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How to increase diversity in tech: Top tips from UK Tech Talent Charter

The Tech Talent Charter has released a report with several recommendations for businesses in the UK, concerning how to improve gender diversity in tech

Exploring regional solutions, changing the cultural narrative and being employee-driven are among the Tech Talent Charter’s list of things for businesses to focus on in order to drive diversity in tech.

The tech industry comprises disproportionately low numbers of women across all levels and disciplines but the Charter and its 202 signatory businesses, which represent 8% of the total tech workforce, are dedicated to changing that.

More than 70% of the firms backing it have an active diversity and inclusion policy in place, with the average amount of women in each business holding purely technical roles standing at 26% – more than double the industry standard.

In the inaugural Tech Talent Charter benchmarking report, CEO Debbie Forster said: “We are pleased to report that the representation of women in technical roles across our signatories is higher than other reported averages.

“The data shows our signatories are leading the way but it is clear we still have a long way to go – we must change.

“To do so we must focus on collaboration and practical solutions to overcome challenges – fortunately we know our signatories are determined to continue to make changes and come together to really move the dial in 2019.”

Here are the six calls to action in the report, which the Charter directs to both its signatories and employers in the UK tech sector at large.

uk tech diversity in 2019
Debbie Forster MBE, CEO of the Tech Talent Charter, is aiming to get more women in tech jobs

Here’s how to increase diversity in tech

Commit to reporting accurate figures

Signatories noted that the process of reporting their data can be challenging, but that it is a useful exercise for better understanding their own staff and demographics.

Much of the data we ask for is optional for signatories to provide, and next year we would love to see more signatories committing to collecting and providing this non-compulsory data.

Share with each other

Signatories have access to a wide range of opportunities where they can candidly share their experiences of how different types of diversity and inclusion impacted their businesses.

Sharing ideas will also expose companies of different sizes to new ways of thinking.

Diversity isn’t a single company’s problem – if we work together we will improve the landscape for everyone.

Explore local and regional solutions

We work hard to work with signatories beyond the “London bubble”, and this is something that employers should also consider.

Do your staff represent the community in which your office is based?

Are there institutions you can partner with in your region to promote technical roles to a new talent pool? What can you do to promote place-based learning strategies?

Support returners and retraining

Return to work programmes are becoming more common in the tech workplace and we encourage our signatories to consider what their organisation can be doing to support diverse talent.

Not all signatories may be able to implement a full Returners programme but with the resources you have available, what can your organisation do to improve the retraining and upskilling of female talent.

Be employee-driven

Our signatories clearly take diversity and inclusion seriously, but policy implementation must exist alongside shifts in wider business culture.

The technology sector is a thriving and exciting industry but how do we promote it as a diverse and inclusive industry for employees?

Change the culture and narrative

We are committed to communicating a new sector-wide vision of opportunities in tech for women and other under-represented groups and we hope you will join us in this mission.

uk tech diversity in 2019

What is the Tech Talent Charter?

Created two years ago, the Tech Talent Charter is non-profit collective of 202 organisations committed to delivering greater gender diversity at all levels of the UK tech workforce.

The companies within it vary greatly in size, with 39% having more than 250 employees, 25% having between 50 and 249, 19% having between 10 and 49, and 16% having less than ten.

They also comprise a range of sectors, with 49% coming from the tech sector, while the other 51% belong to even different industries ranging from arts and entertainment to real estate.

Various big-name firms have thrown their weight behind the Tech Talent Charter, including HP, Microsoft, BBC, Sky, Salesforce, BT, Vodafone, Nationwide Building Society, Eurostar, Cisco and Shell.

It also includes charities like Cancer Research UK and British Heart Foundation, government departments, the Mayor of London’s office, Scottish government, start-ups and SMEs.

While more than 70% of the Charter’s signatories already have a diversity and inclusion policy in place, 27% are planning for one to be introduced later this year and the remaining organisations don’t have a policy and are not planning to introduce one.

 

What companies say about diversity in tech

The report includes several statements from the organisation that haven’t have set specific policies for encouraging diversity, such as a target for the minimum number of women to be shortlisted for interviews.

While they are anonymous, they shed some light on the reasoning for why certain organisations have not opted for such a concrete approach.

Here are some of the quotes included in the report:

  • “We are not targeting to attract women talent based on a headcount number, this is not what we believe to be quantitative but to create a work environment that encourages women to apply.”
  • “We have a blind sifting policy for shortlisting and other approaches to encourage a diverse shortlist.”
  • “We don’t believe that it is necessary, we make a conscious effort to ensure that our advertising, attraction and sourcing promotes diversity and have seen that reflected in the applications already.”
  • “Our primary focus is always to recruit the best candidate and therefore we can only source from the available/capable talent pool.”