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Partnering to Champion Diversity in the Technology Sector with KKR

By Marta Szczerba, Principal, KKR

Looking back

Almost three years ago, KKR announced its partnership with Code First Girls, pledging to support the organization’s 20:20 campaign, which aims to train 20,000 women to code for free by the end of 2020. As we begin to approach that date, I can’t help but look back at the incredible journey we’ve been on. Code First Girls has made significant progress against their goals by helping an increasing number of young women learn how to code and gain access to the tools and training they need to build their digital skills. This ultimately is enabling them to pursue successful careers in the technology sector in a way that was previously impossible. And despite the difficult situation we face at the moment through coronavirus, the organisation has pivoted, realizing that their efforts are more important than ever. Code First Girls’ pace hasn’t let up with the team launching new, online coding courses and a series of ‘Hack from Home’ virtual events. 

Why Code First Girls?

Supporting Code First Girls was a logical move for us at KKR. We have been investing in the technology sector for 25 years, backing founders, entrepreneurs and innovative tech companies, and we are firm believers in the transformative power of technology to make society better. 

Unfortunately, there’s still a big gender divide in tech and a lack of female founders, tech experts and investors; and for KKR specifically, we feel that diverse perspectives make us a better investor. Our partnership with Code First Girls is a critical part of our commitment to helping combat the under-representation of women in the sector, as we believe increasing gender diversity in technology will benefit both the sector and the wider UK economy. 

The partnership is also about digital skills. More and more jobs now require digital literacy and specific tech expertise. Broadening access to this is a critical objective for the whole country and will mean that the benefits of the big investments being made in digital connectivity, by KKR and others, will be fully realised.

 

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Code First Girls is a key part of KKR’s efforts to promote diversity.”

How we have helped

As well as providing financial support, KKR has been deeply involved in sharing our expertise and network of current and former portfolio companies (OVH and Trainline are also corporate supporters of the organisation) to provide Code First Girls with operational and logistical support with the rollout of coding courses across communities in the UK. 

Since the start of our partnership, we hosted both courses and events at our London offices. These included “Technology Investing 101” in September 2019 and “Hack your Career in Tech Investing” in June 2018, providing an opportunity for women to hear from industry experts from across the technology sector about various aspects of technology investing as they look to launch their own careers. The sessions covered an overview of private equity, growth equity and venture capital investing, and outlined how investment organisations work with companies and founders, what the decision-making process is when making an investment, and how founders can use these partnerships to grow their businesses. It featured a variety of speakers including representatives from KKR, Entrepreneur First, Trainline and the start-up community.

What’s next

As it nears its 20:20 target, we at KKR are proud to have worked with Code First Girls to make a difference, helping to educate and inspire young women across the UK to help turn the tide on gender inequality in the sector for good. As we reflect on the first two years of our partnership, we are grateful for the success of this effort. We are also reminded of how much further we have to go to build digital skills and address the problem of gender diversity in tech. Every company and organisation needs to think about how it can help in its own small way, and supporting transformational social enterprises like Code First Girls is a key part of KKR’s ongoing efforts to promote diversity and make a difference.

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KKR

KKR is a leading global investment firm that manages multiple alternative asset classes, including private equity, energy, infrastructure, real estate and credit, with strategic partners that manage hedge funds.