The importance of greater workplace diversity is finally getting the recognition it deserves, as traditionally white male-dominated industries like
technology and financial services look to find new and innovative ways to boost the diversity of their organisation.
proven business benefits but the IT sector in particular has struggled to create workplaces that are representative of the society they serve.
We spoke to some of the UK's top IT business leaders to find out how they're developing diversity in their organisations and the wider world.
Read next: How CIOs can improve diversity and inclusion.
Additional reporting by Hannah Williams
August 21, 2019
2. 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
3. Hotels.com CTO Thierry Bedos
Hotels.com 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: Hotels.com CTO Thierry Bedos discusses cloud, data, DevOps and developing the diversity of the technology function
5. Cancer Research UK CIO Tiffany Hall
© Cancer Research UK
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
6. City, University of London Director of IT Claire Priestley
© City, University of London
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
9. Former United Utilities CIO William Hewish
© United Utilities
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
11. Trainline CTO Mark Holt
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