February 12, 2019  1:30 PM

Diversity and inclusion – getting the balance right

Clare McDonald Profile: Clare McDonald
"diversity in tech", "women in tech", inclusion, IT jobs

GUEST BLOG: In this contributed post, Patricia DuChene, GM EMEA and VP of Sales at Wrike, discusses the fine line between diversity and inclusion, as well as lessons she’s learnt during her career 

Companies are now spending millions to get their diversity initiatives up to speed. Considering that only 12% of tech founders employ five or more employees from underrepresented backgrounds, this is long overdue. But while diversity sets the stage, inclusion is where the play unfolds. Inclusion is an ongoing, thoughtful effort to build and maintain an environment that fosters and encourages participation. It gives a voice to every worker, so they know their input matters in critical decisions. Diversity without this practice is, frankly, an empty effort that will not drive change.

Though many companies tout the progress they’ve made in their Diversity and Inclusivity (D&I)  Programmes, a greater emphasis needs to be placed on the ‘I.’ As Laura Sherbin and Ripa Rashid wrote for Harvard Business Review: “It’s easy to measure diversity: it’s a simple matter of headcount. But quantifying feelings of inclusion can be dicey. Understanding that narrative along with the numbers is what really draws the picture for companies.”

After joining Wrike at its Silicon Valley headquarters in 2013, I relocated to Dublin in 2015 to open the company’s EMEA headquarters. We started with two employees and quickly scaled to a team of more than 80. Throughout this journey, diversity and inclusion has been a top priority and will continue to be so as we expand our global footprint.

Here are a few lessons I’ve learned along the way that promote an inclusive working environment:

Empower your staff to share ideas and insights

If companies really want to challenge the status quo, their employees need to feel safe sharing opinions and ideas, free of shame or ridicule. The easiest way to empower new team members is through mentorship. Pairing up senior or more-tenured employees with newer members will help break down some of the barriers that exist with being the newbie. This will help build employees’ confidence and enable them to share ideas in a productive dialogue.

The same theory applies to knowledge sharing sessions or informal meetings where anyone can pick a topic and present on it. One easy way to do this is to have one team share details of a project that they’re working on and how they’re approaching it. For example, someone from event marketing could do a ‘lunch-and-learn’ talk about how they plan, market, and execute events, as well as how they measure success.

These sessions give the person presenting the opportunity to make themselves known. They also give others the chance to learn a new skill from a peer that they may not have otherwise had the opportunity to. When these sessions are made optional, they tend to be smaller, so people are more likely to be at ease when speaking. This creates a low-stakes, welcoming atmosphere that allows employees to be their full, authentic selves.

Get to know your team

Employees need to know that they are valued as an individual with unique talents, not just a cog in the machine. Everyone’s presence adds something unique to company culture and it’s important that everyone knows that.  Encourage managers to set up recurring one-on-ones to learn what motivates each member of their team. Knowing what drives them will help you engage in a way that lets them be heard and understood. You’ll also be better equipped to provide them with whatever information or assistance they need, in the manner they need to receive it.

Be hyper-conscious of your meeting environment

Meetings should be seized as an opportunity to let employees know that they are valued and that their ideas matter. This applies whether meetings take place daily or monthly. You might not realise it, but where people physically sit in a meeting matters. Those who do not feel included are more likely to sit towards the wall or stand if there are not enough seats. Make sure everyone has a seat at the table. If there isn’t enough room, create it by moving people around.

Keep an eye on how people talk to each other. Interrupting someone is a backhanded way of saying, “your opinion isn’t as important or as valid as mine.” Have a ‘no interrupting’ policy and own it – provide feedback in one-on-ones if someone is a repeat offender and keep an eye out for those who are often interrupted.

Inclusive teams make better business decisions up to 87% of the time. More importantly, inclusion-driven diversity nurtures a deeper sense of dedication to a role, which leads to greater job satisfaction, less employee turnover, and more employee engagement. Inclusivity just makes good business sense – so implement policies and practices that support it.

February 11, 2019  10:26 AM

Makers launches nominations for inaugural Women in Software Power List

Clare McDonald Profile: Clare McDonald
"women in IT", "women in tech", Diversity, inclusion, IT jobs, IT skills, Skills

Software developer bootcamp Makers has launched its first annual Women in Software Power List, nominations for which are now open.

