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Our BigChange team is made up of amazing people and they want to share a snapshot of what it’s like to work in one of the varied roles around BigChange. First up is Georgia from the Marketing team…

Hello, I’m Georgia Murphy and I’m the Customer Marketing & Events Manager at BigChange. This is the first blog I’ve ever written, and what better topic to write about? An event!

Overview and location 

We attended our first show of 2022 last month, the Executive Hire Show, located at the Coventry Building Society Arena. I must say what a lovely venue! The venue was big, without being too large, and was well-lit with plenty of space for visitors to walk from stand to stand comfortably. Our stand was A10, located in the atrium, a stone’s throw away from the main hall. I believe we were situated in a great place, close to the hustle and bustle of the Hire equipment being showcased in the main hall, but still far enough away to ensure we could have meaningful conversations with the guests. This enabled us to showcase what BigChange has to offer through many tailored demonstrations of our Job Management Platform.

Set-up

We arrived on Tuesday to set up our stand for the show to begin the following day. The set-up was easy, knowing we had our trusted and very valued handyman Ian to help us take care of it. The stand was built for us on arrival; so all that was left to do by our team was to set up the equipment, brochures, and merchandise ready to greet the visitors. We made sure not to forget the apples and Haribo we had brought to entice people to our stand, too!

Attendees 

We were pleasantly surprised with the number of people who turned up to the show across both days, the first day being the busiest. I would say this is usually normal for a show, although some people may have decided to have a lie-in after the previous night’s Executive Hire Show party & award ceremony. While the second day, therefore, didn’t initially appear as busy as the first, it did pick up towards lunchtime, and our sales team was kept exceptionally busy with plenty of demos and product talk – which is our main aim from attending trade shows such as these.

Catering 

An essential part of any show is the catering, early starts and long days mean lots of coffee is in order. I was disappointed to discover that tea and coffee were not available for exhibitors. However, all visitors were handed a voucher on entry for a coffee and pastry– what a nice touch! I do think that offering exhibitors free tea, coffee, and even water should be part of the package when you sign up for any event. Exhibitors must stay hydrated and well-fed to present the best of themselves on the stand. 

Lunch, on the other hand, was excellent. The show had many different food stalls, offering a wide range of different cuisines. I opted for a homemade sausage roll, and it went down a treat. Some of the team even opted for the pizza on offer, fresh from the oven! – it smelt great and, from what I hear, tasted even better. 

Overall, from my perspective and fellow BigChange team members, the show was a success. We met lots of existing customers as well as new potential users of BigChange. We can’t wait to sign up for next year… as long as beverages are included.

As part of International Women’s Day 2022, we wanted to give you some personal insight from colleagues at BigChange into what it’s like being a woman working in technology. These experiences are about their overall careers, having only recently joined our business, but they give a useful and powerful example of the issues faced by women in this sector.

Hi, we’re Angella & Sarah, two web developers that work for BigChange in the CRMasters POD (Cross-functional team) and as the name suggests we are focused on winning new jobs and CRM. We’ve both recently joined BigChange and for International Women’s Day, we’d like to give you an insight into what it’s like being a woman in tech and how we’ve made it to this point in life. We’ve both written a small piece about our personal experience.

Angella’s experience

As a woman, choosing IT is not only a career path but also a lifestyle that I had to embrace. It requires a lot of strength to go against all the adversities and frequently handle discouragement, especially during the first few years. Although there are brilliant parts to programming, I used to wake up every day having to decide if my dream was actually worth it. Even after a decade of working in this area, there are still some almost unbearable situations to accept.

When I was 12, I wanted to help my family with their small business by creating a website, as they could not afford it. However, I didn’t have any knowledge back then, so I read a book about Pascal. Later on, I realised other technologies and programming languages that would be more beneficial for creating a simple website. Still, it was so fascinating to discover this new world of programming. I found out we can genuinely fall in love with a subject, and from this day onwards, I could not stop coding.

