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INSPIRE 20 Podcast: Mark Martin, UKBlackTech

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Linda Rosencrance Freelance writer/editor
INSPIRE 20 Diversity Inclusion Mark Martin
 

Mark Martin, co-founder of UKBlackTech, is not afraid to call the tech industry out and say where he thinks it should be doing better.

Martin, who holds an MBE (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) for services to education, tech, and diversity in technology, started UKBlackTech to make the United Kingdom the most ethnically diverse tech ecosystem in the world.

A mission adjustment

But recently, the organization changed its focus toward innovation, to re-imagine Black technologists and Black innovation beyond just the words diversity and inclusion.

To have the best tech tools and products within the UK, it's not so much about having diversity and inclusion initiatives, "it needs to [be baked] in everything we do," Martin said in an email. "It's about having representation at all levels, taking part in that innovation" rather than just having shops "talk about" diversity and inclusion.

The INSPIRE 20 podcast series

An advanced skills teacher in education and computer science, Martin is one of the executives taking part in INSPIRE 20, a new podcast series that showcases 20 executives from around the world who are making a difference in terms of inclusion and diversity in their organizations, communities, and/or industries.

 

Listen to the podcast with Tanya Janca on Apple PodcastsSoundCloud, or Spotify. Plus: See all of the INSPIRE 20 podcasts

In the podcast, Martin points out the need for the tech sector to confront its blind spots and oversights when it comes to Black and ethnic minorities in tech.

The industry needs to "ensure there is equality in pay, promotion, and voices talking about the future of tech," he explained via email. "If we don’t see Black and minorities in leadership solving the biggest problems in tech, then they will be excluded in the future."

It's not the fact that homegrown talent doesn't exist, Martin said in the podcast. Rather, it's about the opportunity and about how to challenge the tech sector, which keeps pointing out that there are so many jobs available, to really engage with that homegrown talent on their doorstep.

Putting diversity into action 

Martin also notes that the Black Lives Matter movement is driving change in the tech industry by being a catalyst for business leaders to put their words about diversity into action.

As a teacher of computer science, Martin talks in the podcast about the barriers that exist for students entering the tech industry. He also offers advice to tech companies that want to drive diversity and brand awareness, saying that if the industry doesn't make space for Black talent, these individuals will leave for places that value their skills.

"They're moving into Singapore, they're moving to Dubai, they're moving into Latin America," Martin said in the podcast. "They're going back into Africa and the Caribbean. So my warning to the industry is that if we don't get our act together, we're going to lose out on a lot of talent that will pursue greener pastures."

In addition, Martin noted the need for the tech industry to demystify some of these job roles and skills.

"It's about what the tech industry can be doing to give this new generation experiences that will encourage them to pursue the opportunities that tech companies present," he said.

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