by Thomas Macaulay

How UK CIOs are developing the diversity of their organisations

Aug 21, 2019
CareersIT StrategyStaff Management

Credit: IDG

DAZN SVP of IT Services Georgina Owens

DAZN’s SVP of IT Services Georgina Owens joined the organisation with plans to restructure its teams to embrace a more diverse and inclusive workforce.

Owens has begun working on redressing the gender and skills gap by attracting more women into the organisation and the IT industry as a whole.

She hopes to make DAZN, which has grown to become one of the largest sports streaming service in the world, more appealing to women by sponsoring women in tech awards, and spreading the word at CIO forums and on panels.

Owens herself also thinks it is important as a woman in IT to “be a good role model and to be visible,” she said.

Read next: DAZN’s SVP of IT Services Georgina Owens reveals the tech transforming TV viewing

Williams F1 CIO Graeme Hackland

Williams F1 CIO Graeme Hackland

Williams F1 CIO Graeme Hackland has been supporting the inclusion of more female drivers in the sport, with the launch of an all-female W Series.

Following some criticism, Formula One decided to launch the women-focused series as a way to enhance opportunities for female drivers to join Formula One.

According to Hackland, the organisation has witnessed a rise in the number of females being employed as development drivers.

“I think the cars through the 80s required a lot of physical manhandling, but even then there were women racing drivers who handled those cars without a problem. The problem actually is not about the ability to drive a car, it’s the opportunities that they get,” he said.

“Jenson Button said there were three female drivers when he was starting who were quicker than him, but they never made it to Formula One. They never got the sponsorship that they needed to make it their way through.”

Read next: Williams F1 CIO Graeme Hackland reflects on 22-year career disrupting the sport CTO Thierry Bedos CTO Thierry Bedos

Image by © CTO Theirry Bedos believes a diverse workforce is essential to serve the needs of the hotel booking platform’s range of customers.

To create greater gender balance, the company works with schools to raise awareness of science and technology careers among girls, uses apprenticeship schemes to develop talent from other sectors, and attends conferences such as Women of Silicon Roundabout to find new recruits.

“There’s lots of evidence that teams are more balanced and more diverse in nature perform much better,” says Bedos. “They bring better innovation to the customers out there. When you think about the fact that something like 90% of travel decisions are influenced or made by women, we need to bring more women to our teams to understand that and to design products that women will love and that will be useful for them.”

Read next: CTO Thierry Bedos discusses cloud, data, DevOps and developing the diversity of the technology function

Global Radio CIO David Henderson

Global Radio CIO David Henderson

Global Radio CIO David Henderson has long been a champion of diversity and inclusion in IT. He made the media company a founding member of the Tech Talent Charter, a commitment to deliver greater gender balance in the sector, and has rolled out of initiatives to improve diversity such as unconscious bias training.

The CIO 100 leader believes developing a diverse tech team at Global is helping to drive the company’s growth.

“From our partnership approach with key vendors to a more diverse talent strategy and attracting the best entry-level technologists, we have been able to execute an ambitious digital transformation that, in turn, has helped launch compelling new products and grow the business,” he says.

Read next: Global Director of Technology & Operations David Henderson CIO 100 interview – Evangelising the art of the possible

Cancer Research UK CIO Tiffany Hall

Cancer Research UK CIO Tiffany Hall

Cancer Research UK CIO Tiffany Hall has worked on a range of initiatives aimed at addressing diversity in tech.

Outside the charity, she has worked as STEM ambassador at STEM Learning UK, encouraging girls to consider a career in technology during talks she gives at career events at schools and done pro bono work on the steering group of the Tech Talent Charter. At Cancer Research UK, she has helped introduce staff networks for women and LGBTQ+ people, a multi-faith group and a BAME group that she was asked to sponsor.

She wants to do more to improve social mobility which Cancer Research UK has begun to address by becoming the first charity in the UK to pay its interns, and on creating more employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

“I think a lot more could be done around accessibility and assistive technology for disabled people,” she says. “At the BBC, we were really hot on that, and we put it as quite a significantly scored criteria in our procurement processes.

“And we were very often told by software vendors that nobody else was asking them this question, which surprised me, and even even some government departments weren’t asking this question and certainly not scoring it. I’ve introduced that here at Cancer Research UK now. We include it in the questions that we ask vendors now.”

Read next: Cancer Research UK CIO Tiffany Hall describes her award-winning work

City, University of London Director of IT Claire Priestley

City, University of London Director of IT Claire Priestley

City, University of London Director of IT Claire Priestley has helped increase diversity in IT business leadership by creating CIO+1, a not-for-profit series of events that requests attendees to bring a “plus-one” from a group that is underrepresented in the sector. The guest can experience the speeches, participate in the discussions, and even present their own work.

Previous speakers at the event include space scientist Maggie Alderin-Pocock, and CIO 100 member Alison Davis of the Francis Crick Institute, but some of the most popular have been the plus-ones, such as a Ministry of Justice employee who recently attended.

