How can we diversify the tech workforce? Where do we even begin? I’m sure you’ve heard all the questions before. While I know they are all important, I recently took part in a campaign focused instead on; how can we stop having conversations and start taking action?
The Tech Talent Charter (TTC) is a non-profit organisation leading a movement to address inequality in the UK tech sector and drive inclusion and diversity. In October 2020, they launched the Doing It Anyway campaign with the aim to inspire women to consider a career in tech. Currently, only 16% of tech roles in the UK are held by women (according to this report from WISE) with only ⅙ of those being tech specialists. Gender Diversity in the industry has stalled over the last 10 years and the current COVID-19 pandemic has the potential to worsen this current status. As a signatory and supporter of TTC, Red Badger nominated a few of us women to share our stories and take part in the #DoingItAnway campaign.
Eight women from a variety of backgrounds who have found careers in tech through inspiring, non-traditional paths were chosen as the faces of this campaign, and I was lucky to be one of them.
My journey into Tech
I was born and raised in Newham, a melting pot of beautiful cultures but also poverty . I left sixth form after a depressive episode related to CPTSD and once I recovered I had no idea what options remained for me. Before I could really get back on my feet, I was diagnosed with a brain cavernoma and quite frankly it felt like at only 17 years old I was once again being left behind by the world.
I was lucky enough to connect with You Make It, a charity which provides amazing support and women's empowerment programmes to minority women who have fallen through the cracks. Whilst on the programme I was given a mentor called Jen, she was the first person I met who was in the Tech Industry and provided an opportunity to get a look in through a work experience. Within a few months of my placement ending, I was invited to take on an Apprenticeship opportunity with WhiteHat and Red Badger.
There were so many opportunities that I had never known existed. I’d be lying if I said starting out wasn’t hard especially as I was adjusting to a big culture shock but I found so much support and encouragement from my colleagues. It was this guidance around my career possibilities that made finding my interest in the tech industry happen so quickly. The amount of innovation, freedom and creativity was fascinating to me. From delivery leads to developers and designers who were all contributing to the future of tech which all of society is dependent on. It’s that view that fueled my desire to inspire more people like myself to step into this space. It’s going to be essential that we are involved now in order to be represented later down the line. Being one of the eight women means I’m able to share my journey as a queer, young black woman of mixed heritage living with a chronic illness with the hope of inspiring others.
The tech industry needs diverse talent to succeed. The World Economic Forum has stated that the business case for diversity is now ‘overwhelming’ and the UK’s economic recovery will depend on the success of the tech sector.
What are Badgers doing?
- Keeping Leadership committed: Our CEO Cain has been speaking up about the Gender Balance and what companies can do to improve it. Our COO Dave is part of the Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) Group centred on internal transformation.
- Internal Initiatives: We have a book club dedicated to reading and discussing D&I focussed books. Badgers continue to mentor with You Make It.
- We’re a part of Ada’s list - a visibility platform for all women (trans, intersex and cis) and all non-binary, agender and gender variant people who work in the tech sector to connect and advocate through.
So now what?
If there is anything I took personally from the Doing It Anyway campaign, it’s that no matter what challenges I and others from marginalized communities face we’ll do whatever it takes to keep progressing whether or not the rest of the world is ready for it. For me that looks like facing the day despite being a minority with chronic pain. If you or someone you know is wondering what their options are then please have a look at the TTC website, it’s filled with advice on where to get started.
If you already know the industry but would like to know Red Badger specifically then check out our jobs page now. We’re always looking out for diverse talent!