In partnership with Level39, the Women in Software Power List is designed to recognise some of the female rising stars in the UK’s software development sector.

Nominations can now be put forward for consideration, and those suggested will be assessed by a group of judges to determine the final Power List of 30 women.

“We want to recognise the significant contribution of the rising stars of the software industry,” said Evgeny Shadchnev, CEO of Makers.

“There’s a need to examine the roles they play – as well as the companies that allow them to thrive. Compiling 30 incredible women across the country will bring the community closer and hopefully inspire others to consider a career in the digital economy and to encourage businesses to create environments that break down gender barriers and are conducive to everyone.”

The judges will use the following criteria to help decide the women who make the final list:

  1. Growth – in learning and leadership
  2. Influence – in the community and among peers
  3. Innovation – contributing to interesting projects at work or independently

Many blame a lack of visible and accessible female role models for the low number of girls who choose to go into science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) subjects or careers, and young women have said they want more encouragement from role models in the industry.

Women are often underrepresented in technical roles such as software development, and Makers’ Power List aims to celebrate the contribution women make to the sector across the UK, as well as make these role models more visible to aspiring software engineers.

Makers is launching the Powerlist to address this lack of role models and encourage more women into the sector, after a Tech Nation report found only 19% of the digital workforce in the UK is female – despite the fact London in particular is a huge hub for global software engineering talent.

Tech Nation also found in 2017, the number of female software developers had dropped significantly over a 10 year period, with only 3.9% of technology and telco professionals in the UK made up by women in 2017 as opposed to 10% in 2007.

Makers also wants to but an emphasis on the importance of creating an inclusive workplace making women more likely to want to stay – many women in the technology industry tend to leave the sector at the seven year mark of their career – mainly by highlighting the companies young women in the software development space are thriving in.

Recognising the work these women contribute to the sector is one way of contributing to a more inclusive approach to the workplace.

While candidates must have been in the profession for fewer than six years, all roles and levels will be recognised and accepted as part of the nominations process.

Nominations will be open until March 10, after which the winners will be announced at a special event in London on 8 May 2019.

Anyone is welcome to nominate themselves, a friend, or a colleague they feel should be recognised for their contribution to the industry.

February 7, 2019  1:00 PM

FDM everywoman in Technology Awards 2019 finalists announced

Clare McDonald Profile: Clare McDonald
"role models", "women in IT", "women in tech"

The finalists for the 2019 FDM everywoman in Technology Awards have been announced prior to the awards ceremony in March 2019

Judges have decided on the finalists for the 2019 FDM everywoman in Technology Awards after considering hundreds of applications.

The theme for this year’s award ceremony is ‘achieve, elevate, inspire’ and aims to showcase people in the science, technology, engineer and maths (Stem) sector who have done what they can to be visible Stem role models.

Maxine Benson, co-founder of everywoman, said: “The judges were united in their admiration and respect for the achievement of this year’s finalists. Without question, each of them has the ability to inspire more women and girls into a career in technology. Research by PWC shows that there could be a £180billion boost to UK GDP just by increasing female employment rates. This shows just how valuable female talent is and why this awards programme is so important in ensuring that more women enter the industry.”

The 2019 FDM everywoman in Technology Awards finalists are as follows:

One to Watch Award – sponsored by Computacenter

  • Laurelin Chase, student, Clacton County High School
  • Aoibheann Mangan, student, Mt St Michael Secondary school
  • Avye Couloute, student, Bishop Gilpin
  • Leslie Sarango Romero, student, Harris Academy Bermondsey

Apprentice Award

  • Emily Tomlinson, trainee IS security coordinator, Northumbrian Water
  • Chloe O’Shea, technology consulting bright start, Deloitte
  • Tiffany Cooksley, software engineer, CGI

Rising Star Award – sponsored by T-Systems

  • Clare McKeever, software engineer, PwC
  • Tasha Morrison, solution architect graduate, Whitbread
  • Mahek Vara, founder and CEO, Code Camp

Digital Star Award – sponsored by CGI

  • Melissa Dunn, head of digital product development, Sainsbury’s Argos
  • Monique Ho, innovation exchange lead, BAE Systems Applied Intelligence
  • Esther Kieft,senior product manager (contractor), former product owner at Lloyds Banking Group
  • Kar Lok Chan, technology architecture associate manager, Accenture
  • Samantha Charles, director, Float Digital
  • Rebecca Ellul,head of strategy and business development, digital and tech policy, Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport

