Code Untapped is a London based tech startup whose main goal is to create a brighter future for BAME communities through technology training!
Read more about their work in this short interview with Co-Founder, Ezechi Britton — enjoy 😉
What inspired you to set up Code Untapped?
Having spent over 15 years in the technology industry I’ve seen first hand how a career in technology can be life-changing but also how few people that look like me are in this industry.
I also used to speak at a lot of events about how technology is shattering the glass ceilings, and how anyone irrespective of race or gender can leverage technology to build new startups and yet again, very few people that looked like me would be in the audience.
This was the point that I realised I could do something to help change things and solve both the skills gap in the UK and the lack of representation in the tech industry.
What is your favourite aspect of having a career in technology?
Always learning something new. And applying my creativity in a way that creates a tangible result on a global scale, with a few taps on a keyboard.
Why do you think the BAME community is so underrepresented in today’s tech landscape?
I think there are still social barriers in the BAME community, pressure from parents to focus on medicine, law, higher education etc is still a very persistent problem. However when it comes to recruitment there are clearly still biases in the system, and not because people are inherently racist, but because hiring is hard.
So the easiest solution for people when hiring is to ask what does good look like? Most people when answering that question will naturally focus on their own history of roles, companies and education as a template for good.
Unfortunately in a society where only 14% of the population is BAME, looking for people who have followed your pathway will almost certainly mean that those people will have come from a similar background/demographic to yourself.
Which then has the negative side effect of reinforcing underrepresentation.
How are you going about supporting this community?
We’re big believers is opening doors, and pulling others through them.
Through Code Untapped not only are we sharing our collective knowledge and experience, but we’re also sharing our network and providing opportunities that technologists from this community might not have had access to.
How can others support the mission to increase diversity in tech?
Create more opportunities for others to network, to gain experience, and to develop new skills. The number one question we get asked is how do we get to a certain destination? Be a guiding light for others and help open doors for them to step through.
We are in full agreement that diverse teams perform better? What examples can you share to support this?
I usually give 3 reasons why diversity is important
1.Innovation. 💡Having diverse teams provides the difference of background and thought that encourages a healthy mix of ideas and challenge. How can you think outside of the box if you have only ever seen the inside of one?
2.Relevance. ✅ There is no value in being innovative if your ideas aren’t relevant to your customers/audience. So it’s important that your teams reflect the environment that you are selling to.
3.Access to talent. 🌍 Talent knows no borders. So why would you restrict yourself to a specific demographic?
You get a very high percentage of female attendees at your hackathons — why do you think this is?
I heard an interesting quote the other day, what is the difference between diversity and inclusion? Diversity can be measured, inclusion can’t. But it’s through creating inclusive environments that diversity flourishes. Even though we weren’t targeting gender specifically, we work hard to create an inclusive welcoming environment at Code Untapped. And I strongly believe that this is what has led to us having such a high percentage of incredible female tech talent at our events.
How do your Hackathons bring people together and allow them to reach their potential?
Our hackathons/bootcamps really focus on giving everyone a voice and the opportunity to learn something new through our workshops whilst working together to achieve a common goal. By adding the time element there is that little bit of pressure that really pushes people to stop procrastinating and just get involved.
On top of this because we run multiple events around a common theme everyone has the opportunity to try roles that they wouldn’t normally do within a supportive environment, in one event you might be a coder, in another you might take the lead in pitching, in another you might want to be a scrum master. Our Code Untapped events are really geared towards allowing people to experiment and try new roles without fear of failure.
Can you share a couple of your success stories?
We’re still early on our own journey, but our proudest moment so far has been having 5 our cohort accepted on The Dots “Fast Track 50” programme in partnership with Google. Those 5 now have access to a number of networking events as well as 5 mentors at google. We are also now getting regular roles and opportunities for developers, QA’s, PM’s and data scientists with companies that we are working with.
We’re so excited for our Mini coding bootcamp with Code Untapped next month!
If you’re passionate about coding — come over for a fun evening where we will teach you how to build a React/NodeJS app in less than 3 hours.
Sign up at: http://hirefirst.com