I’m in the Inclusive top 100 #IB100

I’m extremely happy to be announced as one of the top 100 most influential Black, Asian Minority Ethnic (BAME) leaders in the UK tech sector. The list, produced by board appointments firm Inclusive Boards, was released today at the House of Commons as part of the official launch of the Inclusive Tech Alliance.

I have been sitting on this news for quite some time as it was embargoed from publication.

Inclusive Boards Logo

I’m unsure who(m) nominated me (lots of names come to mind) but I am very pleased they did. Maybe it was something to do with my keynote at Afrotech earlier this year? Maybe it might be something to do with Afrofutures a few years ago? Or maybe its a combination of different things and just me and my outlook. Its clear as day I have been fighting for diversity and inclusion at work and everywhere I go, its critical and I’ve become less and tolerant when theres a willful lack of it.

I say tolerant and it might be a strong word, even the wrong word but I do feel very strongly about it and every-time I read the figures of actual levels of racial diversity it just eats me up inside. There’s a real push to increase gender diversity which people keep confusing with actual diversity.

I’m always reminded of this picture when thinking about gender diversity in tech. Like gender, like sexuality, etc (Likewise for Neuro-diversity but thats another story.). Racial diversity needs an equal amount of people pushing for it too. The inclusive tech alliance can help make this a reality. Never underestimate how important this can be for young BAME children living in forgotten parts of the country wondering about their place in the future. I was reminded of this very recently in Macedonia of all places…

The Alliance has been set up in response to new research by Inclusive Boards that will show the sector is significantly lagging behind others on diversity within senior leadership. The founder of the Inclusive Tech Alliance (ITA), Samuel Kasumu, who is also a member of the Prime Minister’s Race Disparity Advisory Board said:

“Technology is increasingly playing an important role in driving our economy and there is a great need to ensure that everyone can fully participate in the jobs and opportunities technology brings. Ian Forrester and others featured in this list today are role models that will inspire the next generation, and hopefully help to improve diversity within the sector.”

I can do better, we can all do better, and being part of the inclusive tech alliance, will help greatly to get the message of diversity and inclusion out there. Especially in the tech sector which seem to shy away from the arts. A sector which dominates so much of our modern lives but fail badly with diversity.

Without technology I would be a very different person and I want to help many others realise there true potential without prejudice and without fear. If I can be a part of this, I will hopefully inspire others to join us as we drive the much needed change…

I won’t be at the event in the house of commons, unfortunately. But look out for the full list of people in newspapers and online.

Thank you!

Neurodiversity as a superpower?

I always loved the idea of the listening project and of course took part in it myself with the lovely Kate. The editors enjoyed the last part of conversation, which we still haven’t actually gone through with yet?

It was Kate who included me in this tweet about Leanne and Eloise talking about dyslexia as a superpower. Something I’m fully behind being dyslexic and living in a world of the neurotypical.

The Dyslexic advantage is quite something, along with the videos; in this regards. I remember Malcolm Gladwell getting a lot of attention for saying something similar in his book David and Goliath. Desirable difficulty, I believe were the words.

It’s slightly ironic, when reading about the sperm donation place which was turning away dyslexic men. I’ve also been thinking about the advantages and disadvantages of telling young children about their superpower. Can this be a good or bad thing? It’s really hard to say, especially because I don’t have kids, so have no skin (as such) in the game. But of course it doesn’t stop me from chipping in with something anyway.

I was talking with a colleague recently and we were talking about the joy of seeing neurodiverse people doing what comes naturally, instead of trying to fit in with the neurotypical view. For example, I write as I talk, this isn’t the way you write… lots of people tell me. So I tried to adopt this, but in the end gave up knowing it simply was not the way which works for me. I am obviously a lot happier because of this but I’m still waiting for the technology to catch up.

Street art in Manchester's Northern Quarter

The colleague is a very visual thinker and prefers to communicate in pictures. One of the many great things I seen is this person writing emails using gifs and very little text. Its sounds nuts but it works so well and I’ve started wondering why this doesn’t happen more often? I mean Emjoi’s are becoming more common place, I seen Gif usage increasing in spaces which support them like Instant messaging, Twitter, Slack, etc. I even have a task to install a few apps so I can create my own.

Media which expands human communication and curiosity?

Superpower or magic

How about that for a superpower?!