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Debbie Forster Interview

An interview with Debbie Forster MBE

“Never waste a good crisis”

Before I started Women Rock I knew that there was a lot to do and I wanted to speak to empowering Women, and after following Debbie for a while I knew she was someone I had to talk to. I spoke with Debbie a few weeks ago and straight away, it was obvious we had the same passion. I spoke to her about Women Rock and the plans for the South West and she was fully behind me with moving things forward which was really exciting.

Debbie is an award-wining leader, speaker, coach, and consultant specialising in technology, innovation, diversity and education in the public, private and third sector. Debbie is the CEO of Tech Talent Charter, she was awarded an MBE in January 2017 for services to Digital Technology and Tech Development and Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) named her the Woman of the Year for 2016 and Computer Weekly has named her as one of the “20 Most Influential Women in UK IT” for 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017.

I mean, wow! I am privileged to speak to her and we are lucky to have such an inspirational woman leading the way, I am really excited and very much looking forward to working with her and supporting the TTC this year in the South West.

Debbie, What is the Tech Talent Charter? And what is the plan for Tech Talent Charter in 2018?

The Tech Talent Charter is a not for profit, employer-led group bringing industries and organisations together to drive diversity and inclusion and to address gender imbalance in tech roles and increase the diversity overall in tech. Signatories of the charter make a number of pledges in relation to their recruitment and retention approach. Although it is very much an employer-led initiative, the TTC is supported in the government’s policy paper on the UK Digital Strategy and is directly supported by the DCMS. Together we aim to deliver greater diversity in the tech workforce of the UK, one that better reflects the make-up of the population. And we will do it, not by doing it all ourselves or by re-inventing the wheel, but by connecting the dots and sharing the work and learnings of all our signatories and partners.

In September of last year, we set ourselves some ambitious targets to reach 100 companies by the end and to hold our first annual event. We had a great event in November at the Gherkin, attended by DCMS Minister Matt Hancock and by over 200 people from across industry who had signed up. We now have 130 members onboard; this includes not just “traditional” tech companies like HP, BT, and Fujitsu, but news/entertainment (Global Radio, BBC, Sky, NewsUK, Telegraph), Finance (Nationwide & Lloyds) Transport (Eurostar), Recruitment (Monster, La Fosse, Harvey Nash), Energy (Shell) Food/Retail (Dominos) and Charity Sector (Cancer Research UK, British Red Cross). Our members are big multi-national companies and tiny startups.

This year will be even bigger. We will reach 500 signatories, and will be breaking “outside the London bubble”. We will have at least 3 more events ourselves, 2 of which will be outside London. Our partners and signatories will also be having events, meaning in the coming year the TTC will be in the Northeast, the Midlands, the Southwest and in Scotland as well as events in the Southeast and London. We will be working to help connect the dots not just at the national but at the regional and local level, not just for our multinational companies, but for our SMEs, Startups and Social


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