Championing Women in Tech

March 12, 2024
James Carr
Kanika Selvan speaking at Women In Tech Unfiltered

Championing Women in Tech, Code Computerlove sponsored and attended the Manchester Tech [Unfiltered] Festival WIT 2024. The event was filled with a knockout agenda of speakers and a vibrant mix of over 300 attendees from throughout the tech space. If you were unable to attend the event, here are our FIVE key takeaways. 

#1 Your biggest barrier to success is you

The day opened with a light-hearted welcome speech by Lord Mayor of the City of Manchester Councillor, Yasmin Dar. Her overarching message focused on the importance of selfbelief and not letting others' narrow views be imposed on your own beliefs or ambitions. She shared how she started her career as a hairdresser, and reflected on how far she had come.  It was the perfect way to broach the agenda to come. 

#2 Everyone can make a difference today…

There was one resounding theme echoed throughout the day and demonstrated by each of the speakers who took to the stage: the power of individual action. Throughout the event, it became evident that each person, both on the stage, in the crowd and beyond,  possesses the capacity to enact meaningful change within the tech industry. As the discussions unfolded, it became increasingly clear that progress is not contingent upon grand gestures or monumental shifts, but rather on the everyday choices and actions of each individual. Whether it be challenging biases in the workplace, advocating for marginalised voices, or simply amplifying diverse perspectives, there is a plethora of ways everyone can take to create a more equitable and inclusive future. 

#3 …but radical change is needed

From the industry, perhaps one of the most moving talks was a fireside chat hosted by Vernon Richards with the brilliant Kanika Selvan and the insightful Sobia Iqbal. Together, their talk tackled the inequalities faced by ethnic minority women in the workplace and the implications of HR processes creating further challenges. Within the discussion, several significant takeaways emerged:

  • Representation is not about ticking boxes; it is about creating diversity in thinking.
  • D&I isn’t just an HR policy, it underpins business processes beyond policies and into the culture.  
  • “Sass is what women use to tell the truth and still pays your bills”, an insightful quote by Kanika Selvan that captures the challenge women have in being able to openly speak up about their views. 
  • Being an ally to inclusivity is more than a token gesture. It is about actively challenging racist and sexist views and ideas, establishing safe spaces where colleagues feel supported, and demonstrating allyship beyond singular awareness days.
  • Using phrases such as “How can we help”, “we should” and “we need to” reflect inclusive language and create a sense of shared responsibility and commitment.

#4 The predicament and potential of men

Despite diverse representation, the pivotal point is men's involvement in change. As we consider how Women in Tech events can evolve it is worthwhile sparing some thought on how we can encourage more men to attend. Male peers should not have to ask if they are welcome or the intended target audience. Instead, there should be a clear understanding the aim of these events is to help us all to understand and recognise inequalities, which are further amplified by intersectionality. These events create the perfect platform to advocate for the benefits of diversity in thinking and the importance of inclusion - so the workforce of today and tomorrow does not have to suffer the same level of prejudice or discrimination that our mothers, sisters, friends and colleagues have previously, and sadly continue to face. 

In order to achieve this, a welcoming and constructive environment must be created for everyone. It's crucial to prevent these occasions from inadvertently alienating men. Strengthening allyship requires us all to foster unity rather than division. The Manchester Technology Festival speakers addressed various sensitive topics with honesty, sensitivity, and respect. It even provided a platform for some of the male professionals to express their dedication to allyship, perhaps marking the first of such appearances at this type of event. It's intriguing to contemplate how this concept can evolve further. 

Intertwining raw narratives showcases the detrimental effects of prejudices. In contrast, uplifting stories highlight the positive impact of allyship and provide the aspirational note needed. Together this approach can lay the groundwork to delivering a powerful message that resonates and can be embraced by all. 

#5 It’s not a singular day of activity, but a daily activity 

For Manchester Tech Festival, it achieved so much in one day and a huge amount of kudos must be credited for organising such a thought provoking event. From insightful talks to progressive discussions, it highlighted the need for radical change to address inequalities and promote diversity and inclusion. It served as a platform to advocate for a more inclusive future, where everyone feels supported and valued. Yet, as we reflect on the outcomes of the event, it's clear that one day of action is not enough to break the challenges that we face. Instead daily action must be taken to shift perceptions, belief and break outdated behaviours.

At Code Computerlove, we pride ourselves on creating an inclusive workplace and celebrating diversity. Being a headline sponsor for the Manchester Tech Festival, was an honour,  we have learnt so much and gained so much value from being part of the MTF community.

Until Manchester Tech Festival WIT 2025, let's keep the conversation alive and the efforts to make a positive change an ongoing commitment. 

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