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A promising start for the Tech Talent Charter in the NE

It started grey and chilly outside the Baltic at the North East launch of the Tech Talent Charter (TTC), but that didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of anyone attending.

I’ve been involved with the TTC since 2016, when I was the chair of a government / employer committee that identified the need to improve numbers of women in technology. The TTC was created as a government-backed initiative to create positive change in organisations by encouraging commitment to a series of pledges, including:

  • Appointing a senior-level representative with responsibility for keeping to charter requirements.
  • Developing inclusive recruitment processes, and to include women on interview shortlists wherever possible.
  • Working with other signatories to share ideas and best practice on how to implement the TTC’s requirements.

After launching in London in 2017, I wanted to lure people up to see the potential for the initiative in the North East. That’s how yesterday’s breakfast meeting came about. With a varied group of people from across the region - larger companies such as Accenture and Sage, recruiters, universities and younger companies like us - there was a wide range of experience, and plenty of support for the ethos of TTC.

We started with a panel where Anne-Marie Lister, our Head of People Experience, discussed our long-term plans for diversity and our focus on attracting women into core tech roles. A collaborative approach is essential here, particularly given that we face several common barriers to diversifying our workforce. Lack of applications from female jobseekers continues to be a significant barrier for many organisations, so we discussed how we could both encourage applications and retain our current forces through flexible working hours, mentoring and coaching schemes, and workplace-based skills training. The underlying energy in the room was fantastic, and there was a real sense that we are more likely to succeed in the North East if we collaborate.

Everyone agreed to take a positive action from the event to help improve diversity in technology. I pledged to host the follow-up meeting to further develop the initiative in the North East with a view to setting up a steering committee, and our Technology Chief of Staff Gill Teasdale pledged to develop more ties with Dynamo North East, an industry-led initiative to promote the growth of the region’s IT sector. We’re then hoping to work with Dynamo to set up a North East steering committee by hooking into their network.

Luckily, the sun came out in time for our group photoshoot. With the iconic Tyne Bridge behind us, it was a fitting way to end an energetic and positive event which laid the foundations for further collaboration and growth in the region. I’m excited to see how we develop things from here, and am hopeful that we can help build a thriving and diverse tech sector in the North East.

Interested in joining us in our pledge to increase diversity in the tech sector? Find out more about signing up to the TTC here.

Rana Bhattacharya, Chief Technology Officer