workers are equipped with the necessary digital skills for tomorrow’s economy.

The key to achieving this is by attracting and retaining diverse talent, especially given how fierce the fight for recruits is in the extremely competitive, candidate-hot jobs markets. However, with just one in six UK workers possessing low or no digital skills, a reform across education, industry, and business is urgently needed to create this talent pipeline for UK businesses, prevent the digital skills gap from widening even further, and to support the UK’s post-pandemic recovery.

Following London Tech Week, and the UK Government’s announcement of a new Digital Strategy, our nationwide survey of 18–34-year-old found that much more is required to achieve the necessary digital upskilling. The research findings highlighted how young people in the UK are unlikely to secure highly sought-after roles such as software developers and engineers due to an outdated national curriculum and non-inclusive approaches in recruiting talent.  In fact, one in four adults say digital skills required for jobs in the technology sector were not taught when studying at school, college or university or work.

Alarmingly, the research also showed that 45% of younger workers have expressed an interest in pursuing a career in the technology sector – but lack an understanding of the skills and opportunities open to them. Tackling the issue early on by prioritising the teaching of the required skills in schools is therefore key to building a talent pool of digitally literate candidates.

Accelerating the supply of female digital talent

Despite recent progress made by the technology industry in increasing female representation, reportedly averaging now at 33% of the whole sector, much more needs to be done to accelerate the opportunities for women in technology.

Much like how a key solution to plugging the digital kills gap lies in the teaching of digital skills in schools, an important way to boost female representation in tech is to revaluate the education system. From an early age, boys are encouraged to undertake STEM-related subjects whilst women’s capabilities in these courses are underestimated. A cross-national study of assessment found that the majority of students taking STEM-related courses were boys and girls more often than not dropped out of these subjects.

These academic choices made by children from an early age are translating into their future choices in the job market. Data from 2020 showed that women made up 14% of the cloud computing workforce, 20% of engineering, 32% of data and AI workforces. Tackling the issue early on and encouraging girls to take STEM-related subject will boost the pipeline of female talent and create more of an inclusive culture.

Fostering more diverse workforces

Thinking about inclusivity in broader terms, creating the right environment in tech for diverse people can be hugely beneficial for companies. Improving DE&I is no longer a ‘nice to have’ but a business-critical function in the increasingly digital world. Indeed, a landmark World Economic Forum report from 2020 finds how companies with diverse employees record a 20% higher rate of innovation and 19% higher innovation revenues.

Building a diverse workforce starts with the hiring process and businesses with inclusive recruitment models are best positioned. With over a third (37%) of 18–34-year-olds saying they would be more attracted to a career in technology if there were more diverse role models to mirror, the opportunity is clear for companies that implement diverse hiring models. Hiring diverse talent at all levels, from entry level to senior leadership, will create a pathway for others to follow and allow businesses to benefit from a broader talent pool of candidates.

One of the biggest challenges businesses face right now is attracting and retaining talent. Companies which are therefore willing to invest in candidates open to careers in the technology sector are best positioned to outcompete their peers.

However, over the longer term, the government needs to make digital skills a central part of the national curriculum and its Levelling Up agenda. Only root and branch reform will create the next generation of tech talent, setting UK business up for success in the digital-first world.

Digital literacy and capabilities are vital for achieving not only economic prosperity – but also in creating more inclusive work environments and tapping into the vast pools of diverse talent the UK has to offer.

Linda MacDonaldAbout the author

Linda joined Kubrick in November 2020, following HR leadership roles at Coca-Cola, Unilever, and RBS, to cultivate Kubrick’s development-driven, people-centric ethos. As HR Director, she focuses on creating opportunity for development across departments which aligns and assists in the business’ mission to build tomorrow’s workforce.


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How to become a beacon for tech talent during a skills crisis

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

Article by Heike Lieber, Head of Talent at Fluent Commerce

The tranche of tech workers from the UK’s newest generation, dubbed ‘gen z’, now have exhaustive job checklists, as the balance of power has tipped in their favour.

To capture their attention, tech roles must indicate a clear career path, offer flexibility and provide interesting work in a supportive, healthy environment.

