A general election approaches and the ‘how to solve digital exclusion manifestos’ are popping out like popcorn. Here’s ours. Central tenet: we believe digital inclusion is everyone's business and needs to be re-imagined.

If the importance of digital inclusion and the staggering extent of digital exclusion has just snuck up on you, then start here and get up to speed. It won’t take you very long.  Spoiler alert, it’s essentially a big fundamental, systemic inequalities issue and as ever the most vulnerable (socially, economically, educationally, constitutionally, civically) are bearing the brunt of the exclusion.

emma weston CEO OBE

Our Manifesto

By Emma Weston, our CEO.

Digital inclusion is a gateway, an enabler. Modern, everyday life in all its manifestations – personal, vocational, social, civic, economic, political – requires it.

We cannot afford to think about digital inclusion as a ‘project’ (time and output boundaried) or a ‘programme’ (time and outcome boundaried).  

Digital inclusion needs to be everyone’s continuous practice, default behaviour, working assumption. It needs to be a shared endeavour. And it needs to be re-framed as investment not cost.

We’ve honed in on five things we believe would make a significant, sustainable dent in digital exclusion and re-frame the vital, fundamental importance of digital inclusion:

  1. Political will and political leadership. It starts at the top.
  2. Reimagining the models, money, stakeholders. Updated, wide-eyed thinking about how we can all contribute to and sustain widespread digital inclusion.
  3. Digital inclusion as a form of customer service propelled by mandatory, compliant behaviours. For and in all organisations – public, private, third sector. If an organisation has people in it, and serves people/ has customers, it needs to be digitally inclusive.
  4. Building capacity, stimulating ownership: support for, promotion and celebration of, building organisational DI capacity and essential digital skills through peer-to-peer models that embed ownership and sustainability (AKA Digital Champion models).
  5. Social value and ESG: hard-wiring of digital inclusion commitments into social value/ ESG.

I’m going to be unpacking these over the next few weeks, surfacing challenges and highlighting examples of good practice.

Digital inclusion is everyone’s business because no one approach and no single organisation/ agency/even government can own or deliver digital inclusion. Digital exclusion is a systemic, compound and complex issue. Its salve will be a systemic, compound and conscious response and most of us have a role to play.

Let’s start at the beginning with (1) - the hot (gone cold?) potato of political will and leadership....

 

The Detail

Political Leadership

Government can't fix digital exclusion alone but it needs to do something. Here's what we suggest....

Re-imagine the models

We need to find new methods, money and stakeholders if we're going to fix digital divide.

As Customer Service

If your organisation has workers, or customers or service users, it needs to be digitally inclusive.

Capacity & Ownership

Coming in June...

Social Value and ESG

Coming in June...

Digital inclusion is not a project or a programme. It needs to be a continuous practice, a default behaviour, a working assumption.

Emma Weston
Digital Unite