Just five per cent of leadership positions in the UK technology sector are women and only four per cent of the UK tech workforce is black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME).

17 May 2022

What tech companies can do to strengthen their D&I strategy

The tech sector is growing fast but it’s falling behind when it comes to diversity and inclusion. Just five per cent of leadership positions in the UK technology sector are women and only four per cent of the UK tech workforce is black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME).

As a result, the tech industry is in danger of being left behind. The underrepresentation means that plenty of forward thinking ideas may never see the light of day. Why? Because a diverse workforce caters for more creative thinking and stronger collaboration. It’s time for the tech sector to face its challenges. Here are some changes that can help the sector get to where they need to be.

Promoting gender inclusivity

A huge problem for the tech sector is a lack of gender diversity. Female representation makes up only 19% of the sector. That’s down around 30% in comparison to other industries.

What can be done to tackle the issue? Statistics show one of the reasons for this underrepresentation is a lack of female role models and mentoring. A little support can go a long way. Guidance on how to successfully navigate the industry will help improve the situation.

Some of the biggest brands in the world are working to put support in place. With the UK tech sector currently growing three times faster than the rest of the economy, diversity is a key challenge that needs to be addressed.

Unfair treatment is costly business

Not only is unfair treatment in the workplace damaging for a busniess’ reputation, it can have a huge impact on bottom line too. Unfair treatment is the largest driver of turnover in the tech industry, costing nearly £4billion per year.

Businesses and organisations are looking to industry leaders to see how they’re tackling issues around diversity and inclusion. One example is Apple, who are now operation a multi-age structure with employees ages ranging from 18-85. Another key way Apple puts diversity at the forefront of their organisation is by hiring people from underrepresented groups.

So, what can businesses in the tech sector do to get themselves in better shape to tackle the challenges surrounding D&I?

Create an inclusive environment

A workplace culture where everyone feels like they belong is key to the success of any D&I strategy. Business leaders have a responsibility to clearly communicate the organisation’s policies and actions to make this a reality. Where possible, training and learning opportunities for all staff should be made available to educate your people on how your organisation is working towards a more inclusive and innovative future.

Listen to your people

Progress requires listening to your employees. Ask them what they would do to improve the culture of your organisation and ask for feedback on the efforts you’re making to make everyone feel included.

Consider including your teams in the hiring process to get a different perspective. When you include your employees in key decisions you can build trust and loyalty with your people.

Watch your language

Communication can only be clear when it’s understood by all. This is why it’s important to make sure the language you use acknowledges diversity. Avoid jargon if a more simple term can be used. Introducing yourself with your pronouns and avoiding terms like ‘guys’ can help make your communication more welcoming and inclusive.

Set goals and targets

By laying out clear goals to do with inclusion and tracking the progress of your targets is essential to setting out a strategy for diversity and inclusion. Listening to employee feedback on how your organisation is progressing will provide valuable information. You’ll start to see tangible results that’ll help you tackle any unconscious barriers and bias within your organisation.

Producing diversity and inclusion reports to outline company values and diversity targets are a great way to monitor how far you’ve come and will highlight areas that need improvement.

Support and empower your teams

When looking at the issues surrounding D&I in the tech sector, the lack of suitable mentorship is something that pops up again and again. A mentor program or buddy system can help support new employees and help your teams understand the culture of your organisation.

Positive role models can provide the opportunity for your people to see a clear path to success and can make them feel included early on. Another key area mentorship can work in is in combating ageism in the workplace. 41% of IT and tech workers have witnessed age discrimination in the workplace, and 32% fear losing their roles due to ageism. Reverse mentoring can provide an opportunity for younger employees to mentor older colleagues and support them in learning new digital skills. This kind of knowledge sharing helps your organisation thrive and succeed.

The truth of the matter is that the tech industry needs to be at the forefront of diversity and inclusion improvements. Change is coming but it requires collaborative and meaningful commitment from leaders across the board.

Small steps can make a big difference and it’s never too late to start improving your D&I strategy. At Alexander Ash, we’re helping organisations create a more diverse and inclusive future. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch with us today.

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