Software Engineer Award – sponsored by NatWest

  • Pae Natwilai, CEO, TRIK
  • Nelly Kiboi, software engineer, American Express
  • Nadine O’Hagan, senior software engineer, PwC
  • Hannah Bird, senior squad manager (platform engineering), Lloyds Banking Group

Academic Award – sponsored by Lloyds Banking

  • Apala Majumdar, reader in applied mathematics, University of Bath
  • Adelina Ilie, reader in nanoscience, University of Bath
  • Shakira Asghar, head of design and technology, Ashlawn School

Team Leader Award – sponsored by American Express

  • Janine Hughes-Griffiths, director of service, CGI
  • Edel Owen, CTO BUK ventures, Barclays Bank
  • Sally Bogg, head of service management, Leeds Beckett University
  • Ranjeet Ruprai, technical team lead, Experian
  • Jasleen Budhiraja, assistant consultant, Tata Consultancy Services Ltd
  • Shilpa Shah, director technology consulting, Women in Technology Lead, Deloitte

Entrepreneur Award – sponsored by IBM iX

  • Kim Nilsson, CEO, PIVIGO
  • Colleen Wong, founder, Techsixtyfour
  • Joanne Smith, founder and group CEO, Recordsure
  • Helen Mitchell, co-founder, Blukudu Ltd

Innovator Award – sponsored by Equiniti

  • McCall Dorr, innovation strategy director, Experian
  • Maureen Biney, software engineer, American Express
  • Megha Prakash, co-founder, CEO, Earthmiles (GMS Partners Ltd)
  • Felicia Meyerowitz Singh, CEO, Akoni

Leader Award – sponsored by BP

  • Angela Maragopoulou, global head of IoT/UCC operations, Vodafone Group Services Limited
  • Deborah O’Neill, partner, Oliver Wyman
  • Ana Perez, senior director consulting, Oracle
  • Marianne Lillian Breen-Hart, program and project mgmt associate director, Accenture
  • Amy Chalfen, global service and delivery director, decision analytics, Experian Ltd
  • Sharon Moore MBE, CTO for government, IBM

International Inspiration

  • Jessie Haugh, head of research and development, The Ablegamers Charity
  • Mujde Esin, founder, KizCode
  • Adriana Bianca, biofuels CIO and ethics and compliance leader, BP

Male Agent of Change Award – sponsored by VMWare

  • Jonathan Pritchard, reader in astrostatistics, Imperial College
  • Jim Bichard, UK insurance leader, PwC
  • Philip Neal, founder, digital workplace director, BP
  • Philip Wallace, managing director – Oracle Business Group, Accenture

Having access to visible role models can help encourage people from diverse backgrounds into Stem, and many young women have claimed they would like more encouragement from Stem role models.

Diversity as a whole is equally as important for a firm as having a gender balanced workforce is, as the better a team reflects the audience they are producing for, the more successful they will be.

Sheila Flavell, chief operating officer of FDM Group comments: “The FDM everywoman in Technology Awards are an extension of our commitment to championing diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Promoting and celebrating the incredible achievements of women in technology is important in order to inspire other women to join and thrive in the industry. At FDM, we have embedded diversity and inclusion into our culture and as a result, circa 50% of our senior management team is female and we have reported a 0% median gender pay gap for two consecutive years. Diversity is part of our DNA and contributes to FDM’s success as a modern business.”

The finalists for the ninth annual FDM everywoman in Technology Awards, in association with The Tech She Can Charter, will be announced at an awards ceremony in London on 6 March 2019.

February 1, 2019  11:48 AM

Widening the discussion about tech careers

Clare McDonald Profile: Clare McDonald
"women in IT", "women in tech", IT careers, IT jobs

GUEST BLOG: In this contributed post, Clare Young, head of delivery at dxw digital discusses how tech careers are portrayed and what the industry needs to do to attract more women into tech. 

Organisations continue to wrestle with the challenge of how to attract more women into technical and engineering roles. One of the reasons having a diverse team matters to us – and by that I mean diversity in its widest sense, in terms of a mix of voices and backgrounds – is that it provides richer thinking and enables us to gain a better understanding of user needs. Put simply, diverse teams are better. The users of the products and services we design, build and operate are diverse, so we can better meet and exceed their expectations with a diverse team.

