“Richer, rounder and of value”: Why diversity is so important at Version 1

  • The Sync NI team sat down with Version 1’s Lorna McAdoo to discuss all things diversity and inclusion within the company. 

    Lorna McAdoo has worked in Version 1 for just over eight years, she is now the Director of Operations & Business Development and has contributed to many of the diversity and inclusion projects across the company. Lorna starts from the beginning, telling us: “I always had this passion to create a team and to lead and create a culture within an organisation that breeds success and support for each other.” Lorna also adds that she has “always wanted her team to feel like a second family to each other” and that creating this environment became her “passion.” 

    Lorna says this passion for diversity within Version 1 started when the company had a vast number of employees from outside NI. Lorna explains that this created a very diverse team in Belfast and for her it was “really important that those people felt that they belong just as much as anybody who came out of one of the local universities or schools.” 

    Diversity in Version 1 is driven by diversity inclusion teams. Lorna says she believes these teams have “really worked” and that they “have been able to get everybody fully engaged at local level, along with making sure everybody has that sense of belonging.’’ 

    Lorna also focuses on “unconscious bias” and says that it's something that the company is going to focus more on in 2022. Lorna says she wants to make sure that within the company everyone “can collectively address that unconscious bias” while also learning more about “the systems that we use''. For example, Lorna tells us “for recruitment, we want to make sure that the policies and processes around how we recruit and retain continues to address that unconscious bias throughout the recruitment and induction process.  

    There are several initiatives to promote diversity and inclusion at Version 1. Lorna tells us that the “focus areas for 2022 will be on women in Version 1, and also looking at a policy of no one gets left behind.” Lorna explains this means “looking at people that are not in employment, education or training and people with special employability needs.” 

    Lorna says she wants to take diversity within Version 1 “to a whole new level” as “lots of organisations do a lot of talking about promoting women within the organization but this has to be actioned and backed up with data.’’  

    To encourage this Lorna mentions that Version 1 is starting their second Assured Skills Academy. She says: “this is another mechanism for making sure that we give people who may not have started out with an IT background the opportunity to actually join an IT organization and join the tech sector.”  

    She continues: “This next year is going to be very much looking at what are the other avenues that allow us to bring in people from deprived areas or people who potentially haven't completed the education system right through to university level.” 

    Within Version 1 there is also an initiative called Education Collaboration, where employees go back into their old schools to talk about their careers. Lorna says this is all about “if you learn a new skill, then show it, teach it to someone else.” 

    The aim of the initiative is to engage with pupils in school and universities and to tell them “you might not have considered a qualification or a job in IT, but here are some of the roles that you could potentially be doing in tech and it's not just about coding.’’  

    Lorna says this initiative is also helpful to show the equal balance between men and women on the makeup of teams within Version 1. She tells us that it “gets the message back into the schools that girls are also very successful, they've got great roles and the tech sector is a great place for ladies to join.” 

    Lorna believes this kind of representation is important because there needs to be a “clear message for schools and careers rooms and, even our own living rooms that the tech sector isn't just about coding and you can play a really important role.” 

    The other message Lorna wants to focus on is that “it's never too late to join the tech sector, no matter your background or what university course you have completed.’’  

    Lorna believes that Diversity is “massively important for any organisation as it “drives the culture and helps to actually develop and mature the culture.’’ 

    She tells us that “when you open the doors to diversity, what you're doing is actually opening the doors to lots of different experiences and people coming from different backgrounds, ways of life, thoughts, ways of working and ways of living.” Lorna believes that “when you bring that into your organisation, you'll make it much, much richer.”  

    She concludes that: “As a tech organization, it’s really important for the advancement of AI and all those technologies that we know and talk a lot about” as having diversity within Version 1 will make “the products that we produce much richer, rounder, and of value, because you will have had it delivered by diverse teams.” 

    This article first appeared in the Winter 2021/22 edition of the Sync NI magazine. You can download your FREE copy and sign up to receive future digital editions here.

    About the author

    Aoife is a Sync NI writer with a previous background working in print, online and broadcast media. She has a keen interest in all things tech related. To connect with Aoife feel free to send her an email or connect on LinkedIn.

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