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RECCo announces Code Manager bid partners for delivery of consumer-focused approach to UK retail energy

Following a highly competitive procurement process, last week The Retail Energy Code Company (RECCo) announced the appointment of three new service providers to carry out the Code Manager function for the Retail Energy Code. RECCo is the corporate vehicle for ensuring the proper, effective, and efficient implementation and ongoing management of the Retail Energy Code (REC) in the UK. All three providers will collaborate, so the single Code Manager operates seamlessly to parties, industry and stakeholders.

The implementation of the REC will set an innovative new standard for industry code governance. It will mark the transition from a ‘Code Administrator’ to ‘Code Manager’ function, and it is critical that the appointed Code Manager service providers embody this role. They will deliver this through a consumer outcomes-based’ approach, an accessible set of arrangements in plain English and digital format with robust technical and performance assurance frameworks.

Chris Anastasi – Chair of the RECCo Board, stated “The RECCo Board is committed to the efficient and effective running of the retail energy market, including its systems and processes. It is delighted to be working with three established and experienced service providers that are aligned with its vision and will strive to promote innovation, competition and positive customer outcomes”.

Gemserv has been appointed to the role of REC Professional Services provider (RPS).  Gemserv will be responsible for delivering the REC Portal, which parties and stakeholders will use to communicate with all Code Manager services irrespective of provider. In addition, they will offer support to parties through Operational Account Managers, manage the change process, provide the front-line service desk and the REC knowledge repository.

Jon Harley, Executive Director and REC RPS Mobilisation Director, Gemserv commented “We are incredibly proud to be appointed as the REC Professional Services Code Manager.  The REC will modernise how retail energy markets operate, delivering better outcomes for consumers, supporting net-zero and reducing regulatory burdens.  Gemserv is now focussed on getting the REC up and running to deliver these benefits, and we look forward to working closing with RECCo, the other code manager service providers and industry stakeholders on this”.

Deloitte has been appointed as REC Performance Assurance provider (RPA). In this role, Deloitte will monitor market participant and service provider performance, using dynamic risk assessments, digital technologies and analytics to help drive market and code improvements. Deloitte will be responsible for administering the REC Party entry, and exit process on behalf of the Performance Assurance Board (PAB) and will develop and implement the REC Performance Assurance Framework (PAF) to identify, assess and mitigate retail market risks, working collaboratively with the other code manager functions.

“Deloitte will support RECCo during this period of significant change for the retail energy market. The RPA has an important role to play in the new REC arrangements which are intended to protect consumers, provide wider societal benefits through greater reliability and speed of switching energy supplier, improve consumer engagement within the sector, and drive greater energy efficiency and value.”

Walter Carlton, Deloitte Lead RPA Partner.Capgemini will undertake the role of REC Technical Service provider. Capgemini will be responsible for delivering and implementing the REC Digitalisation Strategy, development and maintenance of the Energy Market Architecture Repository (EMAR) and undertaking the role of Technical Design Authority. The EMAR will contain the digital twin of the code and will include all industry code data items, messages, processes, services and business rules.

“The role of RECCo is pivotal in accelerating the pace of change as the energy industry transitions to net zero, meets the needs of society, and protects the interests of consumers.  We are committed to be the digital engine room of this change and working with RECCo, the other providers, and all stakeholders to deliver this.”

Peter King, Capgemini Invent VP Head of Energy and Utilities and Capgemini Exec for RECCo RTS.

InfoSaaS to make its solutions available free of charge to UKCloud customers in partnership agreement

InfoSaaS and UKCloud have signed a partnership agreement that will see InfoSaaS’s data security, risk management and compliance software solutions made available to UKCloud’s customers and partners, free of charge for the an initial six month period.

UKCloud’s customers and partners can now access InfoSaaS’s solutions supporting data security, risk management and general business compliance activities (ISO9001, ISO27001, ISO27017, ISO27018 and ISO27701), supply chain management (ISO28001), data protection, (UK Data Protection Act 2018 and GDPR) and health and safety risk management (ISO45001).

