How do we get more women returning to work to retrain into tech?

Tech Talent Charter signatories met in Manchester to tackle the question how do we get more women returning to work to retrain into tech?

London – 5th July 2018 – Tech Talent Charter signatories, including Cisco, Browne Jacobson and Manchester Digital met this week in Manchester to tackle the question – how do we get more women returning to work to retrain into tech?

What is The Tech Talent Charter?

The Tech Talent Charter is a passionate and ambitious organisation, with over 200 members including HSBC, RBS, Channel 4, Transport for London, UKFast and University of Durham, that moves away from simply talking about issues to implementing positive action to ensure women play a significant role in the growing UK tech industry. The Charter recently received the 2nd round of Government funding (totalling £170,000 funding to date) to support growth from 200 to 500 signatories by 2019.

Regional events bringing together local businesses

As part of this drive, the Tech Talent Charter is hosting a series of regional events aimed at businesses of all sizes across the UK. These events aim to bring local businesses together to learn, share best practice and solve problems, as well as map what is going on at a regional and local level ensuring that all voices are heard on the issue, not just London based large corporations.   

Women returning to the workplace                                                            

The third of these events, sponsored by Cisco, DCMS and Browne Jacobson and supported by Manchester Digital, was held in Manchester in the Mi-Idea event space on July 3rd. Over 30 different SMEs, start-ups and large corporates including BBC, FDM Group, Open University, The Co-Op and TalkTalk attended and discussed practical solutions to raise the numbers of women returning to the workplace after taking a career break and how to encourage and support more women who wish to re-train and transition into a tech career.

Returners, frameworks and transitions

Speakers at the event included Jenny Scherler-Gormley Head of HR UK & Ireland for Cisco, Kerren Daly Partner for Browne Jacobson, Anna Holland-Smith Programme Manager for THG Institute of Technology and Katie Gallagher Managing Director at Manchester Digital. Discussions centred on what could be learned and replicated from Cisco’s returners programme, reassurances for companies regarding legal frameworks for maternity leave returners and the work already going on in the Manchester area.  Anna Holland-Smith shared her story of transitioning from a career as a defence lawyer to a software engineer working with programmes like Code First: Girls and Makers.

What the speakers said

Kerren Daly Browne Jacobson tech talent charter diversity women retraining
Kerren Daly Browne Jacobson

When creating an inclusive workplace, many employers are conscious of possible legal barriers, but there’s no need to be afraid of the law. Companies should be thinking of innovative ways to ensure diversity and inclusivity, but this shouldn’t be a big ask for those in the tech industry where innovation is at the heart. By creating an inclusive organisation, with effective policies in place to support those returning to work, diversity will soon follow.

 Debbie Forster, CEO Tech Talent Charter diversity women
Debbie Forster, CEO Tech Talent Charter

When it comes to recruiting and retraining great female talent it’s important to bring together the collective ‘best practice’ knowledge of businesses. It is great that we are doing more to attract more girls to consider tech as a career, but this will take 5-10 years to impact the talent pipeline. We need female talent in tech now. Research tells us that 76% of professional women on career breaks want to return to work and 3 in 5 of those who return end up in lower skilled jobs. This is an incredible opportunity for tech. By working together to create and share ways of supporting these women, our signatories can make a real step forward in moving the dial on diversity in tech. It’s vital that we focus on female returners who are retraining to build up their tech qualifications, how to encourage them, aid retraining and then retain that talent. The feedback we received from local businesses today tells us that those who are retraining are invaluable assets to their businesses – developing a deep understanding of the technical side of the business while still bringing their broader businesses knowledge to roles.

Katie Gallagher Managing Director Manchester Digital Tech Talent Charter Women Diversity
Katie Gallagher Managing Director Manchester Digital

Diversity and inclusion is a key challenge for our sector and Manchester Digital plays a key role in supporting employers to make positive change and progress to their businesses. As part of this work, we are delighted to welcome the Tech Talent Charter to the region and work alongside them to deliver this important event. The more we collaborate and broaden the discussion the bigger and better the impact will be.

Jenny Scherler-Gormley Head of HR UK & Ireland Cisco Tech Talent Charter Diversity Women
Jenny Scherler-Gormley Head of HR UK & Ireland Cisco

Organisations today are made up of people who are all different in some way, each bring value yet have differing needs.  Supporting the best people to do their best work, with the best opportunities is what we strive for – one size fits one rather than one size fits all!  Benefits, policies and organisational culture have a big part to play, but it is the everyday events and impressions that can make or break the employee experience and it is this experience that will define whether an employee will stay, return from leave or retrain.  We’re delighted to have been invited to share what we do at Cisco – the big and small – to help make everyone feel supported at work and learn from our colleagues.

