Hi, I’m Sarah Trickett, an IT Programme Manager with HMRC based in Telford. This year’s theme for International Women’s Day - #PressforProgress - is a call to motivate and unite friends, colleagues and whole communities to think, act and be gender inclusive. It has made me think about what I can do to press for progress.
Government IT is ahead of the game
In the IT industry we hear a lot about disparity between the genders and the drive to encourage more women into digital roles. This is where perhaps government IT is ahead of the game and consciously ensuring women have the same opportunities as their male colleagues. Take my own career for example. I joined HMRC way back when (1991!) as a junior clerical assistant (Revenue Assistant) in my local tax office. I spent my day sorting and filing paperwork and making sure my Revenue Officer had plenty of post stacked up, ready to deal with paper tax returns, assessments and correspondence.
When I made Revenue Executive I thought I had arrived. But then our forward-thinking HR team began marketing a new professional management careers programme (now called Fast Stream). Inspired, I applied and was accepted. Two weeks later I discovered I was pregnant. I wasn’t sure I could juggle everything, or even stay on the scheme, but I was well supported with flexible working patterns and offered some great placements. It showed me there was a massive world outside the local tax office I didn’t know even existed.
Women in IT Transformation Leader of the Year award
My last placement was in IT, which is where I’ve stayed. I’ve had some terrific opportunities, the most recent ones bringing our massive outsourced IT contract to an end and leading the final transition of people and services into HMRC from our supplier organisations – which even earnt me the Women in IT Transformation Leader Award 2018.
When I received my award, one of the keynote speakers, Caroline Glackin from AWS, said something that resonated with me. She said it gave her a massive boost to have the backing of a male champion. I think she’s right, I have one, my manager Tim East. One piece of advice he gave me which I’ve never forgotten is, “the only person holding you back is you”.
Time for me to give something back
Whilst personally I’ve never felt, as a woman in HMRC, that I haven’t had the same opportunities as my male peers, I want to support others to feel they can achieve everything they’re capable of achieving. I want to make sure other women in IT and digital hear that same message Tim gave me, and I feel it’s time for me to give something back. So I am setting up a new group for women who work in digital. The plan is to be a place where we can share ideas on how we encourage and attract women into digital roles at all levels and increase opportunities to collaborate, support and empower women in digital, not only in HMRC but across government.
Other HMRC digital women are also working to promote gender parity in IT. For example Martine Clark and Lee Almond, who blogged recently about their job share, represent HMRC on the Corporate IT Forum Gender Balance Committee. The committee has members from a wide range of sectors, from retail to public, with the aim of attracting more women into technology, promoting cultural change within organisations, and supporting women to be successful in developing their career paths.
So, it’s early days for our new group, but I’ll be back to let you know how it goes.