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More than half of young people in tech have either left the industry or thought about leaving it because of poor company culture, according to research.
Talent and skills provider Mthree found 59% of people between the ages of 18 and 24 said the company culture in their tech-based role made them so uncomfortable they had quit or at least thought about quitting.
When it came to those from under-represented groups in UK tech, these figures were higher, with 64% of female respondents, 67% of those from a mixed-race background and 68% of young people who are bisexual saying they had either left or considered leaving a role because of a company’s culture.
Becs Roycroft, senior director of global emerging talent and reskill operations at Mthree, said: “Although it’s nice to see that the majority of young people have enjoyed their time in tech so far, at least to some extent, it’s quite worrying that many have also had to endure some negative experiences along the way.
“Company culture is so important when it comes to attracting and retaining talent, and a truly inclusive environment can be hard to achieve. Businesses need to ensure they’re really listening to their young employees across all departments and responding to their needs, otherwise they’re going to struggle to maintain and improve the diversity on their teams in the long term.”
There are a number of reasons young people aren’t choosing careers in technology, including a lack of visible and accessible role models, a misconception that tech sector roles are “too hard” and concerns over tech’s reputation for long working hours and a lack of flexibility.
While 35% of those questioned by Mthree claimed to have had an entirely positive experience in their tech career so far, with only 8% having had an entirely negative experience, when broken down into different demographics, those from under-represented groups in tech were more likely to have had a poor experience in the industry. Only a quarter of young gay people and 21% of asexual young people in tech said they’d had an entirely positive time in the sector.
The lack of diversity in IT can often prevent people from seeking a career in the sector as they cannot see other people like them to aspire to. In 2020, BCS figures found that women accounted for 17% of IT specialists in the UK, and about 8% of IT specialists were of Indian ethnicity, 2% from a black, African, Caribbean or black British background, and 2% from a Pakistani or Bangladeshi background.
According to Mthree’s research, young black people were also 57% less likely to have had an entirely positive experience in the sector than their white counterparts.
Not surprisingly, it’s not the work itself causing an issue – almost 44% of young people said they enjoyed the work they were doing in their role and 38% found it interesting. But 71% of young people in tech said they had been made to feel uncomfortable at work either because of their gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic background or because they are neurodiverse.
This figure was higher among young people from under-represented groups, with almost three-quarters of women saying they had been made to feel uncomfortable at work because of one or more of the above reasons, as well as 77% of young people in tech who are black, 83% of young people in tech who are from a mixed-race background, 85% of young bisexual people and 87% of people who are gay or lesbian.
Tech’s reputation for having a poor internal culture is nothing new. In the past, experts have claimed that firms which struggle to hire female tech talent, for example, most likely have issues with hiring practices and company culture.
Read more about diversity in tech
- IT specialists who are from under-represented groups in the UK’s technology sector are less likely to hold higher-up roles, or to be in permanent positions.
- The pandemic helped many organisations get on top of their diversity and inclusion initiatives, according to business leaders in tech and other sectors.