With 70% of the tech industry experiencing skills shortages amidst the Great Resignation, it’s vital that organisations revise their hiring strategies to meet workers’ expectations.

This means HR and hiring managers will need to be fluent in what wins the hearts and minds of candidates if they are to hire and retain them for the long-term. In almost a reverse interview situation, only employers that deliver in policy and practice based around the candidates’ typical questions below will stand head and shoulders above the rest:

  1. Where am I heading?

Providing a clear career path supports both hiring and retention as workers can see a path for their own development. The youngest generation of workers want to see themselves making quick progress. Promoting from within provides a clear path to greater compensation and responsibility, and helps workers feel valued and an intrinsic part of the company’s success. Development frameworks will help staff plan their future and set key goals to get there.

  1. Can I be my true self?

First impressions are critical for candidates in the hiring process. All candidate engagement – from analysing content within advertisement to the first meeting – must eliminate bias from the process to build diverse and successful teams.

A strong diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) strategy is vital.  Appointing a DEI manager and establishing a DEI group are great first steps, as well as obtaining certification as a Work180 employer. A ‘remuneration levelling’ process, removes workers’ personal details (including gender and age data) and allows hiring managers to compare and adjust salaries to that of similar roles in their respective countries.

It’s possible to look beyond the traditional university computer science degree to find the right candidates – for instance, to source excellent software engineering candidates by scouting recruits with coding boot camp certificates and highly rated coding work samples. Drawing on the wider talent pool of underrepresented candidates widens the company’s talent funnel.

  1. What are the pay and benefits?

Offering paid holiday is no longer enough when candidates are looking for the most competitive compensation package. Being transparent around salary, benefits and perks up front is vital – and requires regular review of your pay scales.

Despite a recent Skillsoft report showing IT salaries have risen by 6.5% in the UK, the pay package isn’t the main driver for workers to leave employers. 59% said a lack of growth and development opportunities are the top reason for jumping ship, even above higher pay.

Company culture also ranks high on the list of hardworking prospective employees, so making clear your values helps them to decide if it’s a mutually beneficial fit.

  1. What are the learning and development opportunities?

Embracing new and proven technologies, where individuals can continuously develop their skills, will keep them motivated and productive. For instance, understanding MACH architecture, (Microservices, API-first, Cloud-native, and Headless) – this set of technology principles is behind new, best of breed technology platforms. With MACH, technical architects get to use these key skills they’ve spent years developing in the real world in real scenarios.

Prioritising professional development and providing a professional development allowance will support the investment in employees on supportive learning to build and strengthen their career – from a training course, to a tech event, or online resources.

  1. Are senior management accessible?

At people-first, high performing tech companies, managers often engage directly with employees and are highly accessible. Making quick and well-founded decisions, they hold themselves accountable for real outcomes.

It improves productivity if the senior team are transparent and accessible to staff with an ‘Open Door’ policy. Employee engagement surveys are a good tool for team feedback so that any issues can be addressed. The best talent, of course, will prefer a company where they believe their work has real impact and they feel a sense of purpose. If managers are unaccountable, they’ll think the grass is greener. Furthermore, employers who are their authentic selves from the beginning of the interview process will create a better foundation for the future relationship. Kindness is key and will not be forgotten!

  1. What’s the work/life balance?

In 2022, flexible working options are everything. Candidates now want the flexibility to work from home or wherever they choose and work the hours that work for them. In specifying the role is remote in the job description, but within compatible time zones will attract the widest choice of candidates – limiting hiring to local areas is more limiting but work out what works best for the team and tailor job advertisements accordingly. It helps to be specific about the extent of in-person work and make sure that all the necessary equipment and resources is prepared to ensure an optimal joining experience.

Investing in your biggest assets

Hiring teams have realised their workers are their biggest assets, with data scientists, developers, cybersecurity and digital experts among the most highly prized and sought after tech skills for modern digital businesses. But it’ll take more than just tweaking a few advertisements to lure and keep them.

