We could all be a bit more like Aethelflaed – come and celebrate Women in Digital this Wednesday

Last year's event

Two days to go until our Women in Digital event!

I’m very excited about Wednesday – we’re hosting another Women in Digital event in my home town of Leeds.

Last year’s event made a big splash. The women I work with every day came back energised, optimistic and boasting a new and strong professional network. The event itself became a bit of a springboard for leaders at DWP (and in digital in general) to channel the surging energy of the year’s historic events and movements such as #TimesUp,  #MeToo and the statutory requirement for large organisations to make public their gender pay gap.

I am so incredibly proud of how boldly, clearly and loudly the voices of some of those who attended last year have been heard. Many have become successful role models for women with a career in digital, helping in turn these women to be role models.

And since then, the equality narrative has evolved. What had been at its core a debate about equality between two genders (men and women) has now turned into something with even bigger consequences.

There is still so much to do

Women are still the largest single group on the wrong side of the pay gap. However, this is not true when it comes to things like ‘covering’ at work, where it is the group made up of LGBTQ people who are most affected. See this excellent report from Deloitte University in the USA from 2013 for more.

This year the event will expand its horizon towards tackling an (even) bigger challenge. Perhaps it can be summarised with the question “what if by working towards equality for all genders, we can also work to a more inclusive and effective workplace for everyone?”

The challenges ahead of us – successfully delivering Brexit, delivering critical government services that meet citizens’ heightened expectations, responding to an economy being reshaped by technological advances such as Artificial Intelligence (the “fourth industrial revolution”) – mean that we need to nurture leaders who can lead across boundaries more than ever, and find ways to build inclusive environments in which people can bring all of themselves to bear to the benefit of us all.

Leading across boundaries

This week I learned about the story of Aethelflaed, Lady of the Mercians. 1,100 years ago she led across boundaries to great effect. It would be a crying shame, but not a surprise, if you too hadn’t come across her story – I’d encourage you to read some of it here.

In these times of great opportunity and challenge, in this month of Pride and with a spirit of excited optimism, I’ll be thinking this week of how we can all channel a bit of Aethelflaed. See you on Wednesday!