Technology companies need to do more to improve diversity, inclusion and equity in their organisations, according to employee research by tech consultancy ThoughtWorks.
A survey of 500 employees in the UK tech sector found that about 60% think their companies could do more to create a more diverse and inclusive work environment.
Amy Lynch, head of diversity, equity and inclusion at Thoughtworks UK, said: “Our research findings make clear that, from an employee perspective, our sector needs to be doing more to foster a true sense of equity and diversity. Some firms may be doing more, but if staff are concerned, then it would suggest the work and the messages are not getting through.”
A lack of diversity in the UK’s tech sector has been a longstanding issue. Recent research by the BCS found that women accounted for 17% of IT specialists in the UK, while about 8% of IT specialists are of Indian ethnicity, 2% are from a black, African, Caribbean or black British background, and 2% from a Pakistani or Bangladeshi background.
ThoughtWorks found that 41% of those asked said their organisations had a plan in place to improve the gender balance and equality internally, and 51% said their organisations were “behind” the rest of the industry when it came to working to improve diversity, inclusion and equity.
In recent years, there has been an increased focus on inclusion as part of the discussion around increasing diversity in the UK’s tech sector. Many believe that focusing on creating an inclusive environment where people can be themselves in the workplace is more likely to attract a diverse workforce, but implementing inclusion is sometimes easier said than done.
Less than a quarter of those who took part in ThoughtWorks’ survey said their organisations had a “return-to-work” programme for parents or carers having to take a career break, and only 27% offered some kind of diversity and inclusion training.
But many tech employees were fully aware of the benefits that a greater focus on diversity, equity and inclusion could offer an organisation. Despite 16% saying their company does not have a plan for how to address any diversity and inclusion issues at work, and a quarter saying their firms do not offer employee mentorship programmes, 39% said that having a greater focus on diversity, inclusion and equity issues would encourage better employee relationships.
Almost 40% also said more work towards diversity and inclusion by organisations could increase retention of staff – an important goal in the wake of tech’s reported “great resignation”. ThoughtWorks said tech vacancies in the UK are currently up 191% compared with this time in 2020.
To increase gender diversity in the tech sector, ThoughtWorks has partnered with WORK180, an organisation that works with, endorses and promotes firms that are pushing forward gender diversity in the workplace.
Lynch said: “We decided to partner with WORK180 and go through their endorsement process as a commitment to our public stance on increasing diversity in the workplace. WORK180 promotes organisational standards that raise the bar for women in the workplace.
“The work that WORK180 is doing with endorsed employers like Thoughtworks is already having a positive impact, but it’s not over yet. We won’t stop until all women are able to thrive in the workplace.”