Women of Colour in technology leadership

Back Women of Colour in technology leadership

In the last meeting of our Diversity and Inclusion network, I could see many fantastic women-technologists around the table. They were leaders and they also had one more thing in common - they were white.

As we can see gender diversity gradually improving, the truth is that women from ethnic minorities have stayed in the background.

I have decided to try to understand better this racial imbalance and dig deeper. This proved rather tricky. It is very difficult to find any data relating to women of colour and leadership. Studies into leadership tend to collectivise ‘women’ and as a result, disregard the experiences of more marginalized groups of women, such as women of colour. Organisations have a great deal of data about womens’ experiences but far less on the issue of gender and race.

What I found was rather worrying. In 2019, it was reported that there were 297 women directors on the boards of FTSE100 constituents, but of these, only 32 were of BAME origin (11%), 2.3% of them were black. Whilst women account for over 30% of all workers currently employed by Google, Facebook, Yahoo and LinkedIN, it is worth noting that for all four companies, just 2% of their workforces are black.

By 2051, 1 in 5 people in the UK will be from ethnic minorities representing huge consumer spend so this issue is also about business sense.

What can we do to support women of colour?

1. Become their sponsors and be ready to champion individuals within their organisations;

2. Gain support from senior leaders of non-colour championing and encouraging women of colour to step out of their comfort zone and to believe that it is possible to move up the grade structures;

3. Make sure that organisations invest in their personal development and training;

4. Be braver in taking chances with candidates;

5. Be open minded; don’t neglect multi-dimensional aspects of who we are.