The Dot Project champions diversity. After all, diversity in thought and background provides the space for divergent thinking.
In theory, driving diversity in the technology sector should be easy. The technology sector thrives on divergent thinking, a perpetual explosion of new ideas, methods, solutions for our digital age. With this bring complexity, and demands divergent thinking and fresh answers and solutions.
Technology teams by their very nature are multi-disciplined. In one team you can find a coder, writing technical script and fluent in multiple coding languages, alongside a user experience expert with behaviour analysis skills to understand the human connection to technology. These different thinkers and perspectives are the catalyst for innovation.
There are natural gender differences in creative abilities that clearly will drive divergent thinking, and yet time and time again we hear the same story from recruiters and organisations looking to fill technology roles “Where can I find more women to apply to my technology role?”.
Taking a practical approach
From theory to practical action, we need practical solutions to widen diversity across the sector. We know that increasing diversity is good for business, yet we know it’s not an easy problem to solve and of course no magic solution. But we also passionately believe it’s possible to kickstart systemic change. We believe it’s possible to step change the way we talk about and approach diversity in the workplace and we think the technology sector is the best place to start.
By the time recruiters are actively looking for women to apply for roles we know that the problem is systemic. If girls and women are not inspired throughout their life to consider technology roles then opportunities to engage women are being missed.
Tech Talent Charter asks organisations to become signatories to pledge allegiance to the charter, and measure their own progress on the recruitment and retention of women in technology roles. We are signatories of the charter and central partners on the Tech Talent Charter regional events which are taking place across the country to bring together organisations who want to step change their approach to diversity.
Details, including a video, of the recent event in Oxford can be found on the Tech Talent Charter blog.
The gender diversity pipeline
The gender diversity pipeline is the idea of a an unbroken process of advancement which inspires, grows talent and harnesses that talent to continue progressing along the pipeline journey. Creating a strong pipeline for harnessing diverse talent in the workplace requires a good understanding of the touchpoints individuals have throughout their life. This starts early with inspiration in early years and evolving opportunities in primary, secondary and tertiary education.
Enabling a smooth journey into early professional experiences increases the chance of feeling motivated and encouraged to remain within a technology role. Inspiring and engaging from a young age is key, but critically also is ensuring that equal opportunities exist across science, technology, engineering and mathematics industries. Retaining talent throughout an individual’s professional journey is key to maintaining a diverse workforce and ensuring there are mentors and role models for future generations.
The idea of the gender diversity pipeline is also to provide a common language and understanding of where and what change needs to take place. We have developed a core set of definitions but this is just a start and must be developed further through collaboration across the sector. We actively seek feedback and suggestions to ensure it is both relevant and accessible for organisations who seek to drive diversity:
Our pipeline is made up of the following stages:
|Inspire||Early stage initiatives which are embedded in primary and secondary education or are aimed at children between the ages of 4 – 18. Early stage initiatives also involve opportunities within tertiary education through programmes in colleges and universities.|
|Train||Initiatives aimed at individuals over the age of 18 which are not offered/embedded through tertiary education establishments. These opportunities involve training (which could be internal to a company or accessed externally), retraining and apprenticeships.|
|Awareness raising||Initiatives which raise awareness of programmes/organisations which are working towards increasing gender diversity in technology. This awareness raising include websites,promotional events, campaigns, advocacy activities and public relations activities.|
|Recruit||Initiatives/organisations which focus on recruitment, this includes developing job descriptions, strengthening interview processes, unconscious bias and events specifically focusing on recruitment.|
|Retain||Initiatives/organisations which develop enabling organisational cultures, enhance policies for women in technology, promote flexible working and equal pay. These initiatives also include strengthening organisational leadership and management.|
|Grow||These initiatives focus on those already in employment and include coaching, mentoring, in-career training, promotion and peer support.|
|Measure||Initiatives which focus on tracking and measuring progress of gender diversity in technology. These initiatives include research, accreditation, monitoring and evaluation, awards and events which specifically recognise progress or achievement.|
Tech Talent Charter Regional Events
We are working with Tech Talent Charter to surface local and regional initiatives which specifically focus on inspiring and engaging women into technology. Through this process we seek to map initiatives across the pipeline and start to surface what is, and what could additionally be done at a local level. Through surfacing the great work already being done, and where the gaps are that need to be filled this is the very start of systemic change at a community level.
We joined the latest event in Oxford where Eleanor Bradley COO of Nominet, who sponsored the event, highlighted “This is not just a problem for Government or big business; change involves us all pulling together to ensure everyone recognises the tech industry as a place they can belong.”
Often we hear the phrase:
‘You can’t be, what you can’t see’
This is something Dr. Lucy Rogers, a self-confessed reluctant role model in engineering, has recognised. Lucy is one of the most visible and vocal female engineers of the UK industry and explains why she felt is was important to become a visible woman in engineering through a recent post by Nominet.
We’ll be sharing details of upcoming events in Newcastle, Manchester and the South-West soon.