There have been many surprises in the Doteveryone adventure so far – from how hard it still is to set up a bank account to the constant trial of finding the right office space. In my naïveté I somehow thought these operational challenges for a new organization might have got better since the last time I was in the detail – when Nick Thistleton and I founded Lucky Voice in 2005.
However, the hardest piece of the puzzle we are pulling together has been the project we are doing looking at the gender balance in the tech sector – 50:50.
I have been working in the Internet economy for 21 years (I know, gulp, I think I AM 21) and it is baffling to me how the numbers of women are so desperately low – from every angle and aspect.
I think the country that embeds gender balance at the heart of one of its fastest growing sectors will have a massive advantage and I would love Doteveryone to help the UK be that country.
The challenge has been finding the right person to lead this work and making sure we are not replicating many of the fabulous things happening already but are amplifying them and adding value to them. I am hyper conscious that there are excellent networks and organisations working hard on the issue. I regret we haven’t engaged with more of them over the last few months. I’d like to do so more during the rest of the year.
Part of the problem has been resources – with no full time lead we are constrained. I have talked to many brilliant women who would bring a range of things to the role but I think in some instances I was talking to people who understandably want to be a ceo and we are not recruiting for that level. I also started having conversations before I was totally clear on the programme of work which must have been confusing and annoying for people and made us seem a muddle.
So, what have I learnt and what will we do differently? Firstly, it’s not fair to get better informed about what you want from a role you are recruiting by testing on the actual candidates… if you were one or helped us, I apologise. We definitely should have consulted more widely, more openly, and more collaboratively on ideas and plans.
Secondly, I think the (slight) chaos in our approach has led me and the team to think hard and carefully about whether or not 5050 tech should be in everything Doteveryone does or whether it is a separate strand. I think we could help get funding and scale behind some of the existing communities and that might be a smarter and more effective approach. On the other hand, there are still gaps where I think we can impact – particularly in data gathering and communication.
We are still debating but we’d love to hear your views.