Foreword | Jacqueline de Rojas CBE, President, techUK
2020 has been a wake up call for many of us about our need to be more proactive in tackling the inequalities and injustices inflicted on our friends and colleagues from ethnic minority backgrounds. As we watch the world demand a level playing field for all, it is no longer enough to be non-racist. This is not a time to be neutral.
This shift in attitude has created positive momentum for organisations to have frank and sometimes uncomfortable conversations about inequality and race. It has accelerated corporate ambitions for meaningful change not least within techUK’s membership organisations.
techUK members have a vast array of programs, initiatives, policies and practices to help increase BAME (Black, Asian and minority ethnic) equity and representation and techUK wants to harness its convening power and networks to ensure practices are shared across the sector to encourage and inspire others to do more within their own teams, businesses and communities.
Learning from each other is the only way to address the societal, moral, and business issue that is racial equality. It is also a way to keep the question of race alive and undiluted from general diversity and inclusion initiatives.
Often the reality of the tech sector’s diversity problem is masked because people characterised as BAME are grouped together. techUK understands this is not a real representation of the different experiences that exist in the industry and BAME may not be totally representative. However, it is useful in ensuring that we leverage meaningful data rather than lose the needs of minority groups whose issues have the potential to get lost in data aggregation. We will work to incorporate wider appropriate language that recognises the complexity of these issues as data becomes more granular.
The most effective approaches from techUK’s membership focus on four things: action in the community to inspire the next generation; attraction and recruitment; getting workplace culture right; and development of diversity. In this document, we showcase how our members are pushing for progress. Effective and sustainable solutions must cover all aspects of a company - the people, its processes, and its culture. John Amaechi says that ‘culture is defined by the worst behaviour it tolerates’, which is where we can play our part in calling out injustice when we see it.
We have an opportunity now to continue our focus on elevating the voices of those around us. By ensuring that people from ethnic backgrounds in senior positions are supported in their roles, and by creating diverse succession plans, we can make this a sustainable pipeline of talent that promotes inclusion and builds a strong digital future.
If we are to thrive in a digital future which includes everybody, we must ensure that we have all of our voices heard when it comes to designing, building and testing technology solutions. If we do not, we risk creating a world which continues to perpetuate biases and a world which does not work for everyone.
To do this, the industry needs to look and think differently.
Action in the community (inspiring the next generation)
The next generation of talent is clearly being put off digital education and careers before they even start.
What young people think happens behind the scenes of the UK’s digital sector has been revealed. In a nationwide poll of 1,000 16 – 18 year olds by the Institute of Coding, more than half believe the digital workforce lacks diversity with 70% of youth surveyed thinking the sector is run entirely by those of white, British ethnicity, and over a third (34%) think there are unequal opportunities for women. One in ten admit they are actively discouraged from pursuing digital education and jobs due to the lack of people that represent them. While some of these opinions echo what many people in the industry may already feel, what’s shocking is that these are the perceptions of young people who have yet to set foot in the industry.
The COVID crisis has created a sea change amongst the population with regards to digital. techUK’s survey on changing attitudes towards tech during lockdown, with Ipsos MORI & Cisco, showed that 73% of those aged 16-24 were interested in gaining more digital skills in the next 12 months. Unemployment in this age group is predicted to reach the one million mark by the end of the year by the Resolution Foundation. There is clear appetite across the UK to embrace the opportunity to learn digital skills, as young people look to build a resilient and future-facing career.
How can we now build on this momentum to better create and showcase exciting pathways into tech that are open to all?
techUK explores this very issue in Mediaplanet’s latest Careers in Technology campaign.
EY | 30% target placements for black young people
EY will be offering at least 30% of the work experience places on their Smart Futures and Our Futures programmes to Black young people for the next five years, starting in 2021. EY will set a target to offer entry into EY school leaver pathways to at least 30% of Black young alumni of the Smart Futures and Our Futures programmes, for the next five years. They will also continue to support and fund the EY Foundation, an independent charity in the UK, to conduct a survey of Black young people (18-24 years old) to better understand access to employment opportunities and the challenges they face. This will be published and used to help guide further action the company could take together.
The EY Foundation most recently has been looking at the impact of COVID-19 on the future of young people from low income backgrounds. This crisis will have a disproportionate impact on young people and their prospects in the future. The EY Foundation worked with its Youth Advisory Board to create a digital space to replace its usual face to face support - with mental health, exams and job prospects top of the list of concerns. Online content including employer webinars, career advice, interview skills and life at university were made available to help. This initiative is important to help young people who otherwise might be feeling isolated and anxious and give them a platform to share their concerns and access information and advice about their future work and career options.
