IBM tool tests mobile apps for people with disabilities

16 March 2015 Consultancy.uk

As a result of usability issues, such as low colour contrast, many mobile apps are not designed for people with disabilities and the elderly. To address this issue, IBM has developed a new tool, the Mobile Accessibility Checker, which tests the accessibility features of iOS and Android mobile apps and alerts developers of any accessibility breaches, after which it offers help to resolve them.

In the interconnected world of today, more than 60% of the world’s population uses a mobile device every day. This could be for a variety of reasons, including working, shopping, reading or watching the news, checking email, listening to music, or texting and making calls. In 2014, the use of mobile applications (apps) grew with 76%, with 1.3 million mobile apps available through Android and 1.2 million through Apple’s App Store as of July 2014. 

Mobile Accessibility Checker
To help app developers design apps that are accessible for billion people with disabilities, including those who are vision and hearing impaired, as well as the elderly, IBM has developed the ‘Mobile Accessibility Checker’. This checker is an automated tool created for iOS and Android mobile apps to test their accessibility features. The tool will automatically alert developers to accessibility breaches, such as colour contrasting and keyboard navigation, and then helps resolve the issues to ensure adherence to accessibility standards and government regulations and to deliver an optimised mobile user experience.

IBM tool tests mobile apps for people with disabilities

Rollout
As part of the Checker’s rollout, IBM will collaborate with accessibility software and services organisation SSB BART Group to create a new mobile accessibility management platform: the SSB BART Accessibility Management Platform for Mobile. This platform will integrate the Mobile Accessibility Checker to produce an automated testing engine for mobile applications and mobile web content on both iOS and Android devices. 

Commenting on the new Checker, IBM Chief Accessibility Officer Frances West says: “Mobile technology has sparked a new era of opportunity for people of all ages and abilities, yet many mobile apps have design flaws that prevent people with disabilities and the elderly from using them effectively. Our researchers saw an opportunity to address this by inventing technology that identifies and corrects usability issues early in the software development process. This makes mobile apps easier to use for people with disabilities, helps developers save on costs and satisfy compliance requirements, and drives greater inclusivity in our communities through mobile technology.”

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Women remain underrepresented in UK's hospitality industry leadership

12 April 2019 Consultancy.uk

Female engagement at the top level of the UK hospitality industry is still lagging, with the vast majority of decision-making roles continue to be held by men. Only 7% of the industry’s FTSE 350 CEOs are women; however, the pay gap in hospitality and leisure is far better than in other industries, at a median of approximately 7%.

The hospitality, travel and leisure (HTL) sector is one of the UK’s largest employers, with 3.2 million people working in its segments. Despite a poor 2018 in terms of tightening consumer spending, the industry is still one of the top sectors in terms of economic activity, hitting £130 billion last year – besting the UK’s automotive, pharmaceutical and aeronautical sectors’ combined activities.

While the industry is one of the country’s largest employers, it still faces considerable issues around diversity at the top. New analysis from PwC has explored the matter, as well what initiatives the industry has engaged to open up its top ranks to a more diverse background.

Female representation at board level for UK companies and HTLs

According to a survey of CEOs, Chairs or HR Directors of over 100 of the most significant leisure businesses across the UK, the hospitality industry has a relatively male-dominated top level. This lags behind the FTSE 100, where companies have female board level representation at 32.2%. Meanwhile, the figure for the combined executive committee and direct reports stands at 28%. This is well above FTSE 250 levels, where female board level representation stands at 22.4% and executive committee & direct reports stand at 27.8%.

For the hospitality industry as a whole, board level representation came in at 23.6%, with FTSE 350 for the industry performing slightly better at 25.1%, while non-listed companies performed considerably worse at 18.2%. The firm notes that the figures hide that while some companies are making strides to improve equality, others are not moving forward – with the positive result reflecting more often the good work of some, while others are not taking the issue seriously in their agenda setting.

Blind spot

The study states, however, that while the overall numbers are relatively strong, the industry has a number of acute weaknesses. These include CEO numbers, with only 7% of HTL FTSE 350 companies helmed by women and 11% of non-listed companies led by female CEOs. Meanwhile, female chairs at FTSE 350 companies for the sector stand at zero. In terms of wider diversity representation, only 1 in 33 leaders at industry companies is from a BAME background.

Pay gap for HTL and hospitality

The report noted discrepancies between FTSE 100 companies and FTSE 250 in terms of improving the number of women at executive level. The majority have met the Hampton-Alexander Review target of 33% women at board level, up from around 25% in 2016. However, the remaining ~40% are not on target, and are unlikely to meet the target by 2020. A similar trend is noted when it comes to executive committee and direct reporting numbers.

Jon Terry, Diversity & Inclusion Consulting Leader at PwC, said, "To make real progress in diversity and inclusion, businesses need to elevate it onto the CEO’s agenda and align diversity & inclusion strategy to the fundamentals of the business."

Tracking progress FTSE 250 level

However, one area where hospitality travel and leisure companies are outperforming other companies in the wider UK economy, is the mean and median pay gap between men and women. PwC found that the median of the wider UK economy comes is approximately 14% – with upper quartile companies noted for a gap of low 20%, and lower quartile companies noted for differences of around 2%.

The median pay gap for HTL comes in at well below 7%, with the median close to parity. There are considerable differences, however, with hospitality at 7%, while travel comes in considerably higher, at 22%. The latter figure reflects fewer women in higher paid pilot and technical positions within the industry.