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Pathways to tech: how you can help pave the way for a more diverse industry

Photograph of Julien, taken in shadow - he is a white male with a short beard

Key takeaways 


  • Improving tech diversity means helping minorities become part of creative, productive teams in the long term

  • Baking social change into your organization’s values helps get your people engaged

  • Educating the next generation of technologists can deliver great benefits for the industry and individuals.

Let’s talk diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in tech. With most tech organizations requiring Computer Science degrees as a minimum qualification, marginalized groups and those who can’t secure funding through a university course – or afford consistent access to tech – can find their options for breaking into the tech industry limited. Recently, I wasn’t surprised to learn that 72% of respondents who identified as Black/African/Caribbean and 52% of respondents who identified as women agree that their background or identity makes it more challenging for them to be successful in tech, according to 2020’s The State of European Tech Survey. [1]

An elitist tech market, with tech created by homogenous teams, creates a myriad of problems, not least that outputs become less effective – and accessible – when they’re simply not built for everyone. At Thoughtworks, we know that diverse teams create more equitable and responsible tech. While carefully managing the composition of internal teams on projects is a short-term solution, if your organization is serious about diversity, equity and inclusion, investing in pathways into tech is what will help build diverse and inclusive teams for the long term.


One effective approach to driving change within your organization is to align its fundamental values with diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and foster a culture of social transformation. This empowers employees to actively contribute to positive change as an integral part of their journey within the company. We encourage team members to make use of downtime between projects, providing learning and volunteering opportunities and offering company resources including tools and office space for projects that advance social change on every level.


Bootcamps that make a difference


At Thoughtworks Spain, we also invest time and resources to support organizations that improve access to tech careers for under-represented groups in the form of structured ‘bootcamps’. The overall goal of these bootcamps is to help those without the privileges of time, money and a Computer Science degree get roles in the tech industry – building diversity into the sector in the long term. Volunteer Thoughtworkers can offer teaching and mentoring in their field of expertise. My theory is that this creates a kind of ‘virtuous circle’. With the involvement of Thoughtworkers, the bootcamps develop grads that are right-skilled for us – some of whom we might hire, now or later in their careers. And the bootcamps enhance their success rate, opening more doors for more individuals.


One of the Spanish organizations connecting Thoughtworkers with those in need of help is Factoria F5 in Barcelona, a not-for-profit community that offers free tech training to minorities and the vulnerable. In the four years since its launch, it has trained over 800 people, equipping them with the skills they need to find jobs in the tech sector. Over 80% of Factoria F5 alumni go on to find a role in tech, start their own project or continue their training in the industry. 


Our people in Spain have also spent time training young migrants and refugees to code through MigraCode, an EU-funded network that promotes open tech education for those groups. MigraCode’s completely free education program teaches coding skills to its students and supports them in their job search. MigraCode Barcelona produced 41 graduates between 2019 and 2021, with 32 going on to find jobs in tech. 


We also provide support to Codebar, an organization dedicated to making technology more accessible. Codebar, is a global charity that promotes diversity in tech with regular free programming workshops for minority groups. To date, the tally for Codebar workshops is over 1770 and counting, connecting minorities with dedicated coaches from Thoughtworks and other partner companies.



"I heard about the Factoria F5 program from acquaintances who recommended it to me. The truth is that I was not very prepared, it was a totally new field and I had to learn a lot of new concepts […] the bootcamp classes were all online and at the end of the day I had more and more questions. Thanks to the bootcamp teachers and Thoughtworks collaborators who gave us master classes to broaden our knowledge and clarify our doubts, I was able to answer many of these questions."
Estefanie Garcia
Factoria F5 bootcamp participant

Breaking down barriers


We know that bootcamps can still be the preserve of the more privileged, with recruiters often homing in on the more expensive programs with the best reputations. Or that high hiring standards (ours included) can be barriers to entry themselves. So we try to invest in activities that help reduce or remove barriers and open up pathways for the less privileged, even when it won’t directly affect our recruiting pipeline. 


One example is a program we put together in Ecuador, offering four scholarships to students from historically excluded sectors to study software development at the Pontific University of Ecuador. All of those who benefited were the first generation from their families to receive this level of higher education. We also fund an Indigenous New Developer scholarship in Australia, aligned with our vision to increase representation and bridge gaps for the First Nations community there.


A long-term change to the tech landscape


As a career changer myself, it is really important to me to feel that we are helping open up the doors to the tech industry to people who would never have considered that it might be for them….It is also a great opportunity to hone skills on presenting and facilitating technical sessions.
Rosa Palli
Thoughtworks Consultant and Factoría F5 mentor

If your organization is considering investing into pathways into tech, it’s important to remember that ROI is not immediate. It’s an investment for the long-term future of the industry that gets your people learning through participation – networking, building confidence, improving their coaching abilities and fine-tuning soft skills. At Thoughtworks we try to make the work a ‘light lift’ for our people, by building partnerships and creating a structure that makes it easier for them to volunteer their time. So they can focus on guiding the next generation of technologists – building perceptions, tech principles and abilities.


It’s that lasting influence on tech’s broader potential that I really see as being of huge value for organizations. Tech, at this point in time, isn’t neutral – there’s unconscious bias, political perspectives and complicated power dynamics at play. Investing in pathways to tech is an opportunity to help educate a whole generation of technologists about these complexities – and pave the way for a brighter future. 


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