Peter Rossi, co-founder of InfoSaaS, said: “Our solutions have always been intended to make obsolete the ‘traditional’ approaches used by companies for their information security, risk management and compliance activities, which are prone to human error and omissions. Essentially, we aim to help organisations to move on from spreadsheets and documents – but, of course, inertia and cost are always obstacles to change. This agreement removes the cost issue, for companies which have – through a process of digital transformation and migration to the cloud – already shown that they are unlikely to be held back by inertia.”

James Maynard, Solutions Director for UKCloud said: “UKCloud is committed to supporting our public sector customers and industry partners in driving out the cost and risk associated with traditional approaches to common challenges such as security and compliance. We have developed our multi-cloud platform to provide the flexibility, assurance, and expertise necessary to power innovative and specialist SaaS solutions, ensuring our customers and partners never have to compromise on security or value.  We are delighted that InfoSaaS has chosen to use our platform to deliver this generous offer designed to accelerate adoption of digital solutions.”

InfoSaaS provides industry-leading SaaS software solutions for achieving and retaining multiple ISO management system certifications. By virtue of being platform-based, its solutions enable:

  1. Compliance managers (or whoever is responsible for ISO compliance within their organisation) to collaborate easily with other, remote colleagues, and to conduct “internal audits” to ensure that standards are met ahead of any external audit; and
  2. Certification Bodies to conduct surveillance audits more easily and even remotely.

ISO management system certifications have grown in importance to organisations operating in increasingly competitive markets around the world, clearly communicating relevant or important competencies to potential customers. Demonstrating certification against industry standards and evidencing a mature approach to the protection of sensitive information and personal data have become baseline requirements in many markets and for some customers.

#SayNOtoRockSalt #SayYEStoEcoGrit

Pothole damage on our roads

Traffic accidents, potholes, road deterioration, trip hazards on pavements and in car parks, There seems to be an epidemic happening all around us affecting every city, town, village and the connecting roads in between. Why is this happening? What can we realistically do about it?

What can be done?

The solution is surprisingly simple but it would require us all to make a little change. Many little changes can make a life changing difference, as all of us are affected on a daily basis by these problems. With this kind of change we would all start to see the results in our lifetime.

The change in question is to stop putting down untreated rock salt onto our roads, pavements and car parks over the winter period. Brine and pure de-icing salt aren’t much better either.

What’s wrong with what we are doing now?

In their current form, these products are super corrosive and terrible for our environment and ecosystem. They are not even that affective, sometimes having to be put down multiple times a day, as these products have a low absorption factor. They are also only active to temperatures of -7C and anything below that renders them useless (the ground temperature is often colder than the air temperature).

Their corrosive nature is evident all around us if we stop and look. Where grit bins are placed at sloping junctions and on hills, the roads are much worse than the surrounding areas. It doesn’t matter if the surface is tarmac (asphalt) or concrete, rock salt will eat its way through the surface as the hard grit embeds itself into the smallest cracks and holes. With the high volume of traffic we have on the roads, this causes the whole surface area to weaken and deteriorate much quicker than we can fix. Potholes need to be permanently fixed without cutting a section out (Thermal Road Repairs leads the way with this technology), nothing else will do but because the whole road surface is getting eaten away, as soon as you fix one pothole another will appear near by because of the weakened surface.

Highways England recognise a deterioration annually of 3% to the road network which must run in the £10b’s, even £100b’s in damage annually when you work out how many roads we have and this is increasing each year with new housing estates being built everywhere so the problem is only going to get worse, not better and if our weather starts to worsen in the future, we are going to have a real problem on our hands.

Are the products we are using now that bad?

Nature over millions of years has locked away many “nasties” inside the rock salt to protect the planet and we are spreading it back around before we’ve even treated it, no wonder it’s cheap. Urea is touted as a safe alternative to rock salt but in reality, if adopted on a national level would put our waterways and sea at risk of toxic algae blooms (more info in online article) which would be devastating for us.

Is there any hope?

Fortunately yes, and it comes under the name of EcoGrit Concentrate.

EcoGrit can be applied traditionally like rock salt, it works to a temperature of -20C and is 80%, yes 80% less corrosive. It also has a much higher absorption factor meaning it doesn’t need to be put down as often and in low traffic areas can last a number of days depending on snowfall.

