We’re reigniting our editorial themes for 2024. To kick things off, we have Talent Month sponsored by iO Associates. Watch out for the series of all things around talent, skills and jobs this January. 

Our tech community faces an ongoing skills shortage. With so many groups not entering tech due to access to education, lack of confidence and a misunderstanding of what a career in tech looks like, there’s a clear problem to solve.

Thankfully, initiatives such as DiversITy-Talent are working tirelessly to address to this issue. Founded just this year as a team of two, DiversITy-talent specialises in fostering diversity and talent across all sectors, with a focus on building a future pipeline of skilled individuals in business, technology, and digital skills. Their initiatives aim to empower individuals from diverse backgrounds and contribute to creating a more inclusive and innovative workforce for the future.

Here to tell us more about their journey so far is co-founder and CEO, Anna Somaiya.

1 – In your own words – what do you do? 

At DiversITy-talent, our mission is to drive diversity and inclusion in the tech sector. We run innovative programmes, including the DiversITy-talent Awards and Work Ready initiatives, empowering underrepresented individuals.

Through mentorship, workshops, and events, we support startups, foster diverse talent, and challenge misconceptions about careers in business and technology. Our goal is to create a more inclusive business and tech landscape, ensuring everyone has equal opportunities to thrive and contribute to the digital future.

2 – What’s the most exciting thing about what you’re doing? 

The most exciting aspect of our work at DiversITy-talent is witnessing the transformative impact we have on individuals and the tech industry.

Empowering underrepresented talents, challenging stereotypes, and fostering diversity bring about positive change. The prospect of contributing to a more inclusive tech sector, where diverse voices drive innovation, is exhilarating. Witnessing individuals grow in confidence, skills, and opportunities through our programmes fuels our passion for creating lasting positive change in the technology and business landscape.

3 – What are you most proud of so far? 

I am most proud of establishing DiversITy-talent as a social enterprise alongside my co-founder, Jeremy Blain. Running a successful pilot program was a transformative experience where I witnessed firsthand the impact we made. The ability to make a difference and contribute to a positive change in mindsets is incredibly fulfilling and underscores the meaningful work we are doing at DiversITy-talent.

4 – What have you found most difficult about being a startup? 

One of the most challenging aspects of our startup journey has been managing financial constraints and securing adequate funding. As a startup, we face the common hurdle of not qualifying for certain grants and funding opportunities in our early stages.

Whilst businesses often express concerns about the lack of diverse talent, the challenge lies in garnering support for initiatives like ours that are actively working to build the future workforce. We believe that collaboration between startups and established entities is crucial to bridge the talent gap and foster innovation in the UK workforce.

5 – What would you do differently if you started now? 

As a startup, we have taken the initial steps deliberately, investing time to ensure our pilot programmes made a meaningful impact. Moving forward, recognising the challenges, we would prioritise building strategic partnerships early on and engaging with potential funders to secure the necessary financial support.

Our commitment to making a difference in the UK workforce remains steadfast, and these adjustments aim to enhance our journey toward that goal.

6 – Where do you think you’ll be in 12 months? 

In 12 months, we envision DiversITy-talent as an established force in the landscape of social enterprises, making a substantial impact in fostering diversity and inclusion in the UK tech sector.

We anticipate expanding our reach, with a successful implementation of our Awards and Work-Ready programmes, significantly influencing mindsets, and bridging the gap in the talent pool. We aspire to have positively impacted 6,000 to 10,000 untapped talent pools, forming strategic partnerships with multiple forward-looking business sponsors dedicated to building the next generation of a diverse UK workforce.

Strengthened partnerships, increased funding, and broader community engagement are key milestones we aim to achieve on our journey to creating a more diverse and vibrant workforce for the future.

7 – What tools/people/services/organisations from the cluster have helped you most?  

My co-founder, Jeremy, has been my pillar of support throughout this journey. Our founding partners, including CIONET, BCS, the Chartered Institute of IT, and the ESG Institute, have played crucial roles. I am grateful to my board members and mentors who provide invaluable advice and support.

Additionally, organisations such as techSPARK and Chambers of Commerce (Thames Valley and South West) have been instrumental in our success. The collaborative efforts of these individuals and entities have significantly contributed to our achievements.

8 – What’s the best thing about the South West tech cluster? 

The best thing about the South West tech cluster is its vibrant and collaborative ecosystem, offering unique opportunities to advance diversity and talent in the tech industry.

The supportive community and innovative initiatives within the cluster create an environment where diverse talents can thrive, fostering inclusivity and providing a platform for underrepresented individuals to contribute and excel in the technology sector.

9 – Who will you be nominating for a SPARKie this year? 

We believe there are numerous deserving charities and social enterprises within our vibrant community, including DiversITy-talent. We look forward to nominating several organisations that have made a significant impact, acknowledging the collective efforts driving positive change in our community

10 – Where can we find out more about you? 

For more information about DiversITy-talent and our initiatives, you can visit our website here. Feel free to reach out to us via info@diversity-talent.co.uk for inquiries or to explore potential collaborations. We look forward to connecting with you and sharing more about our mission to empower diverse talent in the tech industry.

Shona Wright

Shona covers all things editorial at TechSPARK. She publishes news articles, interviews and features about our fantastic tech and digital ecosystem, working with startups and scaleups to spread the word about the cool things they're up to. She also oversees TechSPARK's social media, sharing the latest updates on everything from investment news to green tech meetups and inspirational stories.