At dxw we’ve made progress in increasing the number of women in our organisation, as well as increasing diversity on other characteristics as well, but it’s something we continue to focus on across everything from our recruitment process to our working environment.

As I looked at our statistics, I realised that women are well represented across all our disciplines – the majority of our user research team, one-third of our operations engineers, more than a third of our designers and developers, three of our five delivery leads, one of our two product managers and half of our business operations team are female. And our marketing team are all female – although we have had a male intern and are aware of the need to improve diversity here too. It highlights the range of roles and skills that make up a tech team in order to deliver the end result.

This is where the media discussion about diversity often loses its way. Too often it is framed in terms of coding, with initiatives such as Code First: Girls and Women Who Code. However, whilst these initiatives are important and worthwhile they focus only on seeking to increase the number of women developers, and the discussion needs to be much wider. First, the multidisciplinary team needed to deliver a tech project is made up of a wide variety of roles and skills, and women are contributing in every single one, from development to delivery to the functions that support a business such as commercial and finance. We need to highlight and celebrate role models in all of these areas.

Second, we need to highlight the results of technology projects as well as the skills needed to deliver them to attract a diverse talent pool. One of the things that makes a career in tech so attractive is the end result. In my sector – building digital services for the public sector, from central and local government to the NHS and housing associations – it’s delivering projects that benefit everyone through improving the public services that we all use. It’s something we’re passionate about at dxw, and it comes up time and again in our recruitment interviews – people want to see that their work has a positive impact on the public and has a tangible output in the modern world. So we should be talking much more about the outcomes that we in tech deliver, and getting across that sense of excitement and satisfaction we all feel when we deliver something that makes life better for our clients and their users.

Doing this means getting out there and demonstrating to other woman what we’re doing and why tech is a good place to work. As an organisation we’ve participated in events such as Women of Silicon Roundabout and Women in Digital Government, we run discussion panels for Ada Lovelace Day, and many of our team, both male and female, participate widely in other industry events to encourage women into tech roles. I describe it as ‘talk, share, show’.

Diversity really matters, and we should all be working to increase it. That means discussing the full range of skills that we need, and the end results that we deliver, so that we attract the widest possible pool of talent.

February 1, 2019  8:13 AM

The women in tech debate: are we still in the era of unconscious gender bias?

Clare McDonald Profile: Clare McDonald
"tech skills", "women in IT", "women in tech", gender, IT skills, Stem

GUEST BLOG: In this contributed blog post, Dr Joanne Phoenix, interim executive director at Sensor City asks how far we’ve really come in eliminating gender bias

In recent years, we have seen a significant shift in gender imbalance, particularly in science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) sectors. In fact, according to WISE, over 900,000 women are in core Stem roles today, meaning we are on track to take that figure to 1 million by 2020.

Some countries are leading the way. If we look at America, for example, the state of California has now enforced a law that requires public companies to have a woman on their board. Closer to home, the UK has made it compulsory for companies that employ over 250 people to publicly declare the salaries of their male and female staff members. The aim is to gain greater transparency around gender pay gaps and tackle inequality.

Regulations like these are a far cry from where we were even just two years ago and have been monumental for generating greater diversity in tech and, with any luck, will be rolled out on a global scale in the years to come. However, while we have come a long way – with the percentage of women working in Stem jumping from 13% in 2014 to 24% in 2018 – there is still some way to go to eliminate inequality completely. Unconscious gender bias for example, is still ripe, especially in younger generations.

Unsurprisingly, last year’s A-level results showed that girls were less likely to choose Stem subjects than boys, and even though girls received the overall majority of A levels in the UK (55%), just 43% of A levels awarded to girls were in Stem subjects.

To increase the numbers, we need to understand what is stopping girls from choosing to study Stem subjects at school, and kickstart taking the necessary steps that will lead them to pursue careers in the sector.

There are plenty of movements across the UK and beyond that are doing just this. The InnovateHer programme, for example, is decreasing the gender imbalance in technology by helping girls aged 12 to 16 learn the skills needed to pursue a career in tech. The programme is delivered within schools across the North West to encourage girls to take Stem subjects at GCSE and A level, as a way of increasing the number of women in Stem and challenging the status quo.

