…along with Anna Walters, Head of GRC at Zenzero Support and Victoria Masso. We had been invited to prepare responses to the questions “Do we have an inclusive Tech Community in Greater Birmingham? If you think we do, could you explain how/why we do? If you don’t, can you think of a way we can be more inclusive?”
At the event, we didn’t have enough time to get into the whole subject due to time constraints so here’s the full text what I would have said – I’d love to hear what you would have said in response!
Tech community in Greater Birmingham and inclusion
The tech community in Greater Birmingham, as well as the award organisers Silicon Canal, includes Innovation Birmingham, Birmingham.io, parts of the Custard Factory, Fazeley Studios, Longbridge Technology Park, Google Digital Garage, Birmingham Science City, School of Code, Tech Wednesday, Canvas conference, Venturefest West Midlands, incubators, accelerators and multiple other tech meetups including the monthly one I run, Net Squared Midlands: tech for social good
Yes, I think parts of the community are inclusive in that it includes the Silicon Canal working groups Diversity in Tech and Women in Tech, and the 200 Silicon Canal Ambassadors. Many of the physical locations are quite accessible and some of the events include a variety of speakers, not just the usual suspects.
But no, I think other and more parts of the community are not inclusive in that the community and our events does not reflect the diverse demography of the communities in the Greater Birmingham area, and some events and meetups are held in inaccessible venues.
How can we be more inclusive?
So, in and around a smart city like Birmingham, how can we be more inclusive? I have some suggestions:
For under-represented people in tech and our allies:
Join relevant meetings and networks to gain and give peer support e.g. Ada’s List, a global community for women* in tech (“*by women we mean all women (trans, intersex and cis), all those who experience oppression as women (including non-binary and gender non-conforming people) and all those who identify as women”), based on principles of inclusion, empowerment and diversity.
For tech groups and organisations:
Recognise that not everyone can afford to pay to attend events, so, unless the event is free and in an accessible, welcoming venue anyway, offer a sliding scale for tickets according to what people can afford, from free to top whack, trusting people to pay as appropriate; and if you’re providing free refreshments, beer and pizza appeal to some demographics, but why not try offering prosecco and cake instead – and monitor what happens?
Diversity data – start gathering data on diversity in your group or organisation to help you measure the impact of diversity, and then talk about it internally and externally, and share it widely amongst your networks
Sign up to the Tech Talent Charter – this employer-led initiative brings together industries and organisations to drive diversity and address gender imbalance in technology roles.
For everyone in tech
Rather than sticking to your tech comfort zone with people like yourself, places you know well, and things you can already do well, seek out unfamiliar people, places and experiences, in order to learn, share and grow, and make the Greater Birmingham tech community a better place to be, for all of us. And when you do this, please tweet or blog about it!
Here are 345 women in the UK who could speak at your tech event by Charlotte Jee, Techworld, Dec 15, 2017
#ITWomen – Lists of women speakers and presenters & Resources for planning gender-inclusive tech conferences Crowdsourced list, started 2012 by Catherine Cronin