Gender Equality Awards 2018: Game Changer Award - Sky

Get into Tech

Sky’s Get into Tech programme was introduced in May 2016 to provide a unique and supportive environment where women with little or no previous technical experience could learn the skills needed to pursue a career in software development or technology in general. The programme aims to address the persistent issue of female underrepresentation in technology, and ultimately lead to a wider female talent pool. Sky believes that achieving gender balance will result in a more creative and dynamic team and ultimately greater business profits. The organisation’s formal objective is to reach 50/50 gender balanced entries into its software academy by 2017/18, and the Get into Tech scheme will enable Sky to achieve this.

The free, women-only course is open to women both within and outside Sky who are just starting out in their careers, returning after a period of absence or changing careers, and who may not have previously considered technology jobs.

During a 14 week period, a cohort of 15 women meet once at a week at Sky’s offices in either London or Leeds. The participants follow a guided learning pathway which covers the basics of web development, focusing on PHP, JavaScript, HTML and CSS. These sessions are supplemented by weekly one-to-one Google Hangouts with the trainer and a self-study project. As well as learning software skills, participants gain confidence in presenting and other soft skills.

The scheme was set up by Sky’s technology team and women in technology working group and is supported by the Group’s Chief Technology Officer. A core team of two work on the programme, and Recruitment and HR teams report on software academy intake by gender. This enables Sky to measure the programme’s effectiveness. Technology team members and staff across the organisation are kept informed about the scheme’s progress through presentations, newsletters and intranet articles, and the programme is embedded into all of Sky’s women in technology comms to raise its internal and external profile.

Since the programme began in May 2016, over 500 women have applied for a place and 100 have been enrolled. Many Get into Tech alumni have also become role models for the scheme, regularly speaking at internal and external events.

In the past 12 months Sky has hired 23 women into software development roles, many of whom had not previously written code. So far 47% of Sky’s software academy intake is female, and the organisation is on track to reach 50% in the next year. A further seven alumni have also taken up opportunities in new technology careers outside Sky, demonstrating the organisation’s commitment to tackling the shortage of women in technology.

Sky plans to run another four courses in Leeds and London in 2018, which will enable another 60 women to get into a career in technology. The programme is continually reviewed through participant surveys, ensuring they gain maximum benefit from their involvement.

Following the success of the programme, a ‘Get into Tech for young women’ scheme has been launched, aimed at girls aged 16 to 18. So far 11 women have completed this course and Sky hopes that it will continue to address the challenge of engaging women in technology from a young age. An external comms plan is also in place to speak at schools and colleages, raising awareness of opportunities for women in technology, showcasing female role models and promoting the new scheme.