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Celebrating Black History Month and driving diverse representation in tech

Learn more about some of the most influential Black people in the UK tech industry, and discover how employers can better engage with marginalised communities.

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Promoting diversity and inclusion in tech has always been challenging. Historically, the industry has lagged behind the wider UK economy in many diversity metrics. However, although there is still much progress to be made, diversity in the sector is showing signs of improvement, with an increasing number of organisations driving more diverse representation.

For example, in recent weeks, the organisation 1000 Black Voices recently joined forces with the British Consulate to establish an accelerator programme to remove hurdles for Black tech founders.

To mark UK Black History Month, we’re shining a light on some of the most influential Black voices in UK tech and highlighting how employers can better engage with talent from diverse backgrounds.

Influential Black voices in the tech industry

TechNation’s Inspiring Black Voices list does a great job of showcasing the achievements of some of the most influential Black people in the tech industry. The list includes people like Ashleigh Ainsley, who founded Colorintech, a community that helps increase diversity in Europe’s tech industry.

As a non-profit, the organisation improves access, awareness and opportunities for ethnic minorities in the industry. The community works alongside some of the world’s leading tech companies and in 2018, it received Google’s biggest diversity grant.

Charlene Hunter is the founder of Coding Black Females, a non-profit organisation that provides Black women with opportunities to develop their coding skills, network, and receive support through regular meetups. Charlene has received multiple awards and recognition for her work in supporting Black women in tech.

Ismail Ahmed founded the money transfer app World Remit in 2010, which enables people to send money globally at a low-cost. Since starting the business, the app has received more than $375 million in capital, supported by companies like Accel, TCV, and LeapFrog. It has also been recognised as the UK’s fastest-growing tech company.

Chi-chi Ekweozor is the founder of Assenty, an interactive question board platform that helps event organisers make a personal connection with their audiences before, during and after an event. Chi-chi was also a finalist in the Northern Stars tech startup competition, and she’s the organiser of #FemaleTechFounder – a monthly meetup in Manchester.

Black representation in UK tech

According to Wired, Black, Asian and other underrepresented ethnic groups of employees make up 12% of the wider UK workforce. In the IT industry, representation of ethnic minorities was estimated at 19% in 2021, which suggests that in recent years, the UK tech industry has made progress towards being more diverse.

However, at boardroom level, many companies aren’t making diversity a priority. A recent Inclusive Tech Alliance report reveals that almost three-quarters (74.5%) of boards in top tech firms have no members from underrepresented ethnic backgrounds.

Likewise, 70.6% of top tech firms have no members from underrepresented ethnic backgrounds at senior executive level.

How employers can better engage with marginalised communities in tech

According to CWJobs’ latest Tech Hiring Insider report, 38% of IT decision makers will focus on building diverse and equitable teams over the next 12 months. And encouragingly, our 2022 Confidence Index finds that 21% of IT decision makers will focus on diverse representation across board and management teams over the next 12 months.

There are a number of ways employers can improve diversity across their workforce and better engage with people from diverse backgrounds. An effective diversity and inclusion policy can ensure companies hold everyone accountable for implementing best practices.

Likewise, mentoring programmes like those created by Cisco’s Inclusion and Collaboration Community can ensure organisations take action on their diversity goals.

Skills-based hiring focuses on a candidate’s skills rather than their qualifications and experience. It can also help remove unconscious bias from the recruitment process. Smart tools like CWJobs’ Instant Candidate Recommendation can remove unconscious bias from the recruitment process by shortlisting candidates based on their skills and match to the role.

Appointing a diversity manager can also help reduce biased decision-making. In having someone monitor the hiring process and review recruitment decisions and data, companies can identify biased hiring patterns.

Tools like Totaljobs’ Equality Boost can increase applications from underrepresented groups through targeted display advertising. Harnessing a unique blend of data science, Equality Boost pinpoints when, where and how to reach the talent companies need by demographic, location and interest information.