In conversation: Three questions of inclusion with Sparta Global and Softcat

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At Sparta Global we are continuing to collaborate with D&I leaders to strive for wider change in the technology industry - equal opportunities and fewer barriers to entry for underrepresented groups. In the next blog in our In conversation with D&I Leaders series, we connected with fellow technology provider, Softcat, to explore inclusion and how our businesses are effecting change.

 

What is your position on diversity and inclusion and what are you currently doing to implement a D&I agenda within your company?   

SPARTA GLOBAL: Sparta Global is an award-winning inclusive employer championing equal opportunities, fair representation and cross-cultural communication in the digital sector. Inclusion and belonging are key to our company’s success, so we have invested in a dedicated D&I function within the organisation to leverage diversity in terms of gender, ethnicity, neurodiversity, social mobility and life experience. We also partner with local and international D&I forums such as Code First: Girls, Codebar and Tech Talent Charter to host free technical workshops and encourage individuals from minority groups to launch digital careers. Working with over 70 universities across the country, we actively run panel sessions and workshops, provide access to role models and foster technical literacy amongst female students. Our Sparta Global headquarters host regular Women in Tech panels, tech talks and external speakers’ interventions as well as community-based events such as You Equal Tech. D&I are embedded in our company culture and Academy model. For example, our trainees receive free, commercially relevant technical training, so our female hires can develop the fundamental skills they need to thrive in their careers, no matter their backgrounds or previous experiences. With so many of our Spartans, Directors and internal staff regularly featured in the D&I media space, we are committed to sharing our mission for a more equal tech sector.

 

SOFTCAT: Like Sparta, Softcat is a signatory of the Tech Talent Charter, committed to building a diverse workforce. In 2018 just 17% of UK Tech/ICT workers are female and only one in ten females are currently taking A-level computer studies, so Softcat are working on many initiatives to bring more diversity into our workplace. We have introduced a Women in Business group, a Pride Network and we are also looking to introduce a BAME group in the near future. The encouragement Softcat has given everyone to have a voice, by giving everyone a space to speak has really opened up the diversity and inclusivity conversation in Softcat as a whole. Our overall focus is to make sure that inclusion is the important factor. We are lucky that we have a great culture and focus on ensuring our employees are engaged, so although diversity is important, ensuring we have an inclusive culture is more important.

 

Diversity and inclusion in business are not an option but a business imperative. Can you give an example of how to build inclusion into early talent attraction? 

SPARTA GLOBAL: Sparta is working with a wide variety of D&I forums, universities, student networks and charity partners to encourage inclusion in early talent attraction. This includes partnering with organisations like Code First: Girls, Tech Talent Charter, Codebar, Color in Tech, YBBA and You Equal Tech to deliver events, community-based initiatives and free coding workshops. In the academic space, we team up with over 70 educational bodies, minority student groups and BAME societies across the country and work directly with students to share the message that technology is for all, to provide mentorship opportunities and to offer career advice and preparation. In line with our social mobility objectives, we also welcome applications from candidates without a degree classification and we actively celebrate differences in life experiences as assets. Our company language is an important element of our approach to fostering diversity. This includes curating our job adverts, our corporate message and our terminology in a way that reduces impostor syndrome among candidates looking to enter the industry. For example, we use diverse hiring panels, remove gender-biased interview questions and proactively train our recruiters in best D&I practices and language use.

 

SOFTCAT: Softcat are working on ensuring their job advertisements do not contain overly masculine language to encourage more women to apply to jobs in all areas of our business. It has been found that women only apply for jobs if they meet 100% of the requirements, so by broadening the language and focusing on how Softcat can look at transferrable skills in their job postings, it should encourage more women into the workforce. In addition to this, we are inviting schools to come in and go through workshops at Softcat to embrace our culture and be inspired into technology. We are keen to have a diverse cohort right from the offset when it comes to our Early Career programmes, therefore it’s also our job to make sure we are inspiring talent at grassroot level.

 

An aspect of diversity that is often over-looked in the digital sector has to do with the variety of academic and professional experiences of people working in tech companies. What would you say are the main benefits of non-linear careers in tech and do you notice an impact of such variety on your business? 

SPARTA GLOBAL: Technology is about creativity and innovation, so our 2-year technical programme welcomes individuals without technical backgrounds or related professional experience. We hire candidates with backgrounds in the Arts and Media, Social Sciences, Medical and Sports Sciences, Humanities, Psychology and Business alongside candidates from Computing backgrounds. By bringing together individuals who think, communicate, create and solve complexity in varied ways, we foster heterogeneity of ideas, which in turn helps our clients find solutions to their business problems.

 

SOFTCAT: One of the main benefits that I have found in having a different educational and progression path is the diversity in ideas and processes I have been part of.  This has allowed me to bring a different perspective to role I have now, and really add value to my team and other departments. It also means that my team has different ideas from myself, so we find we produce very effective work, simply because we’re able to look at a problem from all sides.