Digital inclusion

Economic independence, economic opportunity
and social connectedness

We provide leadership, support skills development and invest in digital inclusion

Digital Inclusion is part of Sopra Steria’s sustainability programme, which aims to support economic growth, strong communities, and a healthy planet. As an IT services company working on sustainability, our focus on digital inclusion is designed to address the areas we believe we can have the greatest impact given our capabilities and resources. These are:

  • Economic independence: having the skills needed for gainful employment now, and in the future; and ensuring people from all backgrounds have the opportunity to have rewarding, challenging jobs in the growing technology industry
  • Economic opportunity: bringing the smallest business and charities along into the digital economy
  • Social connectedness: having access to services and resources – including friends, family and community – to live life fully in the modern world

To contribute to these areas, we provide leadership, support skills development, and invest in digital inclusion. 

Leadership

  • We have signed up to the Digital Inclusion Charter
  • We helped to launch Digital Leaders in both Scotland and Northern Ireland (launched in November 2014) and we continue to have a leading role in organising them
  • Our director for Local and Regional Government, Alison McLaughlin, was one of the first signatories of Scotland's Digital Participation Charter. She represents the private sector on the Digital Participation Board and is Chair of the Digital Participation Action Group Older People's Work Stream (a sub-group of the Digital Participation Board).
  • In this capacity, Alison has spoken at a variety of events in the last year
    • Sharing her experience of working in the technology sector and highlighting opportunities for women
    • Highlighting skills gaps in the technology sector and encouraging young people to take up STEM subjects and careers

Skills & Investment

  • Supporting older people to learn new digital skills: Sopra Steria supports the charity Lifecare in Edinburgh, which provides services to support the wellbeing and care of older people. Sopra Steria has provided computers, webcams, and funds to Lifecare, and volunteers have donated time, helping its users learn how to use the computers, and how to use the internet, Facebook, etc. They have also supported the charity itself by providing communications and marketing advice.
  • Working with a local college to contribute to their curriculum: A Sopra Steria team was awarded “Outstanding Employer Contribution to Curriculum” by Oldham College, recognising the contributions of Sopra Steria’s Tim Difford and Anna Leyland who sit on the Employer Advisory Board and work with the Faculty of Digital & Creative College.
  • Expanding digital technology access in Gloucestershire: Sopra Steria refurbished Gloucestershire County Council PCs and installed them in 8 community centres around Gloucestershire, giving access to computers, the internet and skills training to disabled, older and unemployed people.
  • Encouraging girls to take up computer science: We provided Raspberry Pi computers to students at Barnwood Park Arts College for girls, and ran a two-day workshop to teach them how to build Pi projects.  At the end of day one, the girls were given a challenge: create technology using your Pi that will help someone live independently for longer. The teams presented their projects to a panel of judges from Gloucestershire County Council and Sopra Steria. Two teams won a trip to the Wired Next Generation technology conference for young people in London. 
  • Collaborating across sectors to expand digital inclusion for older people in Scotland:
    • We funded and organised a conference in Fife in October 2014, which brought together public, third and private sector organisations with an interest in promoting digital participation for older people
    • Again working through the Digital Participation Board, we supported a successful bid to the Lottery for funding (£500,000) to build the evidence base for successful interventions that improve digital participation
    • We have also sponsored two events in the last year, with VCSE groups that have highlighted how information technology can improve engagement with communities, fundraising and delivery of services. A future event, in November 2015 and with Go ON UK, is being organised with Digital Leaders
  • Providing low-cost IT equipment to families: in Plymouth, Sopra Steria helped one of its customers ensure some of its redundant IT equipment was put to good use. We refurbished 500 PCs and installed them with new software licenses, and then offered fully equipped computers to the customer’s employees for £50 each, with all proceeds going to charity. This project gave affordable access to good quality IT equipment whilst also supporting the employees’ chosen charity.
  • Donating IT equipment to charity:
    • Sopra Steria donated laptops to Grow4Good Southwest in Devon, a charity that teaches excluded people horticultural and food growing skills, and helps them find work.
    • In a London borough we donated laptops to the local food bank and to the local Youth Offending teams working with the community young people

Making digital inclusion business-as-usual

Sopra Steria is making the donation of high-quality, refurbished IT equipment to charities, social enterprises or other community groups a normal part of what it does through its handling of customers’ and its own IT equipment, working closely with customers to identify projects that align with their objectives and values. In future projects, such as the one in Gloucestershire described above, we will be defining KPIs and measuring performance against these to better understand the impact of our projects.