Graham Odds shares his insights on Scott Logic's journey towards being as inclusive an employer as possible
‘One size fits all' is self-evidently not true - in any aspect of life. Yet, from what I've seen working with many client organisations over 15 years at Scott Logic, so many companies have created working practices and cultures that are based on a range of assumptions about what ‘fits', while excluding swathes of people.
And that includes Scott Logic. As a founder-owned business, we've always had independence of purpose since we were established in Newcastle in 2005, aiming to create opportunity and prosperity in the local economy. However, as we've grown, I believe we've not done enough to ensure the equality of that opportunity and prosperity, and thereby risked their sustainability. That's been to our detriment as a company; in stark commercial terms, our core business is the user-centric design and build of software, and yet at least half of potential users have been under-represented in shaping that software.
I'm determined we tackle that under-representation - not just for the good of our business, but for the good of the wider community (and to combat the boredom of seeing what can feel like little more than reflections of myself on calls!). It's now an explicit aim of our business strategy to tackle the lack of gender diversity in both our organisation and our industry so that Scott Logic can play its part in advancing towards the societal norm where all feel they belong. I am tired of feeling like my wife - the most annoyingly capable and intelligent person I know - probably wouldn't be set up for success in our industry if she chose to enter it.
In the last twelve months, our focus at Scott Logic has been on getting our own house in order, looking in particular at our employment policies and processes to ensure that they foster inclusion. We have improved our family leave policies to encompass leave for IVF, adoption and surrogacy, and to give new mothers and fathers more time off at full pay. Spurred on by the lessons many companies like ours have learnt from the pandemic, we've introduced a hybrid working approach that realises the potential of being productive from home along with the benefits of working in shared team environments and spending time with our clients.
I hope that more women will find Scott Logic an appealing workplace through continued improvements like these; and by striving to be more inclusive in the broadest sense, we will at the same time make Scott Logic a better employer for everyone.
As a member of Scott Logic's executive team, I'm responsible for driving forwards our strategic goals around social impact. It's been important to me to win hearts and minds around our initiatives and to hold us accountable. We now have explicit board-level metrics on our social value, including around increasing the number of women at different grades within Scott Logic. In the last year, we've appointed women to several leadership positions, including at C-level in the person of our new Chief Talent Officer, Myra Cooke, who will join us on the Executive Board. They can be role models for consultants at earlier stages of their career journeys, including our 2021 cohort of graduates - 50 per cent of whom are women.
We're now also ready to play our part in wider, collective endeavours to make a difference, and to share what we've learnt so far. This blog is part of that, as is our sponsorship of the Women in Tech Festival and the Women in Tech Excellence Awards. Representation matters, and we want to showcase the leadership, professionalism and expertise of people like Tamara Chehayeb Makarem, who is a finalist in the Outstanding Returner category at the awards and speaking on a ‘Helping returners' panel at the festival. We'll be doing a lot more of that in the year ahead.
And we're going to keep working with partners to accelerate and increase the impact we can have in driving change. In Scotland this autumn, we've been a partner in shaping and delivering the Empowering Women to Lead Digital Transformation initiative. UK-wide, we have signed up to support Tech She Can in its mission to improve the ratio of women in technology roles. By doing that, we've committed to work collectively with other organisations and schools across the UK to educate and inspire pupils and teachers about technology and technology careers.
I believe passionately in the power of technology to help create a better, fairer and more sustainable world - and it's vital that everyone has the opportunity to be part of that. Research commissioned by Tech She Can illustrates the scale of the challenge ahead: only 27 per cent of A-level and university-age females surveyed were interested in careers in technology, and only 3 per cent of females cited technology as their first choice career.
I'm not daunted. I'm already seeing the impact of the changes we've made as a company and I'm confident that by working together across our industry, we can create a more inclusive future.