Tackling tech-sector diversity issues, together
Business leaders are increasingly aware of the role played by diversity and inclusion (D&I) in the workplace. It’s not just that respecting all team members is a basic social good. Effective D&I practices can also help widen your talent pool, build employee trust, improve business decision-making, and drive competitiveness.
At the same time, the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology estimates the digital skills gap costs the UK £63 billion a year. If we’re to close this gap, leaders will need to enable people from all parts of society to contribute to and benefit from the tech economy.
To drive collective action and improve diversity across the tech workforce, the Tech Talent Charter (TTC) was founded in 2015. As an industry-led, UK government-funded membership group, we’re proud that over 775 tech organisations have since joined us to access research insights into D&I, along with actionable practices, resources and inspiration.
Tracking D&I performance in tech
Our annual Diversity in Tech report measures progress across tech organisations of all sizes. The report shares insights from 649 TTC Signatories, representing over 210,000 tech workers and 72 industries. It looks in detail at eight lenses of inclusion, ranging from gender, ethnicity and social mobility to age. We’re pleased to see some progress this year:
- Gender diversity: 28% of tech workers are gender minorities, slightly higher than in past years. The Diversity in Tech report shares insights on how to continue and accelerate this growth.
- Ethnic diversity: 25% of tech workers belong to ethnic minority groups, compared to 20% reported last year. The growth has not been evenly distributed, with black women still having the lowest representation in tech roles..
- Flexible work options are widely available for tech employees – nearly half (47%) can work remotely as often as they choose.
- Neurodiversity practice has more than doubled since last year.
Metrics like these enable organisations to benchmark their D&I performance using our interactive benchmarking tool, tracking their data against others in their region, industry and tech team size.
This is where the TTC’s mission connects with Microsoft. As a leading tech player, Microsoft closely tracks its D&I performance and over 98% of Microsoft employees have completed D&I training on issues such as allyship and unconscious bias in the workplace. We’re delighted to collaborate with Microsoft as partners that focus on data, ethical industry practice and social progress.
The Diversity in Tech roadshow
Following the launch of our latest Diversity in Tech report, we set out on our first-ever UK roadshow. We wanted to discuss our findings with regional tech hubs and surface best practices and emerging trends.
Our Edinburgh event attracted 75 industry and business leaders. A hot topic was how best to measure and support social mobility in tech roles and organisations.
While the Scottish tech sector has improved its performance on social mobility measures, and in some areas, outperforms other UK nations, widely different career outcomes remain correlated with socioeconomic background.
Our report found that, throughout the UK, socioeconomics is measured far less than in all other areas, with just 38% of our Signatories looking at this data. Edinburgh participants who measured it also reported very different approaches to the task.
Leaders can make a difference here. Our report shows that, at companies that take action on social mobility, the average proportion of ethnic-minority tech employees is 6% higher, compared to the TTC UK tech workforce as a whole.
Industry best practice in measuring socioeconomic background looks at parental occupation, school type attended, free school meal eligibility, and parental education. However, if you can only collect on one metric, we recommend choosing parental occupation. It gives the simplest insight and is the most accessible information for employee disclosure.
When we connected with 60 tech business leaders from north-west England, a key topic was how to improve diversity in senior tech roles.
Gender pay-gap data reveals that, for senior positions and higher salaries, some groups remain favoured above others. Our latest report found that gender minorities accounted for 22% of senior tech positions, which is 6% lower than in the wider TTC tech workforce. It’s even more concerning that only 13% of the most senior tech employees were ethnic minorities – close to half the proportion who are in the tech workforce overall.
What can leaders do to tackle this? We heard that longer, more supportive onboarding experiences can not only help all new role-holders make a better start, but also encourage them to stay.
We also learnt that enabling less rigid tech-career pathways – including bootcamps, short courses, returnships and reskilling – could help improve diversity and inclusion for everyone. After all, many people don’t follow the classic “Computer Sciences at uni” career arc.
Our Relationship with Microsoft
Our ongoing work to enhance diversity and inclusion closely aligns us with the Microsoft Partner Pledge principles. The Microsoft Partner Pledge is at the heart of Microsoft culture and partners who are inspired to push their D&I journey forward are encouraged to share their progress with Microsoft and us. We want to celebrate your success!
A great showcase of our relationship with Microsoft was celebrating International Women’s Day together back in March where we explored gender diversity and new ways to boost gender minorities in the tech sector. You can watch the ‘Diversity in Tech’ session on-demand here.
Ready to get started?
All of us at the TTC hope to see or hear from you in the coming year. If you’re a Microsoft partner and want to take a positive step right now, you can check out our Tech Talent Charter D&I toolkit. Key resources include:
- The TTC benchmarking tool – Quickly check your D&I performance against others in your sector, size category and region. (This free tool was enabled through Microsoft data technology.)
- Open Playbook – Free D&I resources that your organisation can use and adapt.
- Diversity in Tech report – Download our report findings, gain insights, and act.
Find out more
- Join the Tech Talent Charter
- View the TTC D&I Toolkit
- Read the TTC Diversity in Tech report
- Sign the Microsoft Partner Pledge
About the authors
Karen Blake and Lexie Papaspyrou are leaders in diversity & inclusion and digital skills. They are joint COOs of the Tech Talent Charter, an industry-led membership group of over 750 Signatories working collaboratively to improve D&I in the tech ecosystem. Between them, they author the TTC annual Diversity in Tech report, which reports DE&I insights on over 200K tech workers, spearhead detailed DE&I tech research projects and deliver training and insights to the tech ecosystem.