5 Things You Need to Know about London’s Diversity in Tech Event

5 Things You Need to Know about London’s Diversity in Tech Event

Diversity in Tech

What was Diversity in Tech 2018? How did it help participating companies widen their demographics and become more inclusive? We’ll explore this event’s ethos, its keynote speakers and initiatives, and its role in helping participating companies hardwire inclusivity into everything they do.

Its creators hope to address a serious issue in the tech industry.  

The organization strives to empower individuals, while at the same time helping companies reshape their culture to become more inclusive and promote equality.

Diversity is one of the greatest challenges confronting the technology industry today. When the people who work for an organization all have the same background, the organization’s scope is limited. Many of today’s biggest tech companies seek to break free from this mold by embracing inclusive recruiting strategies and actively seeking out employees from underrepresented groups. One way they’re doing this is by relying on technologies like Censia’s. The company has developed talent acquisition solutions that harness the power of artificial intelligence and machine learning. In addition to helping recruiting teams hire the best people, the technology can eliminate the unconscious human biases that hinder diversity in staffing.

Diversity in Tech 2018 took place at the Business Design Center, Upper Street, London.

Organizers held the event on May 24, 2018. The conference featured keynote speeches from leading tech industry figureheads, panel discussions, diversity-focused workshops, and technical sessions.

The event attracted 500 tech leaders from key British and multinational institutions, including HSBC, Sky, the BBC, Bloomberg, and HMRC, the British government body that manages public services and the tax system.

woman programmer

Speakers at the 2018 event included Jacky Wright and Diane Lightfoot.

As chief digital and information officer, Jacky Wright has been working with HMRC to transform working practices, improve diversity, and make leaders more self-aware.

As she explained in an interview with Public Technology Net, Wright aims to transform the working lives of tens of thousands of HMRC employees, as well as the way the government department serves it citizens. As a former corporate vice president of Microsoft, she has a proven track record of innovation and inclusion. Wright is currently spearheading HMRC’s £235 million Making Tax Digital program.

Wright took part in panel discussions with Diane Lightfoot, CEO of the Business Disability Forum, as well as Jenny Fallover, director of Lesbians Who Tech, and Steven Cox, vice president of Fujitsu.

The panel looked at ways of making the workplace more inclusive; the panelists emphasized that inclusivity is fundamental to laying solid foundations for a business’s entire culture. They explored nuanced methods of supporting inclusion and diversity in the workplace, and how this is key to a company’s productivity—and ultimately its prosperity.

Discrimination in the UK tech sector costs the industry up to £4 billion per year.

The conference addressed a serious issue that is preventing the tech industry from reaching its full potential. The industry’s contribution to the UK economy totals around £200 billion annually. In addition, tech is growing almost three times faster than the rest of the economy. However, discrimination and unfair treatment cost the tech industry billions each year by driving staff turnover.  

Diversity is a particular challenge: the majority of the industry, as in the United States, is white and male. Just 15% of UK tech employees are Black, Asian, or any non-white ethnicity. In other industries, gender diversity sits at around 49%, whereas in the tech industry, the figure is just 19%. Moreover, the “quit rate” in tech is more than twice as high for women (47%) than it is for men (17%).

Minority graduates with science, engineering, mathematics and technology (STEM) degrees are twice as likely to face unemployment compared with white graduates. Research suggests that if candidates from minority backgrounds received equal opportunities and support, they could add up to £24 billion to the UK economy.

Analysts point out that there are direct correlations between ethnic diversity and higher company profits. It’s therefore unsurprising that many of the UK’s biggest companies are making corporate inclusion and equality a top priority.

Pay gaps are hurting women and non-white workers, in tech and other industries.

Increasingly, public focus has shifted to pay gaps—both the gender pay gap and the ethnicity minority pay gap. Research undertaken by Mercer shows that the gender pay gap in the UK tech industry is more pronounced than the overall gender pay gap. Men in tech earn about 25% more than women; across all sectors of the economy, men earn 18% more. Across all UK industries, the pay gap is even more pronounced when comparing non-white and white workers: non-white UK workers face a pay gap of up to 37%. Similarly, Black British graduates earn an average hourly rate of £14.33, while white British graduates’ average hourly rate is £18.63.

Alongside these alarming pay gaps, there are also discrepancies in rates of ethnic minority workers in public services. Within the British police force, for example, 99% of officers are white, whereas people from minority backgrounds constitute 13% of the United Kingdom’s general population.

In terms of inclusion, equality, and diversity, UK employers have far to go, particularly in the tech industry. This makes initiatives like Diversity in Tech all the more vital. They bring people together and create space for learning and frank, serious conversations about a topic that is often ignored.  

About the Author

Joanna RileyJoanna (Jo) Riley is an entrepreneur, investor, and advocate in technology, and is currently the CEO and Co-Founder of Censia. Jo has a highly experienced background in building and scaling companies, which she attributes to her deep passion for people and building technologies that allow people to be their best selves. She brings her wide knowledge of the industry to better transform the way enterprise companies hire talent. You can connect with Joanna Riley at @joannakiddriley on Twitter or on Linkedin. Read her full bio here.