Across our Group, Capgemini colleagues have mobilized strongly, expressing solidarity and leveraging their creative and deep technology and data expertise to address the needs of local communities as they cope with the current COVID-19 crisis.
Now more than ever, our focus on digital inclusion is critical. In the media, there has rightly been much attention paid to giving the most vulnerable populations access to the vital skills and equipment to reach much-needed services such as food supplies. Indeed, our new report, by the award-winning Capgemini Research Institute, The Great Digital Divide: Why bringing the digitally excluded online should be a global priority, points to how important this is.
While this must be a focus, we are also seeing how important our commitment to our existing charity partners is at this time, as the economic effects begin to bite.
Our partnership with CodeYourFuture is a good example of this, and highlights how we have been able to adopt new strategies and adapt, to keep the program on track.
Building on our first successful academy last year, we had plans to scale the partnership to ensure that we can help more refugees and others from disadvantaged groups get the skills they need to join our sector.
For potential CodeYourFuture students, many of whom may not able to work or may have lost their limited sources of income as a result of the current situation, it’s imperative that they continue to receive the support to complete their training and gain access to new employment opportunities. Read some of their stories here and here.
I am delighted that CodeYourFuture has proved so agile and entrepreneurial, enabling us to continue with our expansion plans for the partnership. We have been able to grow our commitment in unexpected ways, working together to launch virtual academies, now operating in Birmingham and London – helping another 50 students.
Five mindsets that have enabled us to go virtual with CodeYourFuture
With CodeYourFuture, we drew on five mindsets which I believe, have enabled us to make the transition to a virtual model:
- Focusing on continuity – Maintaining our commitment to establishing our new class in Birmingham and new class in London meant that we were solutions-focused, discussing “how to overcome problems.” We were able to sign students and volunteers up without any face-to-face meetings, and overcome practical hurdles such as how to build a solid community virtually, where trust and interaction are so important, or what to do about classroom kit, as these issues emerged.
- Understanding that we needed to adapt quickly – Going virtual very quickly meant we didn’t lose momentum. We didn’t focus on the “ifs and buts,” choosing to focus on how to make it work, using virtual collaboration tools to keep everyone engaged.
- Seeing virtual as an opportunity – Opening volunteering opportunities to Capgemini employees across the UK has been a bonus. Previously volunteering opportunities to mentor students were restricted to a physical location. Having businesses and personal mentors able to engage from anywhere means we have been able to involve more people – and we’ve been able to support CodeYourFuture in other ways. It’s also a bonus for the students, as technology becomes their everyday bridge to a positive future.
- Bringing an agile design approach – We are also able to draw on the skills of more of our colleagues, who are running hackathons to address new challenges CodeYourFuture might face – such as how we monitor students who may be falling behind, or what new functions may be needed to improve the learning experience for students during this period of remote working. We have shared our own experiences but are also learning from the creative solutions deployed by the CodeYourFuture team.
- Keeping an eye on the future – Building on from the partnership, we have been able to support CodeYourFuture in their endeavor to adapt and launch new elements to their offering. They have introduced basic skills to students, who are not ready for a full course, but through virtual workshops, can gain an experience of coding in a fun safe environment. These are hosted by graduates, volunteers, and students from the current course who can connect from any location.
Germán Bencci, CodeYourFuture’s managing director, summed up the importance of virtual working when he said, “During this difficult period, CodeYourFuture quickly transitioned to offer the training online. We have acquired equipment and connectivity services for students so that they can participate in our classes and study groups. This is the time to offer more opportunities to people from disadvantaged backgrounds, so we welcome the new volunteers from Capgemini who have started supporting us remotely from various locations.”
These are very difficult times for so many. It has been critical for us that we have been able to maintain and grow the strong sense of community among students and volunteers that is the bedrock of our partnership.
We are lucky to collaborate with a like-minded organization seeking solutions and looking for opportunities where we can. It will be this mindset – innovative, collaborative, and socially entrepreneurial that will help us build the return to a new normal.
Throughout her career with Capgemini, Sally has worked in various roles on client transformation programs. She’s a passionate advocate of the positive difference technology and digital solutions can bring to every organization and individual, and in 2015 she was part of the team that set up the Careers and Enterprise Company, dedicated to preparing and inspiring young people for the changing world of work. Leading Capgemini’s digital inclusion program in the UK since 2018, she’s focused on how business can help to make sure that everyone can benefit from the digital revolution.