It’s rare to find a black person at a senior level in the industry and it’s even more of a rarity in the UK. “There are so many black professionals in tech in the UK, but they never get to director level,” says Dion. Colorintech strives to change this through one of their programs in particular, Development@, created to help people who are already in the industry get into leadership roles so that they don’t become stagnant - a reality for many black professionals.
The other two programs they offer are Rise, focused on entrepreneurs, and Tech Career Readiness, targeted at students and recent graduates. People aged 15-60 can participate in their programs, designed to support them in building up an essential network to aid them in their efforts to get ahead in tech.
As conversations about systemic racism continue, many have asked how the tech industry can do better. According to Dion there are three things that the industry can do:
1) Collect data
In order to improve, businesses need to securely collect data on the race and ethnicity of their employees so they know where the problem lies. And based on the data they can build their targets.
2) Have specific targets
Businesses need to “be specific on the problem they’re trying to solve and who they’re trying to solve it for.” Many think that it’s enough to target BAME employees, but that isn’t specific enough - it groups together many different races and “the problem and the gap really is black.”
The key is to focus on how to help mid to high-level black professionals progress without making them tokens and to attract talent at entry level.
3) Remember that this is everybody’s problem
This problem isn’t exclusive to HR and leadership teams - this concerns everybody. The industry needs to think beyond numbers and start looking at how they can promote a more inclusive way of working so that black employees can actually be themselves. “I don’t even know too many black professionals and even executives who can fully bring their whole selves to work without the thought of being reprimanded, or the thought of how will this affect my career?”
Once executives and people at the most senior levels decide that they want to become allies, they need to turn their intentions into action. Or as Dion says “we need to hear your voices.”