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Diversity in Tech 2017

On Saturday 24th June we hosted our first summer conference at Watershed in Bristol. It was nerve-wracking to organise but rather wonderful to meet so many people who are as concerned as we are at the current lack of diversity in the tech workforce. We know it is not just a local issue, it’s a national one, but we do belive that Thinking Globally and Acting Locally is a good way forward. So we invited mostly local speakers to our three panels on Recruitment, Retention and Resilience, to come and share their thoughts on how to change things, and what they are doing to change things.

We need to talk the three Rs ~ Recruitment, Retention, Resilience.

We kept the day short – 10am – 2.30pm with an hour or so at the end for those who had time to carry on networking. Tickets were reasonably priced at £20, with some available free to unwaged people, lunch was included, and we had free children’s activities – a creche and code club – to enable parents to attend.

The three panel discussions were:

Recruitment:

10.20-11.20 Chaired by Helen Woodcock (KETL)
Panellists: Nadia Abouayoub (BCS), Jenny Cowderoy (Jenny Cowderoy Ltd), Ismini Vasilieou (BCS/University of Plymouth)

Going beyond the current workforce ~ what’s stopping that and what can we do? Is it the language used in job ads that blocks women from applying for them? How hard is it to recruit someone who does not look or sound like the people already there?

Retention:

11.45-12.45 Chaired by Marina Traversari (OSCA)
Panellists: Jane Ginnever (Shift), Ric Hill (Softwire), Mike Oram (Mayden Academy), Sian Wilmot (SN Systems)

What can companies do to develop workplace cultures that appeal to everyone? There’s more to this than compulsory training days on unconscious bias but at least they are a start. How about flexible working for everyone, not only for mothers?

Resilience:

1.30 – 2.30 Chaired by Dana Bopp (TedXBristol)
Panellists: Hayley Barnden (InterEngLGBT), Rosie Bennett (ITgirls), Rabeb Othmani (WomenWhoCode)

How to support employees to be resilient in a changing work environment? How do you keep going when you are the only woman or person of colour at work? What can meetups in and out of the workplace do to support people?

At 2.30, after the last panel we invited people from tech meetups to stand at the front and introduce themselves to everyone, and made this open to people who couldn’t get to the whole event.

Feedback:

We wanted to start the conversation and invite the tech community to come along, connect, talk to us and to each other, to hear more about initiatives from companies who are trying to change things for the better. We have had lots of positive feedback which has made it all work doing and ideas are buzzing for next summer now!

Big thanks to our sponsors, bugsnag, ffunction & KETL.

Big thanks to our speakers too, who made for such an interesting day. We are still writing it up, so keep an eye out on here for updates.

Were you inspired? Then get in touch about sponsoring WTHub and our events on info@wthub.org