Our launch event had 3 brilliant speakers taking to the stage: Janet Onyia, Paul Higgins and Chris Hardess. The speakers touched on many aspects of diversity, inclusion and equality, some of which are outlined below.
First up was Paul Higgins, a serial entrepreneur in the world of media. He is the founder of Fields Park, a film and TV production company whose scope of projects range from their base in Wales right through to Hollywood.
- 1 in 7 people suffer from a neurological condition. These can include dyspraxia, dyslexia, ADHD, autism, OCD and many others.
- People with these conditions can be branded lazy, stupid or distracted, when in reality they just look at things differently. Labelling people in this way is unfounded and can cause anxiety, low self-esteem and in severe cases, depression. For example, people who have ADHD are 300% more likely to start their own business.
- These conditions are in actual fact strengths, individuals are able to see and assess situations differently to neurotypical people. If neurodiverse individuals are properly understood and supported they can bring alternative perspectives to the business landscape.
- Paul said “The suffering people can experience is not from the condition itself, but the ignorance surrounding it and how as a society we accommodate it”. Society must change the way they look at neurological conditions to allow these people to thrive in an environment which benefits them.
Second to the stage was Janet Onyia, the founder of Onyi Gifts and a technology consultant at Accenture delivering large-scale platform transformations in the financial sector. Janet has a passion for entrepreneurship and has been awarded a Fellowship as part of Founders of the Future, which recognises the most promising founders in tech.
- “No one should have to work twice as hard to go half as far” - As human beings we should want to treat each other fairly and give everyone opportunities. Inclusion has been proven to increase innovation, productivity and profit.
- In studies by Accenture, 41% of tech workers have said they have experienced discrimination when it comes to age. People are considered to be ‘over the hill’ once they reach the age of 38.
- Half of women in tech leave by the age of 35, largely due to inclusion issues. Though gender equality has improved dramatically in recent years, only 21% of women feel that tech is an area that they could thrive in.
- There is a huge disparity in funding and employment opportunities for people of colour in the UK. In 2019, less than 1% of business funding went to people of colour and only 3% of people who work in tech in London are black. However, 16% of the population of London are black.
Last on the agenda was, Chris Hardess. Chris is a senior technology specialist at Microsoft focusing on security and compliance. Outside of work Chris is also an accessibility champion to educate people around the accessibility features in Microsoft products.
- Having a disability should not mean someone is unable to do something, it’s that they have not been given the correct tools yet. Microsoft aims to empower every organisation and person to achieve more. They aim to put accessibility in products right from the outset, not as an afterthought.
- Each year 300,000 people with a long term mental health condition lose their job, this double the rate of people with no mental health condition. Over three quarters (77%) of disabilities are invisible and should also be taken into consideration when discussing accessibility.
- Accessibility in work is not hard. Microsoft offers a range of built in, free, inclusivity products for businesses to utilise such as:
- Vision - magnification, colour filters, high contrast and automatic alt text on images.
- Hearing - presentation translator, captioning support, video capture and stream transcription.
- Cognition - Read aloud, task view and Cortana (virtual assistant).
- Physical - designer, dictation, Cortana, eye control.
- Mental health - quiet times, focus assist and night light.
To learn more about Microsoft accessibility:
The first Be The Change event has provided a great introduction to the series and set the scene for an exciting dive into each of these subjects over the next few months. The next Be The Change event will be on the 3rd November and will focus on Race and be supported by Coders of Colour and Black Young Professionals Network. We will be joined by some incredible panellists to look at how to change the face of the coding industry and how coaching, promoting and representation at senior levels in organisations today.