THE BLOG
22/06/2015 10:35 BST | Updated 22/06/2016 06:59 BST

Why Technology Is an Opportunity for Social Good

Our industry is involved in numerous initiatives where we are helping people to get online, to learn to code, to become interested in STEM, to turn their tech ideas into businesses or generally to better use technology. But there is always room for more.

London Technology Week was a great celebration of the incredible tech hubs being created not only in London, but also across the UK and in Europe. The range of topics discussed at Tech Week, from diversity to customer centricity, from education to payments, and so much more in between, reminded me of the breadth of what we can achieve, not just for our sector, but for the wider economy and society in general.

From the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to the recent launch by Sage - the UK's largest technology company - of its Foundation, the technology industry has a well-deserved reputation for social good. In fact, earlier this year it was reported that America's 50 most generous donors increased their giving by 33 percent - powered largely by a sharp rise in the number of young tech entrepreneurs committing to philanthropy.

What's more, while across industries there has been much debate about making philanthropy more than just a tick-box, it is really in the tech sector that this idea has taken hold. One such example is the 1:1:1 model, which involves donating 1% of employee, 1% of the firm's revenue and 1% of products to a charity, social enterprise or non-profit organisation.

The thinking behind this is that it is one thing for organisations to donate money to a good cause. But when you add products into the mix, plus the talents and time of employees, the value of the contribution increases exponentially.

One of the most important factors in making our sector's approach to philanthropy so successful is the skills of its workforce. We live in a digital world and as technology permeates more and more lives, the skills of those working in the industry are fast becoming important life-skills for everybody else too. The industry has a fantastic opportunity to share its knowledge more widely, making a tangible difference not only to the future of our sector, but also to many, many more people.

The good news is that we are already embracing this opportunity. For example, CoderDojo, a charity that teaches children around the world to code, relies on people who work in technology donating their time - often volunteer hours given by their employers - to set-up and teach at coding 'dojos'. Another example is the Stemettes Outbox Incubator programme that nurtures STEM skills and entrepreneurship in girls who are mentored by volunteers from across the tech sector.

Our industry is involved in numerous initiatives where we are helping people to get online, to learn to code, to become interested in STEM, to turn their tech ideas into businesses or generally to better use technology. But there is always room for more.

I would like to see every organisation - both technology and non-tech - 'build, grow and give back'. We are all part of a larger ecosystem and it is only by recognising this and acting upon it that we will see the continued growth of both the UK technology sector and a more digitally astute and inclusive society overall.

With such a dynamic, bright industry, I believe we really can build on the amazing contribution of our many philanthropists, to make social good a core belief across the UK. I hope that when we come together for London Technology Week next year we will have even more to celebrate in this area.