politics

Women’s Equality Party – Doing politics differently

Earlier this year I took a deep breath and put myself forward as the Women’s Equality Party candidate to stand in the 2020 elections to be Mayor of London.

As someone who had almost given up on politics ever representing someone like me, and not really imagining myself as a politician, it was a bit of a scary thing to do, but I felt the time to sit on the sidelines had passed. It’s not just that so much is going wrong, it’s about how much could go right if we work together. We have enough resource to make all our lives better, there are so many opportunities out there, we just need to focus on the right things, and work collaboratively to create change. I am so excited to be part of the Women’s Equality Party and to lead our campaign for a better, more equal London supporting and being supported by our wonderful leader Mandu Reid.

One of the most exciting things about our party is that it was founded to do politics differently and work collaboratively to drive change. Anyone who believes in equality can be part of our movement – even if they’re already a member of another political party. We’re the only party not only to allow dual membership but to encourage it, as part of this approach. Other parties talk about working cross-party and building alliances, but sometimes they put their own and or their party’s political advantage ahead of the public interest. Our leaders need to be bold and show that there is a better way to do things.

That’s why yesterday I showed my support for Jo Swinson MP, the new leader of the Liberal Democrats, by joining her party. As a longstanding WEP member and now LibDem member, I would like to welcome Jo and ask her to consider allowing members of her party to join our party and work together, to stop Brexit but not only that, to fight together for a better, more equal future.

Our country is facing an awful and unprecedented crisis. We are not going to solve it using the same old style of politics, the same old entrenched, tribal divisions. There is a way forward, one that brings people together around the things that unite us rather than the things that divide us. Collaboration, working with others to make life better for everyone can give us a bright and hopeful future, one where we *all* have the chance to live our best lives.

Brexit is the UK’s suicide

We are at a pivotal point in history due the digital revolution which is disrupting everything, bringing about a social revolution, a commerce revolution and another industrial revolution. We are currently still in a reasonable position globally to be able to take part and improve the UK economy and our standard of living.

If Brexit goes ahead, a ridiculous amount of energy and resource will be focused on Brexiting. That energy and resource is needed for us to be a major player in what is now a global marketplace. We Brexit, we put ourselves out of of the game.

Collaboration and technology are the future, Brexit is the UK’s suicide. #history #brexit #technology

Read Techcrunch’s “Over 100 tech leaders back new call for a people’s vote on Brexit”

As London Tech Week launches today to talk-up the capital’s prospects, over 100 UK tech founders, directors and investors are calling on the Government to back a meaningful vote “by the people” on the actual terms of Brexit. The tech leaders are signatories to the aims of new tech business group Tech For UKwhich is backing anti-Brexit campaign group Best For Britain in its fundraising campaign for a meaningful vote on the terms of Brexit and the option to “Remain and lead in the EU”. Over 50 other tech industry players have also signed up.

Tech For UK represents the founders of many of the most innovative businesses in the UK including Martha Lane Fox (co-founder of Lastminute.com and Doteveryone), Gareth Edwards (Founder, travel player Deckchair.com), Ben Whitaker (Founder of Masabi, the smart cities ticketing startup), Bernhard Niesner (Founder of the language learning giant Busuu), Giles Andrews (Cofounder & Chairman, of P2P lending pioneer Zopa), and George Bevis (founder of small business banking provider Tide), among many others.

The list also includes Tech community leaders outside of the so-called ‘London bubble’ including Dr Sue Black OBE, Founder, TechMums and Bletchley Park campaigner; Elena Sinel, Acorn Aspirations, which teachers teenagers coding and entrepreneurship; and Nuala Murphy (CEO, Moment Health) a leading entrepreneur based in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

The group said the loss of access to European funds, the flight of talent which powers UK tech companies due to the uncertainty and scandal around immigration, the loss of access to the Digital Single Market, which the Uk tech industry was never consulted over — all of these factors are adversely affecting the UK Tech industry, says Tech For UK.

