Diversity ‘makes good business sense’

Women around a conference table

Written by Julian Blake, Director of Digital Agenda

One in four of the tech roles in organisations signed up to a government-backed diversity charter are held by women, compared to one in five in UK tech more generally, charter organisers say this week. It is a nudge in the right direction.

TTCgraphicThe UK’s Tech Talent Charter is helping push organisations towards greater gender equality – but with four in five tech jobs held by men it’s clear that there is still a very long way to go, with wider systemic change needed.

The first annual benchmark report from the government-backed charter campaign says that, while women hold 26% of the tech roles in the organisations represented by its 200 signatories, the UK-wide average remains stuck at just 19%.

The charter, launched in 2017, was founded by organisations working across recruitment, tech and social enterprise – and it was quickly supported by the government’s UK digital strategy.

It commits signatories to be more proactive in delivering greater gender diversity in the UK tech workforce, including taking steps to recruit more women. Those signing up are committed to:

  • support attraction, recruitment and retention practices that are designed to increase the diversity of their workforce
  • define the timetable for change and implement the strategy right for the organisation
  • measure the diversity profile of their UK employees and to share this data for (anonymous) collective publication.

The benchmarking report, unveiled on Tuesday at London’s Gherkin (see photo), said that 36% of signatories already had policies in place to increase the number of women on interview shortlists, with another 32% committing to add them during 2019.

Charter signatories include corporates like BT, Microsoft and Vodafone, but also diversity and skills campaigners like Ada College, Code First Girls and Freeformers. It is supported by industry body techUK.

The charter also includes among its signatories three government departments – education, culture and transport – as well as HMRC.

Digital minister Margot James said more work was needed to improve equality in the industry. “One year on from the launch of the Tech Talent Charter, it’s encouraging to see that there’s real buy-in to improve the diversity of our workforce,” she said.

“However, with only one in five digital tech jobs nationally covered by women there is more work to do to get the balance right. Diversity makes good business sense and it’s positive to see smaller companies leading the way. I now want more of our larger companies to sign up to the Charter and commit to getting more women into tech jobs.”

The benchmark report says smaller businesses are better at promoting diversity – with 53% of their tech roles held by women, compared to just 19% at larger companies.

Tech Talent Charter founder and chief executive Debbie Forster said: “We are delighted to see our smaller companies challenging assumptions that they are too small or too busy to focus on diversity. This report clearly shows every size and type of company can and must become more inclusive and diverse.

“The key is learning from each other. At our events across the country our smaller companies are helping larger companies find ways of ‘thinking like a start-up’, to pilot smaller-scale approaches and then scaling them, rather than waiting to create the perfect solution and then trickle it down.”

Forster said that the TTC’s 2019 focus would be to work more with outsourcing companies, after it found that 57% outsourced some or all tech roles to third parties.

Originally posted here

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