London Mayor Launches Diversity in Tech Initiative

Stats reveal young Black men make up about 5% of the capital’s £56 billion technology sector.

The Mayor of London has the support of some big firms with the unveiling of an initiative to tackle the underrepresentation of young Black men in the city’s technology sector.

The intervention is the latest part of Sadiq Khan’s Workforce Integration Network programme which is focused on increasing the number of young Black men in the capital’s key industries.

Statistics from the Tech Nation Report 2021 show young Black men make up 5% of London’s 589,730 strong technology workforce. It’s a sector worth £56 billion to the economy and naturally attracts the attention of politicians.

Khan explains: “Someone’s life chances should never be limited by their family’s background or the colour of their skin. This new initiative will give tech and digital businesses better insight into the role they can play to address inequalities, improve diversity and create industry-wide change.”

Russ Shaw CBE, Founder of Tech London Advocates and Global Tech Advocates, comments: “Our advocate survey earlier this year found 53% of black tech leaders felt companies had failed to make significant D&I changes – making it clear that much more work needs to be done in opening doors to a more diverse range of talent.”

He adds: “London is one of the most diverse cities in the world, and we need to do better to ensure that its thriving tech sector is representative of the whole population.”

The plan is not to just focus on ‘skilling up’ young Black men to apply for jobs in the tech sector. The Mayor mentions the Design Lab, which “creates a space for businesses to come together, critique existing practices and explore the causes of underrepresentation in their workforces and the sector as a whole”.

The eight technology companies selected to take part in the programme are Dell, Informa Tech, Cloudreach, Ford, Profusion, Cognizant, Panaseer and Telent Technology Services.

Large businesses are supported as part of a 12-month programme to build an action plan to recruit and retain more young Black men in their businesses.

It includes a programme of workshops, one-to-one sessions, data collection, supply chain assessments, introductions to suppliers and networking, and recruitment opportunities delivered by the Equal Group in partnership with City Hall.

At the end of the programme, the businesses involved will have built “a bespoke action plan to address the lack of diversity in their organisations”.

This tech initiative is not the first action by the Mayor on the theme of diversity. Previous efforts include “addressing underrepresentation” in the construction and infrastructure industry. This engaged more than 20 companies representing a combined workforce of over 100,000.

Antony Peyton
Antony Peyton is the Editor of eWeek UK. He has 17 years' journalism and writing experience. His career has taken him to China, Japan and the UK - covering tech, fintech and business. Follow on Twitter @TonyFintech.

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