Funding from the European Investment Fund has collapsed since the Brexit vote, and a replacement scheme has yet to be assured long-term by the government. The European Investment Bank, which backs a majority of the United Kingdom’s VC funds, has slashed deals with UK VCs and private equity groups by more than two-thirds, with scant equivalent funding from the UK government in sight. Even a government-backed report cited Brexit as a top challenge for tech companies in the UK.

The technology sector has consistently grown faster than the UK economy in recent years, employing over two million people and attracting billions in foreign investment.

“Collectively, Tech For UK supporters have raised hundreds of millions of pounds, put hundreds of millions back into the UK economy and employed thousands of people. This is why Tech For UK is lobbying for this vote,” said co-founder Josh Russell, partner of Resolve.

“The ongoing uncertainty along with declining growth is a hard one to take. We went from the fastest growing (before Brexit) to the lowest-growing in the EU with the economy expected to grow a mere 1% in 2018. While the government argues about the Customs Union for goods, it is Services make up the bulk of the UK economy and they’ve cut off the tech sector’s access to the Digital Single Market. It’s time the people of the UK had a say on what Brexit actually is,” said Madhuban Kumar, Founder/CEO, Metafused, and co-organiser of Tech For UK.

Brexit has not happened yet and appears to be already having an effect on the UK economy. The Bank of England recently released figures that showed “the UK economy is currently 1% smaller than expected two years ago”.

Here are some quotes from Tech For UK supporters, which is continuing to call for new supporters, while there is a growing Facebook group here.

“The Brexiteers admit they can’t deliver the Brexit they promised so we deserve a vote on the one they’ve got us instead.”
George Bevis, CEO, Tide.

“The greatest sadness of Brexit is that those who voted for it will suffer the most. What was sold to them as a vote for national freedom and prosperity is only going to lead to a poorer and more divided society. The rise in racist hate crimes is just one of the signs of this. We urgently need to reconsider the path we are on and not walk blindly into the darkness.”
Hephzi Pemberton, Founder of Kiteka and Angel Investor

“We now had 2 years of due diligence on Brexit and the British people deserve a vote on this deal. Anything else would be highly irresponsible and undemocratic.”
Bernhard Niesner, CEO & Co-founder of Busuu

“‘Lies run sprints, but the truth runs marathons’ – it’s becoming increasingly clear that the fiction that was promised by the Leave campaign was just that, and now the truths of the damage being done to our economy and our standing in the world are laid bare. The people deserve the chance to vote on the truth – the final terms of the agreement that will decide the future of this country. Anything less would be a travesty of democracy.”
Glenn Shoosmith Founder/CEO Booking Bug

“Having been deeply involved in the U.K. and global technology ecosystem for the past 20 years and most recently as an Advisor to the EU Innovation Minister as a member of the European Innovation Council, I firmly believe that we cannot work in a vacuum. A tech company born in the UK is global from almost day one, and I fear not having a say on the final terms of Brexit will have a meaningful impact on UK’s capability to maintain its global lead in the tech sector.”
Bindi Karia, Innovation Expert + Advisor

“Once the details are visible, we can truly vote on Brexit. Will it actually allow us to build the next generation of world-beating companies or is it shifting red tape from Brussels to London and increasing the cost of trading and working with Europe?”
Riaz Kanani, MD & Founder, Radiate B2B

“The UK and especially London has become a vibrant and globally successful centre for technology innovation. Many of the most exciting startup businesses here have been founded by immigrant entrepreneurs and grown with UK and European employees joining the companies as they grow rapidly. Any Brexit which does not keep the UK in the single market and customs union would in my view considerably dampen the prospects for tech start-ups here in the UK – there would be less of them and they would find it harder to grow as rapidly. We need a meaningful vote on the terms of Brexit.”
Simon Murdoch, Managing Partner, Episode 1 Ventures

“As technology entrepreneurs and investors, we are working in global markets. Access to talent and low barriers to market entry are key to secure the momentum of our industries. Brexit is the most important decisions for generations and it would be irresponsible not to let people have a decision on the exact term of the world they will live in”
Volker Hirsch, Angel investor and co-founder of Tech North Advocates

