INSPIRE 20 – mark my words! The importance of diverse tech innovation


All I can say about this week’s episode is WOW, Mark Martin, what an episode! Mark, a computer science teacher and founder of UKBlackTech, joins us this week to talk about representation, diversity, and how the Black Lives Matter movement has acted as a catalyst for the tech industry.

Mark, who holds an MBE (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) for his outstanding work in education, tech and diversity, founded UKBlackTech to create the most ethnically diverse tech ecosystem in the world. During this journey, Mark and the UKBlackTech team began to realize that while representation, inclusion, and diversity were still top priorities for the foundation, it was just as important that they focus on innovation in the technology sector. This means that instead of talking about just I&D, they put emphasis on the importance of diverse tech experts at every level of every problem, ensuring that everyone has a seat at the table to not only have representation, but to then deliver excellent products and innovations that will hit the market.

Black Lives Matter

Mark also touched on an important topic today – Black Lives Matter. When asked what he thought about the Black Lives Matter movement and its effect on the technology industry, Mark felt that it was beginning to have a positive effect on business and industry leaders. In the podcast, he shares that he has seen these leaders move on from talking about I&D and providing empty signals to actually acting on it and getting out into their communities to truly make a difference.

So, what else can tech companies do to grow diversity? Mark suggests we start from the ground up, working with employees to understand their needs. Asking the important questions, such as “how do you make people belong?” and “how do you ensure transparency and trust across your organization?” By identifying the answers to these questions, this allows companies to truly put their I&D words and ideas into action, allowing employees to be both seen and heard in the workplace. One of Mark’s great statements in the podcast is “if they see it they can be it” emphasizing the importance of role models in the community, education and workplace.

It’s also important to acknowledge the effects this has in the hiring space, and how important it is to focus on giving the next generation the experience to grow in the tech industry. Mark points out that for years, new hires have struggled to find roles, as many companies are looking for more experience. He states that if the industry does not make space for Black talent, and we don’t act now to change this, then we will continue to lose out on the valuable talent at our doorsteps.

Check out the podcasts and subscribe

I invite you to listen to this outstanding INSPIRE 20 podcast with Mark Martin, which can be found on Apple, Spotify, and Soundcloud. Please be sure to check us out on TechBeacon as well, and subscribe today! Find me on Twitter to talk more.

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