If you are reading this, you already know that diversity is key for innovation.
As a leading tech company, our people bring their diverse perspectives, so we can continuously develop and create solutions that help our customers, society and the planet. Historically the tech industry required individuals to have specific academic backgrounds or particular experience that may have been incredibly difficult to achieve for some people. As an industry we fell behind the curve of diversity.
The problem this created was one with not just perceived barriers, but actual barriers which discourage people from joining our industry. People may feel opportunities are closed off to them if they’ve struggled academically, come from a different socio-economic or ethnic background, or have other responsibilities to contend with alongside their career goals.
To change the situation, tech companies need to create an inclusive culture across the industry that takes away these perceived barriers and encourages people from all diverse backgrounds to come and work for us.
A diverse workforce enables us to design technology solutions, that consider all different perspectives and contribute to a digitally smarter society. We have a responsibility to step up and build diverse workforces and at Fujitsu, we are working hard to do this.
We’ve been completing a Social Mobility Employer Index over the past few years. This helps to track what we’re doing as an organisation within various areas across the UK, so we can hold ourselves accountable and ensure that we’re using our resources and influence for good.
It’s fantastic to once again be recognised as one of the Top 75 employers for social mobility in the UK in the Social Mobility Index 2021.
In this blog, I’m going to outline some of the initiatives evoked from our Index and how it’s contributing to levelling the playing field in terms of socio-economic opportunities.
Creating equality from education upwards
The disparity in opportunities to enter the tech industry starts in education. Schools need resources to inspire and excite the next generation of talent with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). However, some schools struggle with funding and can’t invest as much as they would like. It’s a shame, because schools are a chance to really nurture a new generation with in-demand skills such as data science. It’s a chance to fill the current skills gap.
That is why we, at Fujitsu, decided to focus on this area.
We’ve been running a programme to facilitate more exposure to tech innovation and professional practices. Now, across the academic year there are a variety of initiatives that students from schools in less advantaged areas can get involved in. These include interview workshops, mentoring, and Dragon’s Den themed activities such as app building.
Our people are keen to use their skills to empower others. We encourage our colleagues to become STEM Ambassadors and register with STEM Learning. Taking on this voluntary role grants them the time to go into their chosen schools and engage students in STEM subjects in a practical way. This could be through running a coding club or presenting to young people. So far, it’s been incredibly successful, with our people having helped bolster uptake of science subjects particularly among females and ethnic minority students.
We launched our first ever virtual work experience programme called WorkX this summer. With the aim of helping students in years 10 and 11 to learn more about the industry. Can you believe we received over 900 applications for our first cohort?! We were blown away, particularly as we targeted students from diverse backgrounds to ensure we were reaching those who are underrepresented in the industry. Throughout the course, we were able to do a variety of activities surrounding AI, quantum computing, and cybersecurity. What’s more is that we were able to deliver this virtually, so the pandemic didn’t disrupt the sessions, and many students were able to learn more about the types of roles they could get within the industry.
Creating multiple pathways into the industry
Whilst there may still be a view held by some in the tech world that prospective talent requires a degree, we don’t. We know that there are multiple routes to success, and by allowing multiple paths into your workplace, you attract and retain a more diverse range of talent.
We recently launched an apprenticeship academy as one such route into the tech industry in Solihull and Manchester, as well as some other UK cities. It’s an opportunity for young people to be paid to train in vital skills that the tech industry needs in one of our assessment centres.
We are also proud to continue working with organisations such as The Prince’s Trust, as well as the Department of Benefits and Pensions with our highly regarded Mentoring Circles. Our colleagues volunteer their time and expertise to support unemployed individuals by instilling confidence, resilience and bolstering their job search efforts by conducting interview and CV workshops.
A core principle of the tech industry
Innovation sits at the heart of technology. Big, bold ideas grow out of difference, which makes diversity the key to achieving real competitive success and driving positive change in the world.
We are making progress when it comes to diversity in our sector but there is still work to do. It’s important that we continue to make efforts to open the door for talent from all socio-economic backgrounds. And once it’s open, continue working hard to ensure it remains open.
You can find out more about the Social Mobility Index, and how you can get involved in making a difference here.
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