Increasing racial diversity within Leeds’ digital sector: New project from WILD Digital to unlock the full potential of the city’s digital sector

WILD Digital (formerly Women in Leeds Digital) have launched a new project aiming to understand the current landscape for people of colour in Leeds who are working or looking for work in the city’s digital and tech space. The project aims to unlock the full potential of the sector across Leeds. Empowering organisations across the city to create diverse and inclusive workplaces.

According to research by Druthers, there is a clear issue in regards to diversity in the digital and tech space across the UK, with only 2.6% of UK tech board members being from ethnic minorities. However, there is further work needed to uncover the lived experiences of underserved groups within the Leeds digital and tech sector, which the project aims to do.

Together with delivery partner Diverse & Equal, WILD Digital is running the project to ensure that the city becomes a UK leader in true understanding and commitment to change.

Led by WILD co-founder, Sarah Tulip, the project aims to uncover key learnings and create objectives to help empower the digital and tech sector within Leeds. Taking time to understand the barriers and lived experiences of people from ethnically diverse backgrounds, allowing the sector to move forward with confidence and to become truly diverse, unlocking its true potential.

Creating a diverse and inclusive workspace is vital for the continued growth and development of the sector,  allowing everyone to feel safe and bring their whole selves into the workplace. Recent research from McKinsey shows a 35% increase in profit for organisations that are ethnically diverse and inclusive.

A survey is being launched on 6th July 2021 to explore the experiences of people working, or looking to work in the Leeds digital and tech space. The survey is to be accompanied by a large number of qualitative in-depth interviews, run in partnership with NEXUS and Leeds University.

The project will present its findings at Leeds Digital Festival – an event hosted by WILD Digital – where a panel will discuss the findings, establish what needs to be achieved, and how the city of Leeds can lead in the creation of an ethnically diverse digital and tech sector.

The survey represents a significant commitment from leaders within the sector. Key partners include Leeds City Council, Sky Betting and Gaming, TPP, BJSS, Bruntwood, SciTec, Nexus and Crisp.

Sarah Tulip, Co- founder of WILD Digital, Head of Digital Transformation BJSS, said:

“The last 12 months has brought to the forefront that we need to talk about race, especially in the Digital sector, where we are often setting the pace for innovation.  Conversations about race are happening and we are starting to see change in pockets, but it is a topic that still often makes people uncomfortable and worry about “getting it right”. This project led by WILD Digital aims to try and make this conversation clear and accessible for everyone. It is an opportunity for the Leeds Digital Sector to show our passion and commitment to equality and to lead in our listening and set objectives to create a fairer and more inclusive space for all.”

Annette Joseph, Founder, Diverse and Equal, said:

“We’re excited to be leading this work on behalf of WiLD for the city of Leeds. Innovation from tech touches every part of our lives — from how we communicate to how we shop, and everything in between. This research demonstrates the city’s commitment to equality. The insights will feed into Leeds becoming a diverse, innovative and productive centre of tech excellence for the future.”

Councillor Jonathan Pryor, Deputy Leader and Leeds City Council executive board member for Economy, Culture and Education, said:

“This project is crucial to helping uncover the lived realities of people of colour in the digital and tech sector across Leeds and will allow the sector to take the necessary actions to create a diverse workforce truly reflective of our city. It is really pleasing to see so many companies across Leeds buy into this really important work and contribute to the necessary change.”