When I founded Project F, I set out to create a new way to change organisations’ behaviour when dealing with gender diversity issues in technology. I’d seen the prevailing approach, the pig in a poke. The exercises in lip service where everything looks terrific from the outside, but the lived experience of employees tell a very different story. It wasn’t cutting it.
Through all the change, one constant remains. The scale of the problem we are working to solve.
There are many causes for the low representation of women in tech. They are complex and deeply intertwined with the history and culture of the sector, calcifying over many decades. The automatic question has been, “how can we attract more tech women?” when it should have been “how can we keep our tech women?”.
Strategies that exceedingly focus on branding rather than systemic change have been, unsurprisingly, largely ineffective. Attraction campaigns (what some might call ‘window dressing’) generally result in depleted HR budgets and zero ROI for CTOs. Inevitably, “diversity fatigue” set in and invoked a million collective eye-rolls at the mere mention of D&I.
This was the turning point.
I began to hear folks, at last, calling BS on the swathes of D&I “initiatives” that have permeated the tech space for so long. Savvy businesses rushed to hand out pink endorsement badges to willing HR folks of large companies with deep pockets. Tick these boxes, pay the fees, and voila, you’re an employer of choice for all women! Performative policies have also done untold damage to D&I over the years. We hope to see them obsoleted as more and more organisations realise they have to actually do the work.
DEI maturity cannot be achieved with a piece of software or an employee value proposition. It takes executive sponsorship, leadership support and leader role modelling. It takes commitment to long-term investment (the ROI of DEI work takes around 3-5 years. Sorry, but no one said it’d be sexy). It takes progressive foresight and the recognition that ensuring long-term health for your organisation requires you to lean in hard to DEI as an essential part of your strategy. Let me tell you, this ain’t an easy sell. And maybe that’s why there aren’t others doing the same thing. It’s hard AF, but I’m here for that, and so is my incredible team. I am ridiculously proud of and grateful for the team growing up around me – these are exceptional people who are driven to make a real difference in the world, and that’s something very special.
Make no mistake, we mean business.
We help organisations, both small and large, first to recognise and then action the issues that will categorically make a difference to the gender balance in their tech teams. And we don’t tolerate inaction (yes, we will remove an accreditation for inaction). But, above all, Project F’s work will bring down the number of women leaving tech, and that is our goal. The more organisations we can support in taking a systemic approach to solving this issue, the closer we are to achieving that goal. Project F’s new brand identity was designed to communicate precisely this. While I enjoy a fun, whimsical brand, ours has to convey the seriousness of our work. You can follow Project F and me on LinkedIn.
And if you are a Women in Tech and want to be part of our community follow us on Instagram. Now, if you do like daft memes, you can follow me on Insta too. Enough said.
Please tell me what you think of the new brand and website. I mean that. All feedback is good feedback.
And if you’re a startup, Project F has the perfect solution that’s cost-effective and will enable you to easily weave DEI into the fabric of your business for sustainable outcomes! Check out our Gender Balance Toolkits here.