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Doniya Soni

Policy Manager, techUK

WHAT DOES A GOOD DIGITAL FUTURE LOOK LIKE?

At CAF, we collaborate with industry experts and leaders to ensure that we understand sector needs, concerns and ambitions in relation to achieving social purpose. We asked Doniya Soni at techUK to share her thoughts on ‘what a good digital future looks like’.

This week, new research has found that the number of European DSI (digital social innovation) organisations has nearly doubled since 2015. This trend is evident in not only the creation of organisations solely focused on DSI but the energy and focus tech companies are dedicating to social issues.

At techUK, my work is focused on the people element of tech – how do we get more people into the industry? How do we keep them? And what can we do to ensure that the tech workforce is as diverse and inclusive as possible?

I have met a range of individuals who are passionate and dedicated to the creation of a good digital future. While a good digital future can relate to a plethora of issues, one element we dedicate considerable time to is creating a diverse and inclusive culture in tech. We believe this starts with achieving gender parity in the industry.

techUK is working with its members to create tangible, actionable solutions that will address the issue. The projects that we work on are targeted interventions that address some core issues:

  1. Getting more girls interested in STEM
  2. Retaining female talent, including after a career break
  3. Challenging industry to self-assess their diversity initiatives

GETTING MORE GIRLS INTERESTED IN STEM

The number of girls taking computing at A-Level has declined by 70 per cent – and boys are four times more likely to take IT GCSE than girls. Therefore, it’s critical that we get involved early and give the advice and guidance needed to ensure girls consider STEM subjects as viable avenues for their futures.

We partnered on the People Like Me initiative with WISE. People Like Me empowers young women to understand the wonderful opportunities in tech. It works by first getting girls to define themselves through adjectives – such as imaginative, good with numbers or creative (rather than objectively as boys tend to). The tools then get  them to translate those descriptions into types of worker, such as Explorer or Regulator, Persuader or Developer. This helps them to identify which STEM careers could be of interest.

We’re currently working with the WISE Campaign to bring the resources online so that they are more accessible to teachers and careers advisors across the UK. We want to “turn the lights on” in schools and ensure parents, teachers, career advisors, and students all receive the message that there is a wealth of exciting careers in the industry.


Getting more girls interested in STEM

RETAINING FEMALE TALENT

Estimates suggest that almost two million women in the UK are currently economically inactive due to caring commitments, and 76 per cent of professional women on career breaks want to return to work.

The tech sector has some way to go with women returners – the average tenure of a woman in the industry is just seven years.

Retaining Female Talent

A lack of proper structures in place for women who have taken leave for caring responsibilities means there is a widening gap in senior female tech leaders, as suggested by the statistic that fewer than one in ten of the 17 per cent of women in tech are in leadership positions.

techUK identified a gap in the market and created the Returners Hub, an online resource for jobseekers and employers alike. It serves as a one-stop shop for individuals looking to return to the tech sector and for employers to explore training initiatives. 


Featuring a number of free online resources for returners, the Hub has proved to be a successful tool for jobseekers and employers alike.

CHALLENGING INDUSTRY

The lack of diversity in senior leadership is critically important. Publicly traded companies with male-only executive directors missed out on £430bn of investment returns last year.

The Tech Talent Charter (TTC), developed in part by the techUK Women in Tech Council chair Susan Bowen and supported by the Government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has been created with this issue in mind. The TTC is a commitment by organisations to a set of undertakings that aim to deliver greater diversity in the UK tech workforce, one that better reflects the make-up of the population. Signatories of the charter have made a number of pledges in relation to their approach to recruitment, retention and progression, and signatories of the charter are on the rise.

Challenging industry

THIS IS JUST A SNAPSHOT

The work techUK does with its members is just a snapshot of the landscape. There are a number of amazing, inspirational initiatives which tackle the issue at every level. With the current pace of progress and momentum, I am confident that we can achieve a great digital future for all.

ARE YOU A CSR PROFESSIONAL IN THE TECHNOLOGY INDUSTRY?

We work with leading technology companies, enabling them to maximise their Corporate Social Responsibility strategies and employee engagement programmes. Find out more by visiting our Spotlight on Technology hub.

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