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The UK government has agreed to sign diversity initiative Tech Talent Charter (TCC) to address the lack of gender diversity in the technology industry.
The secretary of state for digital and culture, Matt Hancock, told an all-party parliamentary group on creative industries and the 4th industrial revolution it is “essential” that the public sector encourages others to initiate positive change.
“It is essential the public sector leads the way in driving this change, and today I can announce every government department will be signing the charter,” he said.
Hancock, who was also part of the official launch of the Charter in 2017, claimed the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) will be the first to sign the charter, and eventually all other government departments will follow suit.
As part of the government’s commitment to the charter, minister for digital and the creative industries, Margot James, will write to many large technology firms asking them to sign the charter to contribute to the work taking place to increase diversity in the technology industry.
Over 100 firms, including Dell, Sage and Cisco, have already joined the initiative which asks signatories to commit to a number of small actions which can contribute towards growing diversity in their organisations.
These include ensuring there is a woman on interview shortlists wherever possible, and submitting anonymous data for an annual diversity report to highlight how the industry is changing.
Read more about diversity in the technology industry
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By making these changes, the charter aims to make signatory firms more attractive to those in the minority in the technology industry as these firms are showing a commitment to shifting the dial and changing their own attitude towards culture and inclusion.
But Hancock claimed changes need to be made across the pipeline as a whole by addressing the diversity problem both in schools and in the industry to make it accessible to more people.
“Cracking the challenge is in part about changing the education system but it's also about changing the culture and opening up,” he said.
The new computing curriculum was introduced in the UK in 2014 to encourage more young people into science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) based careers, but schools and many in the tech industry still see these subjects as a male pursuit, and a lack of visible female role models to encourage girls into the sector.
In the past representatives from the TCC have suggested methods such as ensuring the use of inclusive language in job descriptions, providing unconscious bias training for employees and making role models visible at every stage of the business to try and tackle some of the common diversity and inclusion issues that currently exist in the sector.
Debbie Forster, Tech Talent Charter’s management group lead, claimed there is “so much more to be done” to begin levelling out the playing field in the technology industry, but that the companies already signed are ready to do what they can to begin making a “real difference” in the sector.
“As a major UK employer in its own right, the government is in a key position both to help drive diversity in sector and to benefit from the rich talent that it could attract as a result of this,” she said.