Vodafone launches #ChangeTheFace campaign to increase diversity and equality in tech

David Murphy

Ahead of International Women’s Day this Sunday, Vodafone  has today announced #ChangeTheFace, an industry-wide initiative calling on technology leaders to join and make a pledge to increase diversity and equality in the sector.

Vodafone said that an international survey among 8,000 people highlights the need for change across the industry. The network operator commissioned research firm Opinium to conduct a survey on global perceptions of technology and representation among 8,504 people in 10 countries: the UK, Ireland, South Africa, India, Spain, Italy, Germany, Hungary, Greece and Turkey.

When asked to describe technology as a person, the majority of respondents answered that the person would be young, white, middle-class and mostly male. Respondents who said mostly “male” were those surveyed in the UK, Ireland, India, Germany, and Hungary.

Only 13 per cent of women in the UK, 18 per cent of women in Ireland, and 20 per cent of women in Germany think jobs in tech are for people like them. 33 per cent of people feel alienated by modern technology advertising, with women less likely than men to think that tech ads are aimed at them.

Additional research, namely, the ‘Women in the Digital Age’ study conducted by the European Commission in 2018, shows that in Europe, women represent only 21.5 per cent of all workers in digital jobs.

The #ChangeTheFace initiative aims to build a community of individuals and organisations who can be a force for positive change within the industry. Ericsson and Nokia are the first to join Vodafone in making their pledges.

“#ChangeTheFace is Vodafone’s commitment to improving our diversity and inclusion at Vodafone,” said Vodafone Group CEO, Nick Read. “We are urging the technology industry to act now so we build a digital future that reflects society and works for everyone.”

By signing up at www.change-the-face.com, individuals can make their own pledge to address inequalities and eradicate bias and discrimination in the sector. Today’s launch will kick-start an ongoing programme of activity, including an inaugural, industry-wide #ChangeTheFace awards in 2021, to recognise champions of inclusion.

#ChangeTheFace builds on Vodafone’s work to increase equality and inclusion for customers, colleagues, communities and co-partners over the last decade. Further commitments launched today include a revised version of the Future Jobs Finder tool and several initiatives designed to boost diversity and inclusion in its supply chain.

The updated Future Jobs Finder aims to address the declining numbers of women entering technology roles and encourage broader audiences to explore careers in the sector. The European Commission study referenced earlier found that in 2018, women made up 13 per cent of the graduates in ICT-related fields working in digital jobs, compared to 15 per cent in 2011.
The Future Jobs Finder includes a series of quick psychometric tests, which match an individual’s aptitudes and interests to specific job opportunities and relevant skills training for the digital economy, as well as case studies of women succeeding in technology roles, who have not followed traditional scientific routes.

A marketing campaign to promote the Future Jobs Finder aims to reach 100m women in 20 countries, over the next couple of weeks. The campaign reinforces Vodafone’s commitment to representing diversity through its brand. Vodafone joined the UN Women’s Unstereotype Alliance in 2019, and has become the first European partner of #SeeHer.