“As a Northern Ireland native, I’ve seen first hand the difficulty that division can cause, just as I can see the major and needless impact that Brexit is having on bringing back the divisions on that island. Isolation and protectionism has never proven to be a positive long-term strategy, and that is becoming clear in this case too. And with more in the tech industry, and in the UK as a whole, considering themselves citizens of the world, we risk closing our doors and driving away a diverse set of people that help make us all better.”
Rob Elkin, Busuu

“Our world-leading digital industry is being led into a back water of mediocrity by a crop of leaders who don’t even know what Brexit they want and why they want it. By keeping the best talent in the world out with central government quotas on immigration they’ve pulled down the shutters. Digital leaders will simply start up elsewhere. Let’s end this nonsense now, reopen our borders to Europe and the world, and bring back the experts!”
Toby Beresford, Rise

“I spent 12 years working in China – living over there I came to appreciate the value, and leverage, that comes with size. We are a small nation of 65m and I do not believe we are strong or powerful enough to go it alone in a rapidly globalising world. We are European and can’t pretend otherwise. We already have clients making London-based teams redundant as they move whole divisions to Ireland. I catch myself thinking “well it’s ok I’m sure the government know what they’re doing…” and instantly remember they clearly do not. A people’s vote is the common sense choice now that we all really understand what is at stake.”
Ed Dean, CEO, Woodseer Global

“Brexit affects everything from our relationships with family to our global standing, even potentially the Peace Process and Scottish Independence, so I was disappointed to see the campaigns be so divisive, muddied, vague, and in many cases inaccurate. We punch above our weight, which means we have a lot to lose. The country of Magna Carta and the Mother of Parliaments deserves a meaningful debate on concrete options, and a vote based on considered strategic goals. The young people of the UK are the ones who will have to deliver those goals. Right now they don’t want Brexit at all, so if it’s to succeed they need to feel heard and their concerns addressed.”
Richard Marr, CEO, BeApplied

“Once the government has negotiated the final terms for Brexit, it must give the electorate the opportunity to vote on whether to agree to those terms or not. Given the gravity of impact on our lives, businesses and the future prosperity of our children; it would, in my humble opinion, be both undemocratic and immoral not to do so. If we believe it is better to remain part of the EU as an alternative to that proposal, we should be given the chance to vote for that as an option too.”
Peter Ward, Co-founder, Humanity Inc

“Britons voted for Brexit in the initial referendum with inadequate and often wholly spurious information on both sides of the argument. For a decision which will impact our children’s lives across the decades and our commercial lives within a matter of months, it is incomprehensible not to give it the scrutiny it deserves: from parliament at least, and ideally the voting public.”
Nick Saalfeld, Director, Wells Park Communications

“London is Europe’s leading tech hub fuelled by talent from across the continent. A bad deal threatens to undermine the most dynamic part of our economy. If the government strikes a deal that lets us continue to thrive then they have no reason to fear a people’s vote on the terms of Brexit.”
Andy Cockburn, CEO & Co-founder, MentionMe

“We employ a bunch of highly skilled people and 70% of our staff don’t have a UK passport. Finding and attracting great team members is a major challenge and is the single biggest constraint on our growth. Anything we can do to make it easier for smart people to come to the UK is a bonus. Doing the opposite is frankly economic suicide.”
Adam Fudakowski, CEO, Switchee

“If the chief objective of the original Brexit vote is about ensuring that the people have their say, then a positive endorsement by the people is the only logical form of ratification that can be conceived in order to commit our great nation to the most material economic and social decision it’s made since entering World War II.”
Alex Hoye, Co-founder, The Faction Collective

“Our research on the Top500 multichannel retailers in Europe shows the UK as an admired leader in retail, logistics and the underlying technologies and skills. The market for talent, customers and capability requires frictionless access, a consistent and open commercial framework, and an appropriate regulatory framework. Harnessing the talents of the technology, digital and commercial sectors will help the UK chart the best course for its future, and we call upon Parliament to be free to engage in an open debate while retaining its constitutional obligation to act in the interest of the country’s future.”
Ian Jindal, Founder, Pencil / InternetRetailing

