Jess Phillips MP
Shadow Minister for Domestic Violence and Safeguarding
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Ahead of my visit to Nash Squared’s London headquarters this month, I’m so pleased to be featured as their Parliamentary Tech Champion for April.
As the Labour Co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Women and Work, much of my work seeks to improve conditions and opportunities for women in the UK’s economy, primarily through investment.
This in turn has an undeniably positive multiplier effect for the economy.
While the All-Party Group and our many partners are fighting both in Parliament and in the workplace to make this case, we know that millions of women in the UK are still not just unemployed but underemployed.
Many often feel as though they are not being stretched or grown, and therefore not reaching their potential, especially compared to their male counterparts.
Women entering the tech industry as a means of addressing this challenge has always been an aspiration of the APPG, but we are yet to see full action taken to address the gender disparity.
Tech was once, of course, a women’s industry. After all, code was created by Ada Lovelace in the Eighteenth Century! However, as tech has become increasingly associated with power and money, so it has become a man’s world. I believe we should want more women to be in the rooms where power is held and investment choices are being made.
This ultimately comes back to money. We so often say that we want women in these rooms, yet we are not putting our money where our mouth is.
The Government needs to start pulling the levers that are available to them to legislate for change in business. It is no longer enough for businesses to only say that they have the corporate will to make space for women at the table.
Actions on gender equality always speak louder than words.
Furthermore, we need to build pathways that allow more than just graduates to enter the tech industry.
There is no lack of desire or appetite for these highly-paid, highly-skilled jobs, from both women and businesses.
Apprenticeships and T Levels are the key here, as well as early intervention in schools to make girls aware of the possibilities available to them, and that tech is not just for the boys.
Creating that tech pipeline from school to work for young women is essential to long term change for the industry.
Through diversifying the digital workforce, we can introduce the ideas and viewpoints of women in spaces from which they have previously been excluded.
Research from the Boston Consulting Group confirms this as a net benefit to companies too, with diverse leadership teams reporting innovation revenue 19 percentage points higher than that of companies with below-average diversity.
I am looking forward to discussing all these issues with Nash Squared’s CEO, Bev White, later this month.
I would certainly encourage all my colleagues in Parliament to consider how they plan to leverage the UK’s burgeoning tech economy for the benefit of women to help unlock the wealth of talent we have in this sector.
Jess Phillips is the Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley and the Shadow Minister for Domestic Violence and Safeguarding
Each month we invite a leading member of the UK’s parliament to share their thoughts on technology and innovation in the UK.