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London Tech Week

TechTalks with TFN: Leading the light of diversity and inclusion in London’s tech landscape

TFN-event

In the world of influential events, some simply make an impact, while others carve history. Such was the essence of the inaugural panel talk hosted by Tech Funding News (TFN) in the summer of 2023, marking the celebration of its 1.5-year milestone and the launch of the TechTalks with TFN panel discussion series. The debut panel delved deep into the subject of “How Diverse is London Tech? Challenges, Opportunities, and the Future in Tech.”

The talk was raw, honest and real, and it left a strong impression on the conversation about diversity in London’s tech world. This success shows how far we’ve come in less than two years of launch and makes us excited for the big changes yet to come.

The esteemed panel, featuring tech luminaries like Leslie Kanthan, PhD , Alexandra Smith Eniola Elijah Ajuwon , Oyinkansola Adebayo. They explored pivotal topics that underscore the significance of Diversity and Inclusion in Tech, painting a vivid picture of the roadmap to a future characterised by equity and innovation.

A special note of appreciation goes out to our incredible sponsors, the private member’s club from London, Home Grown Club and the sustainable startup Sea Change Wine, whose support has been invaluable in shaping this journey. 🍷🌟🙏

Now, let’s explore the key things we learned from the conversation.

Addressing unconscious bias

The discussion openly touched on “unconscious bias” in the tech world. This is when people make choices without even realising they’re being influenced by their beliefs and culture. This bias affects things like hiring, promotions, and how teams work together. Tech leaders know this is a big problem, so they’re doing things like teaching people to be more aware of their biases.

On this, Akansha Dimri founder and editor and TFN questioned, “Amidst a decade of soaring growth in diverse fields like AI, fintech, and climate tech, a shadow of inequality looms. As our industry flourishes, the disheartening truth persists—diversity’s stride remains sluggish. Behind the scenes of acknowledgement, a stark reality emerges—only 28 percent identify as gender minorities, and 35 percent hail from minority ethnic backgrounds. When just 27 percent support startups led by female founders, the question begs: In this rapid ascent, who are we leaving behind?”

Adding to the same, Alexandra Smith, co-founder of FuturePlus said, “By addressing unconscious bias, the tech industry has the opportunity to enhance innovation, performance and work toward a more equitable future for all. However, this transformation begins with recognising and challenging the hidden biases that shape all our decision-making.

Unconscious bias is a formidable issue in the tech industry due to its covert nature. Unlike overt biases, unconscious biases, deeply rooted in our social and cultural backgrounds, quietly shape our decisions and perceptions. However, the research clearly shows that the more diverse and inclusive an organisation is, the more likely it is to encourage creativity and acknowledge outlier ideas, increasing the chances of innovative solutions and risk identification. 

Deloitte’s 2018 analysis found that inclusive companies are six times more likely to foster innovation. McKinsey’s research further supports this, showing that firms with over 30% women executives tend to outperform their less gender-diverse peers, who, in turn, outdo those with no female executives.

Confronting unconscious bias demands proactive measures, including awareness-building and bias-awareness training. Tech companies must commit to diversity and, particularly, inclusion initiatives to create equitable workplace cultures and transparent processes.”

Photo credit: TFN

Investing in diverse startups

Real change begins from the very start, like when you plant a seed in the ground. This is just like how the focus on having different kinds of people in the tech industry starts with small, new companies. People have started to notice the great ideas that come from startups created by groups of people who don’t often get a chance. 

“As reported by the British Business Bank, for every £1 of venture capital (VC) investment in the UK, all-female founder teams get less than 1p, all-male founder teams get 89p, and mixed-gender teams 10p. And this doesn’t include ethnicity. If you add that into the mix, the numbers are shocking. You just have to look at the tech businesses that have recently foundered like Pollen, VanMoof, Fast, Wirecard to name a few; all of which were run by white men, all of which were funded by white male VCs, ultimately losing the equivalent of a billion dollars. It’s infuriating as there is research to prove that women-led companies could boost global GDP by $12 trillion USD, or 11%. So why are we still witnessing shrinkage in female funding? Why aren’t we aiming to diversify portfolios? If we continue to alienate companies based on gender and ethnicity, we will encourage an economic spin-off likened to the AIN, in the aim to support mixed ethnic, female-led companies. And right now I’m thinking that taking this path is the only option left as patience is running low!,” adds Jazz Gandhi, co-founder Duet London.

Bringing new faces to networking and community events

Networking and community events are the breeding grounds of collaboration and opportunity. Acknowledging the systemic barriers that hinder the participation of underrepresented individuals, the tech community needs to take proactive strides.

Adopting diverse hiring practices

Catalysing a diverse and inclusive tech workforce commences with redefining the hiring paradigm. Embracing diverse hiring practices entails tapping into a spectrum of backgrounds and experiences when sourcing talent. A strategic overhaul of recruitment strategies, including the implementation of blind hiring techniques and the establishment of diversity-centered interview panels, is reshaping the composition of teams.

Being empathetic, establishing mentorship and support programs

Diversity and inclusion are about more than just numbers; they mean understanding and feeling like you belong. In the tech world, we need to work hard to help people from all backgrounds feel welcome and supported. Programs where experienced people guide and help newcomers are like safe places. People can learn, share their stories, and get help with their careers. This support helps everyone grow and do well, making the tech world more inclusive for everyone.

Fostering more diverse collaborations and partnerships

Innovation happens when people work together, and the London tech industry has a chance to lead the way and create a future that’s both really smart with technology and really fair for everyone. More can be done by financing different kinds of new companies, helping new people learn from experienced ones, and making sure all kinds of people are hired. These actions are like sparks that make big changes happen.

With every step taken, we are creating a future where we come up with new ideas, find lots of opportunities, and everyone’s good work gets recognised. This future is calling us, where technology does amazing things and all kinds of people push us forward.

As we embark on this transformative journey, it is imperative to sustain the momentum with an unwavering commitment, continuously evaluating progress to ensure that the London tech sector is truly diverse and inclusive. The support of our friends and allies has been instrumental, and we express our gratitude to all who have been part of this remarkable journey. Here’s to the onward march of honest and invigorating sessions on TechTalks with TFN, as we navigate the exciting horizons that lie ahead.

On the back of this, we’re excited to announce our upcoming panel discussion scheduled for November, focusing on fintech. If you’re interested in being a part of this discussion, please reach out to us at [email protected].

This is a sponsored article in partnership with Homegrown and Sea Change wines. For partnering opportunities, contact [email protected] or [email protected].

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