“As a growing tech business in the UK we’re already seeing the brexit effect, restricting access to the best talent and holding back advertisers from investing in brand growth. If these corrosive economic effects weren’t clear before the referendum, they are now – and we think people should have the opportunity to vote for the first time with a clear idea of how damaging brexit will be for jobs, growth and innovation.”
Andrew Walmsley, Chairman, Inskin Media

A partial list of backers to date is reproduced below:

Adam Fudakowski, CEO, Switchee
Adam Price, Founder, VouchedFor & Hatch
Alex Hoye, Co-founder, The Faction Collective
Andrea Tricoli, Co-Founder, Expressly
Andrew Walmsley, Non Exec Chairman, Inskin Media
Andy Cockburn, CEO & Cofounder, Mention Me
Ben Evans, Co-Founder, jClarity
Ben Farren, CEO, SPOKE
Ben Whately, Co-founder and COO, Memrise
Ben Whitaker, Founder, Masabi
Benjamin A. Falk, Founder, Yo-Da (your data)
Benjamin Redford, Co-founder, Mayku
Benji Lanyado, Founder & CEO, Picfair
Bernhard Niesner, CEO, Busuu
Bindi Karia, Innovation Expert & Advisor,
Blaine Cook, Principal Architect, Condé Nast
Carlos Oliveira, Founder & CEO, Shaping Cloud
Cassandra Stavrou, Founder, Propercorn
Cécile Baird, Founder, Decentrl.Agency
Charlie Dobres, CEO, Busking It Productions
Chris Greening, CTO, Managed Respone Marketing Ltd
Chris Pointon, Co-founder, Racefully
Chris Tolmie, Director, Catacoms
Colin Pyle, CEO & Founder, CRU Kafe
Conor Graham, Cofounder, #HackTheHub
Courtney Glymph, Product and Solutions Communications, CA Technologies
Damien Tanner, Investor,
Daniel Appelquist, Director of Web Advocacy & Open Source, Samsung Research UK
Daniel Murray, Co Founder, Grabble
David Batey, Founder, Nickelled Ltd
David Coveney, Director, interconnect/it
David Tenemaza Kramaley, CEO, Chessable
Dimitar Stanimiroff, CEO & Co-founder, Heresy
Dominic Campbell, CEO, Futuregov
Dr Sue Black OBE, Founder, TechMums
Ed Dean, CEO, Woodseer Global
Ed French, CEO, GameSessions
Ed Lascelles, Partner, Albion Capital
Elena Sinel, Acorn Aspirations
Ethar Alali, Managing Director, Axelisys Limited
Fabrice Bernhard, Co-Founder, Theodo
Frank Kelcz, Partner, Collider VC
Gareth Edwards, Founder, Deckchair.com
Gareth Quinn, Founder, Digital DNA
George Bevis, CEO, Tide
Gianluca Gindro, Senior Data Scientist, Geophy
Gilbert Corrales, CEO, Leaf.fm Ltd
Giles Andrews, Cofounder & Chairman, Zopa
Glenn Shoosmith, Founder & CEO, Bookingbug
Guy Morris, Managing Director, Quiz the Nation
Guy Podjarny, Founder & CEO, Snyk
Hephzi Pemberton, Founder, Kiteka
Hilary Anne Stephenson, Managing Director, Sigma
Hoi Lam, Head of Wear OS Developer Relations, Google
Hywel Carver, CEO/CTO, Multiple
Ian Jindal, Founder, Pencil / InternetRetailing
Ilicco Elia, Head Of Mobile, Deloitte Digital
Irfon Watkins, Founder, Dovu
Ivan Mazour, CEO and Founder, Ometria
Jack Huang, Director, TrulyExperiences.com
James Evans, Managing Director, Bluespot.io Ltd
James Whatley, Planning Partner, Ogilvy UK
Jana Hlistova, Founder, Diversity Hacks
Janna Bastow, Cofounder, ProdPad
Jason Trost, CEO / founder, Smarkets
Jessica Kennedy White,, UCL Educate
Joanna Goodman, Tech Journalist,
John Stevenson, VP Equity Derivatives, Citi
Jon Atkinson, Technical Director, FARM Digital Ltd.
