BLOG: Sparta Global Becomes Signatory of the Tech Talent Charter29/11/2017
Blog by Lexie Papaspyrou, Head of Academy, Sparta Global
Last Thursday was probably one of my proudest moments at Sparta Global. I was stood in a small crowd on the top floor of the Gherkin watching a photographer hang over the top of a balcony. Beside me was Amali, the CEO of Code First: Girls; on my other side was Robyn, Marketing & Comms Manager for Technology & Investments at PwC and the manager of their Women In Tech programme. Around us stood eighty-eight other senior businesses representatives all of whom were committing their organizations to improving the presence of women in the tech industry by becoming signatories of the Tech Talent Charter (TTC). Now the irony of launching a women in tech initiative from a building that is basically a giant phallus, was not lost on me. But in some ways the symbolism was really, quite perfect.
“How can you catch all the fish if you only fish in half the pool?”
The launch of the Tech Talent Charter is what its CEO, Debbie Forster MBE, calls the “starting gun moment” in the race toward a gender-diverse and high performing tech sector. She wasn’t alone in stressing how much work there is to be done. The panel of speakers at the event included leaders from across the business world with senior representatives from Monster, HP, Fujitsu and Reed all voicing the critical importance of curing diversity inertia. But as the Rt. Honourable Matt Hancock MP, Minister of State for Digital, said in his opening address: “How can you catch all the fish if you only fish in half the pool?”.
"Just 17% of the tech and telco workforce are women"
Just 17% of the tech and telco workforce are women. Key thought leaders across every industry cite tech talent shortages as one of their biggest concerns for growth in the future. But rather than diversifying our search for individuals to welcome to the table, the industry has relied on over-fishing a pool of talent that’s not only small but also largely homogenous.
The much-quoted McKinsey report on diversity shows that gender diverse companies outperform low diversity companies by 15%. Diverse teams actually make better products. In a market where challenger organizations with small, skilled teams can bring a fast-iterating product to market in months, being the first one on an idea isn’t good enough. You have to be the best and most attractive to a diverse market. So the diversity question isn’t just about morality and ethics, it’s about the bottom line: in a competitive industry strong diversity makes business sense.
"We have a unique and direct means of impacting the diversity of the top of the talent funnel"
As a signatory to the TTC Sparta Global is proud to have committed to implementing practises that support inclusive and diverse hiring, measuring our results, and sharing our learns with others who are on the journey with us. For us at Sparta Global that’s of even bigger significance because of what we do. As a business that trains people to go into tech roles, we have a unique and direct means of impacting the diversity of the top of the talent funnel by enabling individuals to get into tech without having needed to have followed a traditional career path. Being part of the supply chain for other businesses means we need to be just as accountable for shaping the face of the tech workforce. And that’s really been the point of the TTC. We want to stop having conversations about diversity and start driving results. As one of the panelists, Amali de Alwis, said: “What gets measured gets done”. We’re measuring, we’re going to get things done, and we’re driving the change from the inside, even if we do find ourselves starting in a bit of a pickle.