The technology industry is transforming every aspect of our lives at an unprecedented rate. Now more than ever we are a more connected, interactive and digitally enabled society, with a variety of choice and services available at the touch of a button. Tech plays a huge role in the continued growth of the UK economy, providing a major source of employment, training and innovation that is essential to our long-term future.
We have much to celebrate. Tech is expanding 2.6 times faster than the rest of the UK economy, according to Tech Nation’s 2018 report. The digital tech sector is worth nearly £184 billion to UK economy, up from £170 billion in 2016. London ranks as the second most connected place for tech in the world, after Silicon Valley, ensuring we have a reputation as an international hub of expertise.
I’ve worked in the tech industry for nearly all of my professional life and during this time I’ve seen major new developments, but also its highs and lows. Throughout this time, I’ve been repeatedly frustrated at the industry’s struggle to truly represent the people it serves and thus have been actively engaged in the mission to encourage and drive more diversity in the workplace.
The facts speak for themselves. Across the UK, women make up around 19% of tech roles, way below the Tech Talent Charter’s goal of 50%. In another report from the agency Inclusive Boards, it was revealed that just 8.5% of senior leaders in technology are from a minority background, while women make up only 12.6% of board members in the sector – compared to the 30% female representation now achieved by FTSE 100 businesses.
The same research suggested that two-thirds of boards, and more than 40% of senior leadership teams, have no female representation at all, while across the sector the average is just 12.6% of board members and 16.6% of senior executives.
These figures make concerning reading and underline the huge challenges we, as technology leaders, face in the race to build a more diverse and inclusive workforce. So, what steps can our industry take to improve the situation, who takes responsibility and how can we change things for the better?
The first step in this process is to recognise that diversity is not a HR initiative. The benefits of attracting new employees from different ethnicities, cultures, genders and backgrounds can have a profound impact on the quality, feel and output of an organisation. A mix of team members bring with it fresh ideas, new outlooks and can have a lasting impact of the energy and morale of the workforce. It’s important that boardroom leaders recognise these benefits and take an active role in the recruitment of a new generation of diverse candidates.
At FDM Group, I’m proud to say that we’ve delivered a consecutive zero % gender pay gap for the second year in a row. Getting there hasn’t been easy, it has required the hard work and dedication of the entire team to ensure discrepancies have been corrected and that everyone is correctly rewarded to the standard of their performance, not their gender.
It’s also vital that companies do more to close the gaps that so obviously exist within our sector. The gender pay gap, which is so prevalent in the tech industry, sends the wrong message to prospective employees and candidates seeking a career in this area. There are many reasons why gender pay gaps exist; for example, many women do choose to take time out to have children or look after family members, leaving them behind in the career ladder. This often leads to male-dominated management teams, with senior salaries and leadership roles taken by people who have not had to take a career break.
It’s important that board members step forward to ensure that pay discrepancies do not gain a foothold within organisations. This means regularly reviewing the pay and perks associated with women employees to ensure that they are earning the same amount of money as their male counterparts.
Moving forward, we all have a critical role to play in the future of our industry. This means recognising that diversity can bring so much to a company’s culture, profit and growth. So lets get going!