Earlier this year we launched a new project at TechSPARK called SHIFT. It was a pretty simple idea, we’d work with groups of people under-represented in our tech cluster and help enable them to excel and boost their profile within the industry. We’d use training, peer support and our network to support some brilliant people to access a platform that’s traditionally difficult to reach for under-represented people.

The argument for this is pretty self-evident to me but to reiterate:

  • only 17% of people working in tech are women and it’s currently predicted to take 217 years to close the gender pay gap
  • in Bristol 22% of the population is BAME a much higher proportion than the national average. Across the UK only 15% working in tech are BAME.
  • The Runnymede trust has named us the 7th worst place in the UK for Inequality.

There are lots of reasons both ethical and commercial (McKinsey recently showed that the most diverse companies outperform others by 33%) why we should all be trying to change this situation.

Since we’ve started the project we’ve had lots of great conversations with our intake and looked at ways to further expand what we’re trying to do.

One of these ideas came from Joyann (right) who talked to us about how, when she started her business, she struggled to find stock photos of BAME people doing tech things.

We know lots of amazing diverse people in Bristol & Bath, as well as great tech hubs (Thanks Engine Shed!), so it seemed pretty obvious to us that we should help to solve the problem. We chatted with our friends at Oracle’s Cloud Accelerator and jointly created a new set of diverse stock photography that we’re making available for anyone to use on a creative commons license. Check them out here

We hope that people use these photos and our future founders will be able to represent the diversity of their companies with some decent stock pictures

SHIFT wouldn’t be possible without our brilliant partners Applied Technologies and UWE. If you’re interested in getting more involved check out more info here.