We hear a lot about technical upskilling. From coding bootcamps to courses in digital marketing, in the pledge to build a more diverse workforce in tech our community has come out in full force to help everyone access technical knowledge. And whilst this is of course necessary and has an extremely positive impact, what about the essential soft skills that are required to build a well-rounded team?

Stepping in to address this gap is Ash Phillips, founder of Dffrnt. Now a global community of some 5,000 entrepreneurs connecting and sharing across 9 countries, Ash established the Dffrnt Supporters Initiative, designed to unlock the super-soft skills needed to navigate a successful career path in code.

Routed by the belief that everyone deserves a chance to be their most super-self, Dffrnt is a membership organisation that develops the business skills of the next generation.

“Soft-skills are an underserved area of education, in my opinion. The education system has (rightly) identified the digital skills gap as something that proactively needs fixing. But I do wonder what might happen in 10 years if everyone is able to code but not able to communicate effectively, manage people, manage their time, or sell?” questions Ash.

Sharing an understanding of this problem, BaseKit is joining forces with Dffrnt to realise this mission. Through Dffrnt’s member network partnership with Codebar – a charity that facilitates the growth of minority groups in tech – BaseKit is gifting a lifetime Dffrnt Supporters subscription to five women and non-binary individuals.

“I do wonder what might happen in 10 years if everyone is able to code but not able to communicate effectively, manage people, manage their time, or sell?”

On top of this, BaseKit will be offering each individual taking part the opportunity to be considered for the next junior role available in the BaseKit dev team, tech career advice and support to help each woman start their career in code, and the option to publish a business online for free with our software if they choose to become an entrepreneur.

BaseKit Head of Development and Operations, Mark Jeffries tells us, “It’s widely documented that minority groups are hugely underrepresented in the tech community. I firmly believe that a diverse engineering team is a better engineering team, and while we are lucky to have women and non-binary people on our team, it remains hard to recruit diversity into the team. That’s something we need to actively get involved in changing.”

Nurturing soft skills 

Dffrnt’s key mission is to provide the next generation of leaders with the learning and ecosystem they need to access the opportunities that will help them build great careers and great companies.

“In realising that not everyone who needed this input the most would be able to access it, I decided we should partner with organisations who want to support these people, and potentially access them as future employable talent and/or clients,” says Ash. “Our supporters initiative was born to create a win/win relationship that provides companies with an effective way to deliver impact, and free Dffrnt memberships to those who might benefit from it the most”.

“Tech is an extraordinary industry that is taking the world by storm but it desperately needs a more diverse workforce”

Primarily the Dffrnt Supporters experience will offer original premium content to help educate people on important topics that are often overlooked; such as time management, confidence, delegation, personal branding, networking and so much more.

Previously it has been taken for granted that these skills are innate to us all, but as more awareness is raised that a neurotypical lens shouldn’t be generically applied, this outdated mindset is evolving. 

Ash explains his vision: “Combine this content with our already vast experience in building and managing communities, and regular events, on top of our entrepreneurial benefits, makes our offering an effective mix designed to develop the next generation of business leaders, powered by incredible partners like BaseKit. Thanks to them, members will get free access for a year.”

He hopes that the Dffrnt approach to soft-skills learning will fit neatly alongside already reputable, charitable organisations that are helping develop other – often technical – areas, and can be a highly effective addition to the experience that their cohorts will already be receiving.

Simon Best, CEO at BaseKit is highly supportive of the programme, as he tells us, “Tech is an extraordinary industry that is taking the world by storm but it desperately needs a more diverse workforce with unique support to help it thrive.

“BaseKit wants to help change the game for women in code and Dffrnt Supporters is a fantastic initiative to offer our support. I wish all subscribers the very best of luck and am really looking forward to seeing what they achieve as they forge a successful career in code.”

We’re super excited to hear how everyone gets on using the Dffrnt platform. Commenting on the membership, Maduri tells us, “I would like to thank BaseKit for sponsoring my Dffrnt membership. I’m really looking forward to accelerating my journey in tech through the unique content provided on the platform, and the opportunity to meet like-minded individuals!”

To this, Denise adds, “It’s important for me to subscribe to Dffrnt Supporters as it gives me the opportunity to learn and network with people from different backgrounds. I am most excited to learn and build on my soft skills as I want to become a more effective communicator and hopefully one day, be a person that can lead by example.”