Jonathan Grubin, Founder & CEO, SoPost
Jonathan Petrides, Founder, allplants
Josh Feldberg, Head of Digital, 89up
Josh Russell, Partner, Resolve
Joshua Wöhle, CTO, SuperAwesome
Julio Alejandro, CEO & Founder, Jada Consulting – “Taming Disruptive Technologies”
Kaj Wik Siebert, CTO, Social Finance
Katie Moffat, Head Of Digital, The Audience Agency
Kevin Schmidt, CTO, Century Tech
Laure Claire Reillier, Co-Founder and COO, Launchworks & Co
Laurence Kemball-Cook, Founder & CEO, Pavegen
Madhuban Kumar, CEO, Metafused
Marc Roberts, CTO, HiyaCar
Marc Sloan, Co-Founder & CEO, Context Scout
Marcus Greenwood, CEO, Ubio
Martha Lane-Fox, Founder, doteveryone
Martijn Verburg, CEO, jClarity
Martin Goodson, CEO, Evolution AI
Marty Neill, Founder, Airpos
Matthew Gardiner, Founder, Catch London
Matthew Painter, Founder CTO, Import.io
Melanie Moeller, Product Lead, Sky Spain
Merje Shaw, MD, Path59
Michele Cuccovillo, Partner, Rock Mission
Natasha Guerra, CEO, Runway East
Neil Cocker, CEO, Ramptshirts.com
Nic Brisbourne, Managing Partner, Forward Partners
Nicholas Katz, CEO, Acasa
Nick Patterson, Founder, Movemeon
Nick Saalfeld, Director, Wells Park Communications
Nuala Murphy, CEO, Moment Health
Oisin Lunny, Chief Evangelist, OpenMarket
Osvaldo Spadano, Founder & CEO, Akoova
Paul Dempsey, Founder/Director, The Curation Company
Paul Dyson, CTO, Singletrack
Peter Ward, Founder, WAYN
Pilgrim Beart, CEO, DevicePilot
Priya Prakash, Founder, D4SC
Raj Anand, CEO & Cofounder, Goodman Lantern
Raph Crouan, CEO & Founder, Startupbootcamp IoT
Riaz Kanani, MD & Founder, Radiate B2B
Richard Marr, Cofounder, Be Applied
Rob Elkin, CTO, Busuu
Rob O’Donovan, Ceo, Charlie HR
Rob Prevett, Co Founder & CEO, D/SRUPTION
Robin Grant, Chairman & Co-founder, We Are Social
Roger Nolan, Founder, The Culture Trip
Roger Nolan, SVP Tech, Culture Trip
Rupert Baines, CEO, UltraSoC
Sachin Dev Duggal, Founder, Engineer.ai
Simon Bennett, Founding Director, Roll7
Simon Murdoch, Founder, Episode1 Partners
St John Deakins, Founder & CEO, CitizenMe
Stephen Johnston, Founder, Fordcastle
Stephen Roberts, Founder, Vigilant Research
Sue Keogh, Founder, Sookio
Sultan Saidov, Co Founder, CPO, Beamery
Sundar Venkitachalam, Co-founder & CTO, nkoda
Tamara Sword, Founder, TRM&C
Thanasis Polychronakis, CTO, Alacrity Law
Thomas Power, Board Member, 9Spokes
Tim Boughton, CTO, Mention Me Ltd
Tim Fernando, CEO, Esplorio
Tim Hampson, Co Founder, SalesSeek
Tim Parlett, Co-Founder of Zopa, N/A (ex Zopa)
Timothy Brownstone, CEO, KYMIRA
Toby Beresford, CEO, Rise.global
Tom Adeyoola, CEO & Founder, Metail
Tom Alisi, Director, deep.ventures
Tom Bradley, Partner, Oxford Capital Partners
Tom de Grunwald, Creative Director, Microclimate
Tom Watson, Co-Founder & CTO, Hubble
Tristan Palmer, CEO & Cofounder
Tushar Agarwal, Co-Founder & CEO, Hubble
Uma Rajah, Cofounder & CEO, CapitalRise
Volker Hirsch, Founder, Blue Beck / Tech North Advocates
William Reeve, CEO, Goodlord
William Roberts, Founder, Loyalty Bay

Me on @BBCWorld news talking about the #Googlememo, #womenintech and #whitemaleprivilege

I was interviewed by Aaron Heslehurst for his Talking Business show on BBC World News channel yesterday about the memo “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber” written and shared internally by a Google engineer.

