Celebrating Pride Month: How inclusion is at the heart of Digital Futures

“With obstacles surrounding social mobility, I think there are quite a few things a lot of people don’t acknowledge as challenges.”

Sydney Price

Senior Engagement Manager

At Digital Futures, we see Pride Month as a dedicated moment to emphasise our ongoing commitment to inclusion in the workplace, allowing everyone to bring their authentic selves to work.

In this article, we spoke to Sydney Price, Senior Engagement Manager at Digital Futures. As an Engagement Manager, Sydney works closely with our engineers once they start on-site with a new client, to ensure they feel supported and have the right structures in place to grow and progress in their careers.

As someone who comes from a social mobility background, and as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, inclusion and equal opportunities are of particular importance to Sydney. She sat down with us to share her own perspective on the importance of pride and equal opportunities, the challenges associated with that, and the solutions Digital Futures is working towards. 

Above: Engineers and the Digital Futures team enjoy time in Leeds for a social.

How Sydney’s career developed into Social Mobility and Inclusion

After deciding to pivot from musical theatre to a more financially stable career path, I found a job as a teacher’s assistant for children with special educational needs in a disadvantaged area of Basildon, which is where I grew up and still live now. This was a real eye-opener for me – I realised then that so many young people from low-income backgrounds are completely unaware of what they’re capable of doing or what jobs they could be doing in the future. 

This is where my passion for social mobility began. A lot of people come from backgrounds where it’s normal to go to university and start a professional career but there are also a huge number of people that don’t inherit that kind of knowledge. It’s always fascinated me how naturally most people go to university. This just wasn’t a topic that was ever really brought up in my household, I think partly because nobody in my family has a degree. I just naturally moved into theatre because it was something I loved, but in terms of starting a career, I didn’t have any sort of corporate network, so I didn’t really know what the blueprint was.

Above: Digital Futures Engineers.
Above: Digital Futures at the STEM Women careers fair.

"I didn't have any sort of corporate network, so I didn't really know what the blueprint was."

I applied to lots of jobs – it took me a very long time, but I managed to secure myself an apprenticeship at a creative recruitment company in London as a receptionist. 

I sometimes wonder what would have happened if I had gone to university, but upon reflection, I actually wouldn’t change it. I learned such a strong work ethic from my parents, and I’m incredibly grateful for that.

Sydney’s experience overcoming challenges in the workplace

The biggest challenge about my situation was that when I started out, I didn’t know anybody in that world, at all. So the network that I have is all from people that I’ve met through work, networking events I signed myself up to, doing things that I was terrified of doing, such as giving presentations to hundreds of people.

Achieving inclusion is so difficult because whilst organisations want to improve, they often don’t have the capacity to make the necessary changes. That’s something you see quite often – people want to make a difference but are not necessarily willing to take the risk, or maybe aren’t allowed the bandwidth to do that within their organisations. This can be especially tricky with a lot of the diversity we can’t see, such as obstacles surrounding social mobility. 

When I first started out, it was so fascinating to me going into large banks, where everyone was wearing really smart, expensive suits, and there was a real energy that made it so easy to feel like you don’t belong. A big challenge for me has therefore been to understand and believe that I do belong here, and I do know what I’m doing, just as much as everyone else. Having to overcome imposter syndrome has been a challenge for me on a personal level and is something that I see with a lot of the engineers that I work with on a daily basis, too.

Above: Digital Futures at Clays London.
Above: Digital Futures at Junkyard Golf.

How Digital Futures promotes Pride, Social Mobility and Inclusion all year round

In my job, I look after the development and retention of all the engineers, and there are real moments of truth where you get to appreciate someone’s career growth and success. For example, when an engineer has been on-site for a while and it starts to sink in for them that they’re a Software Engineer for Sky or a Data Analyst for HSBC, you can actually see a shift in the way they carry and perceive themselves.

A specific story that stands out for me was with a refugee from Sudan, and their journey with Digital Futures, and becoming a Release Manager at Sky. They’ve now been made a permanent employee, and for me, it doesn’t get better than that.

"There's always someone to talk to for anyone who needs it."

One of the things that is great about the tech industry is that there’s such a demand for capabilities and skills. This actually makes technology quite groundbreaking in terms of diversity and inclusion, by bringing individuals from so many different backgrounds into an organisation.

Elements of social mobility impact a vast number of the engineers we work with, which is why Digital Futures puts inclusion at the heart of everything we do. There’s always someone to talk to for anyone who needs it, which can be a huge support in an environment in which they’re not yet familiar or comfortable. We work hard at making sure there’s a place for everyone and a community for people to be happy and supported here. It’s about enabling individuals from any background to feel like they can be their genuine selves 365 days a year, and that they can achieve a career in tech that they’re proud of.

At Digital Futures, we believe that everyone, irrespective of background deserves an opportunity to reach their full potential. We’re removing the traditional barriers to careers in technology and working relentlessly to support those from all backgrounds into sustainable employment and allow everyone to bring their authentic selves into work every day. 

Surprise yourself with everything you can do. Find out more about Digital Futures today.

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