As part of Inclusive Boards increasing work within the UK Tech sector we are releasing a briefing about the current landscape. We have found that there is a distinct lack of available data in regards to BAME diversity in tech. Whilst data in relation to gender diversity in tech is more readily available, the figures and experiences make for depressing reading. The final part of our briefing is below:
Lessons from across the Atlantic:
In the US, 30 of the world’s leading companies including Intel, Pinterest and Spotify have signed a Tech Inclusion Pledge that forces the companies to publish their diversity goals, to recruit, retain and advance their BAME employees as well as investing in partnerships that increases pipeline and train BAME talents, however there is no UK equivalent.
The Digital Talent Programme:
Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has launched a £7m Digital Talent Programme funded by the London Enterprise Panel to train and inspire BAME Londoners. The initiative provides free industry approved digital skills training in code, web development etc. In addition to this, the programme also provides funding for projects around London which focus on STEM subjects
Lack of Data:
The percentage of BAME employees in the British tech world is not known. Estimates by the British Computers Society set it at 1-2%.
The underlying causes of the unrepresentative world of tech in the UK are also worth exploring. While lessons can be drawn from anecdotal case studies and other sectors, these do not provide sufficient reliable data to allow the creation of policies and programmes that can support this area of work.
Existing initiatives such as Afrotech Fest and UK Black Tech go beyond numbers and highlight both the desire and need to provide enhanced access and create networks for members of the society whom are not represented in the tech sector.
Given the limited availability and lack of recent statistics, future research should examine the number of women and BAME individuals within various sub-sectors of the digital economy (such as med-tech, agri-tech and fin-tech), both in leadership and at staff level.
The technology sector is a crucial part of today’s economy. Prime Minister Theresa May rightly stated that those who work in this field are ‘at the forefront of a great British success story’. Women and individuals from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds are yet to fully become a part of this story.
The available body of research confirms that the tech sector faces similar challenges to those of other sectors of the economy. Nonetheless, the staggering discrepancy between men and women and the scant number of individuals from non-white backgrounds mean that efforts to achieve gender parity as well as societal representativeness must intensify.
To tackle gender inequality and improve ethnic diversity, organisations at all levels within the sector should make use of their resources and creativity to build inclusive environments. With the tech sector expanding at a rapid pace and contributing to the economy more than other sectors, it is imperative that it begins to mirror the people whom it serves.