It has the ability to be mixed with water so it can be applied by spray. In this form it works to about -8C (100g per litre) but can cover a larger area than in grit (granular) form. It’s ideal for steps, fire escapes, paths and entrances to buildings. It creates no mess and isn’t walked into buildings.

EcoGrit has no storing or handling restrictions and does not fall under COSHH regulations. It can also be used in large amounts (nationally) without harm to the environment unlike Urea.

It is a natural, bio-degradable product with inbuilt rust inhibitors. It is non-toxic and safe to use around children, plants and animals (non-harmful if ingested).

EcoGrit can be used as an anti-icer, de-icer or anti corrosion liquid.

Please help rebuild our country !

Keeping a few buckets on hand will prevent us from having to close schools or key services and allow people to queue safely this winter.

We know we need to make a change as we can’t keep destroying our roads quicker than we can fix them, otherwise we will never be a nation that can truly grow again.

Let’s make Britain “GREAT” again.

Visit www.ecogrit.co.uk

To trial this product please email: sales@ecogrit.co.uk, or call: 0800 193 6466

Sir Keith Povey QPM appointed Chairman of T.A.G

Former Chief Inspector of Constabulary Sir Keith Povey QPM

Former Chief Inspector of Constabulary Sir Keith Povey QPM, is to Chair the Taming Aggression Group (T.A.G).

A newly formed technical think tank, T.A.G aims to investigate the use of new technologies that can be adapted to deter instances of violence and criminal disorder in society.

Sir Keith brings a wealth of experience to the role having served in the police force for 42 years, working his way up from a constable in the South Yorkshire police to Chief Constable in Leicestershire before becoming Chief Inspector in 2002.

Since 2008, Sir Keith has been Chairman of the SmartWater Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation, established by the risk management company, the SmartWater Group, to provide free of subsidised services and equipment for crime reduction initiatives.

One area the T.A.G. is currently exploring is how technology like SmartWater can be used to tackle domestic violence by alerting potential offenders of this risk of being marked if they approach the vicinity of their former partner.

Says Sir Keith: “Often with domestic violence there is an injunction prohibiting people from going into certain areas, yet they still go there and it is very difficult to prove they were there at a particular time.” He adds: “But if they are tagged with a forensic marker it becomes much easier for the police to prove.”

Initial trials with South Yorkshire Police have proven to be very successful to such a degree that a video has been made to explain how the technology works.

The TAG Initiative intends to broaden its research to look at problems such as football hooliganism, public order and attacks on front line workers and will be engaging with experts in the field, ranging from academics and scientists to police officers, victims and other important stakeholders.

Sir Keith says: “Police resources are stretched so we believe that we can help them and potential victims to explore how various technologies can be adapted to either create a deterrent to violent crime or provide evidence in support of a prosecution. The domestic violence initiative is an important first success for the TAG Initiative, but we have other announcements in the pipeline, which we believe will have a similar deterrent impact”.

Link to domestic violence video:  youtu.be/bNgF_Bw60lo

Prime Minister and Prime Minister Suga welcome recent agreement on UK-Japan free trade

A Downing Street spokesperson has told GPSJ:

“The Prime Minister spoke to Yoshihide Suga this morning to congratulate him on his recent appointment as Prime Minister of Japan.

“The leaders discussed the importance of the UK-Japan relationship across economic cooperation, security and defence. They resolved to work together closely to tackle shared challenges such as coronavirus, climate change and issues in the Indo-Pacific region, including through the UK’s Presidency of both the G7 and COP.

“The Prime Minister and Prime Minister Suga welcomed the recent agreement on UK-Japan free trade, the UK’s first major trade deal outside the EU.

“They looked forward to meeting in person as soon as possible.”

Can the public sector improve collections, post Covid? Asks Christian Jacob, Managing Director, Qualco UK

Christian Jacob, Managing Director, Qualco UK

With millions outstanding in tax revenues and unpaid debts, local authorities and central government agencies are evaluating how they recoup their losses.

Around six million people across the UK have found themselves with bills they cannot pay as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

This figure, from Citizens Advice, was taken from a survey conducted among 6,015 adults between 29 June and 8 July. Since then, Britons have been faced with more job cuts and local lockdowns, so it is reasonable to assume that the number of people with unmanageable debts is even higher.

