Technology is transformative. It’s pervasive in our lives and over the past 18 months, it has kept us productive even during times of unprecedented disruption. However, there’s a danger of complacency as technology becomes ever more advanced. We must ensure technology is used sustainably and ethically so it delivers a long-lasting and positive impact to businesses and the communities they serve.
Microsoft created the Microsoft Partner Pledge last year to help build an inclusive and diverse tech sector. It now has over 200 signatures and I’m proud that NTT DATA UK is now one of those signatories.
As a signatory of the Pledge, NTT DATA joins our trusted partner Microsoft in committing to ethical adoption of new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), and investment to ensure everyone can reap the benefits of these transformative technologies.
For those unfamiliar with the Pledge, it focuses on five key areas:
- Digital skills
- Responsible and Ethical AI
The Pledge reaffirms our ongoing commitment to diversity and sustainability. As a Japanese company, diversity and ethics are critical to NTT DATA’s global mission to build a more harmonious society for everyone. In this blog I will set out just a few of the ways we are already making progress in this area, and where I see the company going next.
Leading with diversity
Diversity is fundamentally the right thing to do. This applies both morally, and from a business perspective. Diverse perspectives bring the new ideas and creativity that are essential for fuelling innovation and driving business growth.
Under our DoDiversity umbrella, we undertake a range of initiatives to ensure our company creates an inclusive environment for all who work here. Our RISE programme provides insightful mentorship to our female employees throughout their careers, while our Women’s Business Network (WBN) provides a valuable forum for our female employees to share experiences and drive progress within the organisation.
However, there is more still to be done. Our recent research shone a spotlight on some of the biggest obstacles women face in the tech industry. It found 74% of female tech workers have had a negative experience at work because of their gender. These results are a sobering reminder that there is much more still to be done to make the sector welcoming for women. We can all do better.
Apprenticeships and digital skills
A core tenet of the Microsoft Pledge is digital skills. Microsoft and NTT DATA UK have a shared belief that it is essential that everyone – whoever they are – has the skills and opportunities to thrive in our tech-driven future.
Our recent survey found that 77% of women and 69% of men believe that an increase in grassroots STEM activities for young girls would play a part in rectifying the gender imbalance in the tech sector. Our partnership with charities such as The Girl’s Network and TECHNOVATION ensures that the next generation of women in tech can foster new connections with inspiring female role models and mentors.
Indeed, addressing the skills shortage is a key part of NTT DATA UK’s D&I strategy. We recently partnered with route2work, a social impact business focused on getting undiscovered talent into work, to help boost diversity in the tech sector. NTT DATA funded 100% of a scholarship programme for 30 female candidates to join one of four digital skills academies focused on in-demand Microsoft skills. Candidates received training in vital skills for a career in technology, and those who successfully completed the course were offered an interview with NTT DATA.
NTT DATA has seen tangible results after investing in diversity initiatives. Our DoDiversity campaign (which included our partnership with route2work) has contributed to an increase in female applicants to NTT DATA UK by 33%.
Responsible and ethical AI
At NTT DATA, we take our role as an innovation leader seriously. We have a responsibility to deliver excellence to our clients, but also the communities and people that our business serves too. This holds especially true for responsible and ethical AI.
In 2019, NTT DATA introduced our AI ethics guidelines. These principles guide all the work we do as an organisation around the world to promote, research, develop, educate, operate, and utilise AI. Aligned with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, NTT DATA’s guidelines aim to realise a world where humans and AI can successfully coexist in a more prosperous and harmonious society.
Crucially, this is not only about using AI to improve business efficiency. At NTT DATA we are focused on using AI to help create a more sustainable and inclusive society, a world in which everyone can reap the benefits of technology.
The time for change is now. Appetite for technology adoption is high, but so is the accompanying pressure for organisations to live up to their values: 93% of customers want businesses to look beyond profit to positively impact society.
We live in a world that is increasingly threatened with new challenges related to climate change and a scarcity of resources. Every business has a responsibility to minimise its impact on the environment. From customers to shareholders, there is a growing consensus that businesses need to play their part in the journey to net-zero.
NTT DATA’s recent research found 94% of European business leaders believe that decarbonisation will be critical to the future survival of their business.
Globally, our parent company NTT has committed to net-zero emission by 2040. We are already taking steps to minimise the organisation’s environmental impact. A particularly innovative example of this ethos was NTT DATA’s Woven City. Developed with Toyota, this city is a fantastic case study of innovation driving sustainability. For example, the homes in the city used were powered by hydrogen, minimising their environmental impact and improving the quality of life for those who live there.
NTT DATA UK is proud to strengthen its special relationship with Microsoft by signing the Microsoft Partner Pledge, deepening our commitment to D&I, sustainability and tackling the skills shortage.
Moving forward, NTT DATA UK will continue to invest in ethical and sustainable adoption of technology, maximising the benefits of this change for the societies that we serve. As a trusted global innovator, it is a duty that we will continue to take very seriously.