Co-Founder and Author, Tech Talent Charter
It is only by making more effort to connect with underrepresented groups that the tech industry will address its lack of diversity.
The tech industry is proving to be one of the most resilient to the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, bouncing back in Q3 after the initial shockwaves, according to PwC’s quarterly Tech Monitor Index.
This is no surprise given our increased dependence on technology to live our lives. Plus the dramatic shifts in 2020 to remote working and growth in digital communication. But this growth masks a very worrying statistic – only around 16% of tech roles in the UK are held by women.
If the voices of women and minority groups are not included in the development of the technology that plays such a fundamental part in our lives, those voices will get left behind and huge parts of our society will be at even more of a disadvantage.
The business case of a diverse workforce
According to World Economic Forum, the business case for diversity is now overwhelming. So, if diversity is such a win-win, why do so many diversity and inclusion programmes fail and why is the pace of change so slow?
Starting the conversation around diversity can be challenging within any organisation, unfortunately the result can often be a programme that is too inward looking. They can then fail to connect with or engage the actual people that it is meant to be about.
A lack of female role models in tech
Lack of representation becomes a self-perpetuating issue. In the tech industry, we know that women who don’t see female role models, can’t imagine themselves in a tech role and are less likely to consider one. Research from HP and the Fawcett Society suggested that 45% of women in other roles would be interested in retraining into a tech role but 32% did not believe they had the right qualifications.
To attract more women to tech roles, the industry must do more to showcase and highlight those women who have followed a tech career and make more effort to directly engage with the communities it needs to represent.
Connect with industry networking groups, invite evangelists to speak to your teams, advertise your vacancies in places where underrepresented groups meet and make it clear through your language that you welcome and invite people from those communities to be a part of your business.
It’s not enough for tech companies to create diversity policies, they need to proactively and directly connect with the women they want to target. They must show that there is a place for them, that they are welcome, that the tech industry needs women like them – women like us!