Only through building a robust DEI strategy with objectives that align to workers’ needs – and living by their values – will employers be able to secure the best. True diversity and inclusion means policy and practice. It won’t happen overnight, but a review of hiring strategy and career development will reassure workers they are valued, supported, and motivated to deliver their very best work – for the long term.

About the author

Heike LieberAs Head of Talent, Heike is responsible for Fluent Commerce’s recruitment strategy to support the company’s aggressive global growth plans. Heike has over 15 years experience as a Talent Manager at premium brands such as Apple, Salesforce and hybris (SAP) as well as being heavily engaged in the start-up/growth ecosystem. With a global career, recruiting and living in Japan, Europe and Australia, Heike brings the experience and enthusiasm Fluent Commerce needs to maintain and grow our global workforce full of talented, fun and smart people all over the world.


IKEA 3D printed meatball & job interview

Looking for a new career? IKEA invites tech talent for a job interview over 3D-printed meatballs

IKEA 3D printed meatball & job interview

IKEA is inviting people with imagination for a job interview over experimental 3D-printed meatballs as part of a new data and technology recruitment campaign.

During 2022, IKEA will open more than 150 technology and innovation roles across Europe. It’s reaching out for people who share its values and vision: to create a better everyday life for the many people.

The world-famous Swedish meatballs are an iconic part of the IKEA offer. Now IKEA is exploring new technologies to make them more sustainable. In line with their commitment to offer 50 per cent plant-based main meals in IKEA restaurants by 2025, IKEA menus already include plant balls as alternatives to traditional meatballs. The ambition is to make healthier and more sustainable eating easy, desirable and affordable.

IKEA is inviting candidates to bring their ideas and try some experimental plant-based meatballs prepared with a 3D printer. These never-before-served 3D-printed meatballs are being offered as part of its recruitment campaign “Taste the Future”, which launches on 1 February 2022. The campaign aims to entice a diverse and extraordinary range of tech talent through a unique, tasty and thought-provoking job interview for selected roles and people.

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The 3D-printed meatballs are just one experiment where IKEA is exploring new technologies to bring its vision to life.

All to reach more people and create a positive impact on the world.

Speaking about the campaign, Inter IKEA Group CIO Pascal Pauwels, “IKEA is at the start of a journey to embrace data and technology to become more affordable, accessible and sustainable in an omnichannel environment.”

“Naturally people with imagination will play a big role in that quest.”

“So here we’re looking for people who want to create a better everyday life with us.”

“This campaign is a great way to start the conversation.”

Karen Rivoire, IKEA Employer Brand Leader added, “We’re looking for down-to-earth data scientists, future architects, cyber guardians, unboxed engineers and common sense-makers.”

“People who want to co-create a better everyday life at home for the many with thin wallets.”

Explore more with the “Taste the Future” short film

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How to win the war for tech talent

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Article by Jamie Mackenzie, Director at Sodexo Engage

The shortage of tech talent has been well documented with a recent report from Cloud Assembly revealing 69% of UK business owners are experiencing a digital skills shortfall.

We’ve seen advancements in technology accelerate at a rate that training and development is struggling to match.

The statistics are alarming at first glance, but can employers be doing more to attract and retain tech talent? The skills shortage certainly exists, but highly skilled candidates know their worth and are selective about the employment they wish to pursue.

An attractive employer will have good values and a dynamic culture, but there are added selling points that’ll make a business stand out in the crowd, including a solid benefits package, flexibility and a well-conceived training and development programme. To fill the digital skills gap, it’s clear that businesses will need to adapt and evolve.

Values are the bedrock

Core values matter. No business can function without shared purpose and values, which act as the framework providing direction for employees. A higher sense of purpose binds, guides and prevents stagnation with all employees working towards common goals.

Simply laying out the company values is good, but, ideally, they should be embedded in the company culture. A recent survey revealed 73% of purpose-oriented employees were satisfied at work, which demonstrates how important it is that employers instil a clear sense of direction at work. The marketplace for scarce digital talent is incredibly competitive, so well-defined values give a company added buying power with top candidates.

