30 October 2018
It was certainly eye-opening to read the latest Tech Nation report. It takes a deep dive into diversity in tech using 12.5 million Companies House records and the Beauhurst Investment Database.
Astonishingly, according to the report just 23% of tech directors across the nation are women. Even more astonishingly, the percentage of women in the broader tech workforce is even lower at just 19%. When you look at non-tech sectors in the UK, the ratio of men to women is almost 1:1.
Yet, the same report finds that gender-diverse boards make 0.7% higher turnover than non-diverse boards – on average £70,000.
So why are we not seeing faster change? We’ve been talking about this for some time. Yet despite the increased focus and action taken to redress the balance on boards, the research shows that the proportion of men and women being appointed directors of tech companies has remained almost exactly the same since 2000.
Diversity and balance
At UKFast we’ve long had a 50-50 gender-balanced board and senior leadership team. When you look at the business as a whole, particularly in technical roles, the gender split is a very different picture. We have to continue to build on this 50/50 parity and work hard to maintain it.
Our newly launched mentor programme currently has 30 new aspiring leaders from across the business. We opened a call out to everyone in the company, no matter what level, and focused on personal development which resulted in a 50/50 split in male and female mentees with a diverse mix of background and experience.
Our mentors are also a 50/50 gender split. Many of the mentees want to learn from other parts of the business. This means that many of the female mentors are mentoring male mentees, and men mentoring women.
This need to redress the balance is exactly why we’ve committed so much to school outreach, education and our Code Club initiative to ensure that young females see that a career in tech is just as great an option for them as it is for their male counterparts.
This past year we’ve also seen more of our ‘UKFast women in tech’ go out into the community to speak of their experiences of being a female in a male-dominated industry, and to be visible role models for people looking to enter the industry. This is vitally important.
A shift in perception
When so many initiatives have been put in place and so much focus placed on redressing the gender and broader diversity balance on boards, why are the figures still so low? Being in the industry, I think the tide is turning. There needs to be several shifts. Firstly a shift in some business leaders’ attitudes to see women as leaders is needed. Secondly, a shift in women’s perceptions to see themselves as leaders. Finally and a shift in young people’s attitudes to see careers in tech as a viable option.
We’re building momentum as a collective industry. Whilst reports like this are incredibly important to show the progress the country and industry are making, it is important not to be disheartened. This certainly just motivates me to ensure that through UKFast, we’re doing even more to help the industry to redress the balance.