per diversity cent companies tech venture also

techsuch May 9, 2021 0 Comments

Diversity in tech, or lack thereof, is keeping sector in the pastAlmost 15 years after the launch of companies like Google, Facebook andTwitter ushered in a new age of truly global connectivity, transforming everyaspect of modern life, some of the largest businesses in the world struggle toaddress key issues of diversity in tech.In the United States, companies such as Google and Facebook regularly publishdiversity figures that show internal male, female and ethnic minority staffinglevels. For several years, the figures have shone a spotlight on the extent ofSilicon Valley’s diversity in tech challenges. Latest numbers released byGoogle show that while the percentage of Asian workers increased from 30 percent in 2014 to 36.3 per cent this year, the proportion of white workers fellby 8 per cent over the same four years.> Many of the companies we speak to don’t view diversity as a priority; it is> as simple as thatMore crucially, the company has struggled to hire black and Latino talent. Thenumber of employees from these groups rose by only 0.7 and 0.6 per centrespectively from 2014 to 2018. Staff attrition is also highest among the sametwo groupings. In addition, Google has found it hard to reach levels of genderparity with women accounting for 30.9 per cent of its staff.#### Facebook and Twitter struggling to attract minoritiesFigures released by Facebook, which employs around 25,000 people worldwide,show that the company has performed better on addressing the gender gap, butcontinues to struggle in other areas of diversity. Facebook’s internalstaffing figures show 35 per cent of the company’s global workforce is women,up from 33 per cent in 2016. Women now comprise 28 per cent of the company’ssenior leadership, an increase of 1 per cent from 2016.At Facebook, the number of black employees has increased by 50 per cent, to 3per cent, and the number of Latinos has gone up from 4 to 5 per cent, but thecompany continues to struggle to attract minorities. Facebook says diversityin tech figures are to be taken in the context of wider education gaps inscience and engineering, where minority communities are traditionally under-represented.A similar picture emerged at Twitter, where 30 per cent of its leadership isfemale, but the fewest number of women (15 per cent) are employed in technicalpositions.#### Why are tech companies struggling so much with diversity?“People who work at these companies tell us one of the recurring issues is thelack of meaningful change in these work cultures,” says Yana Calou, engagementand training manager at Coworker.org, a US-based platform that provides adviceon problems including diversity, pay gaps and other institutional challenges.“One of the most difficult pieces of the problem is the retention levelbecause of the cultural problems faced by some of these companies like genderpay gaps,” says Ms Calou. “In addition, you have everything from harassmentfrom co-workers to all-out threats to diversity advocates, and people standingup for themselves being doxxed [on the internet] and having their livesthreatened. Companies and human resources departments are not taking thesethreats seriously or taking action in meaningful ways.“Now workers are dealing with allegations of an anti-conservative bias in techcompanies, when in fact people have been undersupported or attacked outrightabout their ideological diversity for simply lobbying for change.”#### Venture capital not demanding diversity targets before fundingAcross the tech industry, analysts paint an equally bleak picture. A recentreport by Recode showed that women were found in only around 30 per cent ofall leadership roles. Women also occupy only 27 per cent of all technicalroles at major technology companies. The percentages of black and Latinoemployees in leadership positions is also low at around 4 to 10 per cent.Silicon Valley’s diversity problems aren’t isolated solely at theentrepreneurial level. Campaigners have long argued that one of the keyinhibitors can be found in the predominantly white and male venture capitalindustry whose financiers are likely to fund promising business models withoutdemanding diversity targets.Earlier this year, a group of more than 400 leading technology experts andbusiness leaders formed a coalition called Founders for Change to pressureventure capitalists to increase diversity within their ranks. Senior figuresat the organisation include the founders and chief executives of companiesincluding Dropbox, Airbnb, Lyft and Stitch Fix.According to the National Venture Capital Association and Deloitte, the USventure capital industry invested $84 billion during 2017 in more than 8,000companies. The researchers also found that in 2016 only 11 per cent of thepartners at venture capital firms were women. A survey further highlightedthere were no black investment partners employed by the firms and only 2 percent of investment partners were from Latino backgrounds.#### Diversity in tech also lacking in the UKIn the UK, a successful sector has likewise failed to address issues ofdiversity in tech. The UK’s technology sector is worth around £184 billion, upfrom £170 billion in 2016, according to Tech Nation, with growth outpacing therest of the economy at around 4.5 per cent between 2016 and 2017. The UKcurrently employs around 2.1 million people in digital technology.A Tech Nation report shows women make up only 19 per cent of the UK techworkforce, compared with 49 per cent in all other jobs. There is some goodnews, however, as ethnic diversity in tech and digital jobs is above the UK 10per cent average at 15 per cent. But employment in technology also highlightsother regional imbalances. The study reveals that 51 per cent of digitalworkers in the capital are under the age 35 while, on average, 72 per cent areolder.#### Diversity goals set from the top will really ring changes in tech“Many of the companies we speak to don’t view diversity as a priority; it isas simple as that,” says Ashleigh Ainsley, co-founder of the London-basedColorintech.org, which tries to improve access and opportunities for BAME(black, Asian and minority ethnic) technology employees. “What they do iseffectively hire quick and diversity is not the rationale they chose tocompete on.”Research from Colorintech.org found that racial diversity in tech boardroomsof the UK’s topcompanies lags behind the US. In a survey of 152 boardpositions in 16 of the UK’s top technology companies, only four places werefilled by an ethnic minority person.Mr Ainsley says while government could do more to encourage and incentiviseminority groups to take up science and engineering subjects at an earlier age,financial backers of startups could be more explicit in setting diversitygoals.“A lot of the larger US companies have chief diversity officers as a role.They don’t seem to exist in the same way in the UK,” he says. “At the veryearly part of the pipeline, the government needs to be doing more to helppeople to learn how to code. I would also like more equitable and responsiblefunding with venture capitalists encouraging the boards of technologycompanies to aim for a good mix of staff.”Mark Martin, co-founder of UK Black Tech, concludes: “Lots of tech companieswant to be moving things in diversity; it can add value to their services. Butunless diversity hits the bottom line on profits, it is not going to be takenseriously. We would like to see some metrics being applied to hiring in seniorroles. Ultimately, it will be initiatives like highlighting the ethnic pay gapthat push companies towards changing the status quo.”* * *

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