Unlocking Potential: Addressing Black Underrepresentation in UK Tech

Unlocking Potential: Addressing Black Underrepresentation in UK Tech

The UK tech industry is a dynamic and influential force, shaping the way we live and work however, one issue that remains the same, Black people are vastly underrepresented. Making up 14% of the population of London, where many tech roles are based, only 3% of the UK tech workforce is Black, and Black women are even more underrepresented, making up just 0.7% of the UK IT workforce (Tech Talent Charter Diversity in Tech Report 2023)

These numbers aren't abstract; they represent missed connections, unrealized potential, and lost voices. This isn't just about fairness (although that's certainly important), studies show diverse companies outperform in innovation, creativity, and profitability. So, the underrepresentation of Black talent isn't just an ethical issue, it's a business error.

Let some of the below resonate:

Imagine a young Black student who is fascinated by technology, eager to build the next game-changing app or invent something that will improve lives. But as they research career options, they see few faces that look like theirs in the tech industry. This lack of role models can make it difficult to believe that a future in tech is possible.

Or consider the Black entrepreneur with a brilliant idea, ready to take on the world. But when they seek funding, they are met with rejection. Black founders received just 1.7% of all venture capital funding in the UK between 2016 and 2022, according to The UK Black Business Network.

Think of a Black student in the UK who is interested in computer science. They start researching different universities and computer science programs, and notice that there are very few Black students in computer science. Only 3.4% of all UK computer science undergraduate students are black students and black women makes up a mere 0.2% ((Higher Education Statistics Agency, 2022).

Furthermore, a UK study raises the issue that Black women are experiencing microaggressions and discrimination at work, being tagged with the ‘diversity hire’ label. It’s not just a lack of numbers, but a lack of belonging that needs addressing too (cio.com, 2024).

These barriers are complex and interconnected, but they all stem from a lack of understanding and inclusion.

So, what can we do to change this?

Work in schools: Support initiatives that encourage Black students to study STEM subjects. This could involve providing apprenticeships, scholarships, mentoring programs, or simply raising awareness of the exciting possibilities that a career in tech can offer.

Entry-level Recruitment: Create early careers pathways into technology and support for apprentices, career switchers, returners, graduates working with organisations like Future CodeHers and Coding Black Females to increase the pool of black talent in the field.

Challenge unconscious bias: We all have biases, but it's important to be aware of them so that we can challenge them. Implicit bias training can help individuals and organizations to identify and counteract hidden biases that may be preventing them from hiring and promoting Black talent.

Create inclusive workplaces: This means creating a culture where everyone feels welcome, respected, and valued, regardless of their race, ethnicity, or background. This includes having clear policies on diversity and inclusion and providing opportunities for all employees to learn and grow.

Invest in Black-led businesses: Black founders are more likely to be denied funding than their white counterparts, despite having equally promising ventures. By investing in Black-led businesses, we can help to level the playing field and create more opportunities for success.

By taking these steps, we can start to create a more inclusive tech industry that benefits everyone. It's not just about fairness, it's about recognizing the immense potential that Black people have

to contribute to the future of technology. Let's open the doors and empower them to create a future that is richer, more vibrant, and more innovative for all.