Knowledge could be one of a company’s values and opportunities for learning will be particularly attractive to digital talent, always looking to upskill and reskill. It’s important to look at what tech skills are needed and either offer training programmes for existing staff or carefully hone a programme for incoming staff. There are so many elements to tech and it’s an ever-evolving market, so no candidate will possess all the skills. Offering various opportunities to learn and acquire new competencies will ensure a business both retains and attracts top talent while staying on top of their game.

Making benefits smart

Values, purpose – without these a business will struggle to function. However, once these are crystalised, it’s time to start thinking about perks and the ways to make work more enjoyable and enriching to individual employees.

Trends in employee benefits are shifting all the time, so business leaders need to keep abreast of the changing fashions. It was recently revealed that tech companies are ditching the more fluffy perks like office beer taps and ping pong tables, to make way for benefits that align more with pandemic working.  The past 18 months has seen what employees look for in a job completely transform. The employee of today will likely place great emphasis on personal time, hobbies, work-life balance and wellbeing. Employers who recognise these priorities in their benefits package will be rewarded with higher motivation and retention amongst its team. who recognise these priorities in their benefits package will be rewarded with higher motivation and retention.

Employers can consider flexible hours and a hybrid working model. Some employers, like Revolut, have gone the extra mile offering employees the opportunity to work anywhere in the world and Github has said employees can work wherever they are happiest. Businesses might also consider giving staff time off to volunteer or pursue extra-curricular activities and initiatives to bolster wellbeing, such as gym memberships, health insurance or Employee Assistance Programmes which allow access to counselling and other mental health support.

There is no single recipe for success in the tech marketplace and any formula adopted will need to be continuously reviewed to remain state-of-the-art. However, building from a clear sense of purpose and values and reflecting those values in the benefits you provide to your workforce will help to distinguish the successful firm from its rivals.

Jamie Sodexo

About the author

Jamie has been with Sodexo since 2013 and is responsible for the company strategy, proposition development, brand management and communications. He brings over 13 years of business and consumer marketing experience in senior roles within blue chip organisations. Jamie is also an advocate for diversity and inclusion at work and has spoken frequently about the ways to create a positive workplace culture.


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How we can unlock the tech talent pipeline

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Article by Steve Pinches, Senior VP Product, Hyve Group Plc 

As we tentatively enjoy our first few months without restrictions, it is interesting to look back over the last 18 months and see just how dramatically our business landscape has changed for good – especially when it comes to digitalisation. 

Back in Spring 2020, all sectors from retail to hospitality and events had to move quickly to adapt to the fast-moving situation and changing behaviours. Most businesses did in fact quickly settle into a steady pace of digital evolution, absorbing the ongoing lessons of the pandemic to accelerate their digital transformation and make themselves more agile and innovative.

As we look to the future, a new factor is concerning many businesses, one that could slow down this digitalisation – tech talent. Simply put, while the number of job vacancies in the tech sector has skyrocketed in the past year, the tech talent required to fill the demand has been far harder to find.  Indeed, fewer than a quarter of UK tech leaders find it easy to identify suitable candidates, according to recruitment firm Talent Works.

The reasons for this are multifaceted. Tech roles – particularly those involving a business’ digital evolution – often tend to be project-based, have an end date and require a specialist – whether that’s in front end development, data or software engineering. The challenge of finding a candidate with the specific skills needed at exactly the right time can prove tricky – particularly as suitable individuals are in short supply.

But the problem has far deeper roots than this. While the tech sector has gone from strength to strength over the last two decades, with the jobs and opportunities it can afford people, we have not adequately invested in the skills of young people or grasped how the lack of digital education will impact the future of the industry. In doing so, we failed to unlock the talent pipeline in the UK.

In fact, despite the obvious demand for IT professions,  the number of young people taking IT subjects at GCSE has dropped 40% since 2015, according to the Learning & Work Institute. Moreover, fewer than half of British employers believe young people are leaving full-time education with sufficiently advanced digital skills. Of course, there is a distinction between general ‘digital skills’ and working in the tech industry or becoming a web developer. Research in 2013 found that the top characteristics of success at Google were being a good coach, communicating and listening well and possessing insights into others – not expertise in STEM subjects.