For local authorities, this poses an enormous challenge. Even before Covid-19, local authority finances were in a sorry state. An Institute for Government report, published in November 2019, attributed the financial difficulties of local councils to the previous decade of austerity, which saw councils such as Lancashire, Northamptonshire and Torbay take special measures to balance the books.

The arrival of the novel coronavirus, then, is particularly ill-timed, loading another financial burden on the already fully-stretched finances of local government authorities.

According to the Local Government Association, Covid-19-related costs and lost income by councils amounted to £3.2 billion between March and May alone.

Subsequent figures released by Moody’s Investor Services suggest that local and regional authorities in the five largest countries of Europe are collectively facing a shortfall of €77 billion.

Researchers found that the financial strength of UK local authorities is particularly weak and likely to require “the use of reserves to balance budgets” until the end of the financial year, at least.

A shift in thinking

Traditionally, public bodies have used the threat of enforcement agents and evictions as blunt methods to extract payments from indebted citizens. But, in June, as industries remained closed, people self-isolated, and the economic consequences of the pandemic were becoming clear, a temporary block on bailiffs seizing assets came into force, running until 23 August 2020.

During this period, the government launched its Fairness in Government Debt Management consultation, which seeks to explore how local authorities can work more collaboratively with citizens to maximise repayments, and minimise mental anguish to the customer.

“Fair debt management lessens the physical and mental impact on individuals struggling to repay what they owe, and the pressure on businesses and business owners,” the government report states.

Enforcement was previously the “go to” for most authorities until the Covid-19 outbreak. For many public bodies, the decision to appoint bailiffs and begin evictions may seem as a low-cost and efficient option.

In actual fact, it is anything but. Opting to use enforcement action at the earliest opportunity can bring a host of unintended consequences. The distress that the customer feels from such an interaction can have a lasting effect on their mental health. And, if evicted, it will be the local authority that will then be tasked with rehousing the individual or offering further support down the line. Local healthcare providers may also find they are tasked with rebuilding the customer emotionally after the psychological trauma of such an event.

According to the government’s Fairness in Government Debt Management report, working more collaboratively with customers can also improve returns to creditors “by avoiding the use of aggressive recovery techniques.”

A National Audit Office case study showed that employing the use of affordable repayment plans saved the creditors of one debt advice agency some £82m in one year alone.

Wokingham Council has become one of many local authorities to review its collection procedures, after it considered the impact that its methods could have on its residents and on its income.

Embracing a new approach

While enforcement techniques are coming back into play for local authorities, the Crown Commercial Service is urging decision-makers to use the new Debt Market Services (DMS) framework, which helps organisations better identify and understand customers in financial difficulty.

The framework — delivered through Qualco — gives authorities access to a government-approved centralised service of customer analytics, debt management advice, collections, error reduction tools, litigation services and, if appropriate, enforcement options.

“DMS uses analytics from credit reference agencies, and other sources, to understand consumer circumstances, meaning that local authority resources are focused towards delivering best value and returns,” explains Matthew Hooper, Senior Commercial Lead, Debt Management at the Crown Commercial Service.

“In addition DMS also saves valuable resources, and costs, by providing access to multiple best in class services delivered through a single supplier.”

Crucially, the DMS services are designed to treat customers fairly and they are open to all UK public sector organisations, including both central government and local authorities.

The DMS was established after its predecessor, the Debt Market Integrator (DMI), had established the need for best practice in government debt management. When the DMI was introduced back in 2015, the economy was in a very different position, but it did highlight the need for a more co-ordinated approach on collections throughout government, as well as a need to resolve inadequate data sharing between the private sector and public bodies. The DMI is now closed to new clients.

A fair, realistic approach

While the DMS framework can never totally remove the need for enforcement, particularly for those cases where all other forms of engagement with the customer have failed, it does offer public bodies the best possible chance of understanding the pain points of their customers. It also gives a clearer picture of those who can’t pay and those who simply choose not to pay.

Some believe that a supportive approach to debt management yields better results for creditors and for customers. The DMS allows public bodies a chance to access the tools which can enable successful outcomes for both parties.

