Becoming comfortable with being confident – lessons from ITA’s Women in Tech Leadership Conference

In late March five Caplinites were given the opportunity to attend the ITA’s Women in Tech Leadership Conference for a day filled with new perspectives, inspirational talks and informative panels.

Co-host Barbara Kasumu

Whilst it isn’t possible to share all of the topics and discussions covered, I wanted to share some key takeaways that I got from the day.

The day started with a brief introduction by the passionate Samuel Kasumu, founder of Inclusive Tech Alliance, a membership body dedicated to increasing diversity and inclusion in the UK tech sector.

Next up was a panel on diversity initiatives where the panel members’ own successes and experiences were discussed.

A key takeaway was the importance of having a well-defined inclusivity strategy that is championed by leadership. To be most effective, the strategy needs to align with employees’ objectives, so that the initiative is implemented both from the top-down and the bottom-up.

There was also lots of discussion about how best to communicate the value of diversity and inclusivity within an organisation. By presenting the value in a business case, it encourages buy-in from those who might not relate as much to the moral cause.

Articulating the business benefits of having a more diverse workforce, using this to define a company specific strategy, and then aligning this to employee objectives, was something I hadn’t considered before. Diversity and inclusivity is a focus at Caplin but having a well-defined strategy and communicating this as part of objectives may ensure that the strategy is more widely known and result in even more progress being made.

Another interesting panel was one which was focussed on how to use technology to progress women in leadership, during which it was raised that a lack of confidence is often something that gets raised when discussing why there aren’t more women in leadership.

The panel questioned whether this was because women lacked confidence or whether women were not comfortable with demonstrating that confidence at work. The panel host Meri Williams, CTO of Monzo, offered a refreshingly blunt perspective. She highlighted the importance of those in current leadership positions (both men and women) to be receptive of women displaying confidence at work, which isn’t necessarily always the case. Those in leadership positions should be mindful of creating a working environment that encourages women to be comfortable with demonstrating their confidence.

Hopefully this, combined with women not feeling embarrassed or ashamed of demonstrating their confidence, will help accelerate the number of women in leadership.

The panel’s discussions resonated with my own experiences. Whilst I am often confident in my own-abilities, I shall confess that demonstrating that confidence makes me incredibly uncomfortable. As a result of the talk I recognise how important it is to demonstrate that confidence and be more mindful of this in the future.

One of the great things about the day was the diverse range of topics, techniques and perspectives discussed. Often at conferences, it can be hard to focus on specifics. Fortunately, Vanessa Vallely’s keynote speech set the tone for the conference by focussing on what an individual can do to drive their career. She shared that by delegating effectively and by doing ‘less of the doing’, she freed up the time to focus on her career progression. I found her speech incredibly empowering, and her energy and passion was a great way to round off a day filled with lots of moving speeches, panels and workshops.

Keynote speech from Vanessa Vallely

The conference provided a great opportunity to take a step back from the day-to-day and share approaches, experiences and perspectives on how to encourage more women in technology and having more women in leadership roles.

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