Shining a light on female role models – like the ladies at InnovateHer – is an extremely powerful way to inspire and empower young girls because it creates a community of female figures and mentors for them to look up to. This is both genders’ responsibility, and we need to actively highlight the impact that women are having on the tech sector, based on the merit of their contribution.

Another problem where unconscious gender bias is evident is in recruitment. From how a job description is written, to how it’s promoted and the application process, it can often inadvertently steer towards a male audience.

How men and women respond to job descriptions is an issue in itself. This is a difficult area to tackle as, on the whole, there are innate sex differences to how men and women perceive and act in the workplace. Addressing this can only have an impact if it starts at an early age, and if the messaging continues throughout primary, secondary and higher education.

If we start to implement these changes in education and recruitment to tackle the gender issue in Stem then we will naturally start to see more women partaking in industry events, speaking panels and meetings. From experience, the number of women that actively participate in these environments is, most of the time, much lower than the number of men. In fact, a report by Open Society Foundations reviewed data on 12,600 speaking roles from 2012 to mid-2017 and  found that men remain prevalent, with women making up just 25% of conference speakers over the five-year period.

What’s clear is that we still have a long way to go to fix gender equality in Stem. However, I am confident that if we continue on the path we’ve set ourselves on, acknowledging bias and implementing change, this time next year we will be in a much different position.

January 9, 2019  8:37 AM

How Smart is your recruitment strategy?

Clare McDonald Profile: Clare McDonald
"women in IT", IT careers, IT jobs, recruitment

GUEST BLOG: In this contributed blog post Byron Calmonson, director at the resourcing hub, discusses strategies for ‘smart recruitment’ and how this will contribute to a more diverse and inclusive workforce.

You will already have heard of Smart Cities, Smart Tech, Smart Goals and so forth. In 2019 everyone will also be talking about Smart Recruitment or Smart Recruitment as a Service (SRaaS).

Another business acronym you say? Absolutely! And it’s a very important one…

My view is that diversity and inclusion should form the basis of everything an organisation does. Diverse technology teams are more innovative, high-performing and better at understanding customer or user requirements.

At The Resourcing Hub we are committed Tech Talent Charter UK signatories and I am also a permanent adviser to the Civil Service Diversity & Inclusion Working Group, consulting the government on hidden disability inclusion in particular.

Utilising a Smart Recruitment strategy could help companies source great people with fresh ideas and thinking. Hiring managers are encouraged to think much wider and bigger about talent and resourcing to help attract a high-quality diverse candidate pool.

So, what does Smart Recruitment actually entail? There are four key components:

  1. Organisations need clearly defined and measurable diversity targets. As I have said before, if you are serious about recruiting a diverse workforce and ensuring that your employees all get equal opportunities to progress, you need to understand where you are now, where you aspire to, by when, and crucially who is responsible.
  2. Smart Recruitment requires business leaders who want to attract and secure diverse candidates to be brave enough to try new sourcing strategies and processes. This might involve giving all candidates a choice of digital and non-digital communication channels, making use of video technology for interviews and trialling outreach events for schools and communities.
  3. As part of a Smart Recruitment approach it is important for organisations to ensure they have a strong positive and inclusive image in the talent market. Clients must promote their brand as a diverse and inclusive employer where candidates who might not fit the traditional industry stereotype due to their gender, disability, ethnicity, social group etc will feel welcome and valued.
  4. Smart Recruitment isn’t just about the sourcing and interview stages; it is an ongoing process and obligation. Organisations need new agile and inclusive career progression processes to ensure their diverse workforce thrives, continues to add value to the business and wants to stay for the long-term.

In closing, diversity is not ‘just’ about business; for myself it is a highly personal commitment. Having a close family member on the autistic spectrum I’m acutely aware of the issues many candidates with differences are facing. As this person is moving into adulthood and considering college and careers options, I’m frustrated by the limited progress and support.

Business leaders who have the courage and vision to invest in building diverse, multi-skilled teams empowered to think differently have so much to gain, and my message to hiring managers is simple:

Don’t miss out on all the untapped technology talent. Be brave and join the Smart Recruitment journey.

January 7, 2019  3:46 PM

“Don’t touch my hair” – expert advice for creating inclusivity

Clare McDonald Profile: Clare McDonald
"women in IT"

Part of building a diverse technology workforce is creating an inclusive culture, which can be a challenge when a number of those at the top come from a position of privilege, and are not aware of issues faced by those in the minority.

