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A consortium of technology companies has partnered to double the number of female and black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) startup founders by 2020.
The project, led by startup support network Capital Enterprise, will aim to connect startup founders with appropriate mentors to give them a better chance of developing startups and gaining investment opportunities.
Companies involved in the initiative include JPMorgan Chase Foundation, Your Startup, Your Story (YSYS), Diversity VC and Tech Nation, as well as more than 50 venture capital, business angel groups and technology accelerators in London.
Alison Partridge from Capital Enterprise said: “The lack of diversity costs the tech industry dearly in untapped potential, talent and growth. Even the best performing tech accelerators and investment readiness programmes in London only have around 10% women and 20% BAME founders in their cohorts.”
A report by startup and scaleup database Beauhurst recently found 91% of all venture capital investments in the UK are awarded to startups with all-male founding teams.
As well as provide under-represented groups with mentors to help encourage and grow the tech startup sector, the consortium plans to raise $20m of investment for startups and create approximately 300 technology roles.
It also aims to teach project partners why it is important to try to increase diversity in businesses and what changes they can make to more easily recruit a diverse workforce.
Towards the end of 2018, partner firms in the consortium will launch a campaign, with the aim of showcasing technology founders from under-represented groups to act as role models for those looking to be part of the tech startup ecosystem.
Many young women have claimed they would like to see more female role models encouraging them into the technology industry, but stereotypes surrounding what roles in the sector can put people off pursuing a tech career, as well as discourage parents and teachers from encouraging people to go into the industry.
By showcasing some of the people already in the industry, the hope is to better represent the types of roles and people in tech and encourage others to join the industry.
The consortium also aims to increase the talent pipeline for technology startups in London. This is something the technology industry is already struggling with, and it has been suggested that once the UK’s ICT qualification is completely scrapped there may be even fewer female and BAME students choosing to study computing subjects at GCSE level or above.
As well as increased diversity making firms more productive and innovative, experts believe it will help the creativity of the technology industry – something that is becoming increasingly important as automation threatens to replace some roles.
Peter Scher, head of corporate responsibility at JPMorgan Chase & Co, said: “The technology sector is critical to London’s economy, but we must improve the diversity of the entrepreneurs that support it. Fostering diversity can drive technology innovation, creativity and productivity, and create inclusive economic growth.”