TikTok | Business in the community
TikTok has launched Black History, Black Present, Black Future – an employee-led campaign built by the Black community for the Black community. This was a grassroots campaign built to educate users, employees, and partners on Black history in the UK, inspire creativity and celebrate Black people and Black culture. Their #MyRoots campaign appeared across billboards and the internet, telling the stories of Creators and Artists as they celebrate their Afro-Caribbean roots. TikTok have also encouraged users to talk about their own diverse roots, culture and heritage by posting videos under #MyRoots - reaching 150 million combined views so far. TikTok Lives is a series on the platform to help bring key conversations in the Black community to the forefront, told by those who are leaders in their own right. Over 75,000 people have tuned in to watch these important discussions.
Intel | A company’s stance on D&I is almost as important as pay when choosing between job offers
This year Intel commissioned research that found a majority of Gen Z — those aged 18 to 24 — in the UK would be hesitant to take a job from a company that does not have diverse representation in senior leadership roles. In choosing between competing job offers, a company’s stance on diversity and inclusivity is almost as important as the pay offered.
As they work to become more diverse and inclusive, businesses in the UK need to recognise the shift in mindsets that will follow Gen Z into the mainstream workforce. For this rising generation, values and ethics are on a par with financial reward. The UK tech sector is growing at a remarkable rate; this growth also presents significant challenges in terms of accessing and empowering a skilled and diverse pool of talent. Large technology corporations are part of the diversity deficiency, and we collectively have work to do.
When it comes to inclusion, as part of Intel’s 2030 goals, the company is working towards achieving the following:
- Double the number of women and underrepresented minorities in senior leadership roles
- Exceed 40% representation of women in technical positions
- Ensure that inclusive leadership practices and accountability are embedded in our culture globally by creating and adopting an inclusive leader certification program
Attraction and recruitment (fishing in diverse ponds)
Companies must reflect and reach out to attract BAME talent and overcome bias in the recruitment process.
The UK’s tech sector, prior to the pandemic, was growing at six times the rate of the wider economy. Even now, during a global pandemic, there are over 90,000 new job vacancies per week in digital in the UK being advertised. The sector is hungry for talent in order to continue to grow.
How can we ensure we are attracting and recruiting from the widest possible talent pools?
Advanced | Removing bias in recruitment
Advanced is renowned for its innovative recruitment process, which seeks to eradicate bias – unconscious or otherwise – when hiring. It is easy to make symbolic gestures and say the right thing, but Advanced want to get to the heart of the matter and make systematic change. By using this process, they are creating a team of individuals who are selected purely on merit, aptitude and potential - bringing powerful teamwork, ingenious problem solving and creative solutions to their business.
In Advanced’s recruitment, they use tools that give them additional insight into intellect using two tests which assess and profile the candidate. They assess aptitude and attitude but also profile a candidate for specific functions against the common characteristics required for roles in sales, support, marketing, finance. This helps to identify behaviour patterns and intelligence that they know make people suitable for different role types at the organisation – regardless of their background and previous experience.
Advanced’s management fundamentals training, which 750 managers have already completed, dedicates a whole day to the idea that everyone has bias - even if they are unaware of it. They provide tools to help managers understand this, and to support them in making appropriate decisions going forward.
FDM | Working with key partners
FDM works with key university partners and recruit throughout the year to provide springboard opportunities for tech talent at the start of their career. Their attraction and recruitment strategy is based on identifying attitude, aptitude and potential with entirely strengths-based interviewing and a dedicated recruiter throughout the process. They monitor the success of candidates throughout the process to identify and remove potential barriers and to ensure their approach to inclusion continues to evolve.
In 2021, FDM will be further developing the partnerships with universities and looking at better ways to work with societies on all aspects relating to equality, inclusion and intersectionality. This approach results in above average representation across many areas of diversity, including ethnicity, in comparison to economically active populations, which they report on an annual basis. In 2019, of those who completed an equal opportunities form 53% of the graduate Consultant intake identified as BAME.
Retention (getting workplace culture right)
Companies need to build a culture that aligns with people’s values.
According to research by LinkedIn, the top reason why people left their old job was because they were concerned about the lack of opportunities for advancement. Clarity and direction are also key to retaining tech talent. As a technology leader, it is in your company’s interest to provide your workforce with career growth.
