Gender diversity still an issue in tech sector, new report says

The inaugural Tech Talent Charter benchmarking report said smaller businesses were making more progress in cutting the gender skills gap.
The inaugural Tech Talent Charter benchmarking report said smaller businesses were making more progress in cutting the gender skills gap.

Gender diversity remains an issue across the technology sector, a new report from an industry charter has claimed.

The Tech Talent Charter’s first benchmark report found that while women hold 26% of the technical roles within the businesses of its 200 signatories, the UK-wide average remains only 19%.

The Charter launched in 2018 as a commitment by businesses to be more proactive in delivering greater gender diversity in the UK tech workforce, including taking steps to recruit more women.

In its inaugural benchmarking report tracking progress so far, it said 36% of its signatories already have policies in place to increase the number of women included in interview shortlists, with 32% saying they will add them during 2019.

Signatories of the charter make several pledges in relation to their approach to recruitment and retention, and so far includes the likes of BT, Microsoft and Vodafone.

Digital and Creative Industries Minister Margot James said more work was still needed to improve equality in the industry.

“One year on from the launch of the Tech Talent Charter, it’s encouraging to see that there’s real buy-in to improve the diversity of our workforce,” she said.

“However, with only one in five digital tech jobs nationally covered by women there is more work to do to get the balance right.

“Diversity makes good business sense and it’s positive to see smaller companies leading the way. I now want more of our larger companies to sign up to the Charter and commit to getting more women into tech jobs.”

The report suggests smaller businesses were better at promoting diversity, with 53% of technical roles at micro-companies held by women, compared to just 19% at large companies.

Debbie Foster, the chief executive of Tech Talent Charter said: “We are delighted to see our smaller companies challenging assumptions that they are too small or too busy to focus on diversity. This report clearly shows every size and type of company can and must become more inclusive and diverse.

“The key is learning from each other. At our events across the country our smaller companies are helping larger companies find ways of ‘thinking like a start-up’, to pilot smaller scale-approaches and then scaling them, rather than waiting to create the perfect solution and then trickle it down.”

The Charter said its focus for 2019 was to work with more outsourcing companies, after its report found 57% outsourced some or all of its technology roles to third parties.

It said it will push firms to “ask more” of their outsourcing partners.