Tech firms start to address industry bias against women

Research conducted by Tech London Advocates, an independent network of more than 4,300 tech experts, leaders and professionals in the capital has suggested that tech firms have started to address the industry bias against women.

Encouragingly, the study suggests those that have recognised the gravity of the situation are actively taking steps to address it. Nearly half (46%) of London’s tech companies have an HR or recruitment strategy in place designed to increase employee diversity.

In October 2016, Tech London Advocates released its Diversity in Tech Manifesto. Demanding diversity and inclusivity criteria in all recruitment strategies was one of the key recommendations to tech companies looking to address the diversity challenges in the industry.

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Failing to reach such a large proportion of the population comes at a time when one in four (26.7%) tech professionals believe that a shortage of talent is the single biggest challenge facing the industry.

Clearly, there is a long way to go to establish universal consensus on this issue. In the survey of 200 senior figures within London’s tech sector, a disconnect clearly remains between business competencies and diverse workforces.

When asked what drives value and competency within the workforce of a technology company, only one in 20 (5.8%) respondents cited gender diversity and one in 10 (9.4 per cent) multicultural diversity.

Neither were deemed as significant as a range of professional expertise (40.8%) and cross-sector professional expertise (29.8%) – the two most popular factors.

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Russ Shaw, founder of Tech London Advocates, commented: “Peel back a layer of tech entrepreneurialism and disappointment is revealed – a lack of diversity and gender bias that remains the industry’s Achilles heel. Whether it be opening up immigration policy, increasing access to digital skills or empowering women to succeed in technology, we must unite to ensure world-class talent finds a home in London’s tech sector, regardless of race, age or gender. Enough is enough; more tech companies must demand better for the future.”

Sarah Luxford, co-founder of TLA Women in Tech, suggested that it is businesses should promote diversity, because it is the right business decision. “Diversity translates into profits. Companies that are more gender and ethnically diverse perform better financially. Most leaders recognise this fact yet this is not translating into systematic change linking talent attraction, development and retention. Change is hard. That’s why TLA Women in Tech has created a ‘how to’ – a clear outline of questions individuals, teams and businesses should be asking of themselves whilst providing clear actions they can implement to stride forward. Things have to change. They can’t afford not to.”

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...

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