A series of tech giants have announced their commitment to racial equity at the forthcoming Black Tech Fest ’21, a festival that will celebrate Black culture and explore ways to create career pathways for underrepresented talent.
The organisations supporting Black Tech Fest 21
Organisations including Microsoft, Deloitte, Adyen, Capita, and Experian will join the festival’s founding partners from last year’s coalition, including TikTok, Salesforce, and Google, in their commitment to advance racial equity in tech and in elevating the voices of the Black British community.
This commitment from major tech multinationals follows recent research from Black Tech Fest that found that 30% of the 55,000 tech workers surveyed believed ‘things have gotten worse’ regarding race relations in the UK. In comparison, a further 51% said they’d ‘observed no change’. This is in contrast to just 4% that said things had gotten ‘significantly better.’
This year, startups are getting involved in the festival for the first time following further Black Tech Fest research that found that 69% of respondents said they’d ‘observed no change’ in the start-up ecosystem for Black people since May 2020.
The topics that will be covered this year
For the 2021 outing, speakers, including Black employee resource groups (ERGs) from Salesforce, TikTok, Deloitte, and individuals like political and equalities activist Lord Simon Woolley, will present a wide range of sessions, fireside chats, and interactive workshops designed to enhance skills, raise awareness, and drive change in aiding the progression of Black people working within the global tech industry.
Additional topics covered include how to close Black educational attainment gaps, the role of social media in LGBTQ+ activism for people of colour, and racism in artificial intelligence.
Attendees to the first day of the festival (October 19th) should expect to hear advice and information on learning new skills, acquiring digital training, tips on finding employment, and key role models.
Days two and three (October 20th and 21st) will contain sessions on embracing inclusive thinking and its impact on the modern workplace. Last year, Google ran a session on product inclusion following a series of launches focused on making their tools more accessible and inclusive to Black businesses.
Set to take place during UK Black History Month, the forthcoming event follows last year’s successful outing. Over 40,000 people streamed Black Tech Fest content, and 3,500 attendees from over 20 countries attended the festival, which remains the biggest celebration of its kind in Europe.
Ashleigh Ainsley, Co-Founder of Black Tech Fest, said: “The past 12 months have been telling with businesses, organisations, and educational institutions attempting to make authentic steps to address racial injustice. However, there is still a great deal of progress that needs to be made, and for every company that commits to championing the Black community at Black Tech Fest, there are dozens in the FTSE that don’t. It’s no surprise and (BTF research highlighted) that 38% of Black Tech workers thought organisations responses in the last year were ‘tokenistic’.”
Trevor Johnson, Head of Marketing, Global Business Solutions Europe at TikTok, said: “Whatever field you’re in, starting your dream career can be a huge challenge. That’s why we are unbelievably proud to continue our partnership with Black Tech Fest, supporting them in their mission to help Black professionals expand their network and improve opportunities for the next generation of innovators. Last year’s festival was a huge success, and we look forward to teaching more young people new skills, sharing advice on job applications, and fast-tracking eligible attendees through our graduate and internship roles.”
Jose Luiz Rossi, Managing Director at Experian UK&I, said: “We are delighted to be sponsoring Black Tech Fest. The event creates a fantastic space to celebrate Black voices in technology, Black culture, and the importance of inclusive innovation. It’s important to us that we continue improving the diversity of our organisation, so we’re especially excited by the chance to meet and make connections with an array of talented professionals in the data and technology industry.”
Oz Alashe, MBE, founder, and CEO of UK cybersecurity startup CybSafe, said: “Conversations about diversity, equality, and inclusion in tech aren’t just about right and wrong. They go to the very essence of what it means to create a future that benefits all people. As tech startups building the future, we can’t be absent from this conversation. As leaders, we must play our part and show that it matters to us too.”
To register for Black Tech Fest ’21 (October 19th-21st), please click here.