Only 2.6% of board positions in the UK's top tech companies are held by ethnic minorities, a new report from Colorintech, a pro-diversity tech organization, has found.
This is despite the ethnic minority population of England and Wales standing at 16.3% in 2016, with that set to rise to 20.1%, a fifth of the total population, by 2026.
The FTSE Tech Diversity Report 2018 focused on diversity within the tech industry and especially at tech companies.
On a more positive note, however, Colorintech found that women occupy 26% of board positions in UK tech companies, compared with 20% in the US. This is slightly higher than figures cited by OneTech, which found that women occupy 23% of board positions. The implication, though, is the same: while things are moving gradually in the right direction, the figure needs to be much closer to 50%. (See OneTech Aims to Double Diversity Amongst Founders in London.)
Of the 152 board positions at the UK's top 16 tech companies, just four were held by someone from an ethnic minority. Only one of those four people is female -- women in total held 39 board positions of those 16 companies. Compared with the financial sector (11% ethnic minority, 30% women), travel and leisure (3%, 25%), and media (4%, 31%), it is clear tech can do more to increase the diversity within its top boardrooms.
Despite the lack of diversity, especially amongst ethnic minorities, this isn't because the talent isn't available. British University students from ethnic minority backgrounds make up 20% of the UK university population, with more BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) students studying Science, Engineering and Technology (SET) subjects than white students in the 2013/2014 academic year. Furthermore, data from the Higher Educational Statistical Agency showed that of the BAME students studying SET in 2016/2017, 7.6% of them were studying computer science, 10.5% engineering and technology, and 3.2% mathematics.
So lack of talent isn't the problem: rather, we need to be encouraging these students to take up careers in tech and, like their white counterparts, rise to the top and become managing directors, CEOs, CTOs and COOs, chairmen/women, and board members. This isn't going to happen overnight; it will be a generational change, but will only happen if the entire tech industry plays its part.
Finally, Tech London Advocates says that the only way London will achieve its aim of 1 million tech jobs by 2023 -- the so-called "road to one million" -- is through an increase in diversity, at all levels. TLA says data provided by jobs platform Adzuna indicates there are 318,480 tech jobs in London, meaning that number has to more than treble in the next five years, adding 10,000 tech jobs a month.
— Phil Oakley, Site Editor, TechX365