As the UK focusses on getting the economy back on track, public bodies will need every bit of assistance to maximise their revenues, whilst at the same time embracing the Fairness in Government Debt Management initiative. It is only by harnessing the technological advances of recent years, better data analytical capabilities, and available insights into consumer behaviours that government organisations will be able to achieve this goal.

allpay and Blocser confirm card contract for fast-growing UK gig economy

Blocser believes cards still have a hold

Ambitious Danish fintech Blocser has partnered with top UK card manufacturer allpay.cards with designs on the fast-growing gig economy.

Blocser has pinned their Butterfly Card to one of its biggest market moves yet – the UK offer to the near 5million now estimated as working in the nation’s gig economy.

Butterflies, says Blocser founder and CEO Henrik Danbjørg, are those who “dare to work on their own and only collect what they need”.

allpay.cards took that on board – and the butterfly took flight.

“At allpay.cards, we understand the importance of card design and the impact it can have on the market.

Our designers created a wide range of stunning design options, all of which enhanced the card with multiple printing techniques, bringing the butterfly to life,” said Emily Lovelock, Head of Sales, allpay.cards.

“We are excited to be working with Blocser and look forward to supporting them through their launch,” she said.

From the off, Blocser’s offer has backed those working beyond the 9-5 model with an account, payment card, billing tool and digital business card. To draw a direct comparison with the gig economy, Danbjørg says: “Think of us as a ridesharing service but instead of rides you sell your work – build your work-life one deal at the time.

“We will help you find customers and use all the great free online channels that exist today if you are looking for extra income selling your skills and time directly to others.”

For a fintech offering a full range of solutions, Blocser believes cards still have a hold.

“You will find many advocating the death of cards. In China they pay with face recognition, Apple pay and Google Pay converts smartphones into payment vehicles and wearables are on the rise as well – but the fact is that card payments hold a huge proportion of payments,” says Danbjørg.

“It is universally accepted and with the rise of Fintech, it has become a cornerstone of a lot of the new valuable services offered to freelancers, cross border workers, ex-pats and everyone else who is marginalised by traditional banks.

“Cash is declining and the first ones to get hit by that are people who would normally get paid in cash – primarily “The blue-collar freelancers”.

“These people live from gig to gig, the absence of a monthly paycheck makes them irrelevant to banks and Tax authorities struggle to collaborate with them – they get marginalised… stigmatised… underserved…”

Blocser’s partnership with allpay.cards offer the UK gig market transition support allowing digital payments directly to the Butterfly card.

Those payments are pitched as instant and fee-free between blocsers.

“And it will feel like cash because they get a card they can use in more than 30 million stores and three million ATMs,” says Danbjørg.

Michelle Pacey, director of allpay.cards said getting ahead of the gig economy is one of the biggest challenges facing UK fintech.

“Our work with Blocser demonstrates what can be done with cards as the sector rises to this challenge – a challenge we’re ready to lead on at allpay,” she said.

Please visit: allpay.cards/

New era begins for cross-party environment group

Anthony Browne MP

The All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Environment is ushering in a new era today, bringing in a new secretariat and an ambitious calendar of events ahead of the 2021 ‘Super Year’ for the environment. Led by a new cross-party committee chaired by Anthony Browne MP, the APPG is relaunching with Green Alliance taking the reins as secretariat.

Founded in 1979, Green Alliance has a uniquely close working relationship with a wide network of NGOs and parliamentarians, including founding the Greener UK coalition in 2016 to defend and strengthen environmental protections as the UK renegotiates its relationship with the EU. Robin Bines and Adrian Wilkes, who have managed the group for over 27 years, are due to retire at the end of September. Plans are already in place to ensure MPs from all parties are best informed as they look to support, scrutinise and challenge the upcoming government programme of legislation, such as the new Energy White Paper and the National Tree Strategy.

Kicking off the APPG’s schedule of events is former Bank of England governor Mark Carney, who will address parliamentarians on the need for a green economic recovery in the aftermath of COVID-19 at a virtual event later today (Tuesday 15 September). He is expected to discuss what global governments can do to ensure that the post-Covid economic recovery accelerates progress towards the Paris climate goals, and what can be expected of the postponed COP26 climate summit, which takes place in Glasgow in November next year.

