Ethnic & gender diversity alarmingly low among senior tech roles
The Tech Talent Charter (TTC), the UK’s leading non-profit driving diversity in tech, has published its annual Diversity in Tech report.
The data findings highlight an alarming lack of diversity among more senior technology personnel. Gender diversity is six percent lower in senior roles than tech roles overall, and ethnic diversity almost halves in senior roles (from 25% to 13%). While ethnic and gender inclusion in technology has been making positive headway overall, these figures reveal how companies are overlooking seniority in their D&I efforts, and a lack of progress in recruiting, retaining and developing more diverse candidates into senior roles.
For the first time this year, TTC’s annual report delves into activities and progress being made towards inclusion, equity and diversity by its Signatory companies. It analyses diversity reporting from 649 TTC Signatories (an increase from 580 last year) made up of a wide range of companies powering the UK’s digital economy including Global, HP, Lloyds Banking Group, Nominet, PwC and CWJobs. The TTC also has the support of the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT).
This year’s report flagged how ethnic and gender diversity at senior levels lags considerably behind the overall tech workforce. With only 13% of senior tech employees from ethnic minorities, this alarming finding demonstrates that while this group may be doing everything right to get into tech, once they are in, they are not finding equitable career progression. Similarly, gender minorities accounted for 22% of senior tech positions which is six percent lower than in the wider TTC tech workforce. On a more positive note, Signatories are well-aware of this discrepancy, and many have set objectives to achieve a more balanced gender ratio of between 40-50% over the next three to five years.
More generally on ethnic inclusion, the report highlighted that more than nine out of ten Signatories now collect data on ethnicity, a significant increase of a third on last year. Interestingly the report highlighted how more and more organisations are looking beyond merely gender and ethnicity and taking a more holistic approach to increase underrepresented groups’ engagement in the tech talent market. In particular, neurodiversity emerged as a distinct area of interest with the number of organisations measuring it doubling to 53% compared to last year. Considering Deloitte estimates that between 15-20% of the population is neurodiverse, this is a very important finding.
Another promising finding from this year’s report is the level of interest in mental health, wellbeing and reproductive health issues. Issues such as menopause and fertility are areas of heightened activity for many organisations, especially in relation to gender, age and LGBTQ+ inclusion.
According to the CIPD, one in four menopausal women say they don’t get the support they need from their manager. It is therefore encouraging to see that six percent of reporting companies highlighted initiatives to support menopause and that many of this same group also provide support for other underserved health journeys, including gender reassignment, infertility disease, fertility journeys, pregnancy loss and innovative enhancements to parental policies.
Areas which lag significantly behind in terms of attention by organisations include social mobility with only 38% of signatories collecting and measuring socio economic status and non-binary gender diversity which is only being measured by 35% of companies.
On these new findings, Lexie Papaspyrou, COO at Tech Talent Charter said: “Every year that we run the report we are heartened by the increasing interest in, and action taken by companies to recruit a more diverse and inclusive workforce. However, this year’s report clearly flags how gender and ethnic diversity in senior positions is disproportionately low. Companies need to implement initiatives that help not only to recruit new talent at this level but to retain employees in senior roles.”
She continued: “It is really encouraging to see tech companies take a much more holistic view to inclusion with so many now focussed on neurodiversity, mental health and reproductive issues. Many Signatories recognise that to attract and retain an in-demand and diverse tech workforce, they need to work on multiple lenses of inclusion at the same time, and at all levels of their business, to build their understanding of how these lenses interact throughout a career journey for the ultimate benefit of both employees and the company itself.”
Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE, Co-Founder of the Stemettes, an award-winning social initiative dedicated to inspiring and promoting the next generation of young women in the STEM sectors, also commented on the report findings: “The progress made over the last 10 years in making the workplace more inclusive and fairer is very encouraging. These findings however highlight the crucial role that organisations have to play in furthering social justice. It’s no longer purely about attracting employees from diverse backgrounds in but about being actively transformational internally to ensure people stay and are promoted fairly.