15 Apr 2019
Icon - diversity

Everywoman in Tech Forum

On a busy week of events inspired by International Women’s day, Bethan Hughes and Gemma Kirkman made the journey down to London from sunny Salford to attend the 2019 Everywoman in Tech Forum on the 6th March.

Read on to find out more about the day and what we thought of it, as well as our top 7 call to action points from the event.

The 5th Everywoman in Tech Forum is a premium opportunity for women in tech and business strategy roles to find out what today’s innovations mean for them in the workplace. Over 400 like-minded women converged in London, with thousands more from across the globe also leveraging the technology of today by joining a live stream of the event.

The focus for the event this year was ‘The Power of Diversity’ and speakers from a variety of companies, including Google, HMRC, and IBM spoke about how capitalising on diversity and working with and gaining knowledge from a wide range of people can provide insights into our future and who we are going to be. In fact, diversity – or seeing things from different points of view, is an emotionally intelligent way of working, not only bringing huge personal benefits but also making perfect business sense.

The morning consisted of opening speeches and 5 panel debates, discussing topics from Blockchain technologies to the role of ethics and emotions in technology, with the afternoon being split into 4 smaller group “Power Hours”.

On the train back home we discussed the following questions:

What were your overall impressions of the event?

Gemma: There was a good mix of networking opportunities and talks/Q&A. I really liked the interactivity made possible using an app on your phone. I asked a lot of questions! There was also a good balance of subjects between technical and soft skills.

: Yes I agree the event was very professional and I was impressed that no agenda item over ran. I liked that they focused on what women could bring to IT, and that it wasn’t about making up numbers. They really empowered the audience. There was something for everybody on the agenda and each agenda item was very different from each other.

What was the best talk from the morning session?

Gemma: I really enjoyed the panel session on Inclusive Innovation – driving information through different perspectives. The panellists discussed how inclusive innovation is about allowing people to bring their whole authentic selves to work and creating an environment where they feel it is safe to do so; safe to try new things, meet new people, work in new roles and to fail in doing so without the negative implications that are so often associated with failure. My favourite quote from the session was “Diverse teams create diverse solutions” inferring that by collaborating with and creating teams that are different to ourselves allows greater room and perspectives for innovative solutions to be found.

: I really enjoyed the session by the very engaging Melanie Eusebe – The art of the possible. She talked about defying stereotypes and preconceptions through inclusion. She explained through the concept of the Growth Mindset that natural talent is only the starting point, learning and practice is what leads to improvement. She made you believe that you could do anything if you put your mind to it.

I was also humbled by the Modern Muse panellists. Modern Muse is a charity set up by the group to drive social change by empowering girls to consider their futures in the biggest industries. On the stage were two wonderfully confident young women – Elizabeth, a Year 12 girl and Shahd an intern from Microsoft. Elizabeth is an ambassador encouraging other girls to join the charity and think big when choosing their careers. Her view was that we had to change the subjects in school to try and replicate what happens in the real world of work. Shahd explained that technology has enabled flexibility so there no longer has to be 9-5 working. She also explained that Microsoft allowed 30% of the working time to work on something not related to your role. People took this opportunity to go to Uni etc. to further their skills and knowledge.

How did you find the afternoon sessions?

Gemma: I went to the ‘Understanding Behaviour – EQ in an IQ world’ and ‘Owning the Room’ sessions. The Understanding Behaviour session was centred around a study that shows that IQ only contributes 20% towards the success factors within business, and that emotional intelligence – being aware of yourself, others around you and your relationships and being able to manage behaviours and recognise unconscious bias is what makes you a successful leader.

The Owning the Room session was a funny and lively session calling out 4 things to do to own the room, known as the Face Forward Formula: Never Hide, Show Up, Own your Space and Be More Dog – which means to exude positivity, approachability and warmth.

:  My first session was on ‘Building an authentic brand’. This made you look at yourself and what brand you were portraying. It looked at strengths, values, style, aspirations. They said that perceptions are other people’s reality and you need to be selective about what you want to be known for. This session was really thought provoking and very well presented.

My second session was on ‘Achieving peak performance’. This looked at a whole range of topics from motivation, poor management style, training and emotional intelligence. Each topic was explored with tips given on what you could do to improve. The one that caught my attention was that “employees don’t leave a company they leave their boss”. This could be due to working styles and personalities, and this really resonated with me.

Would you go next year?

Gemma: Absolutely! It was a really valuable and thought-provoking day, and I left energised and wanting to share and put into practice the things I heard throughout the day.
Bethan: Definitely. I thoroughly enjoyed the day. It really made me want to try and make a difference, especially in the area of getting more females in IT.

Finally, here are our 7 top take away messages from the day:
• “Everyone is a role model and all of us cast a shadow”
• “Don’t limit yourself or others based on others’ limiting beliefs or stereotypes”
• “It is easy to be bold when you feel safe”
• “Women cannot be what they cannot see”
• “Leave all assumptions aside”
• “ Be the emotional rebel, play to the stereotype”
• “Let others grow to be the best version of themselves”


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