When it comes to diversity and inclusion, many UK tech companies have taken significant steps in implementing strategies, and are now seeing positive results in not only the makeup of their workforce, but in the productivity and success of their companies. However, data shows a continued disparity in representation and venture capital investment for underrepresented groups, illustrating the need for practical Diversity and Inclusion guidance for tech businesses.
We are delighted to be able to introduce the Diversity & Inclusion Toolkit; a comprehensive guide to address diversity challenges in tech companies and the UK tech sector, in order to help build a strong, diverse and inclusive tech sector.
Digital Infrastructure Minister Matt Warman said: “With one in 10 UK job vacancies in the country’s booming tech sector, firms have a golden opportunity to bring about real change by closing gender and ethnic diversity gaps through their hiring.
“A diverse workforce is not only good for society, but it also makes good business sense. I urge businesses to use these insights and guidance to lead the charge in creating a fairer, stronger and more diverse tech industry.”
With a growing number of UK examples, this toolkit aims to celebrate success already achieved in tackling diversity and inclusion, while providing the resources for others to do the same.
Rowena Knapp, COO at Tech Nation, commented: “When it comes to achieving equality in the UK’s tech sector, we still have a long way to go. Tech companies and their founders need to have a comprehensive toolkit they can turn to to help them address diversity issues head-on. As we look to rebuild a stronger economy and society, equal opportunity and representation within the tech sector has never been more important.
This is why I am pleased to launch the Diversity & Inclusion Toolkit today, which we will continue to refine and build on over the months and years to come. Creating a truly diverse and inclusive tech business is an ongoing and iterative process, and the D&I Toolkit is a fantastic place to start.”
Asad Dhunna, Founder and CEO of The Unmistakables, commented: “Building organisations that are inclusive from the inside out takes concerted time, energy and effort. This is by no means an end point, it’s just the beginning and the road to true inclusion takes time and continued, concerted effort. It’s important we continue to iterate and refine this toolkit as language and society evolves and as founders continue to provide examples of the systems and processes they are putting in place to grow their businesses inclusively.”
Taking the first steps
Diversity and inclusion cuts across every part of a tech company, ranging from gathering diversity data, hiring for diversity, setting a D&I budget, creating an inclusive culture and minimising bias in product development. There are many examples of what it looks like if companies, and if the tech sector at large, fail to take these important steps. Data also shows just how far the sector has to go. For instance, data from Extend Ventures shows that in 2019, entrepreneurs from Black, South Asian, East Asian and Middle Eastern backgrounds received just 1.7% of UK VC investment, while over the past decade, only 3% of VC funding went to all female teams.
Nikhil Shah, Co-Founder of Mixcloud and the All In Commitment & Community, commented: “As a founder and advisor to startups, I have witnessed firsthand the importance of being an empathetic leader: building inclusive cultures and diverse teams is a social responsibility but also better for business. Now is the time to provide founders with the support they need to achieve this in their own companies. That’s why we’re building All In, and we’re delighted to be partnering with Tech Nation on their practical toolkit to empower positive change across our industry.”
To achieve maximum impact, diversity and inclusion strategies must be implemented as early as possible in a company’s growth journey. But for founders scaling their businesses, it may seem like a daunting challenge. This is why we have created the Diversity & Inclusion Toolkit. In our work at Tech Nation, we heard from large numbers of founders, asking for resources and a guide to successfully implement these changes in their businesses. Created from interviews conducted with UK tech leaders, the toolkit offers insights and guidance to help founders scale diverse and inclusive companies. Each section of the toolkit contains checklists, links to tools and resources, and case studies highlighting examples of companies who have enacted positive change. Continually updated, it will reflect the changing tech landscape, new D&I initiatives and companies which have already implemented successful D&I frameworks.
As the nation looks to rebuild a stronger economy and society, equal opportunity and representation within the tech sector has never been more important. The tech sector is driving growth in jobs and investment across the UK, scaling rapidly over the past year. VC investment in tech broke new records in the first quarter of 2021, reaching $7.6bn (Dealroom, 2021), while today almost 10% (2.89mn) of all UK jobs are now in tech (Tech Nation, ONS, 2020), demonstrating the tech sector’s opportunity and responsibility to boost diversity in the UK.
Izzy Obeng, Managing Director at Foundervine, commented: “In June last year, the world changed. Institutions of all kinds voiced their support for the Black community, the Black Lives Matter movement, and were denouncing racial injustices. As Managing Director of Foundervine, I’ve found myself committed to addressing the complex challenges that make UK tech feel disconnected from diverse communities, many of whom are often excluded from the growth taking place around them. I’m very excited to see the launch of this new D&I toolkit from Tech Nation and hope it will contribute to new, actionable steps forward in our sector.”
The toolkit was created in partnership with The Unmistakables, an award-winning Diversity & Inclusion consultancy, and is supported by talent and training partner Futureproof. Alongside the toolkit, we are also partnering with the All In Commitment & Community for diversity & inclusion. All In is a cross-industry effort to encourage startup founders to pledge their commitment to creating diverse and inclusive work environments, whilst building a community of committed peers who can share questions and advice in a safe space.
David Roberts, Director of futureproof, commented: “Diversity and inclusion is the starting point for welcoming new perspectives and experiences; it’s the backbone of an innovative, caring, and high-performing business culture. The UK needs to lead the world in setting the pace of change. futureproof is really excited to be partnering with Tech Nation on their D&I toolkit, as we are both committed to democratising access to tech careers and want to build a technology ecosystem that reflects the extraordinary diversity of the UK.”
At Tech Nation…
At Tech Nation, our D&I activities cover four main areas
- Data: a diversity survey was a first step towards better understanding our diverse workforce, and a simple data framework will enable us to continuously update our diversity data and embed it in our internal processes.
- Communication: Regular ‘all hands’ meetings are held to update on the progress we are making against our D&I goal, and weekly D&I sprints allow employees to come together and talk about what more we can do in D&I.
- Workplace: a culture charter in development will outline the key behaviours and principles we expect in an inclusive workplace culture. Pandemic-inspired workplace initiatives already include an additional financial contribution for remote working equipment, flexible co-working passes with Hubble HQ, and fun slack channels to keep us connected.