Progress will mean no longer needing to have the “diversity conversation”

Oke Agbeze

Throughout my career in tech, I have never been surprised to be the only Black person in the room. It may be an uncomfortable truth, but just like when I started out in IT, it is still rare to see a fellow Black person in the room.

Some will say that the situation is improving. Perhaps it is. Not enough for me to notice.

I have always said that progress will mean that we are no longer having to have the conversation about the lack of Black representation in tech. Therefore, we can safely say that we have progressed very little.

When looking at examples of people that have made it in the corporate world, I have always been struck by the distinct lack of those who look like me. It is clear to me that this is one of the main reasons that the tech industry has remained so elusive to Black people. The fewer people we see who look like us, the fewer of us will choose to enter a career in tech. Where people feel they don’t or won’t belong, they simply will not join.

Whilst I have enjoyed a successful career in technology, it has not been without its challenges; challenges which have undoubtedly been associated with the way I look.

Despite this, I stand by the view that tech is a viable career path. Alongside the genuine real-world application of tech, working in professional services gives you a great deal more career stability than other industries.

Therefore, the goal for future talent is to break down the barriers and challenges. There is a lot of talk about improving diversity, but genuine action being taken still seems to be a rarity. We need to be shown that we are always welcome; not only to fulfil a quota or meet an agenda. The metric of diversity can no longer be getting people through the door.

Digital Futures is working hard to ensure that this change happens, that the barriers are removed, that diversity in tech becomes a norm, not a policy. With the hard work and dedication of this team, I have every confidence we can achieve this goal. Whilst there clearly cannot and will not be an overnight fix, the work of Digital Futures gives me hope. Hope for a future where this conversation will no longer be needed.