For example, have you ever had someone randomly come up to you and touch your hair?

I have, and so has Twilio’s global head of culture and inclusion, LaFawn Davis, and this tiny action can highlight huge differences in people’s preferences and behaviour.

For some people this seems like a normal thing to do, and for others it doesn’t – increased workplace diversity contributes to more positive business outcomes, but it does mean people will be exposed to ideas and cultures they have not encountered before.

Davis said: “There are cultural differences of things that happen in certain countries that don’t happen in others. You see some people react with looks of horror at the actions that some people take that others don’t.”

Davis, who has been working on improving diversity in the tech sector for 15 years, said it’s easy to get tied down by addressing the needs of specific diverse groups, such as gender or LGBTQ+, when really inclusivity needs to be used to address diversity issues more widely across a firm.

Where at the start of her career she noticed many trying to “throw money” at hiring diversely, people are beginning to understand more effort needs to be put into driving equality in all areas, such as developing an unbiased recruiting process, equal pay, and equal promotion opportunities for all groups.

In recent years there have been large strides made to address the lack of women in the technology industry, as well a gender inequality as a whole, but Davis said this timeframe has also been bogged down in “political correctness” when really people should have been trying to better understand each other.

Part of Davis’ approach is trying to help those in a position of privilege understand how their experience will have been different from someone else’s, and therefore influence their behaviour in the workplace.

One way of achieving this is by encouraging the office to take part in a ‘privilege walk’ – a number of questions are asked, such as ‘are you male?’, ‘are you white?’, ‘did you grow up with both parents?’ etc.

Where the answer to those questions is “yes”, one takes a step forward.

“What you find is that you’ve had different walks of life because of those things,” Davis explained.

“You can see there are differences and we’ve approach life in a different way, it doesn’t mean we’re less successful it just means we’ve had to do different things to get to where we are. There are some things you just don’t know about people by looking at them. I’m trying to teach people that are of a majority population to understand the privilege that they have, and understanding that privilege will at least give you the knowledge that your experience is different than someone else’s.”

Twilio hosts events throughout the year called Twilio After Hours, its September 2018 instalment of which was hosted in the UK to ensure the focus was global rather than just US-based, aiming to bring more people of colour into the firm.

The company’s September 2018 event featured an all black panel, which is very rare in technology events, a move met with a positive response.

Having this panel also helped to “set the intention” of the event, Davis said, making it clear the goal of the event is to create a safe space for people of colour in tech, but that is also open to others who can help advance the conversation.

“We’re saying we want to create more spaces for people of colour we’re not saying no one else can come in. it’s quite the opposite. We need to have everyone to make this space realistic and authentic.” She said.

The overarching theme of these events is community building, bringing people into a space to share their stories.

Davis said: “It really is in story telling that we figure out what our commonalities are and it helps us to figure out how to build together.”

What else can be done to develop a more inclusive culture?

Davis joked “don’t touch people’s hair” is a good place to start when building inclusivity, and also pointed out working to understand the nuances of different personalities and cultures is part of the journey towards an inclusive workplace.

Davis has rolled out an inclusion roadmap for Twilio, offering coaching to managers on how to develop inclusive teams, emotional intelligence (EQ) training, and how to approach particular, potentially difficult, conversations.

Understanding “how someone might be showing up and why” in a situation can help managers to approach situations depending on their employee as an individual.

She said: “I can run around with sprinkles and rainbows and unicorn dust, but if a manager isn’t setting inclusion on their team every day then that’s what affects their employee; it’s their day to day.”

Twilio is launching a bootcamp for people of colour to help them understand the experiences they might have in the workplace and how to cope with them.

Much like women in technology networks, understanding you’re not alone can be a great help.

Davis said: “That’s’ what we’re noticing more of. It’s less about let’s exclude and more about how do we include? How do we create communities no matter what communities look like?”

For me, this is another example of why the technology industry needs to focus on more than just gender, and to help those at the top understand inclusion is the most important step to recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce.

December 6, 2018  5:58 PM

Diversity in analytics: how to overcome the obstacles and optimise the opportunities

Clare McDonald Profile: Clare McDonald
"diversity in tech", "women in IT", "women in tech", Data Analytics, iot

In this guest blog, Jennifer Major, head of  internet of things (IoT) at SAS UK & Ireland, discusses the obstacles and the opportunities involved creating diversity in analytics. 