“We had more tweets as a result of her session than anybody else, even the keynotes, which I think a real testimony to it being a platform for your ‘plus-ones’ as much as a networking event,” says Priestley.

Read next: City University Director of IT Claire Priestley describes how data can create personalised student experiences

Radius Payment Solutions CIO Dave Roberts

Radius Payment Solutions CIO Dave Roberts

Radius Payment Solutions CIO Dave Roberts has created a more inclusive professional environment through a range of initiatives, from flexible working arrangements to organising community events.

He is attracting young talent to the business by building links with universities and introducing a student placement programme, and has increased the percentage of female IT staff at the company from 2% to “18% and growing”.

“It’s been really positive on how the team work together and how they are able to bring different ideas and suggestions to the table,” he says. “That’s what diversity brings, it gives you a more rounded team.”

Read next: Radius Payment Solutions CIO Dave Roberts diversifying products and scaling team to drive business growth

HMRC Chief Digital and Information Officer Jacky Wright

HMRC Chief Digital and Information Officer Jacky Wright

HMRC Chief Digital and Information Officer Jacky Wright facilitates a more inclusive environment through her work as HMRC’s Disability Champion and position on the Civil Service Diverse Leadership Task Force and by recruiting talent “from all walks of life”.

“As Disability Champion for HMRC, it is really important to me that technology be a vehicle for inclusion, so that no-one is left behind, and we consider everyone in how we provide a service,” she says.

“This is why we are engaging with users and suppliers to find ways to improve our systems and processes so they are truly accessible.”

Read next: HMRC Chief Digital and Information Officer Jacky Wright interview – Developing a new operating model and culture for the digital era

Former United Utilities CIO William Hewish

Former United Utilities CIO William Hewish

Former United Utilities CIO William Hewish has been increasing the diversity of his workforce through unconscious bias training and other initiatives, while measuring stats which provide transparent evidence of the issue and any changes made. Hewish is also a member of the 30% Club, which aims to improve the representation of women on boards, and believes that there are numerous benefits of attracting talent from across society.

“Trying to get your pipeline right, trying to make sure that the filter’s not wrong on the way in, and then trying to give opportunity. It becomes a bit of a groundswell; you get to a certain level and it starts to correct itself,” he says.

“You get different ideas, you get different dynamics within the teams which are more creative and bouncing ideas off each other because people are coming from different perspectives. You have to take this in the round with other diversity too. One of the challenges for utilities in general is age demographics.

“We tend to have an ageing workforce, so that’s another area where apprentices help us to change the mix of the workforce to be diverse from all angles.”

Read next: United Utilities CIO William Hewish interview – Automation for the people

Former Workday CIO Diana McKenzie

Former Workday CIO Diana McKenzie

Image by © Workday

Former Workday CIO Diana McKenzie boosts gender diversity through a women’s mentoring programme where senior women in the company meet with four early in-career managers to discuss topics such as negotiating skills.

She has also teamed up with Intel CIO Paula Tolliver and Zuora CIO Alvina Antar, to form a women’s CIO network in Silicon Valley, which meets up once a quarter for dinner.

“We do that to build relationships and to make sure that when there are opportunities or events; when we see open positions; when there’s an opportunity to help individuals within our respective organisations,” she says. “We’re there as a network to facilitate that exchange, where prior, there really wasn’t anything like that that existed in the Bay Area.”

Read next: Workday CIO Diana McKenzie on building inclusion into a firm’s DNA

Trainline CTO Mark Holt

Trainline CTO Mark Holt

Image by © Trainline

Trainline CTO Mark Holt is improving gender diversity in tech through initiatives such as a partnership with the Code First: Girls social enterprise to help teach 20,000 girls to code by 2020.

“Tackling gender imbalance and championing talent within the technology industry is at the absolute core of our culture and values,” says the CIO 100 high-flyer. “An increase in female programmers, developers and engineers will have profound benefits to the UK’s tech economy, its businesses and its customers.

“Similarly, we are hugely intentional about the Trainline culture: we actively care for it, and nurture it. We want Trainline to be one of the best places to work in the world, with great technology that supports amazing people creating awesome user experiences for our customers.”

Read next: Trainline CTO Mark Holt CIO 100 interview – ‘Wonderfully predictable’ analytics mission

Bank of England CIO Robert Elsey

Bank of England CIO Robert Elsey

Image by iStock

Bank of England CIO Robert Elsey is bridging the digital skills gap by attracting talent from diverse backgrounds.

Elsey has teamed up with Cyber Security Challenge UK to create a competition that tests the security skills of 30 of untapped talents in the UK. The top applicants will compete in teams on a series of banking-themed tasks developed by the Bank of England’s security team to simulate the reality of the job.

“It starts to show the different qualities you need,” says Elsey. “It’s not just coding anymore. There’s everything from business case history to the climate and sponsoring initiatives. We’ve got people from all kinds of different backgrounds now working in technology and it’s making it a much better place.”

Read next: Bank of England CIO Robert Elsey sets cyber security challenge