With International Women’s Day approaching, I thought I’d highlight the great work companies such as Landing.jobs and Makers Academy are doing to promote gender equality in the workplace as well as promoting people from all minority backgrounds in tech.
Why are we writing this blog post?
There’s a trend emerging in the London tech scene where much of the recent PR focus has centred on solving the gender gap. At Makers Academy — Europe’s leading Web Developer Bootcamp — we tackled the problem head on with our September 2016 cohort being 51% female and we’ve also put a refugee through the remote course. While there’s still a long way to go, tech companies like us, Ticketmaster, AppsForGood and ThoughtWorks have launched a number of exciting campaigns, aimed at encouraging minorities and other diversity groups to consider a career in tech.
It’s important to note not all diversity problems focus only on gender inclusion but also in a variety of categories. To name just a few, we talked to our team and to some of the tech companies we work with about what they’re doing to make a difference. Here are some of the more innovative campaigns:
ThoughtWorks created a scholarship and a new Snapchat account, DiversityInTech, to address the woeful lack of role models for minorities in the tech industry. This resulted in us running cohorts with a female majority on a consistent basis. This in turn, leads to more women in tech jobs, more role models for minorities in tech and a better tech landscape in general.
Muslamic Makers is a community for Muslims working in technology. This is an initiative I co-founded with Makers Academy graduate Murtaza Abidi. The idea came out of our experiences of often being the only ethnic or Muslim person at a tech event. The lack of role models inspired us to set up monthly events celebrating Muslim tech entrepreneurs like Eamon Jubbawy (COO, Co-founder Onfido), Nafisa Bakkar from Amaliah and Zohra Khaku from Halal Gems.
“A question we often get asked is why there’s poor ethnic representation in the tech startup world. There are barriers such as traditional upbringing, lack of opportunity, education and resources. There’s also a huge gap in confidence especially as the technology world can be overwhelmingly white and middle class.” — Murtaza Abidi
Murtaza and I knew a handful of Muslims working in and around technology so the mission was simple: bring them together to create a community and a safe space for guys & girls who wouldn’t attend the usual tech events due to cultural barriers, like not drinking alcohol. A simple space to inspire, network and create future role models to contribute to a much more inclusive technology world.
Code of Colour
Another staff member running a great inclusivity group is our Gatekeeper Ollie who for our LGBTQ+ students runs ‘Code_Of_Colour’ — an internal group dedicated to LGBTQ+ support, discussion, welfare and events.
It’s not just our staff doing awesome things but also our graduates like Adil Ali and Chuka Ebi who, after coming from a similar place — a lack of decent role models that looked like them —, set up “Black Techies”.
“I came up with the idea of black techies when I realised one of my only black role models in tech was Chuka. The first time I met him was at a party during my second week at Makers, and he was working at Fjord. He was someone I could look up to, and aspire to be like, and he gave me a lot of great advice that night and thereafter. Being alone is extremely difficult, and sometimes very disheartening. Black Techies was made so black developers could have a place where they weren’t alone.” — Adil Ali
It’s not just people starting out in the tech industry that are making the change. At Ticketmaster, they have a Director of Diversity who oversees diversity and inclusion across the company, and hosts “Achieving Diversity in the Technology Industry” (ADT), a monthly meetup where attendees share advice, experiences, strategies and support. They host speakers, show documentaries and host debates on improving diversity in the tech industry. Their aim is to have tangible takeaways from every session that attendees can action in their own work environments.
“One of the brilliant things about ADT, aside from the awesome speakers, is the network of attendees. We’re lucky in that our attendees are always very active in the Q&A sessions and not afraid to debate a topic, they always have questions and helpful advice after each of the talks.” — Jo Franchetti, Front-end developer at Ticketmaster and organiser of ADT.
Apps for good
It’s important to note gender gap is not solved yet and this is why Apps for Good is pushing more women to take the role of expert to inspire girls to consider a career in technology.
“We are working together to transform perceptions of technology and to build a more diverse and digital-savvy workforce. Our aim is to address the gender imbalance and increase the diversity among the next generation of problem-solvers and digital makers. So although the problem is yet to be solved it’s awesome to see the great work happening in the community.” — Freddie Norton — Expert & Partnership Engagement Manager.
Although the diversity in tech problem hasn’t quite been solved yet it’s awesome to see the great work being done in the community. If you’re interested in collaborating, drop me an email on [email protected]
Also, next March 22nd at 3 pm GMT I’ll be speaking at Landing.jobs online meetup about diversity in tech and why it’s still an issue. Join me! I’m looking forward to hearing your opinions and experiences.
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