“The author argues that women are underrepresented in tech not because they face bias and discrimination in the workplace, but because of inherent psychological differences between men and women. “We need to stop assuming that gender gaps imply sexism,” he writes, going on to argue that Google’s educational programs for young women may be misguided.”

My main points:

  1. He has no idea what he’s talking about, he’s not a woman in tech and is displaying a classic case of #whitemaleprivilege
  2. “For those used to privilege, equality looks like oppression”
  3. It’s wonderful that we can now discuss these issues openly, it’s the first big step towards an equal society that cares about everyone not just the privileged few
  4. It’s great that the media now think of this as an issue, just a few years ago that wouldn’t have been the case, I’ve been in the #womenintech space for 25+ years and even though the change happening is ridiculously slow I’m delighted to see it finally start speeding up
  5. Mainstream media are becoming supportive of equality and feminism
  6. Many people in our society are backward looking and change averse like this engineer (and his country’s president), for us on this planet to have a successful future we need to work together to ensure that EVERYONE has equal opportunity
  7. Our society is misogynist, which is bad for women and men
  8. Engineering and software engineering are about cooperation and people skills as much if not more so than coding. It’s been shown time and again that one of the main reasons IT projects fail is because of the lack of communication in one way or another.
  9. Ada Lovelace invented the very idea of software (did her brain have “biological differences”?) and we have many amazing women in tech pioneers e.g. the incredible Dame Stephanie Shirley who set up F International 300+ women coding from home in the 1960s. They wrote the Concorde black box flight recorder software for example.
  10. We need quotas short term to redress the balance, to create a level playing field.
  11. It’s not about men vs women but about being enlightened and forward thinking rather than change averse and backward thinking white male privilege.
  12. It’s social conditioning, we know that behaviours that are seen as assertive in men can be seen as bossy in women
  13. It not about men vs women its about those that want to create the best products and services and see that change needs to happen for that to be the outcome and those that are change averse and have the privilege of being in the majority.
  14. I’ve been hearing this shit since I got into tech in 1989, it’s time for CHANGE!

UK/US Special Relationship – Winfield House roundtable

Enjoyed contributing to an extremely interesting round table discussion about the UK/US Special Relationship this morning at the U.S. Ambassador in London Matthew Barzun‘s residence Winfield House in Regent’s Park 😀  The conversation ranged from women to technology, from art to Bletchley Park and beyond. Looking forward to some practical next steps to take things to the next level.

From Ada Lovelace at Townley Girls Grammar to #girlswithgoals at Bishop Challoner Girls

I’ve just had a fabulous couple of weeks giving talks and being on panels in Manchester, London, Surrey and Oxford. I spoke at three schools: Surbiton High, Townley Girls Grammar and Bishop Challoner girls and met lots of really wonderful pupils and staff 😀

Great view on the train home from fab panel at the Civica conference


The first event was a panel at the Civica EXPO in Manchester. It was a great panel, chaired by Rory Cellan Jones. I somehow managed to take no pics 😮

Opening the new Ada Lovelace computing suite at Townley Girls grammar school

 

I was well looked after by the fabulous students at Townley Grammar 😀

 

Great to catch up with friends at Oxford Geek night

  

On stage at Oxford Geek Night

 

Speaking at #wintech16

The “Women of Silicon Roundabout” conference #wintech16 was a great conference aimed at women in tech. I listened to several really great talks and also gave one myself.

Catching up with fab Sophie Walker at Lady Val’s networking lunch

After a quick lunch I dashed over to Covent Gardne for Lay Val’s networking lunch. I’m so delighted that Sophie Walker (above) has been elected to compete to be London’s Mayor. I’m a strong supporter of the Women’s Equality Party which Sophie is representing.

