Can you believe that the tech sector is growing almost 3 times faster than the rest of the UK economy, yet only 15% of the workforce is made up of individuals who are from a BAME background? Our friends at WomeninTech.co.uk and DiversityInTech.co.uk take a look at the benefits of having a diverse workforce in this explosive industry, ahead of their talk at our Diversity & Inclusion Conference on 5th June 2019.
Studies have shown that those who are from a BAME background are twice as likely to be unemployed after they graduate and are 3 times less likely to be employed if they have studied a STEM subject at A Level compared to non-BAME candidates. Although tech firms are working closely with schools and universities, these figures aren’t changing, and this is a concern.
Every day companies are starting to rely on technology more to succeed and us as individuals are relying and using technology more than ever. So, having a lack of diversity in the technology industry is very alarming as some groups aren’t participating in the creation of new technology and yet are needed to cater to the diverse needs of society.
There have been a few cases where it is evident that diversity is needed when creating new products. For example, when Dyson first released their hand dryers, they did not recognise hands that were non-white. There were also issues with the algorithms behind Apple, HP and Nikon cameras as they couldn’t identify non-white people in images. Mistakes like these could be prevented if a diverse team was behind the creation of them. Even though it isn’t necessarily dangerous, it can be uncomfortable for those involved and can damage a business’s reputation.
Technology is an industry that is having a huge impact on our daily lives, from shaping the way we communicate and work, to the way that we play and consume. There are many studies that prove that having a diverse workforce can create more opportunities for businesses to become more profitable. However, there are still thousands of digital roles which go unfilled each year – the skills gap – and it is likely to increase if tech companies aren’t reaching out to the highest talent pool available.
Benefits of diversity
Implementing diversity and inclusion into your company is a critical step for growth. Around 54% of women and 45% of men research a company’s diversity and inclusion policies before accepting an employment offer. There is plenty of evidence that shows diversity can bring a company several benefits, like creativity and success. Other benefits include:
- Greater innovation
- Increase in financial performance ( as many studies have demonstrated)
- Higher staff retention and attraction to a bigger talent pool
- Greater referrals for recruitment
Challenges of diversity in tech
Although diversity can bring many benefits that outweigh the challenges, it is beneficial to know some issues that may arise when implementing diversity programmes and training into a business. Understanding different cultures and values can be difficult for some employees and business leaders. Some companies create company-wide events and networks that represent different groups – e.g. LGBT, different religions, Women in Tech etc. These have a far greater success if they are run and implemented by workers themselves with company support. The challenge when companies are solely responsible for these is ensuring they are relevant and not offensive. Some companies have a Diversity and Inclusion committee made up of workers from across the organisations that are responsible for diversity promotion.