Baroness Martha Lane Fox has issued a passionate call to action for the technology industry to prioritize diversity, emphasizing that organizations have “no excuses” for not improving representation in the sector.
Speaking from the main stage at DTX + UCX 2023, the founder of Lastminute.com was a prominent figure in a lineup that included Meta Group Director Sophie Neary, ITV journalist Sameena Ali Khan, and Jenny Radcliffe, the self-acclaimed ‘People Hacker‘. In her address, she challenged other companies to take concrete steps toward improving diversity.
Fox highlighted a significant gender gap in the tech industry, even with 30,000 female software developers in the field. Current growth rates suggest that gender parity continues to remain elusive.
However, she emphasized that diversity conversations should extend beyond gender and encompass other dimensions. “10 million adults still don’t use tech effectively or at all – and that’s directly related to socio-economic groups,” she said.
As we venture into a new era of AI and digitalization, Fox stressed that the industry needs “leaders who are intentful and focused” in their commitment to diversity and environmental concerns to bring about real change. She highlighted the vast potential that lies ahead.
“The first trillionaire will be in climate tech,” she stated.
“The important thing is for new business leaders to make decisions with purpose.”
“I don’t see us having a catastrophic relationship with AI, I think we’ll just become more productive. People’s jobs will change in the sense they will be able to do way more [of the important stuff].”
A subsequent panel discussion titled “Twist and Shout” delved into the importance of cultivating a diverse talent pool. Meta’s Sophie Neary emphasized that organizations “always have a choice”.
“Talent is equally distributed – opportunity is not.”
“[But] we can make the change happen. Successful companies are the ones who are optimistic.”
During the same panel, Warren Tucker, PwC’s Cloud & Digital Lead, pointed out that 40% of business owners doubted the suitability of their current models for the near future, highlighting the inevitability of rapid change in the sector.
The need for adaptation in this new landscape extends to cybersecurity and ethics, as discussed in the event’s dedicated cybersecurity sessions. Speakers in cyber warfare and cyber resilience sessions urged firms to bolster their defense systems against advanced cyber threats while emphasizing the responsible use of AI.
Renowned social engineer Jenny Radcliffe added: “I’m yet to see AI replicate what a human social engineer can do – not that AI isn’t as brilliant as it is terrifying. [But] people are the most unpredictable entity you will ever come across. Feeding off experiential learning from a machine is never going to be as intuitive as a human.”
Former distinguished engineer at Google, Kelsey Hightower, stressed the need to ensure the long-term sustainability of open-source software and reduce its dependency on enterprise needs.
Regarding the hype surrounding AI, Hightower commented: “You can rub AI on a can opener at the moment and you would get funding. If you are asking if AI is going to take your job, what is your job? “
“My mantra: Make influence key, be authentic, and share the credit.”
Throughout the event’s 18 stages, which featured panel debates, case studies and peer-to-peer roundtables covering topics such as cybersecurity, cloud, networks, DevOps, AI, and data, software engineering, UC, DTX + UCX 2023 also proved to be a platform for significant sector achievements. Many firms marked the occasion with groundbreaking announcements and product launches, reflecting the rapid pace of change and exciting developments discussed by the headline speakers.
DTX + UCX Europe 2023 Content Director Dominie Roberts said: “Bringing the best tech talent under one roof is what we do – and this year we have strived to improve the richness and diversity of our programmes which we are very proud of.”
“Businesses are trying to keep their culture, infrastructure and operational design up to speed with the fast pace of tech change – and it is through events like these that tech teams learn how to navigate the latest tools and adopt the kinds of scalable, sustainable and inclusive strategies that will ultimately ensure their success as we enter the next realm.”
As the first day of DTX + UCX Europe 2023 wound down, the speaker Jon Arnold summarized: “Occasions like this, where we can all come together to talk about the future, are important. “
“We need events like this.”