TTC Hackathon Diaries - Education & Allyship Toolkit

Cover Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash.

Photo by "My Life Through A Lens" on Unsplash

In July 2020, I took part in a voluntary three-week virtual Hackathon hosted by The Tech Talent Charter (TTC) and Spinks.

Our team was tasked with the topic of Education & Allyship.

Our goal was to produce something that organisations could use to better educate employees on the subject of inequalities surrounding Black employees, encourage progressive dialogue and promote allyship. The intention being to include our output in the Open Playbook that shares best practice, what works and what doesn't, on the mission to drive inclusion and diversity in tech.

This was my first TTC Hackathon, and their second one ever. I really didn't know what to expect. So, I thought it might be a good idea to keep a diary of sorts. Maybe it will help someone trying to decide if they should take part in a TTC Hackathon or not (spoiler alert - do it!)

If you're not interested in my musings and want to jump straight to our final submission, here's your free pass. Otherwise, enjoy!

Mon 13 July - kickoff

Today we met our teams and had the kickoff call. It was exciting meeting the team. We have six people from very different backgrounds and industries, with lots of diverse views to bring to the table. I’m super excited about getting stuck in.

We set up a slack channel today and are trying to set up our first planning meeting, which is already proving tricky with six busy people. Our first challenge!

Surprisingly, this feels like the first time in a very long time that I’m outside my comfort zone.

Despite the huge variety of industries and businesses I come across in my work, I realise that I am still in a bubble (the startup/ tech bubble).

It was refreshing to talk to and get to know people from completely different backgrounds and lines of work to me. It led me to check my language and assumptions when engaging with the group. I’m very happy about this and can’t wait to immerse myself in more uncomfortableness. Note to self: must do more things like this.

Tools used
Google Hangouts
Good old text messaging

Thu 16 July

We finally managed to find a time that everyone could make and had our Planning Workshop where we agreed on a plan to help our team produce our best work in a fortnight, on top of our day jobs. We only had an hour together and a lot to talk about so it was a tight session where some conversations and decisions needed to be put on hold, in the interest of covering everything.

That said, we got through the essentials including:

  • Team expectations on video conference etiquette, what to do when someone is feeling overwhelmed, preferred names and pronouns, methods of communication
  • Our collective team mission
  • What education and allyship means to us (I really hated cutting this part of the conversation short, we could have gone on for hours)
  • Our plan on what to do and who does what

This is what our plan looks like (nothing fancy, just a Google Sheet):

Our timeline!

Though I am normally an Agile advocate, the short timeline for this hackathon meant a Gantt chart would be more suitable.

Following the planning session, we set up a Miro board to collect and arrange our ideas, set up a few Doodle polls to fix future meetings, and documented our decisions.

Never underestimate the challenge of finding times that work for everyone. Also, I was pleasantly surprised to be working with a team of individuals who each know their own strengths and are happy to put their hand up and take on responsibility. This made finding the best person for each part of the project super smooth. I wish more planning meetings were like this.

Tools used
Google Slides

Tue 21 July

Everyone has been busy adding thoughts, resources and comments to the Miro board which we’ve divided into two sections; Education and Allyship. There’s a fair bit of overlap between the two topics, which we expected. The Miro board is super full. We’re trying to find words that help describe the level of difficulty associated with a particular action and, so far, have managed to land on Padawan, Master and Yoda…

One of the most important factors when it comes to successful remote working is open and responsive communication and this project is proving no exception. I like to over-communicate when working with remote teams to make sure everyone knows what's going on. I'm sure that if I got really annoying, people would tell me...🤔

Thu 23 July - we're half way there!

We had a very important first-consolidation meeting today where we shared our initial thoughts on how to bring everything together and present it in a digestible, actionable way.

The only time everyone could make was 8am so we had a bleary-eyed early meeting.

The work to create order out of the jumble of Miro cards continues!

Mon 27 July

Marika and I were charged with moving everything from Miro to the Google Slides, which would be the format of our final submission. By the morning we had agreed a format in the slides and following a frenzy of copying & pasting, we were able to present our thoughts to the rest of the team in the afternoon. Marika spent the afternoon applying designs to the slides and now its over to the wordsmiths!

This is probably one of my favourite parts of any project - when all of your thinking and planning starts coming together into something recognisable. The birth of the Education & Allyship Toolkit.

Thu 30 July

We’ve been going through things with a fine-tooth comb, making sure everything is just right. Everything has gone to plan, we’ve hit all the timeline milestones and the Toolkit is ready for submission, yay!

Fri 31 July - results day

Oooh the big reveal…! Today was the much awaited results day where TTC gave us all feedback and announced the winners of the competition. Being a competitive and proud bunch, we were sad to hear that the winning position had been awarded to Team 2 who built the ‘Recruiting Black Employees’ roadmap. Congratulations Team 2! That said, it's not always about winning, is it.

We had booked a team call to happen after the results to de-brief, have a natter (without the pressure of a tight agenda!) and say our goodbyes. Everyone made it to the de-brief and it was lovely to just chat about our personal plans and share how much fun we’d had together over the past three weeks.

We agreed that working fully virtually wasn’t a hindrance, but rather that it allowed us to work seamlessly across two cities; London and Birmingham.

There was no denying that a physical get-together would have been awesome; however, we managed just fine. And now, we have an excuse to make a day-trip to Birmingham!  

I’ve said thank you so many times, and I repeat, thank you so much to The Tech Talent Charter for bringing six strangers together and allowing us to create something meaningful.

The Education & Allyship Toolkit

Enough of my rambling, here’s what you’ve come for. We produced a toolkit for any organisation seeking to raise their education and allyship game when it comes to Black employees. View it, use it, promote it in your networks and help each-other do better.

Click here to get the Toolkit

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