Nonetheless, the misalignment between the job market, the demands of the economy and the skills of young people is a cause for concern. The reasons for it are numerous – from an aging school curriculum to outdated assumptions about what higher education should entail – but we must also rest some of the blame on those within industry who did not campaign for better digital education or break down social and economic barriers that often hold young people back from pursuing a career in this area.

Now, we need tech companies to work much more closely with universities, schools and policy makers to help encourage young people into the sector. In particular, educational institutions have a responsibility to do more to encourage more girls into STEM subjects. Currently, women comprise 14.4% of all people working in Stem in the UK, despite making up about half of the workforce.

The problem is particularly acute in the UK, where gender inequality remains high. Research has found that in more gender-neutral countries, like Norway and Sweden, the gender gap in STEM subjects such as maths disappears, highlighting that this is not just a tech issue but a societal one. On average, girls perform better academically than boys in the UK – for a variety of reasons. In general, our educational system directs high achieving girls towards what are ultimately white collar professions. We need to shift perceptions of apprenticeships – which are entirely honourable and useful – but currently have the unintended consequence of debasing the tech professions to blue collar status in the eyes of everyone – particularly for girls. We need to create pathways to tech careers which do not have to seem or feel ‘second rate’ – this includes more affordable higher education in STEM disciplines.

Tech careers often cover vast domains of experience and excellence, especially as the complexity of software grows with each decade. The sophisticated machine learning software we now have requires very different skillsets depending on the industry in which it is applied – medicine, construction, engineering, etc. However, there are two overarching key skills – logical thinking and the ability to learn and integrate concepts in a quick and structured way. In STEM learning institutions,  students learn how to learn. Learning how to code at an early age, for example, is a great way to lay a solid foundation of logic and algorithms that can be built upon later on when students begin to specialise in a particular field.

The diversity issue

A lack of diversity has been a long-running thorn in the side of the UK tech sector. It is a problem which not only impacts the talent pipeline for businesses, but also affects project outcomes and results.

According to Tech Nation, women are hugely underrepresented in tech, with women comprising  just 19% of the industry’s workforce. Socio-economic background is also a big factor – one report in 2018 from Inclusive Tech Alliance found that more than one third (36%) of tech execs attended a private school, compared to just 7% of the overall population.

To combat this lack of diversity, there are a number of steps tech companies can take. The first is to approach diversity and inclusion (D&I) in the same way businesses ensure they make profit – setting goals, collecting data and analysing the data to see if goals are met. Considering neurodiversity as well as ethnic is also important – tech requires a broad range of approaches, which is why companies Microsoft and Dell have launched autism hiring programmes.

What is most important, however, is to ensure that managers are on board and involved with diversity efforts from the start. If managers are implementing diversity initiatives which they have helped design, they are more likely to buy into and implement them properly.

Concluding thoughts

With the pandemic causing irreversible changes to the way we communicate and do business, the time to address the tech talent issue is now. Within our own company, Hyve Group plc, we moved rapidly to adapt to the circumstances. Despite only having hosted physical in-person events before March 2020, we have since staged 180 online events over 18 months, welcoming 52,000 attendees in total and keeping vital business communities connected.

However, as we continue to innovate and progress our digital offerings – both for in person and virtual events – we too are aware we need more tech talent to reach our goals and potential.

Ultimately, our goal needs to be to make tech opportunities more accessible to a wider candidate pool – both at school leaving age and later in life for technically-minded career changers. The shift to digital is only set to increase – but without targeted messaging from government and educational institutions bringing more people into the industry, we will be unable to meet demand.

About the author

Steve PinchesSteve joined Hyve in January 2021 – a pivotal moment for the Group as we evolve our omnichannel strategy and enhance our digital capability. As SVP Product, Steve’s focus is on creating a world-class digital experience for customers and developing new and effective ways for them to make connections, learn and do business throughout the year.

Steve has an extensive background in helping organisations across the media, publishing and edtech industries to maximise digital opportunities and create strong digital communities. Most recently, Steve was Chief Operating Officer at Tes Global, a large private equity-owned edtech business with the largest teacher community in the world.

