George Edwards

Doug Woodburn
clock • 5 min read
George Edwards

George Edwards

Sales enablement manager, Computacenter

What's the most pressing issue preventing progress with diversity today that no one's talking about?

Honestly, ignorance and laziness, but also fear. I think people are so busy and so wrapped up in their own day-to-day lives that they don't always look out for/make themselves more aware of things that are going on all around them. Even just listening more in their daily conversations or pausing for a moment to reflect on what someone else has said can start to increase awareness and open people's minds to be able to empathise more.  I think there is also a fear of being vulnerable, which is probably the biggest barrier - if people are too scared to open up to others, conversations simply don't happen, empathy and understanding can't happen, and we remain limited in our knowledge and awareness.

What do you believe are the most effective policies and initiatives that companies can implement to promote diversity in their workforce?

It's difficult because you can't force diversity. Yes, things like ‘blind' applications during recruitment and different types of positive action have an effect by levelling the playing field a bit, but ultimately it comes down to people wanting to work for the company and belong to it.  It begins with the people who already work for the company; they need to feel that they belong to a diverse and inclusive workforce, where everyone is welcomed, supported and loved for who they are, not just what they can do. Anything that encourages people to truly be themselves and share that with others in whatever form will promote and celebrate diversity. If this environment/feeling is created and sustained throughout the organisation, there will be a natural pull externally to draw others in too. 

How much progress do you believe the industry has made in diversity since you started working in IT?

I've only been in the industry for a few years, but I am already involved with a number of initiatives, ranging from ethnic diversity to mental wellbeing. I cannot speak for before my time, but going by the amount of things Computacenter has been involved in alone and seeing how it has spread, I do believe there has been a significant increase in awareness across the industry.

What should senior management teams be doing more of to help create a more inclusive industry for everyone?

Again, it's difficult to force the matter, but senior management needs to show its own vulnerability and openness. When things are mandated top-down, there is always more traction; if leaders were to be more heavily involved and show more of their individual, personal selves, there would be less ‘fear', everyone would be seen as more ‘human' and I believe it would promote/create/develop a safe, non-judgemental, respectful, progressive and supportive environment that welcomes everyone.

How did you first get into the IT industry?

I joined Computacenter at the start of 2019 on the sales associate program. To be honest I had never truly considered a career in the IT industry but have always used and been fascinated by technology. Technology is the future, so I think understanding more and more about it and how it can improve our lives is crucial.

What have been some of your experiences (both good and bad) with how the IT industry has historically approached diversity?

I can't say I really have many (if any) experiences to draw from. I think there were certain stereotypes that would be thrown around, and nothing significant that I'd come across to suggest the opposite. Since joining Computacenter and the industry, I think I've seen more of how it really is, and it is in fact more diverse than I had expected. Fortunately, in the last few years I can definitely say there has been a strong effort to make the industry truly inclusive and for that to be the norm of the future.

Who have been your biggest role models in your professional life, and how have they helped you to succeed?

My biggest role model would have to be Colin Williams. He has been a part of the IT industry for many, many years, and in my very first week at Computacenter he spoke to me and a few others, not to share all the different things he knew about technology, but to give some personal advice on things that would help us succeed in our careers, and to instil confidence that we had everything at our disposal to be great. He also recommended a book to read which I bought the next day and read the following week - from the very beginning I have had the utmost respect and faith in him. Colin has always given me solid advice and guidance, and questions me whenever I go to him for support - not to catch me out but rather to challenge me and make me reflect as he believes in me and knows I can do it (whatever ‘it' is). Aside from the IT part of work, I have spent a lot of time with Colin on matters of diversity (ethnic in particular), creating platforms for others to open up and sharing our own thoughts, feelings and ideas, promoting and encouraging initiatives to make Computacenter and the industry as a whole a more inclusive, appreciative place. We also share a love for football and have played in a number of tournaments together hosted by Computacenter or its partners that have supported charities and other initiatives. Colin really is inspiring. He is a great leader and I aspire to be as influential and loved as he is some day.

Do you think companies should be compelled to publish ‘ethnicity pay gap' data?

I think publishing data could be a good idea in the sense of making companies accountable - if there is no hiding then any issues would be tackled sooner and as a result a more equal society/industry should come about.

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