Head of employee engagement, diversity and inclusion, Softcat
What's the most pressing issue preventing progress with diversity today that no one's talking about?
Making policies and communication relevant - sometimes it can be hard to cover everything as a company that protects every diverse employee. There is a lot of overlap when it comes to intersectionality that needs to be accounted for.
What do you believe are the most effective policies and initiatives that companies can implement to promote diversity in their workforce?
It's important that policies, initiatives and statements are authentic. Policies need to be easy to adopt for employees and managers. The best initiative that can provide a baseline in understanding how to be a supportive employee to employees from minority groups is to drive a programme and culture that makes progress on allyship behaviours.
How much progress do you believe the industry has made in diversity since you started working in IT?
The industry has over the years made significant improvement focusing on diversity. When I started in the tech industry 21 years ago, diversity wasn't something focused on. In fact, not up until the last 5-6 years has there been much development. Companies in the industry are now taking action, which is positive to see.
What should senior management teams be doing more of to help create a more inclusive industry for everyone?
Senior managers need to prioritise inclusivity to get the most out of their teams and departments. However, building inclusivity is a responsibly for all employees, not just those in management. Everyone needs to show an interest, stay current and continuously seek to understand to really create true inclusivity.
How did you first get into the IT industry?
It was by chance really - I was completing my degree in computing and maths and wanted to join a company in the tech sector. I started at Softcat and managed to build a decent client base in sales due to the knowledge I had in computing. I hadn't really expected to join a company in the channel, but it was the best move I made!
What have been some of your experiences (both good and bad) with how the IT industry has historically approached diversity?
It's been slow up until 5-6 years ago. Gender diversity has had a strong focus; a lot to do with publicising the gender pay gap report which accelerated focus on gender. There is still a lot more work to do on all other areas of diversity though, whether that be race, sexuality or disability, for example.
Who have been your biggest role models in your professional life, and how have they helped you to succeed?
I'm lucky to have worked with many inspirational people at Softcat who I have taken a lot of advice and guidance from. Outside of Softcat, I admire people like Debbie Forster, the founder and CEO of TTC, who is an agent for change, and has driven the message on improving diversity in IT.
Do you think companies should be compelled to publish ‘ethnicity pay gap' data?
Yes, I absolutely think they should - where companies are transparent about their data, change can be driven. No organisation is perfect and no company has perfect pay gap reports, but publishing the ethnicity pay gap report like Softcat does, holds us accountable for the actions we are taking to improve it. Gender pay gap reporting pushed organisations to become more active in driving the agenda on gender diversity, and reporting on ethnicity would do the same.