In the face of the constant soundbites we hear about the British tech sector’s “worrying” lack of diversity, what are the steps being taken to resolve this mounting problem?

Constricting context

Globally, the context and cultures groups find themselves in have restricted their potential to excel in tech. Although progress has been achieved towards equality and increasing diversity, it has not been a straightforward process. There is still an uphill battle to be won.

It has to be clarified that this is not about “political correctness”! Increasing diversity in tech makes business sense. The impact that these previously excluded groups can have on science and analytics needs to be realised and harnessed.

The doorway to diversity

Many of the obstacles facing excluded groups are cultural. Habitual bias, or the assumption that a certain race, gender or religion is less capable, can exist in many situations, whether explicitly or implicitly. This might be the case for educational institutions, employers and recruitment processes, or just the domestic environment in which people grow up.

To break down the barriers of exclusion, our societies, institutions and decision-makers need to be made more representative. Diversity isn’t only important to a single race, religion, gender or group – depending on the context, the barriers of bias can limit anyone’s potential.

Educating earlier is the way to encourage greater diversity in science, technology, engineer and maths (Stem) subjects. By focusing on young people as a group and ensuring they have a level playing field on which to start their journey, we stand the best chance of increasing diversity in the field as a whole by helping to build a meritocratic industry.

Equality of educational opportunity is not a new idea, but the need for it is real and pressing. Indeed, in some advanced economies we seem to be moving backwards. In the US, for example, the number of computer science bachelors’ degrees awarded to women peaked in the 1980s and has been dropping ever since.

At the same time, however, there are causes for celebration. Rapid progress has been achieved in BRIC countries where, despite challenges, large numbers of women are eschewing arts subjects for degrees and careers in technology. In China, Brazil and Mexico, women make up 36%, 38% and 45% of the total IT workforce respectively. This is compared to only 17% in the UK.

To make further progress at home, we need to address perception problems towards Stem subjects. Old stereotypes of the sciences being the preserve of middle-class white men or awkward social rejects are being undermined every day. Yet those ideas still shape public thought. If children are repeatedly given perceptions that Stem is for a certain or special kind of person, it can reduce the chances they will pursue careers in maths or science.

We are often told that Stem skills can be the foundation of a lucrative career, but is that the most effective message to get children’s attention? In the end, we need to do more to convince future generations that Stem can be fun, fulfilling and useful. Maths and science aren’t all about dry formulae: they are practical and powerful, driving amazing innovation everywhere.

Analytics for everyone

Success in data science depends on a wide range of complementary skills. As data and analytics move closer to the top of the corporate agenda, the ability to communicate simply and inclusively will be crucial.

The real power of analytics is that it democratises data for everyone, from the boardroom to the factory floor and everyone in between. That means that the demand for more skilled staff in analytics is increasing day by day. Despite the rise of Artificial Intelligence, the crucial role human analytics teams play in extracting valuable insights from raw data cannot be ignored.

Businesses need to ensure they are recruiting as widely and with as much diversity as possible to ensure they get the most skilled people for the job.

November 9, 2018  2:49 PM

The difference between the Gender Pay Gap and Equal Pay

Clare McDonald Profile: Clare McDonald
"gender pay gap", "women in IT", "women in tech", equality

As the day dubbed “Equal Pay Day” approached in the UK, I caught up with Sarah Kaiser, diversity and inclusion lead at Fujitsu EMEIA, to learn more about the difference between the Gender Pay Gap and Equal Pay.

Much like many buzzwords these terms can become confused, and are often used interchangeably.

But Kaiser points out they are two very different things.

“Equal pay is when men and women are doing the same job, a job of equal value, are they actually paid the same amount?” she says. “The gender pay gap is totally different – it looks at average pay of all men and all women in an organisation, regardless of what role they do or how senior they are.”

While Friday 9 November has been dubbed “Equal Pay Day” what it also shines a light on is the pay gap between men and women as a whole.

Because of the current gap in pay between men and women, as of Saturday 10 November women are technically working for free until the end of the year.

What this really highlights is that men are more likely to reach higher-paid positions such as those in the c-suite, rather than women being paid less to do the same job.

