Colt joins UK "levelling up" initiative

Ian Scales
By Ian Scales

Jun 8, 2021

Colt Technology Services (picture courtesy of Colt)

Colt Technology Services (picture courtesy of Colt)

  • The Levelling Up Goals were established this year by former Education Secretary Justine Greening
  • The ultimate aim is to drive equality of opportunity in the UK at key life stages - from early years through to adulthood
  • Colt claims many of the of the activities and requirements with the 14 goals were things it was doing already

It’s been noticeable this year just how often telcos and vendors are  pledging to meet national and industry sustainability targets for energy consumption, carbon emissions and device re-use. Even industry standards bodies, such as the NGNM have stepped up to the plate (see - Calling emission control: do you copy?).

The social responsibility push has been broadened out today by Colt Technology Services (Colt) nailing its colours to the equal opportunities mast by committing to play a key role in the UK by partnering on the development of a set of ‘Levelling Up Goals’ designed to foster equal opportunity.

Back in the 1990s it was more or less accepted that faster/better/cheaper and more abundant connectivity was in and of itself, a means for good. Bandwidth was the fuel for the construction of a better world, or so it seemed. And the Web was an important plank in that. 

But by the 2010s a long list of what many people (not all) might regard as adverse outcomes were beginning to accumulate. You can make your own list. Here are mine. I think the following are pretty much in the dock without argument. 

Child porn on the Internet; Internet-enabled fake news in the run-up to the 2016 US presidential election;  rampant personal data collection, and, my favourite, programmed speed trading which precipitated at least one consequential stock market collapse in the early 2000s. Not to mention the collective network madness (irrational exuberance) itself which caused markets to bubble and led to network over-building, criminal fraud and long jail sentences. 

With all that in the rear-vision mirror it might be excusable if some were now taking a more nuanced view of abundant bandwidth and connectivity. But Colt is still wedded to the network idealism of the early days, according to Gary Carr, Colt’s Chief Financial Officer.

 “Connectivity is still as important as it’s ever been. We don’t think things have changed on the bandwidth side at all,” he says. 

The Levelling Up Goals which Colt has subscribed to, were established this year by former Education Secretary Justine Greening, with input from businesses, universities and policymakers. They are  a 14-point framework designed to tackle the challenges facing the UK post Covid-19. There are 14 goals ranging from Goal 1: Strong Foundations in Early Years; to Goal 14: Equality through Diversity and Inclusion.

Leveling up fits in with Colt’s overall approach. The ultimate aim is to drive equality of opportunity in the UK at key life stages, from early years through to adulthood alongside other barriers such as healthcare and fair career progression. 

 “A lot of the stuff that comes in the 14 goals we’re doing already, and doing it globally,” says Gary.  "For instance, we’re cleansing about 3-4,000 laptops and then having them repurposed for use in junior schools. Amongst the many community engagement things we do is to organise volunteering days, for instance. And we’re doing lots of things around diversity - we’ve gone from 27 per cent to 31 per cent female employees within the company.”

Gary says the benefits of all the activity include a huge boost to the way employees view Colt and, he says, employee attrition rates have slowed markedly as a result. 

The Goals are the first major piece of work by the Purpose Coalition, which includes some of the UK’s most purpose-led businesses, universities and public sector organisations, such as Amazon, BP, Direct Line Group, the BBC, Compass Group, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, Manchester United Foundation, University of Bradford and many others. 

As part of its work on the Levelling Up Goals, Colt will be working on its Levelling Up Impact Report, setting out its own contribution to the levelling up agenda in the UK and its commitment to social impact more widely throughout its global footprint.

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