Diversity issues could adversely impact UK tech

The vast majority of London tech companies still have hardly any female or BIPOC representation at board level, according to new research released today by Tech London Advocates.

London’s tech companies have warned that lack of diversity will threaten the city's tech reputation, with over half (51%) of the surveyed industry leaders voicing concern that the lack of diversity in the industry could cost the UK tech sector its world-leading position.

Tech London Advocates, the independent network of 13,000 tech leaders, experts and investors in the UK, has published the research within its Tech for Diversity 2022 report. The report shows that diversity continues to be a challenge for the tech industry, with gender diversity figures remaining largely unchanged over the past six years.

Figures showed that nearly two thirds (62%) of respondents indicated that women in senior leadership teams remain in a minority, whilst three quarters of London’s tech companies have almost no BIPOC representation on their senior leadership teams. 

In fact, only 7% of London’s tech companies reported having an all-female senior leadership team. 

Nearly half (45%) of the survey respondents cited Brexit and the Covid pandemic as key factors that have impacted the failure to improve the state of diversity in the industry.

There are, however, some positive signs and a sentiment the industry is steadily improving. Over half (58%) of respondents believe the industry has become more inclusive in the past five years, and 42% are confident we will establish truly diverse tech companies within the next ten years.

The survey conducted by the grassroots advocacy groups, Tech London Advocates and Global Tech Advocates, has highlighted the lack of meaningful progress on diversity in the sector and the risk of the industry losing its status as a global exemplar.

Latest figures on the state of diversity in tech produced by Tech Nation showed that just 19% of tech workers are women, compared to 49% of UK workers, a figure which has remained virtually unchanged since 2000.  

The Tech London Advocates and Global Tech Advocates community is convening at the Here East innovation campus today, for the Tech for D&Iversity 2022 event – bringing together industry leaders to discuss how we can collectively tackle the problem of the lack of diversity in tech.

The event will feature addresses from Nadine Dorries, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport of the United Kingdom; Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London; and Jacqueline de Rojas, President of techUK. Other speakers include grassroots campaigners, activists and representatives addressing diversity in tech. 

The event will also mark the launch of the TLA Mentoring Programme – a new initiative to bring more young people and diverse voices into the tech sector.

The event will feature the launch of two new working groups for both TLA and GTA -  TLA Asians in Tech and the GTA Metaverse group. 

Russ Shaw CBE, Founder of Tech London Advocates and Global Tech Advocates commented: The tech sector is still sorely lacking in diversity & inclusion, and that is simply wrong. The data shows that after many years, the UK tech sector is still struggling to shift the needle when it comes to making this flourishing industry inclusive to all. 

“Tech leaders can no longer sideline issues of diversity and inclusion, and must consistently ‘walk the talk’.  There is no time to waste here - the industry must take action before it is too late and the benefits which D&I can bring to the UK tech sector slip away.

“Fundamentally, technology should be inclusive and open to everyone. If we seize the opportunity now with practical steps and effective strategies, we can set the foundations for a future-facing sector that can keep growing and maturing, strengthened by the diversity of the talent which supports it.