Hackney Wick,

Hackney: opening doors to diverse talent

This summer, the Council and Here East - the innovation campus on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park - hosted the "Opening Doors to Diverse Talent" event to celebrate the combined achievements of local educators, community groups, the public sector and business partners in addressing the barriers facing diverse talent in the digital tech industry.

Over the last two decades, Hackney has seen the rise of digital tech, innovation and creative industries, with an increase in highly skilled job opportunities. However, according to recent Council research, long-term residents don't feel optimistic about their opportunities to find good entry-level or more accessible jobs in digital tech. They also raised concerns about their identity or background being a barrier to success in the sector.

The Council report "Breaking the Barriers" recommended tackling the challenge by improving access to skills, training and information about digital tech careers and changes to business recruitment practices to offer more apprenticeships and internships.

Mayor of Hackney Philip Glanville (below) spoke at the event about the importance of diversity for employers: “Diversification can be the engine of economic growth, and the continual spark we need for fresh ideas and new paradigms of thinking…this conference today is a fantastic opportunity for you all to form new partnerships, and learn more about what you can do to participate in the diversification of tech.“
















How businesses can contribute by promoting alternative access routes was a key focus of the event. Cllr Carole Williams, Hackney Council’s Cabinet Member for Employment, Human Resources and Equalities hosted a panel discussion with business leaders sharing what they were doing and the benefits of diversifying their workforce.  

The panel discussion featured Sharon Annafi, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Lead at Havas; Nancy Scott, Corporate Projects Developer at Hoptroff; Dami Hastrup, Founder and CEO, Moonhub; Natasha Grujić, Head of People at ustwo and Ghulam Rasool, Transformation Lead at Ford.

Having a diverse workforce brings diverse schools of thought. It also shows that people from different walks of life can provide different solutions and perspectives to things that you might not be able to see - and working with local bodies like government, local councils, local charities or nonprofits - or organisations that are for profit - can help increase the diversity within your company.

Dami Hastrup, Founder and CEO of tech agency MoonHub

If you have a desire to make a change to open up pathways to more diverse talent and you recognise this is an issue, that really is the first step. This is not something that you have to do on your own. There are experts out there, talk to other employers about what they did, find out what mistakes they made so you do not make the same ones. Having more access to diverse talent is going to better help you meet the needs of your personal customers.

Ghulam Rasool, Transformation lead at Ford

We are looking at groups who are from diverse socioeconomic communities, we are looking for different ethnicity groups, different genders, we’re looking at disability. You think about all the different protected characteristics, those are the groups that we are actively targeting.

I think for any organisation looking at bringing in diverse talent, it’s important to understand what your limitations are. We’ve got great systems, we’ve got great recruitment teams, but we couldn’t penetrate the diverse groups of people that the local councils can, so we need to lean on the skillset of the experts at a range of organisations.

Sharon Annafi, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Lead at ad agency, Havas