Unfortunately, this positivity was short-lived when I joined a Computer Science course a few years later, I was shocked to see that there were only 3 women in a class of 48 people. As the days passed, I was able to see that we were treated in a totally different way to men. We had to endure so many rude comments, and they were constantly telling us that we were not good enough. If someone tells you every day that you cannot do something, you must have a really strong and healthy mind not to believe in it. All my future IT education was the same, a class in Computer Networks, where the number of women was unsurprisingly low: 5 in a class of 40. Another course, System Information, had only 6 women out of 50 people. The scenario was exactly the same, being frequently discouraged in something you love can be heartbreaking.

During all the time that I was studying, I was also working. There was still a massive difference between the number of men and women, but working was even more challenging and demotivating. In classes, people are not afraid of diminishing you but is far more subtle in a work environment. We had to handle condescending behaviour during meetings, microaggressions, having our knowledge questioned even in our area of expertise, and realising that the gender pay gap is a reality. Those issues make you feel uncertain about yourself, even after years of dedication and putting all your efforts into the career that you love.

Despite the struggle, I am glad I decided to continue programming. It brings me a lot of joy. I also became a better person because of it. I am more confident because I learned to stand up for myself, be brave enough to face all the discouragement, and improve my resilience for coming back every time I was down. There are still problems women still have to deal with, but there have been many improvements in gender equality. It is encouraging to see companies implementing policies to prevent discrimination against women and helping them feel not only safe in the workplace but also comfortable exercising their profession. It is also great to see men in our teams treating us like equals, which helps to reduce the feeling that we do not belong. I hope we can get to a point where all the gender obstacles are extinguished, which would make all the progress a lot more fun!

Sarah’s experience

Wanting to blend in with your environment is human nature. As a woman in tech, you can sometimes feel like a zebra in a zoo. People throw insensitive remarks and questions in your face. Often they ask why you decided to study something technical as if it was the most bizarre thing in the world. As a result, you’re made to feel different, even though initially you might not. These kinds of remarks don’t just come from men but also other women.

I was brought up in a primarily conservative household where women have to play a particular role. Even as a child, I knew what my parents were doing was wrong, so I would rebel against it. I was expected to do more household chores than my brothers and be more obedient. Being confident and loud was punished. As a result, I struggle to be assertive now.

Because I was unhappy with family life, I’d spend a lot of time in front of a computer playing video games online. I stumbled upon programming by setting up my own gaming server with custom quests that I had to code. I also started learning about web design as I wanted a fancy website for my server. Needless to say, the website looked terrible, but I had a lot of fun with this little project.

While my interests certainly helped me choose a technical subject to study, I don’t believe anyone should be made to feel like they don’t belong in the field just because they preferred doing something else in their youth. If you were born in the 90s, you were still pushed into gender stereotypes as a child. For example, I was regularly told off for playing video games just because I was a girl. I felt like a failure of a woman. I even hated being one for a time as I started to see women as inferior. We need to break this harmful cycle and stop pushing gender stereotypes on our children. A woman can be a brilliant engineer like a man can be a brilliant carer.

Later on, I decided to study mechanical engineering as I liked the idea of designing and optimising mechanical parts. There were maybe 10 women in total in the first term, and by the last term, there were even fewer. It was also rare to see a woman professor. This, of course, was discouraging as you started to question if you belonged there in the first place, but it wasn’t enough of a reason for me to change my subject. I enjoyed my time at university.

Every engineer nowadays also has to have basic knowledge of computer science. After finishing university, this helped me get a temporary job in software development. After a few months, the company offered me a permanent position as a software engineer. I enjoyed coding so much that I decided to stay in IT. The idea of creating something useful with mere lines of code was fascinating to me.

Writing your first lines of code can be challenging, but it’s like that with anything else that’s new. It’s nothing to be scared of, and there’s absolutely nothing manly about sitting in front of a computer and typing code with your fingertips. I hope more women will explore technology as it’s a fascinating and rewarding career path. People need to get used to us!

