Tuesday 1st March 2022
- Debbie Forster MBE, CEO of Tech Talent Charter
- Edleen John, Director – International Relations, Corporate Affairs and Co-Partner for ED&I at The Football Association
- Jacqueline de Rojas CBE, President at techUK
- Lexie Papaspyrou, Chief Operating Officer at Tech Talent Charter
The 1st session of Tech Talent Charter’s DE&I Festival was a review of their latest Diversity in Tech Report. Chaired by Debbie Forster, CEO of the Tech Talent Charter, Edleen John, Jacquelin de Rojas and Lexie Papaspyrou unpacked what they learned from the report enabling us to really understand what is going on and what more we could all collectively be doing or initiatives we should and could be leaning into to make tech for everyone.
The link to the report is here: https://report.techtalentcharter.co.uk/diversity-in-tech-2021
But if you want an overview of the key takeaways from our brilliant panel then please read on.
A word on the data set to put the TTC Diversity in Tech Report 2021 into some context:
- 580 organisations provided their data across 70 unique industry sectors
- The Dataset covers 196,179 people working in technical roles in the UK
- TTC estimates that this represents around 15-16% of the current UK tech skilled work force, making this one of the largest, broadest and most up-to-date datasets available in the UK marketplace
Top 3 challenges and difficulties around achieving DE&I within TTC signatories
1) Huge difficulties hiring diverse talent amidst tech talent shortage.
Jaqueline commented that one of the most surprising stats was that given the huge challenges facing companies around hiring diverse talent, 58% of organisations acknowledge they were not running any tech skills initiatives or career development programmes to remedy the skills shortage. She went on further to say that; “the calvary isn’t coming”. Achieving diversity is “everybody’s problem to solve”.
2) Diversity in senior leadership positions
The 2nd largest challenge facing our signatories was improving diversity in senior positions, and whilst the panel acknowledged that in part this was also part of a wider historical picture of a dearth of women in tech, lack of role models and promotion prospects, they still encouraged organisations to tackle the issue. This includes looking at the longer-term sustainable strategy of creating an ecosystem and inclusive culture which enables and supports the retention, development and promotion of women into senior leadership roles.
There is no silver bullet, you cannot hire yourself out of a situation, you cannot make a single diverse hire and congratulate yourself on ticking the diversity box. As the next challenge is how do you retain and develop senior leadership talent and equip them for success in roles and cultures that perhaps are not ready yet to fully embrace such a leadership figure? It is not uncommon for diverse senior leadership talent to leave organisations within the first twelve months as the individual, the role and position was not fully understood and supported by the wider organisation.
So, whilst hiring for diverse senior leadership positions can be challenging, the bigger picture that needs to be considered according to the panel is that of retention and sustainability. It is not just simply “a matter of one and done”.
3) Challenges of obtaining and analysing data
The third greatest pain point that our TTC signatories experienced was challenges around obtaining and analysing data. TTC Signatories cited difficulties around DE&I data disclosure, with some 11% of employees declining to disclose their ethnicity, with additional challenges around how to retrieve good DE&I data, and how to manage this in the most effective way.
1) Gender Diversity: An Overview
An increase of 2% in women performing technical related roles year on year, up from 25% to 27%. Whilst these figures are not where we want to end up, they are positive stats and show that some progress is being made. But perhaps most importantly of all, these figures show that there is greater diversity amongst TTC signatories than the national UK average of 21%.
2) Ethnic Diversity: An Overview
Representation of ethnic minorities amongst TTC signatories was 6% higher at 20% compared to the UK average technology workforce of 16%.
This was the 1st year TTC made reporting data on ethnicity mandatory.
3) Employees have more power
The power has shifted, employees are choosing where they will work. The TTC is now seeing a real shift in organisations being more open to defining a more inclusive culture to attract talent. Debbie commented that “5 years ago we spoke about how DE&I was the right thing to do, later we commented that is was the smart thing to do, now it is stupid not to do it.”
4) Investigating alternate routes into tech
This is perhaps one of the most sustainable and impactful approaches that organisations can make that will have a fundamental effect on growing the tech ecosystem within their organisations. By investing in alternate routes to tech, organisations can actively target underrepresented groups, including those whose socioeconomic background could ordinarily present as a barrier to having a career within tech, they are creating a more inclusive, accessible and diverse culture and workforce and crucially making tech for everyone.
Our panel agrees that organisations are missing a huge opportunity when overlooking alternate routes into tech as part of a sustainable solution to address the huge tech talent shortage. Edleen pointed to missed opportunities in reskilling, upskilling employees through bootcamps or training programmes. Pivoting staff skills sets regardless of age, experience, background etc.
According to previous research published by TTC in 2020, one in four women would consider switching to a career in tech if tech skills training was provided. Aren’t these the type of sustainable, deliberate actions and practices that, organisations should be embracing to create a greater skills ecosystem within their company? Isn’t it a no brainer to look at alternate routes as a strategic objective for companies in the longer term, in order, to reduce the detrimental impact that a lack of diversity will inevitably have to strategic growth, innovation and market share? Our esteemed Panel all agree with Jacqueline adding the footnote to this point by saying that building diversity “builds competitive advantage, it is beyond smart, it is now a must”.
In conclusion, our panel agreed that DE&I is a multi-faceted challenge for organisations. Each organisation’s starting point is very different, however what works well today is not significantly different to what worked well 10 years ago according to Edleen. Organisations now have an opportunity to really lean into DE&I and invest time and resources to get it right, raise awareness and match their intent with action. The great news is that through the TTC you have access to a huge open play book of resources for all things DE&I related, which will help you in your DE&I journey. And to finally finish with a quote from Debbie; “Look at the research, look at the open playbook and do the work, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel”, it really is all there for you.
Author: Cressida Stephenson, Director of EdenChase Associates, proud signatory of the TTC