The UKs tech sector is still lacking diversity and it is starting to become worrying. As diversity can enhance performance and the development of an organisation, and with the tech industry growing rapidly, why is there still a lack of diversity in tech?
The Inclusive Boards Agency gathered information about senior leaderships and board structures of 500 of Britain’s largest tech firms. They also collected information on their demographic structures for 1,882 executives and 1,696 board members. Only 8.5% of senior leaders are from a minority background in the tech industry and women only make up 12.6% of board members in the sector.
The technology sector contributed to almost £200bn of the economy last year and continues to grow at least 2.5 times faster than the whole economy. So, considering how important the tech sector is, the figures are very worrying. More companies are starting to rely on technology and so our futures are becoming increasingly more reliant on technology. Having a lack of diversity in the tech sector is very alarming as particular groups are not fully participating in the sector and are somewhat needed.
One in nine leaders in the tech industry are from a BAME background which is a fair representation compared to the one in 12 for the FTSE 100. However, this still lags in the UK because 1 in 7 of the population has a BAME background. London has 300,000 tech-based jobs and more than 40% of the capital’s population is from minority background, so this makes the matter considerably worse. To tackle the lack or representation of women and BAME executives, it has been suggested that organisation create a ‘board-ready programme’. This programme would involve supporting and training candidates from diverse backgrounds with senior leadership skills and helping them enter the pipeline, this would help with the lack of diversity in tech. Individuals from a BAME background are more than likely to be hired for a temporary position within the tech sector, rather than be given a permanent role within an organisation.
The report also showed results of a specific culture that the tech industry adopts in their executive and senior levels. The elitism culture was highlighted regarding to their social background as 35% of tech board members and 26% of senior executives attended either Oxford or Cambridge University compared to the 1% of the UKs overall population. Furthermore, 37% of tech board member and 31% of senior executives attended private school, compared to 7% of the overall population. This elite culture could make it harder for individuals who have come from a comprehensive school to develop into those positions as only 41% of senior leaders come from a comprehensive school compared to 88% of the UKs overall population.
Along with the lack of minority and women workers, the tech industry also lack diversity in hiring disabled people and people over the age of 50. Only 8% of disabled people work in the tech industry in the UK and 21% are over the age of 50. This is considerably poor as the national statistic shows that of the working population, 23% are disabled and 41% are over the age of 50.
It can be hard to increase diversity as tech firms state how there is a lack of pipeline talent. In recent findings from Tech City UK who surveyed 1000 young people, more than a third (36%) of them hope to work in the tech industry. However, when it came to women, only 13% are interested in working in the tech industry. The reasons for this are because 45% of them said they lack skills for tech-based jobs and 38% claimed they had a lack of knowledge about technology. 24% of women also said they didn’t see the tech sector as being right for them. These figures all suggest why tech companies are stating that there is a lack of pipeline talent which results in a lack of diversity in tech.
Even though there are many ways to increase diversity in tech, this will not change the lack of diversity in tech immediately. The issue is still growing and will continue to grow rapidly with the technology industry. Tech companies need to start understanding the benefits of diversity and learning how to achieve diversity within their workforce. Increasing diversity in tech can aid the creation of new products and variety is a key strength point at board level.