“Dreams can come true” my keynote at Bishop Challoner girls school launching #girlswithgoals

Final stop for the day was Bishop Challoner school in Tower Hamlets. I gave a keynote called “Dreams can come true” for 100 girls and their parents at the #girlswithgoals event. There were several other speakers who were really great, plus singing from the extremely talented Nathalie Reid, dance and cheerleading too. It was a great evening. Hats off to the staff and students at Bishop Challoner for a fabulous evening.

Signing my book “Saving Bletchley Park” for pupils at Bishop Challoner

I really enjoyed chatting to the fab pupils at Bishop Challoner school

  All in all it was a whirlwind of a few days. I really loved meeting the children and talking to them about Bletchley Park, plus life, the universe and everything 🙂

Government ministers’ misogyny towards Kids Company CEO Camila Batmangelidjh 

Im disturbed by the way that all of the (mainly male) ministers and others being asked to comment on the closing of Kids Company and the demise of its CEO Camila Batmangelidjh use terms such as “mesmerised” and “charmed” as part of their defence in giving the charity large amounts of public funding. This smacks to me of timeless, insipid misogyny.

  
Image copyright The Guardian 

What is the job of a CEO of a large charity? Surely a large part of it is to make sure the charity can continue to run by bringing in funding. How do you bring in funding? I imagine by persuading people that your charity is doing great work and is more important than the others in the same space. 

  
From the Telegraph “Kids Company Camila Batmangelidjh – How we fell for this matriarch” 

Isn’t this what Camila Batmangelidjh did really well? 

Instead of putting their hands up and saying “yes, it’s a fair cop, we should have been more rigorous with our checks into the organisation” etc they all talk about how they were “charmed” or “mesmerised” trying to dodge the blame and put the onus on the CEO for persuading them to behave a certain way. 

There are of course many stories and behaviours going back centuries which promulgate the same misogyny, Adam and Eve and witch hunts for a start, so it’s interesting that in our society this blaming of women for men’s actions is still being used. But isn’t it time we moved on? 

I don’t want my grandchildren growing up in a misogynist world. It’s time for change. 

Digital Leaders 2015, a Doctor, a Baroness and a chat show 

 I spent most of the day yesterday at 1 Whitehall Place at the Digital Leaders 2015 conference. I interviewed Martha Lane Fox on stage for half an hour about our digital future, women in tech, quotas, doteverything, and how to catalyse a digitally savvy workforce to ensure future success for the UK in the global marketplace. 

The audience liked our interview so much that many people suggested we should have our own chat show 😀 

Let’s make it happen! Watch this space…

                               

#WE – The Women’s Equality Party 

I went to the second meeting of the Women’s Equality Party today at Conway Hall in London. 

After a few rousing speeches we split up into groups to work on 10 different areas of activism or “speed politics” as Sandi Toksvig called it 😃 

I chose campaigning. We then reported back.

 I’m excited about the opportunity that an equality party may bring to get the UK on track. I’m quite disappointed that there has not been that much change in my lifetime, and as I get older I start feeling frustrated that maybe we won’t see equality in my lifetime. It’s a sobering thought.   

Equality for women isn’t a women’s issue. When women fulfill their potential, everyone benefits. Equality means better politics, a more vibrant economy, a workforce that draws on the talents of the whole population and a society at ease with itself.

The Women’s Equality Party will be a new non-partisan force in British politics bringing together women and men of all ages and backgrounds, united in the campaign for women to enjoy the same rights and opportunities as men so that both sexes can flourish.

The Women’s Equality Party will work towards such a society. We will push for equal representation in politics and business to ensure women’s voices are heard at the same volume as men’s. We will urge an education system that creates opportunities for all girls and boys and an understanding of why this matters. We will press for equal pay and equal parenting rights enabling women and men to share opportunity and responsibility in the workplace and at home. We will seek an end to violence against women.