Anna HollandSMith Tech Talent Charter diversity women
Anna Holland Smith

As someone who transitioned from a legal career to one in technology, I truly believe that companies looking to bring more women into their businesses should support initiatives promoting women in technology. By getting more women into the industry, we can begin to fix the tech “pipeline problem”. However the lack of diversity, particularly in more senior roles, cannot be fixed if businesses are not retaining their existing female talent. Employers must work to create a culture and reinforce processes that will not disadvantage women or inhibit their career progression. Failure to address this will result in more women leaving the industry at twice the rate of their male colleagues. The tech industry needs to recognise that only a significant cultural shift will attract and retain the diverse workforce it so desperately needs.

About Tech Talent Charter

The Tech Talent Charter is a commitment by organisations to a set of undertakings that aim to deliver greater gender diversity in the UK tech workforce. Signatories of the charter make several pledges in relation to their approach to recruitment and retention. It was founded by a number of organisations across the recruitment, tech and social enterprise fields and was supported in the government’s policy paper on the UK Digital Strategy in March 2017. The Tech Talent Charter is run as an industry collective, recognising that only through working together can meaningful change happen.

List of signatories  

11:FSEgress Software TechnologiesProtect box
4D Data CentresELATTPurple Lattice
8th Light, Inc.Elemental InnovationPwC
Accelerate-herepam SystemsPythagoras Communications Ltd
Accentureequal talent ltdRed Goat Cyber Security
Ada Lovelace DayeurostarReed Business Information Ltd
Advento StaffingeverywomanRelative Limited
Agile CollectiveExertis UKReply!, Inc.
AirfinityF DisruptorsRoyal Bank of Scotland
AltiusFanDuelSafe & the City
AnalogfolkFDM GroupSagacity Solutions
Anita BorgFluxx LimitedSage
AO World pldFounders & Coders C.I.C.Salesforce
Apps for GoodFreeformersSanctuary Group
ArqivaFTI ConsultingSAS
Atom BankFUJITSUScottish Government
AtosFutureheads Recruitment LtdSelfridges
BAEGeckoboardSkyBetting and Gaming
BabelquestGirls in TechSkyline Academy
Baltic TrainingGlobalSmoothwall
BBCGlobal Resourcing GroupSocially responsible recr
Bennie MacLeanGreater London AuthoritySolirius
Blue ZooHallam Internet LtdSparrho
BMC RecruitingHarvey Nash GroupSparta Global
BookingGoHead ResourcingSSP Worldwide
Boulder Bits Stem Women
brilliancetrailblazer.comHM Revenue & CustomsStemettes
British Heart FoundationHM TreasuryStructur3dpeople
British Red CrossHome OfficeSuccess for All
British Science AssociationHP Inc.Sunderland Software City
Browne Jacobson LLPHSBCSurevine
BT plcIMMJT-Systems
Business Data PartnersInmarsat plcTalent International
CA TechnologiesInsightTata Consultancy Services Ltd
Cambridge WirelessIons TalentTeamspirit
Cancer Research UKiotec
Capitaipagoo LLPTech UK
CGIJames Chase SolutionsTeentech
Chaisson CassiusJiscTelegraph Media Group Limited
Channel 4KandidateThe Dot Project
CharityJobKayakoThe Financial Times
CiscoKPMGThe Rain Gods
ClearscoreL T HarperTheodo
Client ServerLa Fosse AssociatesThis Place
Cloud.iqLenovoThoughtWorks, Inc.
Code First: GirlsLloyds Banking GroupTLA (Tech London Advocates)
Cogeco Peer 1London Fire BrigadeTombola
CognitionxLondon LegacyTorchbox
Contracts ITLorienTrade Ledger PTY
Crown Prosecution ServicesMakers AcademyTransport for London
Croydon Tech City Ltdmanchester DigitalTravelport
CytoraMcCabe & BartonTrinity Mirror
DCMSMDS Technologies LtdUber
DellMetropolitan police serviceUK Cloud
DeloitteMicrosoftUK Fast
Dennis PublishingMiramarUmmah Finance
Department for Education(DfE)MonsterUnit 4
Mortimer SpinksUnruly
Department for International Development -DFIDMy Recruitment SpaceUptree
Department for TransportNationwide Building SocietyVercida
Department of Business…(BEIS)NCFEVerisk Maplecroft
Department of Health & Social CareNews UK & Ireland LtdVitesse Media/Women in IT
DiffrentNine SoftwareVodafone
Digi2al LtdNominetVoxgig
Digital Fine PrintNucleus Financial ServicesWalgreens Boots Alliance (WBA)
Digital LeadersNurole LtdWater Lily Pond
Digital3rdOffice for National StatisticsWe are the City
DiverseetyOnezero.WISE Campaign
DiversilyOnfido LtdWomen 2.0
Domino’s Pizza Group plcOrtolan GroupWomen of Wearables
Durham UniversityOutsource UK LimitedYOTI
E2WOxford LEPYouGov
EDT (The Engineering Development Trust)PeakZOE AMAR COMMUNICATIONS LTD

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