Our take on Women of Silicon Roundabout

Jess and I recently attended the Women of Silicon Roundabout conference at London Excel and, rather than just returning to our usual routine the next day, we decided to sit down and have a think about it all. So if you’ve missed the event, are contemplating attending something similar or you’re simply just curious to know what we think, here is a summary of our key takes from the conference.

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The one thing that hasn’t changed is change!

This was the overarching message I heard during the 2 days at the conference. What we have today is not what we’re going to see in Tech in 2030 and we should start preparing for it. Furthermore, the pace of change is not slowing down and it’s impacting everything in its way, from technology to our concept of work and the workplace, industry standards, culture, the way in which we hire, the way in which we retain talent, and all the multidimensional issues that come with change are still to be resolved. No silver bullet, I’m afraid. Nevertheless, companies who embrace this wave and try and stay ahead of the game will be the clear winner of 2030. Complacency just doesn’t have a place in the world of Tech!

People and Education

At the core of all this digital transformation you have people. That might come in the shape of culture, mentality, processes or hiring, but at the end of the day, people are at the centre of it and this is something Jess and I wholeheartedly agree with. This is why the topic of learning, education and reskilling is so crucial.

We both chose many talks on the topic. We thought the collaboration between Makers the LexisNexis during Building a practical path to career change focused on an interesting angle: Tech employers should start considering other hiring pools and should encourage and embrace people who change careers. Having a diverse team doesn’t always mean diversity in gender or race, but also in backgrounds. People who change careers can bring a whole new perspective on areas such as product engineering and although they might be ‘green’ in certain skills, you need to respect their experience and understand the value it can bring to your team. Their desire to change can make them more motivated to learn, more eager to get involved and that is crucial. How many of us are guilty of always looking for the same profile when trying to hire for a role?

Actively investing in your employees; planning for inclusivity; career progression and knowledge sharing forms a strong people strategy - something Jess and I are focusing on here at Jetstack.

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Diversity and Inclusion isn’t just a ‘nice to have’ any more

Unsurprisingly, there was a huge focus on D&I over the two days. One statistic that particularly struck me was that over the next twenty years, even if all STEM graduates are recruited into tech jobs, 48% of positions will still be vacant (The Future workspace: How are we preparing our business for jobs that don’t exist yet). In order for technical teams and companies to deliver, HR departments will have no choice but to hire candidates from outside of ‘traditional’ streams.

This creates a fantastic opportunity for companies to bring on board career changers, returning parents and humanities graduates for example. Not only do companies need to be innovative when it comes to hiring, new ways of thinking are required to retain staff as well. Schemes such as job sharing, flexible working, enhanced maternity and paternity pay and mentorship programmes are essential when it comes to keeping staff in a particular business, especially for women and underrepresented groups.

Non-technical skills shouldn’t be overlooked

As the workplace is changing faster than ever, it’s essential when hiring to consider ‘soft-skills’ as well. Traditionally, abilities such as people management, empathy, communication and adaptability were often undervalued in favour of technical skills. However as teams increasingly work remotely and the technical landscape becomes even more competitive, a more holistic approach is needed.

When designing interview processes, it’s imperative to consider testing for a number of different traits to build a team that will go on to be as successful as possible.

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For Jess, myself, and the wider Jetstack team, the points above are very current. What the conference brought home was the idea that, as the industry progresses, these topics need addressing and should not be ignored. We hope our summary piqued your interest - if you have any thoughts, ideas, suggestions or you simply want to chat, do have a look at our Team page for our details and reach out! We’re pretty chatty!