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Percentage of women appointed to tech boards stays stagnant for 20 years

The percentage of women on the boards of technology firms has not changed for the last 20 years, with the gap between men and women on boards growing

The percentage of women recruited to tech company boards has remained relatively unchanged over the past 20 years, according to a report by Tech Nation.

From 2000 to 2018, the number of women appointed to the boards of tech companies, though going up and down slightly from year to year, has never reached more than 30%, with a high of 26.8% in January 2003.

In March 2000, the number of women appointed to technology boards was 24%, while January 2010 was 22.4% and January 2018 was 22.5%.

When looking at the cumulative number of men and women appointed to the boards of technology companies, the gap between men and women is growing – in January of 2010, the number of cumulative appointments of women to technology boards was 11,842 compared to 40,600.9 men, and the gap grows further in January of 2018, where the cumulative number of women appointed to the boards to tech companies only reached 75,097, compared to 252,915.9 men.

These numbers have remained unchanged “despite a great deal of recent public attention and numerous interventions from companies and government”, the report claimed.

Russ Shaw, founder of Tech London Advocates and Global Tech Advocates, said of the findings: “Today’s research from Tech Nation into diversity and inclusion in tech companies shines a light on the scale of the challenge we are facing in this industry.

“No meaningful change in the diversity of British tech since 2000, despite the rapid growth of the sector and the ongoing demand for talent, suggests not just a problem, but a crisis.”

Read more about diversity in the technology industry

Overall in the technology industry, Tech Nation found 23% of directors are women, and in the UK economy more broadly, 29% of women are directors of companies, as opposed to 71% men.

With 19% of technology workers made up of women, this means technology leadership is more gender balanced than more general technology roles.

The Tech Nation report speculated that this could be because “company boards are far more visible than their workers’, making it more important for boards and directors to be gender diverse.

It is often said that a lack of role models can contribute to the lack of women choosing technology as a career, and while Tech Nation’s report said anecdotally having more females on a board is said to trickle down to other parts of an organisation, it also pointed out this does not seem to be the case.

Almost 20% of tech directors are of non-British nationality, more than other sectors where international candidates only make up 13% of directors.

The tech sector is made up of a higher concentration of non-UK nationals than the workforce as a whole, with 15% non-UK candidates working in the tech industry as opposed to 10% across the UK economy more widely.

Many predict the skills gap in the technology industry will only get worse once the UK leaves the European Union, as some of these non-UK candidates making up a proportion of the technology industry may choose to seek work outside of the UK.

Increasing productivity and innovation

Having increased diversity in an organisation is often cited to increase productivity and innovation in a firm, and TechNation’s study found benefits for companies with more diverse leadership, including 0.7% higher turnover for firms with diverse boards, and 453% higher investment for directors sitting on boards with diverse nationalities.

“Tech Nation has made a clear business case for increased diversity and our hope is this becomes widely recognised across the industry,” said Shaw.

“One thing is clear. If we can send a clear message to the global tech ecosystem that the UK is the most diverse and inclusive tech ecosystem in the world, we will attract all the world-class talent we need. As such, the future success of the British tech sector will live or fail based on our ability to solve this diversity crisis.”

Tech Nation’s research also found small differences affecting the gender split in different subsections of the technology industry.

The gaming industry has a wider gap between male and female directors, with 13% women and 87% men, and similarly in Telecoms, more highly male dominated, with directors tending to be older than the average.

Read more on Diversity in IT

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