It’s also about getting the workplace culture right. Our work and personal lives have merged almost instantaneously amidst a global pandemic. To maintain a diverse and inclusive workforce, senior leadership teams need to understand their workforce, both in terms of their development requirements and requirements outside of work – maternity and paternity leave and flexible working around home school and care commitments for example. To best understand these needs, future leadership must be composed of people from all walks of life, with different gender, ethnic and sexual identities. Successful future leadership must invest, listen to, and represent their workforce.
How can companies retain their tech talent?
Spotlight on Ethnicity Pay reporting
techUK welcomes the UK Government’s efforts to promote greater diversity whether through support for initiatives such as the Tech Talent Charter to help measure diversity or gender pay gap reporting. Ethnicity pay gap reporting could be another tool to help increase diversity. Shedding a light on disparities where they exist is the first step to understanding the problem and raising awareness of an issue. However, tech companies know how important good data is in driving decisions and encouraging change and there are some real challenges that will need to be addressed to ensure that ethnicity pay gap reporting leads to the generation of good, accurate and actionable data.
Whilst transparency can aid understanding, it must be rooted in robust data that can paint an accurate picture. Developing a model for mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting that generates robust and actionable data will be difficult. It is essential that time and care is taken to create a system that works and overcomes challenges companies faced initially with gender pay gap reporting. Getting it wrong would not only produce misleading data but could lead to the development of misguided action plans and negative unintended consequences.
Collecting, analysing, and reporting ethnicity pay gaps is an important first step for an organisation but reporting on its own will not drive change. As techUK’s work on gender pay reporting shows while the numbers stated in the report are obviously important, to have truly effective reporting companies should take the opportunity to create a narrative. Explain what has contributed to your pay disparities and other extenuating factors which may impact your final numbers, for example the demographic of the pipeline of talent into the sector and what is being done to remedy this. In doing so organisations can be more action oriented. They can gain a better understanding of what their workforce looks like and whether they are reaching out to and benefiting from the diverse talent pool in their local communities.
Read techUK’s submission to the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and the Race Disparity Unit on Ethnicity Pay reporting consultation in January 2019. A number of techUK members voluntarily publish their ethnicity pay gaps including: Baker McKenzie, EY, Deloitte, KPMG, PwC and more.
Development (developing diversity/climbing the ladder)
Progression of those from an ethnic minority background to senior positions is low.
Inclusive Boards research has found that 75% of Boards in the tech sector had no BAME members and that BAME people made up just 8.5% of senior leaders (directors and executives) in the sector. BAME IT professionals are also less likely to be in positions of responsibility than those of white ethnicity according to research by BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT. The boardrooms of Britain’s leading companies currently do not reflect the ethnic diversity of either the UK or their key stakeholders that are critical to success of their businesses. Leadership has a role in changing this and, to do this, those leading this change need to be supported.
How can we develop talent in our organisations?
Oracle | Network building & reverse mentoring
Oracle’s Cultural Harmony Network launched in Oracle UK in October 2019 and already has 290 members passionate about wider representation who all want to play a part in creating a workplace reflective of a diverse society. This Network is committed to bringing people together by promoting the benefits of cultural diversity, reducing discrimination, and addressing cultural misconceptions in the pursuit of all things equality; to celebrate the differences that makes us all the same. Born of the BAME initiative and their commitment to Race Equity and Cultural Diversity, Oracle ensures that all cultural backgrounds and ethnicity are welcome to discuss and push for wider representation for all.
They have partnered with Business In the Community to help get the network up and running and learn best practices from other organisations succeeding in this area. As part of developing inclusive culture within Oracle, they are supported at Country Leadership Level by their Country Leader and Senior Vice President for Technology at Oracle.
Oracle are also currently piloting their Reverse Mentoring program where members from their BAME demographic of employees will mentor senior managers to share and highlight their professional and personal experiences. The mentee (managers) will benefit from having greater cultural understanding of differences, the impact this has on their employees and a greater sense of awareness of sensitive aspects when it comes to developing the organisations culture of inclusivity.
This also leads to greater dialogue when it comes to conversation on Diversity in the workplace and greater considerations regarding employee engagements.