We will bring about change by winning—support, votes and seats. We will not try to present ourselves as a party with an answer on every issue and a full palette of policies. Our focus will be clear and unambiguous and we will not stop attracting votes from the other political parties until they embrace and adopt our agenda of equality.

Women’s Equality Party on Facebook 

Technology was absent from the leaders’ debate – but it is key to the UK’s success

Last night’s election leaders’ debate was notable for the almost complete absence of technology, bar a hesitant reference to “IT” from Ed Miliband. Not one of the seven candidates spoke about technology as an enabler, as a tool that offers us the capability to completely revitalise our economy.

Instead, each debater focused on the small picture, rather than looking outwards to the massive technology-enabled social and economic changes happening globally.

Where was the leadership? Where was the inspiration? Where was the “yes we can” moment? And why was there no talk of the massive digital revolution happening right now, which offers us so many opportunities to solve or alleviate many of our country’s problems?

The UK has a great tradition of creativity, invention and technology from the industrial revolution to the code breakers of Bletchley Park, to ARM, the BBC Micro and the Raspberry Pi.

We are now competing in a global marketplace, in a world that is increasingly driven by technology. The UK should be leading the world with a strong, tech-savvy, tech-enabled workforce, ready to make the most of the huge opportunities a global marketplace opens up. We should be in pole position. Are we? Are we bugger.

Our schools have only just started teaching computer science properly, and the majority of UK adults have almost no practical tech education at all, which harms our future economic success and competitiveness as a nation. Which political party is taking a lead on ensuring that as a country we are ready with 21st century tech skills?

Last night I saw “pale, stale and male” middle-class white men from privileged backgrounds, all focused on either getting into or staying in power. The only candidates to mention cooperation and collaboration were female — the Green Party’s Natalie Bennett and Nicola Sturgeon of the Scottish National Party. Organisations across the UK, including government, education and the NHS, need to collaborate more effectively in order to solve problems more swiftly, and tech can help to facilitate this.

For too long we have had a political system built around competition and short termism. If we want our country to be successful we need more focus on cooperation and collaboration, both nationally and globally. In these areas technology is a great enabler.

Today’s politicians simply do not seem to grasp the positive impact tech could have to the nation’s economy, if we can educate the workforce to understand it. From virtual assistants to web designers, and executive coaches to Etsy’s knitters, technology enables entrepreneurs to go global.

The World Economic Review for 2014 ranked the UK just ninth in the world for networked readiness, or having a workforce that is able to use technology. This puts us behind the US, Singapore, Hong Kong, the Netherlands and the Scandinavian countries. At first glance, ninth may not seem all that bad. But things move fast in the tech world and governments that prioritise tech education for adults as well as school children will have the clear advantage.

The candidates last night spoke of the NHS, the economy, jobs, full employment, debts, zero-hours contracts, legislation, public sector contracts and security for working families. These are all important, of course, but what was missing was anything truly inspiring and with a real sense of optimism. One candidate did at least speak of a pride in our nation, and mentioned the global economy. What a shame that was Nigel Farage…

Farage might pay lip service to engaging with the world at large, but stricter immigration policies would do the UK tech industry and the economy in general no good at all.

A recent House of Lords Science and Technology Committee report published in 2014 claims that an “unwelcoming UK” has already led to an “unprecedented fall” in Stem student numbers. Keeping people out of our country means missing opportunities to share skills, to enhance knowledge and develop global networks, all of which are important in the modern workplace.

In the UK we have a rich heritage in technology and engineering that should give us the confidence for leadership at a global level, setting the pace and inspiring other nations to follow our great example – not focusing on how many foreigners there are in the UK. It’s embarrassing. How did we end up here?

Now is the time for a new inspiring vision of the future, from a leader who can not only lead but who is not afraid to connect and collaborate. A leader who understands and can leverage the massive opportunities available, someone that our innovative, inventive and creative population can believe in. We need a leader who understands the capabilities inherent in modern technology and has the ability to use them to solve our problems. We need that leader now.

Where is she?

This article written by me was published in The Guardian on Friday 3 April 2015

Technology was absent from the leaders’ debate – but it is key to the UK’s success