Tech Talent Charter stages its first North West event in Manchester, July 3rd 2018.

TTC was delighted to work with our sponsors Cisco, Browne Jacobson and Manchester Digital,  to host its first North West event, “Driving Diversity: Returners, Retraining and Retention”, a working breakfast at the fantastic Mi-IDEA space, Manchester. Representatives from over 30 SMEs, start-ups and large corporates including AO, FDM Group, The Open University and TalkTalk,  came together to tackle the issue of supporting female tech returners and retraining.

Speakers included Jenny Scherler-Gormley Head of HR UK& Ireland, Cisco; Kerren Daly, Partner, Browne Jacobson; Katie Gallagher, Managing Director, Manchester Digital; and Anna Holland-Smith, Programme Manager for THG Institute of Technology.

Debbie Forster, CEO Tech Talent Charter, commented,  “When it comes to recruiting and retraining great female talent it’s important to bring together the collective ‘best practice’ knowledge of businesses. It is great that we are doing more to attract more girls to consider tech as a career, but this will take 5-10 years to impact the talent pipeline. We need female talent in tech now. Research tells us that 76% of professional women on career breaks want to return to work and 3 in 5 of those who return end up in lower skilled jobs. 1 This is an incredible opportunity for tech. By working together to create and share ways of supporting these women, our signatories can make a real step forward in moving the dial on diversity in tech.

 “It’s vital that we focus on female returners who are retraining to build up their tech qualifications, how to encourage them, aid retraining and then retain that talent. The feedback we received from local businesses today tells us that those retraining are invaluable assets to their businesses – developing a deep understanding of the technical side of the business while still bringing their broader businesses knowledge to roles.

An early point was raised about the concerns some companies have in relation to legal requirements and diversity.  Employment Lawyer at Browne Jacobson, Kerren Daly, reassured attendees on how they can easily support returners, saying “When creating an inclusive workplace, many employers are conscious of possible legal barriers, but there’s no need to be afraid of the law. Companies should be thinking of innovative ways to ensure diversity and inclusivity, but this shouldn’t be a big ask for those in the tech industry where innovation is at the heart. By creating an inclusive organisation, with effective policies in place to support those returning to work, diversity will soon follow.”

Discussions centred on what could be learned and replicated from Cisco’s returners programme, reassurances for companies regarding legal frameworks for maternity leave returners and the work already going on in the Manchester area. Anna Holland-Smith shared her story of transitioning from a career as a defence lawyer to a software engineer working with programmes like Code First: Girls and Makers.

Jenny Scherler-Gormley Head of HR UK & Ireland for Cisco, said, “Organisations today are made up of people who are all different in some way, each bring value yet have differing needs.  Supporting the best people to do their best work, with the best opportunities is what we strive for – one size fits one rather than one size fits all!  Benefits, policies and organisational culture have a big part to play, but it is the everyday events and impressions that can make or break the employee experience and it is this experience that will define whether an employee will stay, return from leave or retrain.  We’re delighted to have been invited to share what we do at Cisco – the big and small – to help make everyone feel supported at work and learn from our colleagues.”

Katie Gallager, CEO Manchester Digital recognised the value of collaborative events like these,

Diversity and inclusion is a key challenge for our sector and Manchester Digital plays a key role in supporting employers to make positive change and progress to their businesses. As part of this work, we are delighted to welcome the Tech Talent Charter to the region and work alongside them to deliver this important event. The more we collaborate and broaden the discussion the bigger and better the impact will be’

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