NEBIzEthics as part of #CyberFest

Not Equal

#CyberFest is the North East’s biggest cybersecurity festival and has now completed its second year. With 11 events, 700 attendees and over 60 speakers it has become one of the highlights of the regional tech calendar. 

There are huge ethical issues in cyber security both in terms of those who perpetrate criminal and antisocial behaviour as well as those whose responsibility it is to maintain security and so it made great sense to hold an event which brought these two subjects together. The event was themed around ethical behaviour in an increasingly technological world, its role in the future of business skills, employment and entrepreneurship.

The event was held at Northumbria University and started off with a brief outline of why the cybersecurity industry is important for the region. Pam Briggs, who holds a Chair in Applied Psychology at the university, told us about the Not Equal project which is bringing people together to help develop practical responses that can make our digital society work for everyone. Grants are available to commission funded projects, with the second call in November/December 2019. An Open Event Programme (including workshops, hackathons, design sprints) will run throughout the project and a summer school will take place in Newcastle during July 2020.

Paul Lancaster from Plan Digital was up next. He is the driving force behind Newcastle Startup week and spoke about getting ethical behavior right in startup businesses. The IT industry doesn’t have the best of reputations, with issues such as Facebook’s involvement with Cambridge Analytica yet is working hard to clean up its act. He told us about The Copenhagen Catalog and the 150 principles for a new direction in tech. You can sign up to the principles on its website.

Paul’s presentation led us nicely into the panel discussion which he joined along with Caroline Theobald from NIBE, Charlotte Windebank of FIRST and chaired by myself. These are the questions I asked: 

  1. Ethics is a subject that has troubled humanity since the dawn of time. What does the word ethics mean to you?
  2. Why is having a clear ethical stance important in a business context?
  3. How is business ethics going to affect future employment?
  4. As this event is part of #CyberFest, is it ethical that companies like British Airways seem so cavalier with our data?
  5. Pam has spoken to us about social justice in the digital economy. Is it easier to be ethical if you are well off?
  6. If you could do one thing to improve business ethics, what would it be?

They really got the juices going with great engagement with the audience. The responses from both the panel and the delegates showed how difficult ethics is because of its subjective nature yet there was a real passion in the room to support a better way of doing business. One of NIBE’s aims is to raise public awareness of the importance of doing business ethically and this event certainly did that. 

NIBE’s next event is on 29 October at the University Of Sunderland Business School: 

Is it all about driving performance and profits?: How being a values-based company aids talent acquisition, business transformation and drives customer loyalty

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