Diversity and inclusion in tech: the next 10 years

In this video from Computer Weekly’s annual diversity and inclusion in tech event, in partnership with Spinks, panel members discuss the last 10 years of D&I in UK technology, how it has progressed, and how we ensure improvement in the 10 years to come.

The discussion and movement surrounding diversity, equity and inclusion in the UK’s technology sector has been ongoing, and while there are many initiatives in place both in and outside of organisations aiming to shift the dial, not much has changed over the last 10 years.

That being said, we now understand a lot more about the importance of diversity in the sector, and as people become more aware of the issues surrounding a lack of diversity in tech the conversation is advancing.

In this panel discussion, panel members who have been part of the technology sector for a long time talk about how they have watched diversity in the technology industry grow, and the attitude we need to adopt in order to push for greater diversity in the future.

Panel members:

  • Gillian Arnold, MD, Tectre
  • Russ Shaw, founder, Tech London Advocates and Global Tech Advocates
  • Andrea Palmer, business change and digital transformation manager; BCS Fellow; chair, BCS Women

Some of the questions asked, and the advice given:

Each of you have been involved in the tech sector for a long time - what notable changes have you witnessed when it comes to diversity in tech? What is going well and what isn’t?

  • There has been positive change, and Shaw says: "The good news is there’s much more awareness of the importance of this issue.”
  • Most organisations now seem to have at least an awareness of the issue
  • There is a general feeling of “Are we not doing enough?”
  • The dial is moving so slowly because the change is left to the underrepresented groups and in many cases higher ups are not involved in D&I initiatives
  • More male allyship is needed

While there is often mention during these discussions of the white males in higher up roles in companies who are in a position to help drive forward change, what are we actually asking them to do?

  • Be aware of hiring practices and job role descriptions – what will attract a man to a role won’t necessarily attract a woman
  • Advocate for high performing women within your teams who may not apply for roles – tell them they have the skillsets, change the job description, give them feedback. As palmer points out: "Men generally ask for feedback, women don't."
  • Lead by example and engage with these topics and initiatives
  • Push back to agencies for a more diverse candidate pool

What do we do if a leader says they always hire the best person for the job, and if that were a woman they’d hire them, but they just don't get women applying?

  • Try harder
  • Know it will take some time
  • Make sure to also focus on retention in the organisation, as well as the current work environment and staff
  • Look to upskill and reskill as well as recruit new people

In organisations where the diversity split is starting to equalise - how do you make sure this is ongoing?

  • D&I initiatives are part of a process, they should not be viewed as a one and done scenario

Are there standards for unconscious biased training? Who should it be available to?

  • There aren’t currently standards for unconscious bias training
  • Unconscious bias training should be available to everyone at all levels of a business

Tech is part of everyone's lives - what are the consequences of having a lack of women building these technologies?

Are we going to be having this same conversation in another 10 years?

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