Programme to amplify underrepresented voices launches on International Women’s Day
- The SHIFT programme will equip underrepresented individuals in the Bristol & Bath tech community, with the knowledge and confidence to become significant voices in the tech cluster
- There are 12 places available for the first intake, with applications opening on Thursday 8th March and closing on 2nd April
- More information can be found on the SHIFT website here: www.projectshift.co.uk
A new programme is being announced today to help tackle the issue of diversity in the Bristol & Bath tech cluster by amplifying underrepresented voices.
Aptly named SHIFT, the free course will provide 12 individuals from underrepresented groups with the skills and backing required to go on to become the region's next tech conference speakers, board members and mentors - bringing new insights, inspiring others and shifting the perceptions of who's out there in the cluster.
As well as an in-depth speaking and confidence course, the programme aims to connect participants with key figures within the region's thriving tech community at invite-only events - which comes with exclusive access to speaking opportunities, invites to conferences, judging panels and more.
The course is backed by Bristol’s tech hub Engine Shed, the University of the West of England and specialist recruitment agency, Thatchers, and supported by community partners across the South West including Bristol Media, Creative Bath, South West Founders, Women’s Tech Hub, and High Tech Bristol & Bath.
TechSPARK, the digital tech network for the South West, has designed the programme, which will start in April; Ben Shorrock, TechSPARK’s MD said: “With various studies citing the positive impact of diversity on the economy, the programme aims to support the region’s digital tech cluster, which already contributes over £1.5bn to the local economy.”
A view that is shared with Marina Traversari, the Programme Manager at Oracle’s Startup Cloud Accelerator (OSCA) in Bristol.
Marina explains: "Diversity within the tech industry is a valuable commodity as it helps produce new ways of thinking and operating including boosting productivity, profitability as well as making companies standout."
“Here at OSCA, we’re proud to create an environment that empowers people and companies to be the best they can be; for us, programmes like SHIFT helps us to connect and support a broad and diverse range of entrepreneurs and investors. As the tech sector itself becomes more diverse, there will be more and more role models for young men and women to aspire to.
One of the companies in the region already addressing the diversity agenda is Gapsquare, which has created self-use software that allows companies to go into in-depth analysis of their gender pay gap with the aim of genuinely reducing the gap and creating an actual culture change within an organisation.
Dr Zara Nanu, founder and Chief Exec of Gapsquare explains: "The lack of diversity at events, senior roles and boardrooms merely shows one part of underrepresentation in the tech sector. There are so many talented unrepresented voices in the industry who have the potential to make the Bristol & Bath’s tech sector even better, so we’re really happy to support SHIFT to celebrate diverse voices in our region.”
Bristol & Bath has a very successful tech and digital cluster which continues to grow at an amazing rate. Now employing over 36,000 people there have been a stream of endorsements as varied as ‘being home to the UK’s most productive tech talent’, the ‘best place to start a business’ and perennially being the ’best place to live’!
Recently, we’ve seen major investments from companies like Strava, Oracle, Just Eat, Cray Supercomputers, RBS Digital and Dyson alongside record breaking investment in start-ups of over £300 million.
There is, however, more work to be done to open up the cluster to talent from across the city region particularly with more senior opportunities. Women represent only 16% of the tech workforce and BAME talent is underrepresented as well.
A recent report from McKinsey illustrates the damage this is doing with the most diverse companies outperforming the average by 33%. We believe that this statistic is as important across a whole cluster as individual companies, which is why in 2018 we’re launching our SHIFT programme.
Community Partners include:
Bristol Media, Creative Bath, Online Influence Conference, Bath Ruby, South West Founders, South West Mobile, BathCamp, VoxxedDays, Design Build Market, Women’s Tech Hub, MAAXX and High Tech Bristol & Bath.