David Rai is the CEO of Sparta Global, a leading technology services company specialising in the provision of highly skilled technology consultants. We spoke to David about his career in tech, the diversity and social mobility challenges of the industry, as well as Sparta Global’s new Equal Tech Report.

The technology industry is not diverse, but it’s trying.

I was born in Coventry to parents who emigrated from India in the 1960s. My dad was an entrepreneur who owned a car dealership and he taught myself and my siblings to follow our instincts and ignore the naysayers. No aspirational career choice was too big for us, but lofty ambition is often not enough. Certain career paths or opportunities were unattainable for Asian men from less-advantaged backgrounds like me, and other under-represented communities were also facing the same struggles with inclusion and equal career opportunities.

I am incredibly fortunate that I was able to attend a good University, and go on to found companies of my own. But I have never lost touch of some of the experiences I had as an individual who had to fight that little bit harder to be seen and heard.

Hiring for aptitude and attitude

I co-founded Sparta Global in 2014, alongside our CIO Tim Staton. It was a business born from the hiring demands of the digital sector in the UK. Organisations could not access the local tech talent they needed to innovate and progress, and skilled junior IT consultants were even harder to come by.

By developing an innovative business model that enabled us to attract, train, hire and deliver junior technology talent, we found a way to access untapped early careers talent in diverse communities. Graduates, non-graduates, returners, career changers and those from non-STEM backgrounds are all given an equal opportunity to join Sparta Global, receive paid training in in-demand technology areas, and be assigned to work on live digital projects with our clients. We can help organisations access the digital skills they are missing, but we are also incredibly proud to give them access to the diversity of thought they need to succeed.

We hire purely on attitude and aptitude for our digital careers. No experience? No degree? No problem. Diversity and inclusion is in the DNA of our business, it’s in our business values, ingrained in me and literally written on our Academy walls.

A socio-economic shift

The technology industry was once dominated by white men, but progress is being made. Between July and September 2021, the UK created an additional 58,000 tech and IT jobs, with women taking the majority of new roles. This coincides with data that reveals tech to be the third fastest sector for the creation of jobs for women.

Looking at ethnic diversity, techUK research (2021) shows people from ethnic minorities now marginally make up a larger share of the technology workforce than they do the wider UK workforce – 11.8% for all occupations, and 15.2% for tech.

The data is showing a great cultural change with the proliferation of diverse communities in technology – but ethnicity and gender are just two parts of the battle. How can the industry change and evolve to truly become inclusive – what are educators and employers doing to champion neurodiversity, accessibility, and social mobility?

A move to Equal Tech

Social mobility matters. Equal employment opportunities matter.

This is why, seven months ago, we initiated a research project that surveyed more than 160 individuals from organisations across almost every industry sector – from CEOs and CTOs to junior hiring professionals – UK Universities, community partners and graduate groups, to identify the systemic, deep and disproportionate impact Covid-19 has on youth employability. With these insights, we pulled together our inaugural Equal Tech report – a body of work that would shine a light on what can be learned from our shared experience and how we can better prioritise the people who will be transforming our businesses, communities and society in the future. Today, our Equal Tech Report was released.

EQUAL TECH REPORT

We are incredibly proud to have worked on an important piece of research that we hope will be used by employers and educators to provoke difficult conversations around what is being done in their organisations to support social mobility and equal employability.  We are also incredibly proud to have partnered with Career Ready and their CEO Tokunbo Ajasa- Oluwa. The team have been incredibly collaborative, supportive and we were proud to donate £5 for every completed research survey to their organisation. I look forward to progressing our partnership and continuing to support their exceptional work with young people.

Read more news and views: