Employees of African origin in Berlin’s tech companies have started a group to promote diversity in the sector.
Called “Black in Tech Berlin”, the group networks and shares ideas to bring change in the industry, where Black people are underrepresented.
It counts six hundred members and was founded by Kave Bulambo, who is originally from the DR Congo but grew up in South Africa before moving to Berlin.
Ms Bulambo created it when she realised that she had only hired one Black engineer at her company, ‘My Career Path’.
“It starts really from the top when you think of investors, when you think about board members,” Bulambo explained.
“When you really think about the people that are behind the creation of what is technology and innovation. And so, from that place we’re excluded. Or not really present. And so when it comes to hiring, what makes us think that suddenly we will become diverse when it comes to employees?”
Some members of Black in Tech Berlin were born in Germany while others moved there from countries like Ghana, Kenya and the US.
Before the coronavirus pandemic, they met once a month. These days, they hold virtual meetings online.
Senait Isaac, a member of Black in Tech Berlin, said that she feels undervalued in the industry.
“I feel like has taken five steps back. It’s so unfortunate I feel I’ve worked extremely hard to get to the point where I’m at, but a lot of the companies here in Germany really tend to undervalue my experiences, my skillset, my education, it is just a constant battle, whether it is during interviews, or during the negotiation process. Everyone is really trying me.”
Berlin is one of Europe’s biggest tech hubs, but it is overwhelmingly White.
A report that polled 1,200 European founders of tech companies has found that 84% self-identified as white and only 0.9% identified as Black.
Ansela Manful, another member of the group, who moved to Berlin from Ghana, says she is always aware of her race when she is applying for positions.
“There are times I ask myself; did I not get that job because of my skin colour? That though still crosses my mind, but in dealing with it, I try to sharpen my skills, I mean, upskill myself, so that when I get that opportunity I can show them what I’m made of and I do excellent work.”
Berlin’s tech sector employs over 70,000 people. Thanks to the Black in Tech group, Bulambo, who works as a recruiter, has been able to hire many more Black programmers.
The group is developing a website to match employers with jobseekers from ethnic minorities.
More about Black in Tech Berlin at: https://blackintechberlin.com/