News, Technology

Spotlight on BAME business leaders and entrepreneurs

Amie Haven

Amie Haven, Journalist

Increasing focus on BAME business leaders and entrepreneurs helps forge paths for future generations.

In the past, the world of business and tech has placed many barriers in front of women and black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) groups. Concerted efforts to break barriers and leap hurdles resulted in movements to raise awareness and start prising doors open. The various women in tech movements have been extremely successful and garnered much attention. BAME groups are increasing their momentum to do the same. And with only 15% of tech roles filled by people from BAME backgrounds, the UK tech industry needs to become more balanced and representative. 

Movements like Women in Tech, Women Who Code, and Women 2.0 have all contributed to raising awareness and supporting women in the tech industry. Working alongside government STEM initiatives to get more girls into the world of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, these movements allow young women to see themselves as future CEOs and tech leaders. Now, with increasing momentum, BAME movements are shining a light on diversity issues in the UK tech sector. And exposure to the successes and challenges of workplace diversity is crucial. Being able to see and identify with BAME CEOs, startup founders, and tech leaders inspires young people to follow in their footsteps. 

Aware of the diversity issues in the UK tech sector, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan announced £7 million funding for a digital talent programme in 2018. The programme is designed to encourage and support young women and BAME Londoners into the tech world. Providing digital skills training and networking opportunities with the likes of Google and Amazon, the scheme offers a route into a rewarding tech career. London also benefits from organisations like One Tech and Afrotech Fest. One Tech offer mentorship and support with tech careers and startups for underrepresented people. Whilst Afrotech Fest organise yearly events celebrating the world of tech with people of African and Caribbean heritage. 

But who are some of the tech and business role models that young people can learn from? At 21-years-old, Susie Ma appeared on the TV show The Apprentice. Even after she lost out on the show, business magnate Alan Sugar saw Ma’s potential and became her 50/50 partner in Ma’s beauty startup Tropic Skincare. Ma is listed as one of Forbes elite 30 under 30 and is the proud co-owner of a multi-million-pound business. Ma’s business prowess appeared at an early age, setting up her own market stall when she was just 13. Her earnings allowed Ma to pay her own way through university. Business is in Ma’s blood.

Then there’s Adrian Joseph. Enterprise Management 360 voted Adrian Joseph one of the Top 10 Influential BAME Tech Leaders 2019. Joseph currently works in the UK Financial Services team after spending over 10 years with Google, ending his career there as the Director of Enterprise Analytics Services, EMEA. Joseph is also a non-executive director for the Home Office, providing expert advice on business plans and recruitment. A keen supporter of equality and diversity, Joseph was awarded an OBE for his efforts in 2019. 

Joseph and Ma are just two examples of role models who’ve made it in the world of business and tech. Along with the encouragement and support of diversity groups, inspiring individuals encourage young people to think, “That could be me.”

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