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Sloan is the executive sponsor of the women’s network group at the company and a finalist at the 2023 FDM everywoman in Technology Awards.
Russell Sloan is the Digital Services Director at Kainos, a UK-headquartered digital technology company that develops information technology for businesses and organisations globally. Russell leads the delivery of complex digital transformation projects across public sector, commercial sector and healthcare organisations in the UK, Ireland, Europe and North America. He is committed to leading and demanding positive change for women, both within business and in his community.
A number of years ago, I was presenting with my senior team to the Digital Services business unit. We opened the floor for questions, and a woman in the audience asked me what I was doing about gender diversity given that we had an all-male line-up on stage. This was when the penny quickly dropped. I realised I needed to be more aware of the diversity of our teams, and to be proactive in helping women at all levels succeed at Kainos. From here, I agitated for a women’s network to be created in Kainos – dedicated to supporting women reach their full potential and ensuring all voices are heard. Outside of work, it was also a very personal thing for me. I’m married with four daughters (who are now teenagers) – so I only want the best of opportunities and role models for my own girls.
As I’m already in a senior position, leading a large team of 1,600 people in my business unit, I felt empowered to be a catalyst for change. Kainos is not overly hierarchical – so the main thing for me was raising the subject of diversity and inclusion, keeping it as a talking point and demonstrating and celebrating progress and successes. Thankfully, my colleagues bought in to the initiatives quickly; fully embracing the need and importance of doing so.
At Kainos, we’re dedicated to achieving gender balance. We started reporting the gender split within our organisation in 2017 – and since then, the percentage of women has increased from 27% to 34%. We continue to examine gender diversity in our recruitment, promotions and salary review processes to make sure inclusion is embedded in every approach. Moreover, one change that’s perhaps more difficult to quantify is the increased level of conversation and support around gender diversity. From leaders to apprentices, everyone in the business shares the same passionate for equality and inclusion. Here, women’s advocacy is a core part of the Kainos DNA.
Recently, I championed the creation of the ‘Empowering Leaders’ programme, dedicated to helping the ongoing development of our female leaders within Kainos. So far, 15 women across the business have had the opportunity to attend this year-long programme, with a further cohort planned for this year. It’s been truly amazing to see the positive impact the programme has had on participants.
Parents are now working more flexibly, taking the much needed time with their children for things like school drop-offs and collections. It’s great to also see people being more open about the need to stop work at a certain time for family commitments. With this new approach, we’re establishing a better work-life balance for ourselves; valuing family time alongside work commitments.
The technology industry is extremely male-dominated and we have a long way to go to progress the gender ratios. As well as continuing to drive D&I initiatives within our organisation, it’s important to consider how we impact, educate and inspire young people making career choices. They are the future of our industry.
Within Kainos, we’re underway with many initiatives to support young women. For example, we recently launched a university bursary scheme designed to support young people and under-represented groups to pursue careers in technology. This has resulted in 22 young women within the UK receiving financial support to complete their studies and kickstart their career in tech. We’ve also collaborated with our digital partners – AWS and Microsoft – to pursue joint ventures to attract young women to careers in IT. This work has resulted in Kainos’ participation with AWS’ Women Ambassador Programme ‘GetIT’ (for girls aged 12-14 years old), and AWS Jam Bootcamp (for 1st to final year university students).