Olu Orugboh - CW Board member, Founder and CEO of Synergy Solutions, spotlights Black talent in tech as part of Black History Month 22.
The tech sector is experiencing phenomenal growth, fuelled by changes in consumer demand, innovation and the migration of more services into the digital world, demand for skills to support this growth remains high. However, studies show that the UK’s technology sector is still suffering from a diversity issue, when grouped as one category, the STEM workforce has a comparable share of Black, Asian and racially minioritised workers to the rest of the UK workforce (12%), when the data is looked at in more granularity, STEM has a lower share of Black workers (2% in engineering, technology, science and maths compared to 3% in the rest of the workforce) (APPG on Diversity and Inclusion in STEM, 2021)
Research has shown that creating an inclusive culture where Black talent can thrive makes economic sense. This is reaffirmed in the McKinsey report, which states that “the greater the representation in an organisation, the higher the likelihood of outperformance, as multiple perspectives are more likely to emerge, and creativity is ensured” (McKinsey 2020).
Although, there is a still a long way to go in terms of diversity in tech, we believe that it is important to not only highlight what needs to improve, but also celebrate some of the inspiring, influential and prominent black voices in UK tech and social impact. Although there are so many incredible voices, we here at CW, are pleased to spotlight three of those inspirational voices.
Jacky Wright is a British technology executive, chief digital officer and corporate vice president at Microsoft US, she is widely regarded across the world as one of the most influential black women in the tech industry. Wright has been named the UK’s most influential black person by The Powerlist 2022 – the annual list of the UK’s most powerful people of African, African Caribbean and African American heritage.
Her career spans senior technology leadership roles across many industries including CIO roles at Microsoft, BP and GE. As a leader in technology, Jacky uses her broad platform to drive thought leadership not just for the positive impact of digital transformation for business, but also for social, economic and environmental change.
As a woman of color, her passion, advocacy and influence to create a truly inclusive world is demonstrated in the various forums where she regularly speaks on diversity, digital inclusion and the power of inclusive leadership.
She has been widely recognized for her many contributions in technology and diversity, including an honorary doctorate from Aston University, named as a 2020 National Diversity Council’s 50 Most Powerful Women in Technology, Britain’s Powerlist 100 of Most Influential Black People, the Top 100 BAME Leaders in Business, the Top 100 BAME Leaders in Tech, and Savoy Magazine’s Top Women list. She has also been featured in numerous publications, including CIO Magazine and the WSJ CIO Journal.
Lord Simon Woolley
Simon Andrew Woolley, Baron Woolley of Woodford, is a political and equalities activist. He is the founder and director of Operation Black Vote and Trustee of the charity Police Now. Woolley has been a crossbench member of the House of Lords since October 2019, and has been Principal of Homerton College, Cambridge since October 2021. He was chair of the Government of the United Kingdom Race Disparity Unit Advisory Group until July 2020.
Simon Woolley is the Founding Director of Operation Black Vote (OBV), the internationally renowned campaigning NGO. OBV works with ethnic minorities in the UK to increase understanding of civic society, participation in Parliament and public life, and to promote equality and human rights. Formerly an Equality and Human Rights Commissioner, in 2018 Lord Woolley was appointed by Prime Minister Theresa May to create and lead the UK Government’s pioneering Race Disparity Unit. The Unit collects, analyses and publishes data on how crime, education and health are affected by ethnicity.
Repeatedly recognised in the Black Powerlist, Lord Woolley is dedicated to promoting opportunity for underrepresented communities and individuals, and to building consensus across political and community lines.
Simon Woolley was knighted in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in June 2019 and was created a life peer in December of the same year. He is a regular contributor to newspapers nationally and internationally on topics relating to equality, diversity and social justice.
Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon, MBE
Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE is a British-Nigerian computer scientist. Imafidon was a computing, mathematics and language child prodigy, having been one of the youngest people to pass two GCSEs in two different subjects while in primary school. In June 2022 she was announced as the British Science Association's new President.
Imafidon is the founder and CEO of Stemettes, a social initiative dedicated to inspiring the next generation of women in science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) careers. Since its inception Stemettes, has exposed 60,000 young people across Europe to her vision for a more diverse and balanced science and tech community. In 2022 she released her new book She’s in CTRL a guidebook for women to take back tech.
Imafidon also co-founded Outbox Incubator, which is the world's first tech incubator for teenage girls. The incubator provided seed funding, intensive mentorship, and support to talented young women aged 22 and under who have innovative business and technology ideas.
Imafidon was awarded an MBE in the 2017 New Year Honours for services to young women and STEM sectors.