Regional sales development programme manager, Softcat
What's the most pressing issue preventing progress with diversity today that no one's talking about?
Intersectionality. I wouldn't say this is a completely ignored topic, but there's definitely much more all of us could be doing to ensure this topic is addressed.
What are the most effective policies and initiatives that companies can implement to promote diversity in their workforce?
It's good to get an external company to vet your policies and give a second opinion. It's important to have all blind spots covered and ensure from an intersectionality perspective all minorities have access to the same opportunities and benefits. Initiatives wise, create an allyship programme; that way you are advocating for all your staff to undertake your D&I journey as one.
How much progress has the industry made in diversity since you started working in IT?
I entered the industry five years ago and much has changed for the better since then. I believe many companies have adopted employee-run networks, ensuring people's thoughts are heard and therefore actioned, much quicker than before.
What should senior management teams be doing more of to help create a more inclusive industry for everyone?
Authenticity will never fail. If you listen to your employees and take a genuine interest, people feel heard, welcomed and valued. Second, calling out the wrong behaviour. If they are done in conjunction, change happens.
How did you first get into the IT industry?
Honestly, by chance and it was the best random decision I have ever made. I previously worked in the TV industry, but I wanted to move into sales and fell into tech sales. A fantastic move!
Who have been your biggest role models in your professional life?
From a workplace perspective, Debra Coady and Simon Harrison. Debra is our legal director and has supported our LGBTQ+ network from day one. She has been unapologetic in her approach and ensured we've been heard in the places that matter. Simon is my right-hand man and simply, I look up to him and am inspired by him daily.
Has it always been easy for you to be open about your identity in the workplace?
No, but that was more from a personal aspect because I didn't have the confidence within to do so. Additionally, I was nervous how this would be received by my customers. However, since being authentically me and having that confidence, I enjoy work much more and have succeeded further.
What can employers do to create a more inclusive workplace for LGBTQ+ staff?
Start an employee network that can resonate, celebrate and support your LGBTQ+ staff. Additionally, create a safe space for people to seek support and options in place through policies, links to education websites, phone lines. It's all about comforting that person that it's okay for them to show who they are.