Tech London Advocates, a support network for digital personnel in London, recently held a conference to discuss the issues surrounding diversity in tech. The founder of the organisation, Russ Shaw, pointed out that IT companies should, by their very nature, be both innovative and progressive. However, he says that the industry’s future is being compromised by a lack of diversity. He, therefore, instigated the conference in an attempt to identify solutions to the problem.
According to figures discussed at the conference, around 1,000 London technology companies have no women amongst the workforce, but this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to diversity in the industry. The conference discovered that well over 50 percent of people within the tech sector are aware of a lack of diversity, but little is being done to instigate changes.
Tech UK is a national organisation which represents almost 1.000 tech companies throughout the UK. It aims to provide appropriate guidance and advice to ensure that the industry continues to grow and develop in an effective manner. The organisation is also aware that the market is currently skewed towards Caucasian heterosexual males. It is therefore keen to promote greater diversity, citing the fact that there is currently a shortage of employees with the appropriate skills and that widening the net is essential in helping to plug the gap.
Meanwhile, a recent article in the Business Debate labels the current situation as the Fourth Industrial Revolution, pointing out that far too many companies are failing to adapt to the changing times and are, instead, clinging on to old values and traditions that have no place in the workplace of tomorrow. We live in a multicultural society, yet there is still far too great a dependence upon Caucasian middle-class male graduates within the digital industry.
We know that technology designed and created by diverse teams in a collaborative approach has the greatest chance of fulfilling the needs of users and we are seeing a shift towards technology services and products that meet that need as precisely as possible. This can only succeed if the designers and creators come from diverse backgrounds, which ensures that everyone’s needs can be met in an appropriate, balanced manner.
There is more to diversity than simply gathering together groups of people from disparate backgrounds. Ideally, every business should endeavour to seek out prospective employees that represent their communities, so that each member of a team can focus on meaningful and appropriate goals.
Industry insiders are concerned that the impending tightening of immigration controls will limit the availability of foreign tech workers, which means that more needs to be done to attract young people from within the UK into the digital world. Tech London Advocates is aware that there are currently insufficient numbers of young people coming into the industry. It is working on a variety of approaches necessary to encourage greater numbers of young people from across all cultures into the tech sector.
Sources include Digital Agenda, Tech UK, The Business Debate.
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