GUEST BLOG: In this contributed blog post, Julie Perkins, digital workplace director at Lloyds Banking Group, and an everywoman in tech awards 2021 judge, talks about how day to day actions are what will build a better and more equal tech sector going forward.
Legacy is a big concept, a grand, majestic word and is not something I associate with on a day to day basis. However, I can talk about purpose and that for me is continually focussing on creating an open, inclusive and diverse culture which has personal and people development at its core.
I joined Lloyds Banking Group as a graduate trainee and after a long career and two grown up children I am still here! The environment I joined is very different to the environment I work in today from many different perspectives – the balance in teams, the culture and the focus on developing potential. I have been on a long journey throughout my career which has been both personal and one that I have shared with my organisation.
I was recruited into the IT graduate scheme with a degree in English and Drama. My views on almost everything is that there are no rules which can’t be challenged. I work from within my organisation to challenge the status quo, to act with integrity and bravery. This is what I want to pass on to the next generation – every little action, every day makes a difference!
My passionate advocacy for inclusion and diversity started when I noticed that woman were a minority in senior positions at work. As a senior female in a science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) world (or in my case I am the ‘A’ for art in a STE’A’M world!), I saw the under representation in senior roles not only of women but disabled, and ethnic minority colleagues and so on – leadership teams that did not represent the communities they served.
I work for an organisation that shares my values to push for change which is very important to me. We work inside and outside the Group to make a difference. I see my role as generating conversation about difficult topics – how do we create the confidence to talk about race, disability, sexual orientation, mental health and more to expand mindsets creating an environment where you can be your authentic self at work.
We have recently started an initiative called ‘Our Stories’ creating a platform for all colleagues at all levels to share personal experiences, openly talk about difficult topics – our first panel discussion tackled anxiety, mid-life crisis from a male perspective, redundancy and personal resilience. Let’s create curiosity! In 2019, our Tech Division ran its first Returners Programme – successfully bringing a cohort of people back into the workplace that had taken a career break – 90% of the appointments have been women.
I absolutely support setting targets, if you don’t measure you will never change. At Lloyds we didn’t quite get there in achieving 40% of females in senior management roles by 2020 but we weren’t far off! Setting targets sets the tone, sends the signal that we intend to change. Closely aligned to this is partnerships with other organisations and local communities.
We are proud to work with everywoman as a key sponsor of the Early Careers Day, the Tech Forum and sponsor the Digital Star Award. We have Digital Ambassadors in every region in the UK and I personally create connections with communities through non-exec roles for Bangor University and the North Wales Police.
As for legacy, I hope I have inspired people to be curious and brave. I hope I have helped others build resilience, realise their potential to feel empowered, push the boundaries, have fun but most importantly be true to themselves … and in turn pass on the baton to those who follow – every little action, every day makes a difference!