Anthony Browne, Chair of the APPG on the Environment, and former environment editor of the Observer and Times newspapers, said: “We have a moral duty to pass on a sustainable world to future generations. I am determined to raise the profile and understanding of environmental issues across the House of Commons and House of Lords, as well as more widely across government and policy-making circles. Relaunching the APPG, fuelled by the impressive expertise of Green Alliance, is a key way of doing that. Their long history working with NGOs and legislators, as well as their politically-neutral evidence-based approach, will be essential as we look to ensure environmental priorities are at the heart of government policy.”

He continued: “I want to thank Robin and Adrian for the many years of service they have given both the APPG and its cause. They have achieved a great deal in pushing the group to influence public policy and debate on the environment and laid the groundwork for a bright future ahead.” 

Chris Venables, Head of Politics at Green Alliance, and staff lead for the APPG Environment, said, “We’re really excited to be taking the reins of this all-party environment group. It has an impressive history of driving forward action on the nature and climate crises, and with so much at stake in this most crucial of decades, we believe it’s vital that parliamentarians collaborate across party divides. There is no area of environmental policy in which increased scrutiny and calls for greater ambition from MPs and peers would be unwelcome – so that is our goal – and we’re excited to work with the officers and members to achieve it.”

Konica Minolta cloud solution plays vital role in helping Walsall Council modernise and streamline critical processes

Konica Minolta Business Solutions (UK) Ltd today announced that it is helping Walsall Council to deliver enhanced ICT, as part of the council’s PROUD programme, which is transforming the way public services are delivered. The council has deployed a cloud-hosted PlanetPress solution as part of its centralised communications strategy, hosted and managed by Konica Minolta.

“We took the decision to move to PlanetPress in order to automate more processes and cut down on manual, repetitive print tasks,” explains Elizabeth Pearson, IT Project Manager, Walsall Council. The new cloud-based solution was purchased through Lot 1 of the Crescent Print Consortium (CPC) Multifunctional Devices and Associated Print Services and Supplies framework. It replaces the council’s legacy document management application that was used to support high-volume print services such as council tax invoices, election polling cards and other customer correspondence.

“By digitally enabling our work processes, we are ensuring council services keep pace with the changing needs of residents, communities and local businesses,” continues Elizabeth. “The cloud is an intrinsic component of this transformation strategy, it means we can develop and deploy modern digital services faster and more cost effectively.”

PlanetPress expertly manages a complex system 24x7x365, ensuring council tax and other important document services continue uninterrupted. Benefiting from the fixed-fee cloud hosted service, there are no up-front capital costs for hardware, maintenance, or support, and it is hosted and maintained in a highly resilient and fully backed-up UK-based data centre. No council staff intervention is required, they simply connect to the PlanetPress workflow automation through a VPN line.

Elizabeth adds: “Konica Minolta is playing a vital role in helping Walsall Council modernise and streamline critical work processes that enable sustainable business delivery. By making use of a managed cloud service and simplifying day-to-day work, we can increase efficiency, which will improve customer service and drive down costs.”

Jonathan Smith, Head of Public Sector Sales at Konica Minolta states: “The PlanetPress project for Walsall Council is the perfect example of the power of cloud technology in supporting public sector organisations with their digital transformation. Our Professional Print solution provides a highly agile, practical and powerful, yet flexible and cost-effective way of providing improved services, exactly where and when they are needed.”

 About Konica Minolta Business Solutions (UK) Ltd

Konica Minolta’s innovations help businesses to shape the future, today, changing the way people conduct business and use technology to work smarter, faster and better. As a leading Smart Data and Digital IT Services company, we meet the changing needs of customers with our Digital Print, IoT, Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality solutions.

As a provider of comprehensive IT services, Konica Minolta also delivers consultancy and services to optimise business processes with intelligent workflow automation, and implements solutions in the field of IT infrastructure and IT security as well as cloud environments.

Konica Minolta’s solutions are proven to improve quality, reduce cost, eradicate risk, increase accuracy and streamline business processes. Recognising there are no two businesses the same, we pride ourselves on our customer partnerships and tailor our solutions to our customer needs, giving them the competitive edge they need to remain at the forefront of their markets.