Now I’m sure that does still happen in some places, but paying staff doing the same job role different wages solely on their gender has been illegal in the UK since the 1970 Equal Pay Act.

It’s no secret that in many organisations the people at the very top, and are therefore the higher paid, are predominantly men.

For this reason it’s no surprise that in the technology industry suffers from a significant gender pay gap – a diversity problem leads to a gender pay problem.

This is why so many people think the gender pay gap won’t be solved until the diversity gap is also closed.

In Fujitsu there is an equal pay differential of less than 1%, but the firm found it has a gender pay gap of around 16.4%.

Kaiser says: “We know that men and women are paid the same for the same jobs, but we want to get more women at c-level and in some higher paid positions. We have fewer women in technical roles, and technical roles tend to be higher paid, and more women in roles like HR, which sadly is not the highest paid function in the world.”

Some women are marking Equal Pay Day by putting an Out of Offices on their emails to highlight the disparity between men and women in the workplace.

Kaiser says in Fujitsu they have focused on transparency to try and equal the playing field.

“I found gender pay gap reporting really exciting, it was something that Fujitsu embraced as a company, to publish our gender pay gap last year and we’ve published ours this year again. We think it’s the only way we’re going to move the dial is by creating an environment people know where we all are and people are demanding change.” She says, and claims knowing the figures is helping accelerate change, bringing these issues to the forefront of people’s minds.

She’s not the only one who believes so – other experts in the tech sector have claimed gender pay reporting can help highlight the areas that have issues and encourage change.

There’s still a long way to go, but 2018 – the year of the woman – has been helpful in shining a light on how much still needs to be done, and how many people are willing to stand up for equality.

November 1, 2018  6:36 PM

Why Google employees have staged equality walkouts

Clare McDonald Profile: Clare McDonald
"women in tech", Diversity, equality, Google, Women

On 1 November 2018 Google staff from offices around the world staged walkouts to protest the company’s alleged poor treatment of women.

Staff across all departments, in several cities globally, have left their office buildings to stand outside in protest, including the internet giant’s offices in Dublin, London and Zurich.

Alongside hashtags supporting women’s rights, such as #TimesUp and #MeToo, the walkout has been largely documented through a Twitter account called @GoogleWalkout which also has information about what staff hope the walkouts will achieve.

The account states it does not represent the views of Google, whilst posting a list of five “demands” employees would like to see the company address.

These demands are ending forced arbitration in harassment and discrimination cases, end pay and opportunity inequality, publically disclosing a sexual harassment transparency report, introducing a clear and transparent global process for reporting sexual misconduct and ensuring the firm’s chief diversity officer reports directly to the CEO.

To me, these seem like reasonable demands, and you may be wondering what has led Google employees to such a drastic display of dissatisfaction?

It has been reported, and suggested on the @GoogleWalkout Twitter account, that there have been several instances in which sexual harassers have been protected over victims in the firm, including the firm paying off an executive after he was accused of sexual misconduct by a female employee.

Last year a Google employee was dismissed after publishing a “manifesto” which suggested women were biologically incompatible for a career in technology, but as put by Computer Weekly’s Editor in Chief at the time: why do tech companies in the modern world continue to employ men who have a problem with women?

Why are technology companies letting men get away with sexual abuse and harassment at the cost of women’s safety in the industry and workplace?

And yes, I’m saying technology companies because Google is not the only example of behaviour that favours men and their out-dated “boys will be boys” attitude.

Many engineers working for Uber claim to have been harassed and discriminated against, and the CEO has openly made sexist comments.

A slew of women from Silicon Valley have also admitted to experiencing sexual harassment, discrimination and misconduct after one woman spoke out about her experiences.

Diversity has been proven to improve business outcomes, but the technology still remains a boy’s club.

The rest of 2018 is still the Year of the Woman and while those taking part in the Google walkout are doing an admirable thing to try and promote change, women shouldn’t have to go to this extent to be treated as equals.

The publicity the event has generated has shone a light on how much needs to change, both in Google and in the industry as a whole.

This takes a number of different initiatives including diverse hiring, mandating an inclusive culture, closing the gender pay gap, among a myriad of other things, and of course men in the industry need to be on board with these changes to push them forward.

As ridiculous as it sounds, thousands and thousands of people walking out of their jobs for a day is only the start.




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