LIFT as we Climb Leadership Summit: A Recap

It's not news that the Tech Talent Charter (TTC) is on a mission to bring together organisations to drive greater diversity and inclusion in the world of technology. We firmly believe that through intentional action, we can arrest the current trend of women leaving the tech workforce. Just 28% of the UK tech workforce are women, and when you look at senior tech role holders, gender diversity decreases even further, dropping by 6 points to 22%. And that’s why leading tech brands are coming together to bring that intentionality and orientation towards action to life.

Welcome to Lift As We Climb, by Sky.


So what is causing women to leave the sector, especially those who are more advanced in their careers? TTC is on a mission to improve diversity in tech, so we set out to answer this question. Our new research on attrition of women in tech found that four out of five women said dissatisfaction with their career development was part of the reason why they left. If we want to create a diverse and inclusive tech industry we need to look beyond hiring and instead look at the opportunities the sector can offer. The old stereotype of a career ladder you climb consistently for several decades doesn't reflect the reality of a tech career or the experiences of people who work in the industry. That's why leading technology brands have come together to redefine what career development in tech really means.

LIFT as we Climb is a joint collaboration between tech industry giants, Sky, IBM and Vodafone. The programme is about: 

  1. Providing community and network for women in tech leadership. 

  2. Creating a wider movement in support of the progression of high-potential women in tech leadership.

  3. Ensuring the pipeline is rich and healthy for women in tech leadership. 

This particular summit (3rd October), focused on careers, supporting and championing the progression of women in tech leadership. LIFT is a wider movement, not just a one-day summit. It is a long-term commitment to supporting women in tech leadership and creating a more diverse and inclusive tech industry.

LIFT at its core is focused on women in tech leadership and its pipeline, where we see barriers. Gone are the days when you could think of a tech career as a simple ladder, recognise that career advancement for tech employees is less of a ladder and more like a cargo net. To support diversity across all levels of a tech business, we need to enable career progression within a wider network of lateral or informal moves, that reflect the many ways women now come into or return to a tech career, and which recognise the essential role that role models, advocates and mentors play in this picture.

In support of this, Sky hosted their latest Lift as we Climb summit, gathering women and allies in tech leadership from across multiple organisations to discuss, learn and share their insights on how to improve progression for women in tech. The summit covered three key themes:

  1. Navigation: For everyone present, how do we manoeuvre more effectively through organisations to achieve the career goals we are looking for, embracing the career “cargo net” more than the career “ladder”?
  2. Progression: For those who are at that experienced professional level, aspiring to leadership, how can women grow in their technical skills, not necessarily following the people management route?
  3. Succession: As a senior leader in tech, what does it mean to lift others up with you as you climb? How do you maximise and take control of your career, whilst supporting others to do the same? How do male allies recognise and appreciate the “cargo net” women have taken to get to the position they are in and also how to leverage it to create a more diverse top table?

With Sky as TTC’s most recent Principal Partner, our very own, Karen Blake and Debbie Forster had the opportunity to be part of the summit alongside a powerful lineup of speakers, such as:

  • Prasanna Gopalakrishnan, Group Chief Technology Officer at Sky
  • Laura Moore, Global Director of Identity at Sky at Sky 
  • Sharon Wallace, Head of Tech D&I, Partnerships & People Change at Sky 
  • Adanna Sommer Welch-Charles, Head of Technology Strategy at Vodafone
  • Danielle Macleod, Co-Founder of Remarkable Women
  • Carolyn Baird, Global Research Leader at IBM Institute for Business Value
  • Chris Oldacre, Director of Customer Success UKI at IBM 

The summit was a powerful reminder of the importance of community, strong leadership, and role models in fostering a diverse and inclusive tech industry. Celebrating the successes of women in tech and making their stories more visible sends a potent message that, in spite of the diversity shortcomings in tech, through bringing about intentional change in addressing the systemic barriers that women face, women can and do achieve success in this sector. And the key is effectiveness in doing it together

Below are some of the key messages from the event.

What did we learn from the event?

  • Leadership is personal. There is no one right way to be a leader, and we should all find our own unique style.

  • Collective change. We can't rely on one person to bring about 100% of the change. We all need to do our part, even if it's just a small one.

  • Create environments where women's voices are heard. As women in tech, we need to find our voices and stick to our values, but we also need allies who are willing to listen and amplify our voices.

  • Likeability versus success. Achieving and agreeing don't always go hand in hand, and it's okay to put success before universal likeability.

  • Self-recognition. Always recognise when you are doing a great job and celebrate your successes and contributions. 

  • Mentors are vital. Having strong role models and mentors is an essential piece of the puzzle for helping women in tech find their own unique pathways to the top. 

  • Career progression is changing. We shouldn't expect to have careers that mirror those that happened 20 years ago, and equally, as leaders, we can't develop HiPo talent in the same way as we did 20 years ago.

The Lift as we Climb summit is a powerful reminder that no company, no matter how big or established, is bigger than the game when it comes to D&I in tech. As we rise to rise, we have to do it together, and that's why lifting as we climb is a crucial part of our collective success.

Thank you to Sky for hosting such an empowering event.