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Mayor launches initiative to tackle  underrepresentation of young Black men in London’s thriving technology sector

Mayor launches initiative to tackle  underrepresentation of young Black men in London’s thriving technology sector

  • Workforce initiative will support businesses to identify and address the barriers that stop young Black men from entering and progressing in London’s thriving technology sector
  • Action from Sadiq comes as stats reveal young Black men make up only approximately five per cent of London’s £56 billion technology sector
  • Leading tech companies including Dell Technologies, Cognizant and Ford Motor Company (D-Ford) are set to take part in the innovative programme

The Mayor of London has today launched an initiative to help tackle the underrepresentation of young Black men in London’s thriving technology sector.

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

Statistics show young Black men make up just five per cent of London’s growing, 589,730 strong technology workforce1, in a sector which is worth £56 billion to the economy. Across the capital Black men aged 16-24 are among the most likely to be out of work – with almost one in three unemployed compared to just 15 per cent of young white men2.

Rather than just focussing on ‘skilling up’ young Black men to apply for jobs in the tech sector, the Mayor’s Design Lab3 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 Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said: “It’s simply not right that young, talented and ambitious young Black Londoners are not being given the opportunity to prosper in the capital’s thriving tech sector.

“The impact of the pandemic has reinforced why the work of the Workforce Integration Network is so important. We have already successfully supported 20 large businesses in the construction and infrastructure sectors, representing a combined workforce of over 100,000, to remove barriers holding young Black Londoners back, and I’m pleased that we are now building on this work with more action. 

“I’m determined to ensure no Londoner is left behind as we recover from the pandemic. 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.”

Large businesses are then are supported, as part of a 12-month programme to build an action plan to recruit, retain and progress more young Black men in their businesses. This action will focus on areas around recruitment, supply chains, workplace culture, data and progression.

It also 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 year-long programme, the businesses involved will have built a bespoke action plan to address the lack of diversity in their organisations, and ensure that young Black Londoners who face additional barriers to employment now have the right opportunities and support to join and thrive in the tech sector.

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

The action by the Mayor to tackle the lack of young Black men working in the tech sector follows previous efforts focused on addressing underrepresentation in the construction and infrastructure industry. This successfully engaged more than 20 companies representing a combined workforce of over 100,000 – all of whom committed to test solutions to some of the key diversity and inclusion challenges faced by the sector. Across the Workforce Integration Network programme over 250 businesses have been engaged and supported.

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CEO of The Equal Group, Mac Alonge said: “We are delighted to be working with the GLA once again to deliver our successful WIN Design Lab programme. To date we have taken 20 organisations through the programme who are collectively responsible for directly employing over 100,000 staff in the construction and infrastructure sector. It’s great to have the opportunity to expand the reach and impact of the programme as a result of the ambition and intention shown by the Mayor of London and the wider team. With a group of forward thinking and progressive tech companies signed up, we hope to massively improve the prospects of young black men in one of the fastest growing sectors in the world.”

Ashleigh Ainsley, co-founder of Colorintech, one of the businesses participating in the Design Lab, said: “The tech industry has long spoken about the increasing demand for talent in the sector. It’s great to see such a range of Innovative businesses marry that commercial imperative societal need to address the inequality across the economy experienced by young Black men.

“We are delighted to be working with the Mayoral team, and these organisations to make a tangible difference and call on the national government to look at such initiatives as a blueprint on how to really “level up” and address inequalities outside of London too.”

Russ Shaw CBE, Founder of Tech London Advocates and Global Tech Advocates, said: “Solving tech’s D&I issue requires a two-pronged approach. First, it’s about finding the right talent and expanding the pool from which we hire and train our tech workers. There’s an abundance of opportunity in tech – with vacancies at record levels – and a key step in filling those is engaging with more diverse demographics. The second piece is about retention, focusing on effective strategies at a senior level which ensure that everyone feels included and comfortable, both within a company and the wider sector. 

“In our global advocate community, we have consistently encouraged businesses to take meaningful action on diversity commitments made following events in 2020. 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.

“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. We are proud to work with programmes like the Tech WIN Design Lab, who share our core ambition to help businesses build more diverse and inclusive workforces of the future.”