Steve holds an MBA from IE Madrid and a Master’s degree from Warwick University.


watching a virtual conference on a laptop, zoom call, video call

Can virtual onboarding attract top talent?

Article by Kirsty Carter, Solutionize Global

watching a virtual conference on a laptop, zoom call, video callJoining an organisation can be both daunting and exhilarating.

However, when new and future recruits are unable to meet their colleagues face-to-face or even get a feel for what their physical office space might look like – especially during a global crisis – can they really get to know their company and be a part of the team?

The truth is, they absolutely can. That’s because – when it’s done right – hiring and settling in a talented individual exclusively online can help to break down any ‘formal’ barriers. It also provides a more time and cost-efficient process for both parties and takes away any issues that might occur from commuting.

This is, of course, all on the basis that the correct planning has been completed beforehand, and there is a structure in place that is agile enough to welcome a new recruit into the team seamlessly – even when they’ve never stepped foot into the office.

Now known as ‘virtual onboarding’, this way of embedding a colleague provides an alternative option for many organisations that are continuing to navigate the pressures that come with growing a business during a pandemic – and beyond.

For several modern-day firms, they’re exploring fresh and exciting ways in which they not only attract the brightest talent but retain their future services too. And virtual onboarding can play a pivotal role in driving many employment models forward, as a result.

That’s because a technology-first approach presents so many opportunities for employees that want to work flexibly and remotely – or via a hybrid mix of an office and home setting.

From an enterprise’s point of view, it widens the talent pool geographically and – if they’ve hired effectively – means that new additions can operate autonomously and settle in quickly to a supportive team culture.

Easing any ‘first day’ nerves

In the first few moments at a new firm, employees are typically looking to understand internal operations swiftly, get to know their colleagues and hit the ground running in a positive way.

And with technology enabling that process to all be done virtually, this can help individuals feel as though they’re receiving as good – if not better – of a welcome compared to stepping foot into the physical office for the first time.

Utilising video conferencing tools can ensure communication remains a high priority and any questions that a new employee has, can be made without vast disruption, or spending the time booking a meeting room to have a quiet conversation.

Speaking to colleagues can be made into more of a social event too – such as a virtual coffee morning – to avoid any intimidating, more ‘formal’ gatherings. And by inviting people into instant messaging groups and apps, these can all enhance the virtual onboarding process even further.

Creating leaders throughout the workforce

On the other side of the coin, a digital-first approach to talent recruitment can also empower existing members of the team. Encouraging them to host their own specialist sessions for a new recruit – whether social media, HR, or software demonstrations – can all help the workforce dynamic and upskill everyone as a result.

All of these elements form a critical part of a successful virtual onboarding process – and this can often only take days and weeks online rather than months and years to achieve in person.

And when things can be done seamlessly and swiftly, that means new additions can begin to add value as quickly as possible – and with that comes trust, loyalty, and employee ‘buy-in’ of an enterprise’s core values – because they feel like they’re being supported and motivated throughout.

Of course, virtual onboarding can take more planning and structure than when it’s done in a face-to-face environment. For example, employees who have joined a team and only operated online will require everything in place beforehand so they can truly hit the ground running from their first day. That means providing laptops, work phones, IT security software and passwords.

Ultimately, it’s about engaging with new staff, encouraging the wider team to get involved, and being flexible and communicative throughout. Providing an alternative, agile way to embed a recruit can open up more doors to attract a wider talent pool, and could help firms take a huge leap forward when it comes to tackling the ongoing technological skills shortage.

Kirsty Carter, chief of staff, Solutionize GlobalAbout the author

Attracting, developing and engaging the very best people at Solutionize Global is just one of Kirsty’s specialisms in the business. Embodying the technology solutions and services provider’s commitment to reliability and availability, she works tirelessly to ensure the team is the most successful version of itself.

A devotee to ensuring that the enterprise’s culture strikes the right balance of support and self-motivation, Kirsty recognises that empowering employees to fly, in turn, provides clear benefits to customers and drives growth throughout the organisation.


