Diversity makes tech better, but is the NW ready?

Annette Joseph
Sep 24, 2018 · 3 min read

It’s been proven time and again…

Organisations that are gender diverse are 21% more profitable. This profit margin is increased to 33% when ethnic diversity is included in the mix. Diverse teams make better decisions 50% faster and are twice as productive as homogeneous teams.

Diversity makes tech better. The research is there, fully accessible for everyone to see.

We’ve seen the data, but, over the past few months, as I’ve sat in on a number of diversity workshops, I also see the frustration and confusion — HOW does an organisation unlock the potential business benefits of diversity?


Are we looking at the right solutions?

There’s been talk of quotas, lowering the bar for applicants and hiring from overseas. It’s the same conversation we’ve been having for years with little effect and little action — because the underlying unfairness is a hard sell to executives, the public and existing employees.

Our framing is wrong — this isn’t the way to succeed…


There are assumptions…

First and most importantly, let’s not assume that job vacancies are always accessible, that the bar is being lowered for people from under-represented backgrounds to qualify, or that wanting to be included is looking for special treatment…

Why can’t a workforce be diverse AND the best?


Some ideas on how it could be done

Open the gates wider to select from a broader range of candidates, be clear about the business objectives you are aiming to achieve and what real world skill this entails AND THEN hire the best person for the job.

But don’t just hire the best person for the job, ensure that they are welcomed and accepted, free to bring their whole selves to the workplace. This is where the magic happens. This is where teams exponentially increase productivity and innovation.

Sounds easy, right? Anecdotal evidence from my experience working in the north west of England — in and with different businesses (with the notable exception of the award-winning Co-op Funeralcare Guardian team), attending meet-ups and many varied seminars indicates that we have a LONG way to go.


Is this 2018?

And earlier this year Elizabeth Vega, CEO for Informed Solutions wrote:

By now, most of us are familiar with the sobering statistics. Only 17% of employees in the UK tech sector are women. Over a quarter of female students say they’ve been put off by a career in tech. The laddish culture and boorish behaviours in many overtly male dominated workplaces are unwelcoming, intimidating and can be demeaning to female colleagues.

It genuinely upsets me to say that in Manchester, our UK headquarters, over half of all businesses surveyed by the Manchester Digital annual skills audit responded that their tech teams are exclusively male.

It’s experiences like this that have inspired me to pull together a team to organise the first conference in the north west to tackle the common reasons why there is a lack of diversity in tech (although the issues are applicable across most sectors in the region).

The conference has been organised to hit these objectives:

  1. Day 1: stream 1 — increase the pool of qualified candidates by offering free taster sessions to people from under-represented groups.
  2. Day 1: stream 2 — provide valuable training for businesses looking to unlock the innovation and creativity that happens when workforces are diverse and inclusive
  3. Day 2: broaden awareness of the benefits of diversity by providing decision makers and people interested in D&I with the knowledge and tools to champion diversity in their organisations — and affect lasting change

With all the talk of change I believed a conference would be just what the north west needed — a way to come together to start taking action to make diversity a reality.

It started slowly, and has had bumps along the way. But I have high hopes that businesses and professionals across the north west will respond to the call to action.


#DiversityIsStrength

Diverse & Equal Tech Conference NW is a 2 day conference held in Manchester UK on 3–4 October, 2018. Tickets available for sale

Annette Joseph

Written by

Passionate about diversity and inclusion. Digital Delivery Manager by day, Conference Organiser by night.. 3–4 Oct Diverse & Equal Tech Conf NW in Manchester UK

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