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HMRC digital women show it can be done

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Digital, Diversity and inclusion


It’s been over a year since I shared thoughts on Women in Tech; now seems like a good time to take another look at the landscape.

In HMRC we’re as active as ever in progressing digital transformation for our customers and HMRC colleagues. Others have blogged in recent weeks about our innovative work on Robotics, our use of data and great strides in designing and delivering digital forms.

Sha Jenkins Digital Ambassador
Sha Jenkins Digital Ambassador

Just as importantly colleagues have blogged - with real enthusiasm – about job opportunities in HMRC and what we’re doing to help our people gain confidence and improve their digital skills. Sha Jenkin's blog about digital ambassadors really struck me as be showing how we’re beginning to de-mystify ‘IT’ and the (self –limiting) view that tech is too difficult or ‘not for me’.

I’m fortunate in that although I never set out to be a tech specialist I didn’t have any voices (mine or others) telling me it was off limits because of my gender. So here I am 'xx!' years in, loving every bit of it and sharing my passion by contributing whenever I can. Whether that be UK tech leadership events, at international IT forums or being HMRC’s rep on the UK’s Corporate IT Forum. Wherever it is I’m promoting gender diversity within our businesses and demonstrating how gender balanced teams bring a range of benefits to the workplace.  And if you could see me here you’d know I’m a fairly tireless advocate in HMRC too.

More and more though, I’m encouraged by the emerging female leaders we’ve nurtured in the department and the far fewer times I mentally note how many or how few women coders and developers we have in our digital centres! Our work experience and apprenticeship programmes, an open recruitment programme and our promotion and reward system have all helped get us to a better place.

Alex at work
Alex at work

So rather than being a sole voice I’m sharing this blog with mention of two others – Amy Hart who is an apprentice software developer and Alex Kean who’s been with us a little while now and has recently been given additional responsibility as Head of Product Management.

Amy was another who didn’t necessarily see her future in tech when she was first looking at careers choices, but since starting her apprenticeship two years ago she hasn’t really looked back.

I am delighted to say that Amy won the WISE Rising Star of the Year Award, in recognition for her dedication and effort working in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and promoting it as a career choice for young women. A fantastic achievement Amy.

Not only has she been really successful in her day job but she’s encouraged young girls by delivering a project introducing IT and Digital badges to local Scouting groups, and been a mentor for digital apprentices beginning careers in the Civil Service.

Amy says

"I'm really proud of the work that I’ve done during my time in HMRC digital, and it's great to be recognised by colleagues and managers.

When I went for my finalist interview for the WISE award, any nerves I had were completely quashed when I began talking to my fellow finalists who were just an amazing group of women. Their kindness and affability was moving. I realised then and there that it's not about who wins, it's about the amazing achievements that we, as women, have made in STEM."

And a view from Alex,

“I can still vividly remember my first day as a product manager in the Newcastle digital delivery centre of HMRC – a mixture of nervous anticipation and excitement. What I quickly discovered was a group of like-minded digital professionals who are all dedicated to making great digital services for our customers.

The challenges (there have been a few!) and the opportunities I have had over the past two and half years have given me great opportunities to learn from inspiring individuals working within digital at HMRC. I’ve had the privilege of working with teams of experts on services like tax credit renewals, whose dedication to providing customer focussed digital services has made a real difference to the lives of millions of people across the UK.  

I’m excited about my new role as Head of Product Management. I’ll be working with the product managers to develop digital services with customer needs at the centre whilst bringing great benefit and value to government. All I can say is “roll-on the next few years….”

I’m extremely proud to see Amy and Alex make a difference in technology. Well done both! And to quote Barack Obama ‘Can we do it? Yes we can!’. We can improve the gender balance in technology and in HMRC we’re already well on the way!

Brigid McBride - Acting HMRC Head of Digital Transformation

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