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Chloe Booth featured

Inspirational Woman: Chloe Booth | Chief Product Owner - Tech Talent, Nationwide Building Society

Chloe BoothChloe’s tech career started when she joined IBM Global Services as a STEM graduate.

She has since worked for multiple financial services organisations over the course of her career including; Zurich, AXA, JP Morgan Chase, Credit Suisse and, currently, Nationwide Building Society.  She has held a variety of roles in her career; systems tester, application support, market data infrastructure specialist, PMO, and project and programme management.  More recently, she has led strategic programmes and held the role of Head of Technology Strategy at Nationwide Building Society, defining how their investment in technology would be leveraged.

Chloe’s current role is Chief Product Owner for Tech Talent, with the mission of attracting new technologists to Nationwide Building Society and helping it to feel like home to them.

Outside of work, Chloe is lucky enough to be a trustee for Play Gloucestershire, a brilliant children's charity, and to be the co-founder of an online network for working women – Women at Work – which she helped to grow from scratch.

Chloe lives in Gloucestershire with her family.

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

My first degree was a BSc. (Hons) in Physiology, which I studied at the University of Edinburgh. My claim to fame from studying Physiology is that my research was published in the Journal of Neuroendocrinology and I was the first person in the world to photograph the GLUT-5 (glucose) transporter in brain cells.

Following my degree, I joined IBM Global Services in Edinburgh, marking the start of my technology career.

I have since worked for multiple financial services organisations over the course of my career including; Zurich, AXA, JP Morgan Chase, Credit Suisse and, currently, Nationwide Building Society.  I have held a variety of tech roles in my early career; systems tester, application support and market data infrastructure specialist before transitioning to programme management. More recently, I have led strategic operational programmes and held the role of Head of Technology Strategy at Nationwide Building Society, defining how their investment in Tech would be leveraged.  I recently studied for an MSc. Leadership and Management at Loughborough University which I loved, and I’m secretly itching to do a PhD!

I’m also lucky enough to be a trustee for Play Gloucestershire, a fabulous children's charity, and to be the co-founder of an online network for working women – Women at Work.  Women at Work is a hive of almost 3,000 women who share their work experiences and wisdom to help each other.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I didn’t when I was younger; I do now. However, I would caveat that as the technology world is changing rapidly, new roles are being created all the time.  Therefore, I think it’s only possible to plan in detail for a 12-24-month horizon – however as a good friend reminds me, it’s good to have a personal BHAG (a Big Hairy Audacious Goal) for where you want to get to.

I also think it’s all too easy to go where you are asked to work-wise, especially if you have a reputation for doing complex work.  Therefore, I really recommend taking the time to reflect on where you want to go, vs. where others may want you to work, and build it into your plan.

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

Whilst not a career challenge as such, a significant life challenge which impacted my career was the birth of my eldest daughter Lucy, who was born profoundly disabled. Whilst I had been hugely ambitious in my twenties, the shock and sadness that I felt at the time hit me from leftfield and left me winded. As a result, my ambition waned.

However, there is a very happy end to this story. We have built a life where Lucy is happy, as are my other children, but one where I am able to go out into the world and create the impact that I want to have.  There were times when Lucy was small when I used to believe that we would never be happy again, and that my career was over. Thankfully I know now that neither of those things are true. I have been lucky that my current employer has supported me in being able to have plenty of new opportunities, including being sponsored through an MSc. I have always been able to be seen there as ‘Chloe Booth’, rather than being viewed as a parent carer, which has helped me significantly.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Leading the team that delivered Nationwide’s Tech Strategy, which underpinned a £4.1bn investment in technology over a five-year period – it was fascinating, stretching content and the team were fantastic. We covered a lot of ground in a relatively short space of time.

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

Resilience.  There have been times in my career when things haven’t gone the way I’d have liked them to and the biggest lesson has been to get back up and move on again. I believe that the quicker that you can do this, the quicker you are moving yourself onto being ready for success again. I think that it’s important to see these moments as ‘masterclasses’ – opportunities to learn how you would approach things differently in the future.

