The importance of awards for promoting diversity

Posted on 12 February 2019

Recognising the outstanding innovation achieved by women in the IT industry, the recently held ‘Women in IT Awards’ ceremony, welcomed over 1,200 business and technology leaders to its fifth annual event last month. The event showcased the ever increasing roles and influence of women in technology, identifying new role models and promoting further dialogue about the need for diversity within the IT industry.

The 21 winners were chosen from over 800 nominations. Zoe Cunningham, CEO, Softwire, was presented with the coveted 2019 ‘Business Leader’ award, recognising the outstanding business leadership she has displayed over the last eighteen months. Commenting on her win Zoe said, “I’m thrilled to have received this award. I joined Softwire in 2000 and since then have held a number of roles in the company, from developer to MD. I even spent some time in the business development team which although out of my comfort zone was a big learning curve for me. I think those experiences have really given me an in-depth understanding of all areas of the business and this is what enabled me to make a positive impact on our culture, service delivery and overall approach.”

When asked why Zoe was selected for the award the panel mentioned, ‘’The judges felt that the winner’s trajectory is impressive and their dedication inspirational. More so because she keeps setting herself new targets and clearing them without losing her authenticity.”

This is the second year in a row that the company has seen one of its team members honoured by these awards, with Sarah Binney, Developer, Softwire having achieved the ‘Graduate of the Year’ title in 2018. The firm is committed to trying to increase diversity within the tech sector and lead by example with a progressive and supportive culture.

Discussing her views on the recruitment issues facing the tech industry Zoe explains, “I’m passionate about inspiring all types people to join the technology industry, however, the gender gap is one of the most notable challenges we are facing as a sector. It is over fifty years since the inspirational Dame Steve Shirley founded the company that became the FI Group, yet young women are still self-selecting out of the IT business. To be fair, of course, many young men are doing the same – a fact that is very significant in the escalating overall skills shortage.

When it comes to inspiring women, in particular, I think that the most effective solution that we have seen is role-modeling. If you can’t see someone who looks like you doing the job, then you don’t think it’s for you. That’s why award bodies such as this one are so important, they show how many career opportunities there are available.”