Tech talent is critical - Amali de Alwis

In this video from Computer Weekly’s annual diversity and inclusion in tech event, in partnership with Spinks, CEO of Subak and past winner of Computer Weekly’s list of the most influential women in UK tech, Amali de Alwis, talks about both the good and bad outcomes of the pandemic when it comes to the technology sector, as well as how we advance into the future.

Highlighting how 2021 marked the 10th anniversary of Computer Weekly’s list of the most influential women in UK technology, de Alwis noted how even 10 years ago remote working en masse would have been “unthinkable”.

Calling the Covid-19 pandemic the biggest global human crisis of the century, de Alwis said the coronavirus outbreak made the business world question how technology can change the work environment, and how this might look going forward.

There has been a huge increase in remote working as a result of the pandemic, as people were forced not only to stay away from offices but also conduct their usual day-to-day activities, such as shopping, remotely – something that many previously thought was not possible on the scale it has been achieved over the last two years.

In some cases this increase in flexibility has been positive – contributing to better work-life balance – but in other cases it has led to an increase in working hours, especially for IT workers who have been relied upon to keep companies up and running.

But she also says women have “borne the brunt” of the negative impacts of the pandemic, with women in senior positions under more pressure to perform than their male counterparts, leading to an “always on” culture, and senior women also more likely than their male counterparts to have to take a hit on their careers as a result of the pandemic.

Last year’s Computer Weekly diversity in tech event also highlighted the hardships faced by parents, particularly mothers, and women working in sectors disproportionately affected by the pandemic, in many cases forcing them to put their career on the backburner.

There is a way forward, says de Alwis, who encouraged individuals not to suffer in silence, and to demand more from employers and governments.

With the technology sector providing the “critical infrastructure” to move forward, people with tech skills are also critical, and can therefore negotiate better pay and flexibility in what is currently a fast-growing sector – “a rising tide lifts all boats” she says.

With tech talent in high demand, employers are going to be doing everything they can to hire and retain people with the appropriate skills – giving workers the power to ask for more.

De Alwis summarises: “If they aren’t willing to be fair then people more than ever should feel empowered to take their talents elsewhere.”

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