Further actions for companies
Whilst this report has provided an overview of key actions that companies can take to foster diversity and inclusion, techUK would like to further highlight the work and initiatives of organisations dedicated to challenging the status quo and aiming to progress ethnic diversity in tech which you as an individual or organisation can support. This catalogue of good practice is a guide to what the industry is doing and is only the beginning of a conversation, not the end, which we hope to add to and expand as more members and partners get involved.
Founded in 2016, Colorintech was started with the belief that a more inclusive tech industry is better for products, innovation, and employees and leads to a larger generational impact when it comes to wealth creation and closing opportunity gaps.
Feeling frustrated with being one of a few Black individuals in tech, Silicon Valley tech executive Dion McKenzie and ex-Googler Ashleigh Ainsley teamed up to create a non-profit that would help to increase the number of ethnic minorities entering the UK tech workforce and inspire thousands of past and future leaders to join the movement.
Colorintech has been focused on one mission - to make Europe the most inclusive tech hub in the world. They do this by building programs that create access to some of the world’s most innovative companies for ethnic minorities. They have 30k people in their community and 1200 graduates from programs that support people throughout their career from students to entrepreneurs to experienced professionals. Colorintech has fostered a community that allows people to support each other, build a network and access opportunities in tech. Find out more.
Tech Talent Charter
The Tech Talent Charter (TTC) is a commitment by organisations to a set of undertakings that aim to deliver greater diversity in the UK’s tech workforce. Signatories of the charter make a number of pledges in relation to their approach to the recruitment, promotion and retention of a diverse workforce. Although it is very much an employer-led initiative, the TTC is supported by the UK Government's Digital Strategy.
Importantly, the Charter states that all signatories must provide data on their own workforce each year so that we can measure success and make more impactful, measurable changes as an industry for the future. The TTC now has over 460 members. techUK is a strategic partner of the TTC and a founding signatory. Becoming a Signatory of the TTC is free, find out more here.
YSYS Community Advocates
The UK start-up ecosystem needs to do more to support diverse communities; fewer than 24% of VCs are from ethnic backgrounds, only 1p of every pound invested goes to female founders and over 48% of diverse founders are ineligible for government grants. However, over the past three years, YSYS have provided access to opportunities in tech for over 10,000 diverse individuals through their employment and entrepreneurial programmes. This has been made possible by the collective effort of their team, partners, members, and allies, who have been committed to campaigning against the exclusion of diverse communities within the start-up ecosystem.
YSYS Community Advocates are launching the #KnowYourData campaign calling on the UK start-up and VC ecosystem to commit to collecting diversity data of their employees and investees. Alongside the campaign they have curated a Diversity Data Centre with resources, templates and a list of commitments which organisations can hold themselves accountable to. The #KnowYourData Campaign is about bringing communities together to help all those who have position, privilege, and societal equity and really want to be part of the change be able to move past empty gestures and contribute towards a baseline understanding of the true state of diversity and inclusion in their ecosystems.
UKBlackTech is an innovation group that is on a mission to make the UK the most ethnically diverse tech ecosystem in the world. To make this happen we need to see equity, transparency and representation at decision making level in tech. Their 100 year plan aims to showcase tech professionals & digital businesses in mainstream media and events, help individuals and digital businesses to become self-sustainable through long term growth & consistency, build a community that collaborates, partners and shares resources, and to increase the numbers of BAME people at all levels in tech.
Race at Work Charter
The Race at Work Charter is designed to foster a public commitment to improving outcomes of BAME employees in the workplace. It consists of five principles to ensure organisations address the barriers to BAME recruitment and progression. Organisations that sign up to the charter are publicly committing to:
1. Appoint an Executive Sponsor for race
Executive Sponsors for race provide visible leadership on race and ethnicity in their organisation and can drive actions such as setting targets for ethnic minority representation, briefing recruitment agencies and supporting mentoring and sponsorship.
2. Capture ethnicity data and publicise progress
Capturing ethnicity data is important for establishing a baseline and measuring progress. It is a crucial step towards an organisation reporting on ethnicity pay differentials.
3. Commit at board level to zero tolerance of harassment and bullying
The Race at Work Survey revealed that 25% of ethnic minority employees reported that they had witnessed or experienced racial harassment or bullying from managers. Commitment from the top is needed to achieve change.
4. Make clear that supporting equality in the workplace is the responsibility of all leaders and managers
Actions can include ensuring that performance objectives for leaders and managers cover their responsibilities to support fairness for all staff.
5. Take action that supports ethnic minority career progression
Actions can include embedding mentoring, reverse mentoring and sponsorship in their organisations.