23 (And A Bit) Key Learnings From Web Summit 2018

Last month, we attended Web Summit in Lisbon alongside more than 60,000 attendees from 150 countries. Attracting some of the biggest names in tech and a hugely diverse audience, the event is always a highlight in the technology industry’s calendar. We were so pleased to hear that this year, women made up 44% of attendees - that’s almost twice as many as in 2013!

Here are some of our key learnings from the summit.

  1. Getting the basics right is key to achieving a diverse workplace. Introduce mandatory unconscious bias training and meet an equal mix of candidates during the recruitment process.

  2. Being vocal about workplace diversity is good – but it’s not enough. We all need to act in order to drive true change.

  3. “We keep speaking about the gender gap as a women's issue, but it's an issue of society,” says Gillian Tans, CEO, Booking.com.

  4. This study is a powerful example of gender bias. It found that VCs asked men and women different questions when deciding how much funding to give them.

  5. It’s not just fair to have women in senior positions; it makes good business sense. A McKinsey study found that companies with women on their boards are more successful. In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, better results were achieved by companies with women in top spots.

  6. Education isn’t just for children; it’s a key factor in achieving more workplace diversity.

  7. By 2050, there will be one billion refugees. In Europe alone, there are 1.5 million, willing and able to contribute to the economy.

  8. In addition to improving your workplace diversity, employing refugees helps to make social connections and improves the reach of your products. It’s a win-win.

  9. American venture capital investor Tim Draper predicted that by 2022, one bitcoin will be worth $250,000.

  10. Tim Draper wore a bitcoin tie. We loved it.

  11. The panel agreed that, despite a rollercoaster year, bitcoin’s value this time next year will have increased.

  12. Businesses should reflect society. In the US, African Americans represent 16% of the population, yet just 6% of software engineers. It’s up to us to consider how we can close these gaps.

  13. Don’t focus on where your candidates and employees have come from; focus on where they’re going.

  14. Brands are evolving into movements that are seeking change, not cash. #Metoo and #timesup are strong examples of this shift’s powerful potential.

  15. “Customers will always ask ‘How can this make a difference in my life?’. They’re not interested in new flavours or bottle shapes. Above all, the businesses that can foster a sense of genuine connectivity have a much greater chance of success,” says Debbie Millman, CEO at Design Matters Media. Know what makes your offering different and how it can improve your customers’ lives.

  16. We’re in a mobile world – embrace it. Instead of bringing people to the job, bringing work to the people could be a key factor in recruiting and retaining talent.

  17. Consider values-based interviewing. Asking a question such as ‘when have you been fearless?’ will give you a new perspective on candidates.

  18. Burnout is real – recognising and addressing it is crucial to our wellbeing and success. Practice yoga, schedule breaks, connect with others and spend time in spaces where you can truly be yourself. Find what works for you.

  19. Tech presents vast benefits. We should make the most of them, but without compromising our values.

  20. While the government should take responsibility for implementing flexible policies and regulations around tech, users should also take accountability.

  21. It’s the small things that count. Susie Wee, SVP and CTO at Cisco DevNet, recalled how meaningful it felt when, unable to find childcare so at an executive summit with her baby, her boss’s boss asked to hold her.

  22. Former prime minister Tony Blair discussed how we can make technology work for everyone (and raised plenty of applause after expressing his strong anti-Brexit views!).

  23. During the summit, attendees participated in a poll to share their views on the current state of women in tech. Here are the highlights:

-       75% of women feel empowered to either be in or pursue a leadership position

-       61% of women feel under more pressure to prove their worth than their male counterparts

-       16% believe their governments are doing enough to ensure gender equality

-       37% feel that women are only offered leadership roles to fill quotas

-       87% believe we as a society are responsible for improving gender equality in tech.

Were you at Web Summit this year? What did you think? Let us know your key learnings in the comments.

Women In Tech Tickets

As part of their commitment to improving the event’s gender ratio, Web Summit often offer discounted tickets for women in tech. If you’re interested in attending Web Summit in 2019, you can join their women in tech online community to find out when the tickets are available.

 Tim Draper’s aforementioned bitcoin tie…

Tim Draper’s aforementioned bitcoin tie…

 Debbie Millman and her brilliant branding advice

Debbie Millman and her brilliant branding advice