As part of our annual IWD celebrations we sat down with four inspirational and successful women in the Tech space to discuss their thoughts on International Women’s Day, and its impact it has on wider diversity issues as well as the challenges women continue to face within the Tech world. I’d like to thank them for their time and insights.
Sheree Atcheson, one of the UK’s Top Most Influential Women in Tech & an international multi-award winner for her services to Diversity & Inclusion in industry, Sheree (@nirushika) is the Head of Diversity and Inclusion, Monzo; Board-Appointed Global Ambassador, Women Who Code; Contributor, Forbes.
What’s the biggest challenge in your line of work?
Diversity and Inclusion is organisation transformation. That means it’s ultimately understanding the entire landscape of how an organisation works, fits together and operates. It also means at times, challenging those things. That makes for great growth in any organisation, but it can be one of the biggest challenges as it can mean pushing against “the way things have always happened”. I’m very privileged and proud that in Monzo, there is a huge desire and push for us to truly make Monzo work for everyone and to make our environments a place for everyone to succeed and grow.
For leadership teams looking to actively promote Diversity & Inclusion across their company for the first time – where should they start?
They should listen to their teams and listen hard. Have roundtables, host anonymous listening sessions, analyse and capture anonymous employee feedback. There will really useful perception info/data in there and you can’t know where you want to go if you don’t know where you are right now. Doing that also means you’re not making assumptions on how it feels to work at an organisation. Once you have that, ensure you’re understanding your data from various different diversity and protected characteristic lenses. Data is data and will paint a very clear picture of where you are.
Can International Women’s Day effectively lead the campaign for wider diversity beyond gender or do we need something as strong as International Women’s Day but separate?
IWD can aid the conversation for wider diversity if it is done right. If the women we are profiling are all from one demographic (white, straight, cis-gendered able-bodied women) then we are creating another form of exclusivity. If IWD hosts conversations on the intersectionality of women and how that influences behaviours and society, then it can aid a conversation.
I think having events for people to come together, learn, network and be inspired are important. And having events focused on various communities is important and should continue to happen.
Is there a danger that International Women’s Day could become too commercialised and it’s message too diluted as some companies just see it as an easy way to demonstrate their “woke” credentials? ( and how do we avoid this)
I can only speak for my own intentions with IWD. For me IWD is a day for everyone to come together, learn, and be inspired by women of all backgrounds. It’s an opportunity to support and amplify, however it should not be standalone. If the only time we do this is on IWD, that is simply not good enough. These conversations must be had regularly and throughout the year without the need for it to be centered around a flagship event. Inclusion doesn’t start and stop with an event/day – that is just one small part of this journey.
Thank you again to Sheree for your time and contribution to our celebration of International Women’s Day, it has been a pleasure to meet you.