Combining our market leading, award winning and easy to integrate technological platforms, with our strategic partnerships, business solutions and services portfolio, Konica Minolta is continually improving quality, reducing cost, eradicating risk, increasing accuracy and streamlining business processes for our customers. Our strategy has our customers at its core. With strong and mutually beneficial customer partnerships, our aim is to achieve mutual sustainable growth through technological innovation – giving shape to our customers’ ideas. We bring flexible solutions that not only meet our customer expectations, but exceed them, time after time.

Part of the global Konica Minolta Group, Konica Minolta Business Solutions (UK) Ltd is headquartered in Basildon, Essex and operates out of 10 offices across the UK, employing over 750 people.

Terms and product names may be trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective holders and are hereby acknowledged.

Web: www.konicaminolta.co.uk

Women’s Equality Day 2020: Let’s hear it for the girls!

This year, Women’s Equality Day celebrated its hundredth milestone, celebrating the date of which women in the US gained the right to vote for the very first time. Since 1920, the world has dramatically changed for women in every sector, from making strides in their education and in their work, to winning more nobel prizes and becoming CEOs of large corporations. But it doesn’t stop there. We spoke to eight industry leaders on their thoughts about the day and why women’s equality is crucial for the future of technology.

100 years is just the beginning

“Even though 100 years have passed since the 19th Amendment was signed into law, there are many areas in which women are still fighting for equality,” argues Sofia Kaufman, CPO at Zerto.While topics like equal pay and the lack of women in male-dominated industries still need to be addressed, I want to encourage women across the world to use this year’s Women’s Equality Day as a reminder of their worth. Women achieve amazing things every day, and we need to be celebrated in our success as much as our male counterparts are. It’s no longer time to be humble; it’s time to speak up, move up, and be proud of what we achieve.”

Hugh Scantlebury, Co-Founder and CEO at Aqilla, highlights how women have also passed the centennial milestone in accountancy too:

“Not only has it been over 100 years since women were passed the vote, it’s also now passed 100 years since women were first permitted into the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW). Although this is encouraging, and it’s meant that over the past 50 years or so the amount of women that have a job in the finance or STEM sectors is gradually increasing, there is still, sadly, a notable gender gap within STEM.

“As technology develops to increasingly include automation, job descriptions will also likely begin to change. It will mean that users will be able to focus less of their time on crushing numbers and creating reports, and utilise their time to solve business challenges. This, I believe, will be the catalyst for an increase in the amount of women working in the industry we’ve been waiting for.”

Diversity issues don’t just stop with gender. In fact, Dalibor Siroky, CEO and Co-Founder at Plutora, upholds that, “It is important that every organisation or team be made up of the best possible selection of people to achieve success. The way to do that is to bring together people of different backgrounds, perspectives and genders. By combining diverse voices, you create a stronger team and encourage an environment of acceptance and equality.

“With diversity being front and centre and a positive force in nearly every aspect of our lives, it’s more important than ever to ensure that women’s voices are elevated and being heard. Isn’t that what Women’s Equality Day is about in the first place: commemorating the passage of the 19th amendment, which granted women the right to vote? With that barrier legally removed, we need to be aware of more subtle and cultural obstacles like unconscious bias and lack of diversity. It’s no secret that the number of women in tech are lower than we’d like to see, and we need to find ways to change that by integrating the voices of those in our industry equally. If we can do that, we all benefit.”

“Recent global circumstances have put the spotlight on working mothers”

The pandemic revealed more inequalities

“In this new reality of pandemic uncertainty, gender imbalances have been exacerbated – a Boston Consulting Group report found that the recent increase in remote working has had a major impact on women, who have spent on average 15 hours more per week on domestic work during the pandemic,” highlights Liz Cook, People Director at Six Degrees.

She continues: “Women’s Equality Day highlights the importance of supporting women and men alike through agile working structures that level the playing field and empower people to be the very best at what they do, no matter what their circumstances. As the People Director of a technology company, I am passionate about working every day to deliver these agile working structures that promote gender-balance and drive a better working world.”

