Hope is an amazing thing; it is perhaps the most essential thing we need to effect change. The 'Yes, We Can' campaign slogan credited with helping Obama win the USA election, created a wave of optimism, that convinced people that change could just possibly happen (despite him thinking it was corny and his wife Michelle, convincing him to go with it). Hope is positive, infectious and an incredibly powerful force in the world.
Today, there is a group of people working in recruitment, tech and social enterprise that have real hope that there is a way to increase the number of females and underrepresented groups working in tech.
Considering the context of the wider world of work, one could understandably be a bit despondent, cynical even that certain gate keepers will realistically, welcome or allow much needed change to happen. Women still do not have equal pay and a lack of equal opportunity results in a pitiful proportion of females on boards and in senior management positions and only 17% of females currently makeup the tech workforce. The slow pace of change is quite frankly maddening.
However, despite this, there is much to feel positive about and actually excited!
Why such hope?
When we started looking into raising awareness of the worryingly low amount of women working in tech (after being inspired by Caitlin Moran) we reached out to a number of women working in this area to ask them to be part of a Monster industry event in April 2015 and to film their thoughts and stories.
These women were simply inspirational, both in the work they were doing and their commitment and passion in working to get more girls into STEM and upskilling females into the world of coding and tech. Women such as Amali de Alwis, CEO of Code First: Girls, Debbie Forster Co-CEO of Apps for Good and Anne-Marie Amifidon Co-Founder of Stemettes, to name but a few. It was Anne-Marie, who when I first spoke to her, laid out plainly the issues we were facing and how the world of recruitment and HR; whose role is so pivotal in who is recruited and retained into organisations, should aspire and work to some form of charter.
Working together to effect change
There are so many organisations and individuals doing fantastic work in helping girls and females into tech and the workforce. This has made such a difference and its critical we as commercial organisations do all we can to support social enterprises such as Code First Girls, Stemettes and Apps For Good in their vital work.
To reinforce this work and to truly move the dial, we knew that working together, collectively with different companies, across different industries we could potentially make the much needed difference. Together we felt we could be stronger. Monster therefore, inspired by Anne-Marie's suggestion, decided that we would launch a Tech Talent Charter and ask companies who were interested, to join us in helping to make it a reality.
At Monster we have some nifty products and solutions in attracting talent but we are not in the business of writing charters. Speaking with Andrea Bertone, President of Monster Europe and Andy Sumner, MD of Monster UK & Ireland, we considered trying to find a charter writer. However I wasn't quite sure where to easily find a seasoned charter writer, and certainly not one who was well versed in the issues of gender equality in tech. Having been immersed in the issues for a number of months, I decided to have a bash at writing the charter (for once my law degree came in quite handy).
A main protocol of the charter is to commit to best practice in recruitment and retention practices, as employers/organisations by implementation of the 'Rooney Rule' in the recruitment process (i.e. where available, interview at least one female candidate as part of interview process) along with adherence to agreed recruitment and retention best practice guidelines. Inclusivity in how we write job descriptions, how we present ourselves to candidates, the interview and selection process, Flexible working practices, long-term education and talent pipeline and benchmarking and measurement of progress are other key lynchpins of the TTC as we call it. Please read it here.
Amali De Alwis, CEO of Code First: Girls has worked alongside us from the start and brought her intelligence, commitment and know-how, to the charter, advising a work stream approach where we could break the complex long and short-term issues down in to cross-organisational TTC working groups. These range from recruitment and retention best practices, education and talent pipeline, ecosystem and government and benchmarking and measurement with the Annual report work stream - as Amali says, 'What gets measured, gets done'.
TTC Work streams:
Best Practice in recruitment
Best Practice in retention
Education and Talent pipeline
Eco System and Public policy
Tenacity, the bedfellow of hope in gender equality
Since July 2015 we have been working with companies such as RBI, Michael Page, S3 Group, JLR People Solutions, Code First: Girls, Apps for Good, Tech London Advocate, Centre For London and Stemettes, who heard our request and who have committed to join us in making the TTC a reality. It's taken us a while to get to where we are now and really it's just the start and a great deal of work lies ahead. Historically, tenacity has been the bedfellow of hope in the quest for gender equality and we appreciate we'll need tenacity, commitment and a sense of urgency to make the TTC a reality. Yet the economic and social rewards of delivering a diverse and representative workforce are simply incredible. Not only are we empowering and enabling fairness and opportunity for half of humanity, economically, as the recent McKinsey report noted, we could add $12 trillion to global GDP by 2025 by advancing women's equality. And as they noted as well, only by working together can we do this.
Last week was International Women's Day; and there is much to celebrate, yet the underlying importance of gender quality was summed up by Jane Fonda, who is reported to have said:
"Until there's gender equity, I don't think you can solve any of the world's problems"
I really couldn't agree more.
Our focus is tech and women in tech, with a view to extending best practice and guides to help to other underrepresented groups in this area. We aim to focus in one key area and who knows where it will takes us.
There is much to gain, will you join us?
At this stage you, or your organisation, only need to support us in principle, you are not beholden to any protocols or expectations (don't worry those will come later, in June 2016, when we arm you with the best practice and toolkits to start to make changes in your organisations and only of course if you chose to agree).
We are just getting started and you and your contribution may just be the key catalyst to make this all happen. Yes You can, Yes We Can!
Please sign up at www.techtalentcharter.co.uk email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com to get involved and make the difference.