Diversity in tech 2023: Bev White, Nash Squared

In this video from Computer Weekly’s annual diversity in tech event, in partnership with Nash Squared and sponsored by NatWest, Bev White, CEO of Nash Squared, talks about the challenges the tech sector faces when it comes to increasing diversity and inclusion.

Likening these challenges to a “thousand tiny walls” that need to be demolished, White explains how there is no single action that can be taken to increase the diversity landscape of the tech industry, but rather the many small actions taken by underrepresented groups and their allies.

These actions include developing an inclusive culture within businesses, offering flexibility to all employees through hybrid working, breaking down the stereotypes of who can work in the technology field and developing talent.

The full transcript of the video is as follows:

“It's amazing to be here today and to look out on all these incredible faces. So much talent in this room, it’s incredible. Nash Squared have been partnering with Computer Weekly on diversity in tech for over a decade now. So I guess we've done that since you've been in Computer Weekly Clare? Sounds like it - 10th anniversary. Through those 10 years, we've seen some really good, incredible things happen. But I think we also need to acknowledge, as Clare's referenced there, that progress can be painfully slow still.

“For instance, take this auditorium filled with these amazing people. If this was representative of the wider tech industry, only two tables would be filled with women, because that's how it is. I mean, just look around and just kind of take that on board for a second.

“Now I take heart, because the thing is, we're still talking about it. And we're trying to solve these issues. And quite often, I think about things in very different ways. So I don't think there's a silver bullet, there is no one way to address this issue.

“I think about it sometimes as taking down a thousand tiny walls. And this is something actually that my marketing director Rob and I talked about pretty much on day one of when I joined our business, and it was all about creating a culture and an environment where things are sustainably done, not done to tick a box, sign a policy, get something approved, but actually to make a difference over time.

“Now you have to be patient when you do that. And you have to do things in a thorough way and to take people with you on that journey. That's really, really important. But let's look at some of those tiny walls that some of us are working on together. And there'll be many more of these tiny walls that you'll talk about this afternoon.

“But let's look at hybrid working. So this year, we've seen many publicised reports from very well known companies mandating their employees need to be back in the office five days a week. In our current Nash Squared digital leadership report, we found that organizations that mandated five days a week attracted 25% less female tech hires than those that mandated one or two days a week.

“So, note to self, because I think we all need to kind of take this on board and think about it, we want to break down a tiny wall. Let's start here, let's think about what our hybrid working policy needs to look like.

“I was talking to someone outside of the business this morning, about just this topic. And I said, you know, actually, you have to think back to before COVID, when we probably all were in the office, mostly five days a week. How diverse was it then? So really getting us all to come back five days a week? Is that gonna make it better? I mean, there's real value, right, and we'll talk about that this afternoon in being together. But that isn't necessarily the answer.

“Another wall, a very narrow view on what a tech expert looks like. There's incredibly talented people. And I'm thinking I'm looking at a lot of you here who followed the traditional path, stem A-levels, computer science degree. There are also some incredibly talented people that have taken a very different path, and have incredible jobs and contributing amazing things to the world of tech right now.

“Today, we also contribute at Nash Squared and out in the coffee area, you may have seen a stand that says ‘Next Gen’. Please, if you get a moment, go meet them and talk about how we can bring fresh, bright new talent through to the world of tech and contribute through a different way. I think this is an exciting way of getting great new people. So let's think about that tiny wall.

“There's gonna be many different tiny walls, some bigger walls that we hear about how people have taken them down. And I really encourage you to think about what gets said today. I know last year, I came away with about five or six really burning topics I'd heard from incredible speakers. And I'm sure you're going to experience that too.

“Today's not just about walls, though. It's about celebration. And that's really important. All of the wonderful things that our industry achieves. I can't think about a better career than going into the world of tech. It's creative. It's pretty well paid. And you have an opportunity here to really change the world. Really do change the world. I mean, one small thing can make such a big difference to a business and go on and change lives. I think it's incredible the work that you guys do.”

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