The transformed workplace: diversity drives success
Empowering the next generation of business leaders starts with recognising that discriminating based on any factor has no place in the modern workplace. However, while most businesses are committed to supporting diversity and inclusion, it remains a challenge for some.
15 August 2018
Prior to becoming part of the GCI Group, IA Cubed was a small Systems Integrator of around 20 people. A female-led organisation, we grew up with a very diverse workforce with females in roles from Marketing through to coding. Our diversity grew by accident; due to our size we didn’t have any set practices for what an IT Engineer should look like, we simply hired based on personality and skillset – recruiting from multiple generations and backgrounds.
Encouraging kids to pursue a career in tech
According to the British Chambers of Commerce, 75% of businesses are facing a digital skills shortage, making it important that everyone in the industry does what they can to ensure the next generation is able and willing to consider a career in the technology sector.
That’s why GCI created the Kids Immersion Programme (KIE). For the last four years GCI have worked with children in schools across Scotland to deliver the KIE - an immersive technology programme aimed at kids aged 9-14 - that teaches them about Cloud and coding. The program has proven a huge success and has enabled us to make incremental investments in supporting Microsoft’s Girls in Digital event - part of Scotland’s Modern Apprentice Week, supported by the Minister for Youth & Women’s Employment. Backed by GCI, Kimberley Totten, Lindsay Climson and I are also working with Scottish Women in Technology (SWIT) to drive out educational roadshows focusing on STEM and helping young girls to develop their skills in technology and business.
Breaking new ground
Following the massive success of our KIE programme, we wanted to look at how it could be adapted to reach other demographics that would benefit from careers in STEM. One of the areas GCI identified were young, neurodiverse adults; that is, those with neurological conditions including Dyspraxia, Dyslexia, ADHD, Autism and more. Following a successful KIE in conjunction with The Donaldson Trust - where we tailored the session for neurodiverse young people - we found that many of them had a passion for working in IT, and we realised that the gap in skills many of them faced was interviewing later in life. This helped us define our vision to enable and empower young people with all abilities, providing them with the confidence to feel comfortable in interviews.
As part of this, GCI are investing time and resources to a programme dedicated to supporting and raising awareness of young neurodivergent apprentices. This programme is focused on the benefits of an inclusive workplace and how employers can support neurodiverse young people to be comfortable and successful at work. The aim of the programme is to not only raise awareness, but for us as a company to inspire more employers to take action and encourage an accessible work environment for more neurodiverse job applicants.
The outcome of GCI’s KIE programme and the reason why I shared my story with you at the beginning of this blog is to uncover and enable others to see the value of diversity, helping employers to understand tangible steps that can be taken to create a more inclusive, engaged, accessible and more innovative organisation, in which all employees can thrive.
Read the advice of 3 of GCI’s Women in Technology and learn more about how we’re supporting kids to discover a career in STEM. Or, if you’d like to learn more about the programmes mentioned in this article, feel free to drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Margaret Totten, Alliance Director at GCI
With over twenty years’ experience in a multitude of areas including sales, marketing, PR and project management, Margaret has worked alongside some of Britain’s most prominent names - including Microsoft, British Gas, Scottish Power and the NHS - helping to identify key markets, core business strategies and facilitate open communication within their existing client bases. Mags has a passion for technology and works with schools and peer groups to ensure that the world of technology is open to people of all ages, ability levels, gender or background.