On Wednesday 3 May, PICTFOR hosted our fifth Annual Equity Diversity and Inclusion Rally, focused on equipping people from all backgrounds with the necessary skills for a career in tech: “Celebrating Diversity in Tech”.
Hosted by PICTFOR Co-Chair Dame Caroline Dinenage MP, the event began with a speech from Chi Onwurah MP, Shadow Minister for Shadow Minister Science Research & Innovation. Chi Onwurah began the event discussing ongoing work tackling inequality in STEM industries and shared her own experience at university, noticing that women were underrepresented on her course. She noted that this has only improved marginally since. Chi endorsed solutions including real work engagement, tackling teacher shortages, and addressing inequality all the way up the industry ladder.
Dame Caroline Dinenage MP continued, emphasising the UK’s need to focus on economic growth and education to compete globally, highlighting that we need to spread the message that women continue to be underrepresented in the tech industry. Using a number of statistics, the Chair highlighted the extent of the work that still needs to be done. She also argued that remote working under during COVID lockdowns changed the way businesses work and that work to support EDI goals should capitalise on this.
The Chair then introduced Marc Goblot, Chair of the Cabinet Office Disability Unit Network for London and founder of TLA Tech for Disability, who spoke about updating recruitment and education, and leveraging new technology, to improve inclusivity in the industry.
Women of Web3’s Founder, Lauren Ingram, spoke next on the male-domination of tech founding teams and the need for jobs, resources, connections, and partnerships with larger organisations to instil diversity at the ground level. She spoke about Web3’s work using connections, learning resources, recruitment opportunities to help women secure roles in the tech industry.
Alaina Percival, CEO of Women Who Code, gave the next speech on the holistic approach needed to ensure EDI is instituted at all levels in the tech industry – including retaining talent, designing for inclusion, improving hiring practices, running events, and creating role models.
JISC’s Khateeba Ahmed spoke next about her experiences with graduate programmes in tech companies and the power of marginalised groups inspiring and pushing each other to succeed. She also spoke about the value of launching networks.
Melissa Wills, founder of Women Like Me, spoke on wider trends in the tech industry. She argued that words, rather than actions, are currently at the forefront and that change is happening too slowly, or even reversing.
Andrew Lowenthal, Out in Tech’s executive director, discussed his organisation’s work designing effective and secure sites for LGBTQ+ organisations worldwide. In the context of a more dangerous environment for certain LGBTQ+ groups in the UK and US, Mr Lowenthal urged discussion on mental health and role modelling, and for non-partisan support for human dignity.
The event’s final speaker was Katherine Church, Executive Board Member at TLA Women in Tech. She spoke about the importance of cultivating the demand aspect of the digital workforce. She discussed the value of the UK’s ‘unicorn’ ambitions and the power the Government could wield to support women founded companies and drive diversity in the tech workforce.
Dame Caroline Dinenage MP returned to the stage to thank the speakers and attendees.
Our speakers raised a number of important calls to action to ensure that the tech industry continues to welcome diversity and fully represents the entirety of the UK, and this is a conversation PICTFOR will continue to carry on throughout our events.
PICTFOR would like to thank our parliamentary speakers, as well as every one of the 7 speakers from across the tech industry for their contributions.