Diversity in Tech Entrepreneurship

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Diversity in Tech Entrepreneurship at BeyondTech

Emma Joy Obanye is Head of Delivery at OneTech and her talk was about taking an ecosystem approach to tackle diversity issues in tech startup world. She explored tokenism vs impact that may affect the progress of diversity in tech.

BeyondTech 2019 conference was held 1-2 May at Code Node and sponsored by Skills Matter, and covered several themes: Responsible AI, Diversity & Inclusivity, Tech for Good & Closing the Skills Gap. It was a forum to promote real actions that could be taken to create a diverse and inclusive ecosystem.

Emma Joy Obanye is the Head of Delivery of Capital Enterprise’s ‘OneTech’. An entrepreneur, advisor, mentor and tech geek from Hackney, Emma has spent the last 15 years building products and leading teams in both the corporate and startup world.

Female Founders tech ecosystem

Female Founders: For every 1 of venture capital investment in the UK, just 1p goes to all-female led teams. Diversity initiatives and a government agenda are now in place to counter this long-lived trend. It will be important to avoid this intitiative taken as tokenism and imperative to drive forward an agenda for inclusion and impact.

72% of Investment professionals are men
13% of decision makers are female
48% of teams have no female representation at all! source – www.diversity.vc

Throwaway or Here to Stay?:One of the ways to address this imbalance is by backing more women led businesses to create a greater number of successful women entrepreneurs and subsequently more female angel investors.

The diversity challenge in the Tech startup ecosystem
Demand – Supply – Products & Services – The Narrative

Demand (from Investors) : 72% of Investment professionals are men; 13% of decision makers are female; 48% of teams have no female representation at all! source – www.diversity.vc

Supply(of Entrepreneurs) : 22% tech directors are women; 19% tech workers are women; 49% UK workers are women. source – www.technation.io

Products & Services: An example is that Machine-learning systems can easily pick up biases if their design and data sets are not carefully considered, while AI employs an even lower proportion of women than the rest of the tech sector. Machines will, after all, only detect and automate existing bias.

The diversity challenge in the Tech startup ecosystem

Tokenism vs Impact : When diversity and inclusion are reduced to data points, it strips the human element from the business, hence a need to focus less on numbers, more on culture and mission. We need to move beyond tokenism and get serious about weaving diversity into the fabric of our corporate cultures.

By bringing everyone to the table and working to incorporate diversity and inclusion into the fabric of your company culture, you can take an important step toward abandoning tokenism

The Narrative The recently launched OneTech initiative aims to champion 200 startups led by women and BAME individuals, with the objective of seeing at least 50 of them raise investment. The hope is to double the number of female and BAME founders in East London.

The ecosystem: At the moment, only four per cent of the UK’s tech industry come from BAME backgrounds, and only 19 per cent of the workforce is female, something the programme hopes to change.

Measuring outcomes: OneTech will also be working alongside Loughborough University, which will be working on a longitudinal study to measure the impact of the work, with the view to offering recommendations for the next one.

Emma Joy Obanye Videocast at BeyondTech


LBAcademy is a UK Business Growth Hub that provides digital skills and talent training to Tech & Creative Startups for high growth.

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