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Male allies to women in tech: Kevin Cushnie, Solution Architect

Kevin Cushnie

ARTICLE SUMMARY

We’re kicking off our showcase of male allies to women in tech with this Q&A with Kevin Cushnie. We’ll be publishing more brilliant interviews with male allies in the coming weeks.

What’s your role and where do you work? 

Solution Architect, Slalom  

How did you get into tech? 

From my first gaming console to playing around with HTML to trying to teach myself C++ in 21 days, I always had an affinity with technology and computers and knew from a young age that life in tech was almost a destiny. This was confirmed when my professional footballing career failed to take-off 

What is it about tech that you love? 

The variety. The constant and furious innovation in technology means that there is always an opportunity to learn something new. As someone who is easily bored, it’s a blessing to have a career with regular freedom to upskill, to discover new tools and technique and to solve new and interesting challenges. It’s something which certainly fuels my passion for the industry.  

What role do you think men have in creating a more inclusive tech industry?  

One of the critical and often overlooked traits of allyship is taking action. It’s not enough to be standing on the sidelines as a cheerleader. If we want to effect real and meaningful change then we need to do the work. Understanding and accepting our privilege, using it to raise the awareness of the challenges that women face in technology and speaking up against bad behaviour, inequality and bias is something that all men can and should do. 

You’ve been highlighted as a great example of an ally and mentor to women in tech. Is this something that has come naturally to you, or have you been inspired and encouraged by others? 

I’m a nurturer so helping people develop and giving them a platform to grow and perform at their best is something that comes very naturally to me.  

I do have some incredible women in my life and those, particularly in the next generation, have definitely inspired me to be part of the solution of levelling the play field. I want them to have every opportunity available to their male peers if they ultimately choose to study or work in tech. 

What do you believe to be the benefits of encouraging and supporting women in tech?  

It’s been repeatedly proven and well-documented that diverse teams perform better. Proactively encouraging and supporting women in tech helps to improve the level of diversity within the industry. This helps to improve overall levels of performance and innovation. It goes some way to help break down some of the systemic barriers they may be facing. 

Luke Emberton

Can you suggest any other men in tech that we should be speaking to, who are great allies? 

My colleague Luke Emberton mentors for https://ladies-be-architects.com/ and a great ally for women in technology.  

What tangible and actionable advice would you give to other men in tech to be better allies to women in tech?  

1. “Inclusion starts with me” – so take the time to educate, understand and familiarise yourself with the challenges that women face in technology.  

2. Use this to check in with your own bias to ensure you are not unconsciously or indirectly behaving in a way which is not inclusive.  

3. Talk to your female colleagues and women in tech about their experiences. Then start to have conversations with your male colleague about this topic. Share your learnings and in turn, build wider awareness and understanding. 

As a Leader, what is your biggest challenge to contributing to gender diversity in your team and in the broader workforce? 

One of the biggest challenges in pushing for greater gender diversity is getting everyone within the team and organisation to understand that it’s a shared responsibility and that we all play a part. Something that isn’t always considered is the importance of inclusion. You can balance diversity through targeted hiring but creating a truly inclusive environment where everyone feels heard and valued takes time, work and dedication.  

What do you believe companies should be doing to ensure they are more inclusive and therefore creating more diverse workplaces?  

  • Audit the employee lifecycle and making changes to weed out bias.  
  • Review language used in in job descriptions to ensure it is inclusive (there are tools which can do this for you) 
  • Create inclusive interview panels 
  • Keep a learning mindset and realise that this is a journey; there is no quick fix. Mistakes will be made but these should be seen as learning opportunities and teachable moments rather than setbacks or reasons to abandon the journey.  
  • Partnering with organisations like SheCanCode who amplify underrepresented groups is another impactful thing companies can do. 

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