The Answer is Obviously ‘Z’: Why Diversity is the Missing Variable in Tech's Equation
Diversity is more than just a buzzword; it's an essential element for innovation and societal progress.
As a leading consultant at First Derivative, I have seen first-hand the transformative impact of increased female representation; a powerful catalyst for ingenuity and advancement.
Breaking the Monochrome: The Importance of Diversity
The Financial Services and tech industry is predominately male orientated, yet research confirms that diverse teams; a mix of genders, ethnicities, and backgrounds, are more creative, effective, and innovative. Different perspectives to challenge conventional thinking leads to innovation.
Gender Diversity: More Than a Metric
Gender diversity is crucial for business success. Companies with more gender-diverse workforces are 15% more likely to outperform their peers.
The Early Years: From Playgrounds to Programming
It's a journey that begins not in boardrooms or coding bootcamps, but in our very homes and playgrounds. Reflect on a playground scene: young boys encouraged to climb higher, run faster, explore further, be adventurous and take risks. Is it the same for young girls? Are they equally encouraged to be bold, tinker with gadgets, be curious about how things work? This early distinction in how we treat our children is the seed from which grows a vast gender gap in tech.
Educational Path: Building Skills and Confidence
As girls grow, they need encouragement and resources to thrive in tech. Internships and hands-on experience are key to bridging the gap between theory and practice, making the industry more accessible.
The Maternal Metaphor in Tech
Let us not forget mothers – nurturers, problem solvers, multitaskers, and adaptors. Women, by virtue of their different life experiences and perspectives, bring unique insights into development, leading to user centric innovations and solutions reflective of a diverse user base.
As an industry, we must begin to present dedicated gender inclusion policies as we recognise priorities change throughout a career. Champion and embrace flexible working arrangements. By normalising adaptive options, we unleash opportunities for women to thrive professionally.
Mentorship: A Key to Success
Mentorship is vital in shaping careers. Connecting aspiring female technologists with experienced mentors can foster growth, learning, and development.
First Derivative: A Case Study in Diversity and Innovation
First Derivative, the world’s largest dedicated capital markets consulting firm, recognises that diversity and equality are crucial for innovation and business success. Our employees are at the heart of our continual growth, we focus on skills.
Challenges and Achievements
Traditionally, our graduate program attracted talent from STEM degrees skewing gender balance. We've addressed this by hiring outside of STEM to attract more females, demonstrating significant progress in diversifying our talent pool.
Leadership and Representation: Breaking the Glass Ceiling
Representation matters. Women in leadership positions can lead to more innovation and better outcomes. Intentional efforts to promote women to positions of power can transform the culture of companies, making them more inclusive and equitable.
We are particularly proud of promoting a significant number of women to senior positions and running programmes like STRIVE and IMPACT to support women. Our participation in initiatives like Lean In and partnerships with groups like Now Group highlight our commitment to diversity and inclusion.
The Future is Z
"Most engineers proceed from A to B to C, but sometimes the answer is obviously Z," noted Sophie Wilson (a pioneering computer scientist). In tech, 'Z' represents the myriad voices and perspectives often marginalised. The tech industry thrives on problem-solving and innovation, yet true innovation cannot occur in an echo chamber of similar thoughts and experiences. It requires the friction and fusion of differing viewpoints, challenging of norms, and the courage to venture into uncharted territories. Diversity is not merely a checkbox for corporate social responsibility; it is the crucible in which the most groundbreaking ideas are forged.
At First Derivative, we're embracing this 'Z' approach. We're cultivating environments where diverse talents are not just welcomed but seen as essential components of our problem-solving arsenal.
In a world that's rapidly evolving, driven by technological advancements, the answer to sustaining innovation and relevance is, indeed, obviously Z – embracing and integrating the diverse tapestry of human experience into the heart of tech.