CEO and Co-Founder of the Tech Talent Charter Debbie Forster

An annual 2020 Diversity in Tech report shows that wide inequalities still persist within the UK tech sector. The Tech Talent Charter (@techcharterUK) released a report, benchmarking the activities and progress being made towards inclusion, equity, and diversity by its signatory companies, including Unilever, HP and Lloyds Banking Group. The report this year tracks ethnicity data for the first time. It indicates that a willingness to discuss and address inequality is a vital first step in tackling it.  

Additionally, the report reveals that women hold 25% of technical roles across Tech Talent Charter signatories, compared with the UK average of 19% (​according to BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT​). When comparing diversity by industry, the not-for-profit sector had the most balance, with over 40% of tech roles held by women and 45% of tech roles held by people belonging to ethnic minority groups.  

36% of signatories are now offering either a retraining or a returners programme for technical staff, one and a half times higher than the number that reported having such programmes last year. This reflects a possible opportunity to increase more diverse and gender-balanced tech talent following the pandemic.  

CEO and Co-Founder of the Tech Talent Charter Debbie Forster said; 

“While many companies have the right intentions on diversity, reluctance to speak up through anxiety or fear of saying the wrong thing can slow down progress, which not only prevents equity and inclusion, but also slows down efforts to close the UK’s digital skills gap. This year we are calling on our signatories and the wider industry to create safe environments in which to start those tough conversations that are needed to remove bias from systems and processes and help to drive meaningful change. Only through collaboration can progress be made.” 

The Tech Talent Charter is a non-profit organisation leading a movement to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion in the UK tech sector, which research indicates is essential to close the tech skills gap. More than 500 organisations have signed up to its pledges. 

"We are proud to champion the Tech Talent Charter and this report shows its signatories are leading the way on diversity and inclusion in the tech sector," Minister for Digital and Culture Caroline Dinenage said. "But much more needs to be done and I want more companies to sign up and introduce the positive changes that will make their businesses stronger, fairer, and more resilient as we build back from the pandemic." 

Perspectives on D&I  

As part of the report, the TTC also carried out a separate tech industry survey with Attest Research looking at attitudes to D&I initiatives, to help companies understand how they can make their D&I initiatives more successful.  

While more than 80% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that “initiatives in the workplace to improve gender and ethnic diversity in tech roles are necessary”, 22% of respondents said they would have concerns raising a D&I issue, rising to 32% among ethnic minority groups.  

The TTC data covers 161,859 people in tech roles in the UK, an estimated 13-14% of the UK’s tech-skilled workforce. 45% of signatories voluntarily submitted ethnicity data. Next year this data will become compulsory. Of the organizations that shared their D&I priorities, 81% listed gender diversity as a high priority, and 58% say ethnic diversity is a high priority. 

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