In the mid-nineties, my eyes were opened to the exciting world of tech. I was thrilled at securing my first real job in tech, with one of the biggest Internet Services Providers in the UK. I remember it as a gender diverse company, everyone was encouraged to share ideas and the teams grew massively in the space of a few years. It had fantastic energy, people were enjoying what the Internet was delivering and most importantly the company didn't have a shortage of female applicants. Fast forward twenty years and organisations are finding it difficult to attract the diverse talent that will ultimately help to increase their business performance to succeed in these very competitive times. My passion for tech turned into a driver: I wanted people to enjoy the world of tech just as I did back then. I had this unstoppable urge to inspire women into tech, to show how exciting it is now and the possibilities that are available in the future. Most importantly, I passionately wanted to create opportunities for men and women to work equally together in tech, as diversity is key to our future.
With a background in both tech and recruitment, I was driven to set up Structur3dpeople with a social arm to the business. I wanted to create social impact through initiatives that would help develop the skills of women looking for careers in tech, move into leadership or start up their own companies, whilst helping to bridge the current gender gap in the tech industry.
I spent much of 2015 attending "Women in Tech" type events, not to speak to the fantastic lineup of speakers, but instead, to talk to the audience, to understand why women were sometimes spending two evenings each week at events and what they were looking to achieve.
What about the future generation of women? I asked myself, what would make my younger self consider a career in tech? Whilst carrying out research on my teenage daughter and her friends, hearing the numerous reasons why there weren't enough women working in tech, became a discouragement to them. Instead, they wanted to explore the exciting opportunities that a career in tech offered and the pathways that were available to them. So that became my mission; to encourage and inspire women to look at the wide variety of roles that tech offers, to help develop careers to the highest level and encourage female entrepreneurship.
Mentors and role models are pivotal in developing skills as well as providing confidence, building resilience, encouraging aspirations and advancing careers. With these two themes in mind, Structur3dpeople launched the social media campaign #GettingMoreWomenIntoTech to help women around the world explore the variety of roles in tech and digital through the visibility of role models.
We see the top 10 list of the "Super Women" in tech continuously, but we also have so many more "real life" role models around the world that don't get seen. The more girls and women see the female gender working within tech, the more they will be inclined to join in. "You cannot be what you cannot see" and this campaign encourages women in tech to step forward as role models to show that tech is a creative industry that is diverse, for everyone and is not always about coding. Being a visible campaign, it also demonstrates career paths that can be forged to the highest level. With men and women tweeting pictures from Mexico, Spain, Belgium, Portugal, Australia, India, New Zealand and Canada, Structur3dpeople still need more role models to step forward.
In April 2016, Structur3dpeople launched three programmes in London, providing mentoring to 70 women by senior level executives. Being delivered over the course of one year, by male and female mentors, they have already proved to be successful; one month after the programmes started, 96% said their confidence was raised after the first session and 50% of the women applied for jobs they may not have otherwise even considered. With over 200 women expressing an interest in joining the mentoring programmes in London alone, we want to collaborate with organisations to roll out the programmes nationally, with Bristol and Liverpool being the next to launch, in addition to London in Spring 2017.
With Structur3dpeople's mission to place over 1000 women into tech and digital roles by 2020, it cannot be done without combined efforts, not just in the UK, but globally. Whether you are an individual or an organisation, you can get involved and make #GettingMoreWomenIntoTech part of your diversity agenda.
Rav is founder of Structur3dpeople, a tech recruitment specialist pioneering diversity initiatives that will help to increase diversity in the workplace now and in the future.