The Importance of Diversity in the Tech Industry
By Sidra Faridi
The tech industry contributes around £200 billion annually to the economy, making it a key part in sustaining the wealth of countries.
At the heart of every company, it is the individuals who represent the idea and vision to result in its success. If these individuals are from the same backgrounds, with similar views, then often, there is a lack of original and diverse ideas to truly allow that business to stand out with revolutionary new ideas. Every business deserves to have its own unique selling point (USP), without this there isn’t much that makes them stand apart from competitors.
Particularly with modern technology and how new innovations can save lives, such as AI research conducting ground-breaking cancer treatments, it is vital to bring in as much talent from every corner of the world to help improve the quality of life.
While there are many big tech companies which have introduced a diversity and inclusion system, such as Cisco, Intel, IBM, Apple and many others, this still isn’t enough. There are still only 15% of the tech industry who are from minority backgrounds, which proves that there is much more to do to achieve inclusivity.
This raises the question of how to effectively diversify the tech industry. Should companies do more to reach out to younger generations who are striving to learn more about the tech world? Giving prospective employees the opportunity to pick up skills and experiences from a young age can allow them to break through the glass ceiling.
Having a lack of representation can often lead to fewer diverse applicants, as they are often turned away from the idea of even applying. As a society, we’ve witnessed the negative effects of misrepresentation within media and how the absence of role models can impact children. Many feel that they cannot reach their goals and aspirations – whether that is in the field of drama or a technology.
Since it was only in 2010 where the UK equality act would protect applicants from any form of discrimination at all stages of their employment, companies should do more to provide security for diverse applicants for them to be reassured of being chosen fairly. This can often include submitting anonymous personal details during an application process.
More so than ever, with certain movements such as ‘MeToo’, it should be a forthright concern of industries to give opportunities to a wide range of applications from different backgrounds.
Discrimination within the workplace
Data has shown that individuals of minority groups are being paid an estimated 10% less than white employers within tech firms. This is a shocking statistic and only reiterates the importance of being treated fairly which all employers should adhere to.
Vijay, who works as a technical consultant in a leading tech company, commented on why the industry requires a more diverse cohort, “Different people with different experiences bring different perspectives and ideas – and that is how you innovate.”
“Diversity has impacted me because I represent many different “pillars” of diversity- I represent the LGBTQIA+ front being queer, the ethnic minority being Indian – so it means I recognise immediately that I have to work harder than some of my white, heterosexual counterparts, but, more than anything, it fuels me to put in the work.”
Vijay put emphasis on companies putting in more work with communities for outreach programmes to help support underrepresented individuals.
It is clear that there has been a lot of progressive change within the tech industry, however, there are still many targets to hit to have a fair and equal work environment, perhaps in all fields and sectors of employment.