At BigChange

It was wonderful to share experiences and realise that we have been through very similar situations in our education and work environments. It brought us closer and made us feel like we were not alone in this journey.

We want to thank BigChange for allowing us to speak out on International Women’s Day. It is very gratifying to be part of an incredible team that respects and values us, which helps us feel that we belong. A special thank you to Jonathan, our product owner, for bringing up the initiative and supporting us. He goes above and beyond to create a healthy environment for our POD.

BigChange has spoken to colleagues across the business to look further into into what it’s like being a woman working in technology:

This International Women’s Day, Jo Godsmark, Chief Operating Officer at BigChange, shares her experience on the theme of Breaking the Bias and reflects on BigChange’s own progress in this area

Being ‘Big on Inclusion’ is a core value for BigChange, and it has been since day one. As a community, we’ve always aimed to operate with respect and treat all groups with kindness and understanding. This was important to me when I decided to join BigChange, and I am now privileged to be working on embedding this value in all that we do.

When I started my career as a trainee engineer at Ford Motor Company in the 1980’s, I met bias in my first month, with an engineer telling me that I was ‘stealing a man’s job’ and ‘would only go and have babies’. However elsewhere at Ford, and throughout my career, I have been lucky enough to work with many inspiring, intelligent, and patient managers and colleagues who have never suggested that my gender was a reason not to succeed.

Eighteen months ago, I hosted a webinar with some inspiring women leading businesses using BigChange. Our discussion showed the power technology has to provide more flexible and attractive working conditions for many women, but also the struggle that many of our customers are facing with attracting women into field service roles.

The benefits of diversity and inclusion are becoming more widely known. Numerous studies associate diversity with improved business outcomes, and there is also the big advantage in that simply being a more open and inclusive workplace means we can access a much broader talent pool – something that is vital in today’s competitive marketplace. We are taking steps to understand how we perform on a wide range of diversity measures.

Women make up around 30% of BigChange’s workforce, which is better than the 19% reported by TechNation across the UK tech sector; however we recognise that relatively few of these are in our Technology team or in our Sales team.  There are two women out of eight in our senior leadership team, and we have some fantastic female directors across the business, but we need to go further.

BigChange is formalising its inclusivity policies across all areas of the business to ensure that diverse groups are not inadvertently excluded, whether in hiring, advancement opportunities, or in the day-to-day workplace.

Hiring and pre-hire

Change must start as early as possible to improve female representation in the tech sector, and that means engaging with schools. I have previously spoken at schools on engineering as a career, and we want to use this approach to show young women that tech is for them and offers abundant opportunities by giving them a chance to interact with our female tech professionals and leaders. 

We are starting to offer early-career apprenticeships and intern roles to get a diverse range of young people on the ladder. We are working hard to ensure these opportunities are seen by the most varied group of people possible.

When it comes to the application process, BigChange has put in measures to help level the playing field: 

  • We anonymise all incoming applications and have enrolled all hiring managers in training, covering areas like unconscious bias. Understanding and mitigating humans’ mental shortcuts are vital for driving greater inclusivity
  • We only include the essential requirements on job adverts to encourage as many applications as possible
  • We ensure representation on interview panels, where interviewers grade independently then discuss and interrogate each other’s perspectives to arrive at the most equitable decisions

The wider workplace

Our commitment to inclusion doesn’t stop once you’re in the door. BigChange recently rolled out an enhanced maternity and paternity benefits package that applies to all employees from day one.

Furthermore, we’ve sought to reduce working hours to 37 ½ per week so that our people get more flexibility in their work-life balance and introduced BigFlexi whereby teams can support each other to achieve their flexible working goals. We take care not to focus BigFlexi on either women or parents, as we believe that only when this type of benefit is used universally, will we truly drive inclusivity.

We use our BigVoice employee group as a sounding board, and this month we are kicking off discussion groups on inclusion across the business. We know this is a long journey but, hey, BigChange is what we do!

BigChange

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