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

Invest in your personal development.  Learn new tech skills, try new roles, read books, stay curious, ask for help and opportunities, listen to others career stories; just don’t wait for someone to say that they are going to sponsor your development. You own your journey. It took me a long time to realise this and it’s a life lesson I wish I had learnt sooner.

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

Yes, I believe that there are still barriers for women working in tech.

The market is largely male dominated at present, so it can feel isolating at times to potentially be the only woman in a team; it’s therefore key to build a wide support network both internally and externally to your organisation.

Lack of flexibility in working hours, or access to childcare, can also prove an obstacle.  Organisations can really help with this by introducing greater flexibility around the ways in which people work and to switch the focus to ‘outcomes, not hours. Decent provision of shared leave for both parents is also key in helping women to come back to the workplace on their timetable.

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

Firstly, make it easier for both men and women to work flexibly and dynamically.  With the advancement of collaboration tools, it is getting easier and easier for companies to offer dynamic working – which makes it far easier for parents to balance work with home life.

Secondly, help lift the profile of women working in tech, so that their work is visible across the organisation. We need to amplify the ideas and contributions from tech women – mentoring, coaching and sponsoring women helps to make a real difference.

There is currently only 15% of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

Whilst not an overnight fix, I think greater promotion of STEM subjects in schools would make a significant impact to the female tech talent pipeline over time. I was lucky to have a Dad who strongly encouraged me to do STEM subjects at school and University, and I’m glad that he did.

In the shorter-term, I would love to see more men join the conversation around gender equality in tech, and for all of us to lift and celebrate the careers of women working in tech. We all have a responsibility to help others and to create new opportunities and greater visibility for those women who are wanting to progress. We recently created a mentoring programme for both men and women technologists at Nationwide called #BUILDIT, and I’m excited to watch everyone’s journey through the programme.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

I love podcasts. From a tech perspective I really enjoy the Wired and TED Talks on Tech podcasts. Looking more widely I’m a fan of the following podcasts: Stuff You Should Know, The Economist, Work Life with Adam Grant, Masters of Scale, The Guilty Feminist and Conversations with Remarkable Women.

My favourite work-related books are ‘The Big Leap’ by Gay Hendricks if you are looking to get ‘unstuck’ in your career, ‘Fierce Conversations’ by Susan Scott for having better conversations at work and ‘Physical Intelligence’ by Claire Dale and Patricia Peyton if you want to understand how your physiology plays a role in how you show up at work.

As for website recommendations a firm favourite is www.remarkablewomen.co.uk by Danielle Macleod and Nic Devlin, which I delve into when I’m looking for some inspiration or a kick to do better.  I wholly recommend following these two superwomen on LinkedIn for motivation to be more and to bring purpose into your work.


UK remains 'hotbed' for tech talent

The UK remains a 'hotbed' for tech talent, employing five per cent of all high-growth tech workers globally, according to a new report.

The research, conducted by Tech Nation, found that the UK is in front of Japan, France and Indonesia when it comes to employing high-growth tech workers.

In the UK, Insurtech and Fintech were the biggest employers among high-growth digital tech firms in 2018, employing 24 per cent and 18 per cent of the high-growth workforce respectively.

Cyber, AI, and Cleantech all feature in the top ten sectors for employment in high-growth tech firms. Investment data shows that AI, Cyber and Big Data are growing in importance for UK tech scaleups. This means that the UK may be about to see more jobs generated in these sectors.

Eileen Burbidge, Partner, Passion Capital & Chair of Tech Nation said, “The UK has an incredibly pivotal role in the global tech scene."

"Nowhere is this more evident than in the Fintech sector where the UK is ranked number one in the world; an enviable position that has been established with decades of hard work, entrepreneurial talent, innovation and supportive policymakers."

"I’m confident that we have all the ingredients needed for continued success and even greater acceleration of the tech sector here in the UK.”

UK Prime Minister, Rt Hon Theresa May MP, added, ‘‘The UK is a global tech powerhouse."

"I am immensely proud of our country’s ambitious tech scaleups."

"These companies are delivering significant economic value to the nation through the investment they raise, the jobs they create and the innovative products and services they deliver’’.