Kleopatra Kivrakidou, Channel Marketing Manager EMEA at Ergotron, agrees: “Recent global circumstances have put the spotlight on working mothers, with many organisations implementing flexible work structures to help them maintain a work-life balance during this difficult period. This includes enabling them to continue to work from home, if their personal circumstances don’t allow a return to the office, and providing the right technology and equipment to support both productive working and wellbeing. Working environments that build their success on respecting diversity, giving equal opportunities for development to all, and who trust their workforce for who they are, become, by definition, the ones where you find more women.”

Lead by example

“This year, Women’s Equality Day is an opportunity to remind ourselves that we need to get more women in tech,” emphasises Marilou van Doorn, COO at Leaseweb Global. “Just because an organisation currently doesn’t have an equal ratio of men to women shouldn’t be a reason not to apply for a role, in fact, it should be the opposite. When I first joined the tech industry, I was the only woman. After a while, my CEO confessed that he had noticed a positive change in the team, the atmosphere and the overall way of working. My advice is to apply – don’t feel intimidated, be the cultural change the organisation needs.

“An organisation’s leadership team plays a significant role in future talent wanting to grow and develop themselves in tech. We as a generation need to see more female role models come forward and show both the current and next generation that women can and will succeed in tech. It’s not just a man’s game. Women can also be the next CTO, COO or CEO.”

Agata Nowakowska, Area Vice President EMEA at Skillsoft, supports this and believes gender equality affects the whole organisation – it’s not just an issue for the female employees within the business: 

“Women bring a different dynamic, different thinking and different strategies – so why not have equal representation of genders when it comes to the boardroom? Despite the number of women in leadership positions on the increase, many women across organisations – from the board to roles in IT – are still victims of the gender pay gap. We’re now in 2020, women should be equally paid and for this to be addressed, more organisations need to be transparent about their salary bandings and who is being paid what.

“For women to be truly equal, we need to teach about gender equality within schools. Both boys and girls need to learn to regard themselves as equal and they are both capable of taking up any role, whether that’s in STEM or leadership. Educating children at a young age is the only way to remove unconscious bias that affects us later on in our professional working life.”

Crendal Kear, VP of Global Sales Operations at Exabeam, concludes with some advice for future women leaders in technology:

”‘Be curious. Stay curious.’ More than adopting a growth mindset, indulging your curiosity develops a comfort in asking questions, seeking counsel and getting to the root of the question at hand. These two skills are invaluable to growing your career, serving equally when striving for the next phase of your career or creating the next groundbreaking innovation.

“‘Choose your leader wisely.’ No one rises to the top alone, and it’s important to have strong advocates. A great challenge for women in tech is a lack of community and professional support. Choose a leader who values you, will mentor you, will empower your professional development and will challenge you. Look for a leader from whom you can learn and represent your values. Working for a leader who took the time to invest in me professionally and advocate for me —and coming to fully understand the impact and rarity of such a situation—has been invaluable to my career advancement.”

The Queen has approved new appointments

The Queen has been pleased to approve the following appointments:

Luke Hall MP to be a Minister of State at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (previously a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Ministry). Kelly Tolhurst MP to be a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Ministry of Housing, Communities

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Affordable homes: Comment from Arcadis

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick today unveiled a new £12 million boost for affordable homes, in a bid to make it easier for people to get on the housing ladder. The programme represents the highest single funding commitment to affordable housing in a decade.

Commenting on the measures, Peter Hogg, UK Cities Director at Arcadis,

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Weathering the Storm: Prepare Your IT to Ride the “Second Wave”

By Sascha Giese, Head Geek™, SolarWinds

Sascha Giese, Head Geek™, SolarWinds

As the second half of the year gets well underway, and lockdown restrictions generally continue to ease, one of the main topics of concern is a “second wave” of COVID-19 potentially hitting the U.K. in the coming weeks or months. With some scientists

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Diegesis secures a two-year managed services agreement with the Office for National Statistics

Following an initial proof of concept phase, Diegesis Limited, an independent business technology and IT systems integration company, has been awarded a managed services contract by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) under the Digital Outcomes and Specialists 4 framework. Under the two-year agreement, Diegesis will support and maintain ONS’s existing Ingres/Actian-X systems written in

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