New report reveals massive diversity deficit in UK tech firms

A lack of diversity in tech is a known and ongoing problem, highlighted only more by  a startling new report.

The report, from Inclusive Boards explores the gender, ethnic and socioeconomic breakdowns of tech leaders in the UK, showing that the industry still has a long way to go before it can be considered inclusive. Surveying the top 500 tech firms in the UK, including Virgin Media and Vodafone, the report considered the gender, race and education of 1,882 senior executives and 1,696 board members.

A significant number of the surveyed tech leaders came from affluent backgrounds — 36.6% of board members and 31% of senior executives went to private schools, compared to only 7% of the general population. In addition, 35% of board members graduated from Oxford or Cambridge university, a far higher number than the 1% of people in the general population who did. This shows tech companies still hold bias towards those with  “elite” education credentials.

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The average age of those surveyed was 47.6 years old, notably younger than a FTSE 150 company board member at just over 60 years of age. In addition the average age of a BAME leader was even younger still at 43.9 years old, showing that, compared to other sectors, technology is still a young person’s game.

The most worrying statistics came in regards to BAME leaders, with only 11% of senior leaders surveyed being non-white. In addition 74.5% of boards, and 70.5% of senior executive teams, had no BAME members at all. While BAME representation in FTSE companies was slightly higher than other sectors, such as charities, it’s still a very low number.

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However, the biggest diversity issue is still gender. Only 12.6% of board members and 16.6% of senior executives in the companies were female, averaging 14.6%. Two thirds of boards, and two-fifths of senior executive teams, had no females at all. These low numbers present a huge distance between gender parity and the current figures, with the report specifically calling out the “significant underrepresentation” of women in senior tech roles. This is despite evidence suggesting women are generally more successful at coding than men.

Interestingly, major films Amazon, Google and Facebook weren’t included in the report due to “complex company and tax arrangements”, however the diversity of their directors was detailed. Of the 15 directors included, two thirds are white men, and only one is non-white.

Male directorsFemale directorsBAME directors
Amazon UK330
Google UK701
Facebook UK110

The report concludes that “inclusive environments” must be built in tech companies to attract applicants to the typically white-male-dominated tech industry. In response to the report, the Inclusive Tech Alliance is to be launched by the House of Commons to combat inequality in tech companies.

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