Gareth Workman: Male agent of change

Gareth Workman speaks to about his leadership of a male allies group at IT firm Kainos.



Gareth Workman is a passionate advocate for women in technology. He leads the male allies group at IT provider Kainos and works closely with the company’s Inspire Network, which aims to empower women in business to reach their full potential. His commitment to that role has led to him being selected as a finalist in the Male Agent of Change category of the everywoman in Technology Awards.

Gareth’s motivation is, in part, personal. Through his family and social circles, he has witnessed the challenges that women face first hand. Hearing their stories has made him acutely aware of the very real hurdles they face to achieving equality. “Unfortunately, I’ve seen consistent and repeated patterns of pay disparity for women and lack of recognition for women’s work – issues I never encountered,” he says. These experiences have opened his eyes to the kind of challenges women face at work.

Gareth, who is Chief Artificial Intelligence Officer at Kainos, has also noticed the impact of maternity leave on women, particularly issues around financial worries and job security – often leading to women returning to work prematurely and having to go above and beyond to prove themselves. As a father of two sons, Gareth acknowledges that this was not something he experienced.

For Gareth, Kainos’ male allies group doesn’t just serve as a vital platform for raising awareness about the obstacles women encounter in the workplace – it’s about actively championing their cause. By amplifying women’s experiences and, most importantly, taking tangible action, Gareth says he and his allies are committed to driving real change at Kainos, breaking down these barriers and creating a more inclusive and equitable workplace for all.

Visible advocates

The male allies group was set up in 2023. “As part of the Inspire mission it is important to have male allies who are visible and vocal advocates of women and who champion the diversity and inclusion conversation,” says Gareth [pictured right].

He has been at Kainos for around 19 years and is seen as “a custodian of its culture”.  He was first invited to join Inspire and then asked if he wanted to lead the male allies group. Gareth was keen from the get-go that it is not just about talking forums and that it had to result in something meaningful.

The group has created a video, working with Inspire, to give people a better understanding of the challenges facing women in technology and what actions men can take as visible champions of women in the sector. The group also works with Inspire on events and panel discussions, ensuring there is a male champion on discussions on everything from menopause awareness to women’s career progression.

Asked what he has learned personally from the experience Gareth talks about the recruitment process and how language matters in job descriptions and how gendered it can be. He says that using a tool that picks up on gendered language  has made a big difference to the diversity of applicants to his team. “It’s about opening men’s eyes to this kind of thing. The more men understand the challenges women face, the more we help to start that dialogue, the more we will see change,” he states. He recalls, for instance, not being aware of the impact of long meetings on heavily pregnant members of staff.  “It was not about ill will. It was just a blind spot,” he says.

The male allies group has around 40 core members who are visible advocates for women in the business and many more who attend meetings less regularly. Gareth says there is a real drive to ensure that membership is as diverse as possible. Feedback is regularly collected and acted upon.

A safe space

Gareth thinks the pandemic helped to open up conversations around being a working parent and about the demands on parents outside work as everyone could see them on zoom calls. But he says there are still pockets of resistance. That’s why he is a firm advocate of storytelling which enables people to relate to barriers and inequality more directly. It’s not just about going through diversity training, but about listening to what colleagues tell you about their everyday reality, he says.

Gareth acknowledges that men may sometimes feel apprehensive about saying the wrong thing, but he views the allies group as a safe space where mistakes can be made and, crucially, learned from. “Stories bring things to life,” he says. “It’s about actively listening, learning, and having the confidence to admit when we’ve made errors or got it wrong.”

He notes instances where men have enquired about the necessity of programmes exclusively for women’s career progression, often stemming from a lack of exposure to or understanding of the challenges women
face. Gareth views this as a learning opportunity for individuals like him, who have historically been unaware of such issues. He says some who have engaged in these discussions with him have gone on to be some of the most vocal advocates and champions. “It’s about raising the level of dialogue and helping
others to learn,” he says.

Gareth says he is ‘humbled’ to be an everywoman finalist. The awards are presented on 14th March. He was nominated by the Inspire Network. “It’s good to be part of the network and the male allies group full stop,” he says. “But, although there is always more to do, to see that I have made a difference is very rewarding.”

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