This study was managed and reported by Rupert Smith ACIPD, Senior Talent Partner at Global {M}.

In 2019, Global {M} attended the
Women of Silicon Roundabout event at the ExCel, London, where we set up an event stall, with a mission to research the opinions and views of attendees, regarding Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) in the tech space.

It was a well attended event and our researchers managed to get survey responses from over 200 people, via iPads. 

Survey Questions were based on those from the Women in IT Survey Report (April 2014) carried out by the British Computer Society (BCS). The intention was to report any change in experiences and popular opinion, regarding gender D&I, 5 years later.

In May 2014 BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, conducted a month-long campaign to encourage more women to join the IT profession. The survey was conducted online by BCS. Personalised email invites were sent out to a random sample of about 5,000 BCS members based in the UK, as well as to BCSWomen (BCS Specialist Group), based in the UK.

A total of 771 responses were received. 

Although the BCS study involved more than 3 times the number of participants than the Global{M} study, it is definitely interesting to comment and compare the results with the recent findings at Women of Silicon Roundabout 2019.


Results with Comparison

In the BCS report, 63% of participants indicated that their organisation had a diversity policy.

This figure rose to 80% for larger organisations (over 250 employees) and dropped to 37% for SMEs (250 employees or less).

In the Global {M} 2019 study, 65% of participants indicated that their organisation had a diversity policy (see Fig. 1.)
This suggests that there has not been a significant change in the number of companies with diversity policies over the past 7 years.

Fig. 1
Does your organisation / company have a diversity policy?


In the 2014 BCS Report, nearly four in ten organisations represented, offered unconscious bias or diversity training. Once again this figure rose to 55% for larger organisations (over 250 employees) and dropped to 14% for SMEs. 

In the Global{M} 2019 study, 59.4% of companies offered unconscious bias or diversity training, a figure not that much lower than in the BCS study (Fig 2.)

This shows that there are still more than half of larger companies still not providing this training in 2020. The Global{M} findings are supported by a 2019 report on the website peoplemanagement.co.uk, stating that two thirds of managers are still not receiving D&I training.

Fig 2.
Does your organisation / company offer unconscious bias or diversity training?


In the BCS study (2014), nearly eight out of ten participants felt that the IT profession would benefit from having more women working in IT roles. Only 5% said that it would not benefit. A higher proportion of females (89%) answered “yes” to this question compared with males (67%). 

In the Global{M} study 98% of participants said that they thought that the IT profession would benefit from having more women working in IT roles (Fig 3).

Fig. 3
Do you think the IT profession would benefit from having more women working in IT roles?


In the BCS report, nearly four out of ten of those questioned (37%), thought the IT profession offered the same career advancement opportunities for men and women. A slightly higher proportion (43%) believed the opportunities were better for men. Only 2% stated that the opportunities are better for women. There are large gender differences in the way this question was answered. 56% of males thought the IT profession offered the same career advancement opportunities for men and women, compared with only 22% of female participants. In the Global{M} 2019 study, 76% (160 participants), compared to 25%, thought the IT profession did not offer the same career opportunities for men and women (Fig 4). It is most likely that the difference in findings between both studies was due to gender differences in responses, because in the Global{M} study, participants who identified themselves as females, made up 94% of responses (Fig 5.)

Fig. 4
Do you think the IT profession offers the same career advancement opportunities for men & women ?

Fig. 5
What do you identify as…


In the Global{M} D&I study, Commitment to Gender Pay Gap Equality, was seen to be the highest concern of respondents – 76% at an importance level of 10 (Fig 6). 40% responded with high importance (10) to a “Non-homogeneous environment, with more colleagues from diverse backgrounds” and 58% rated highest importance to Work Life Balance (Fig 7, Fig 8). This suggests that gender equality in the workplace, is still a highly relevant topic within the area of D&I.

Fig. 6

Fig. 7

Fig. 8


Some additional survey responses under the option “Other area of importance” were “Working Mums should not pay tax”, “Having age related policies for the over 50s”,  “More development opportunities for women in tech”, “Opportunities for employees to share their life experience and influence change”, “Safe space to speak on concerns around unconscious bias in the workplace and day to day life’, “Transparent pay grades”, “Inspiring leaders committed to equality of opportunity for all” and “working from home option”, Working from Home is a highly relevant point of discussion now, due to the current Covid-19 situation. Companies must start thinking about building D&I policies into their Home Working guidelines.

In the 2014 BCS study, just over one-third of participants (35%) thought remuneration for IT roles are the same for men and women. 40% believed that remuneration is better for men. Less than 1% is of the opinion that remuneration is better for women. Once again there are large gender differences, with 57% of male participants saying that remuneration for IT roles is the same for men and women, compared with only 17% of females who share this view. Furthermore, there is a discrepancy between the results of both survey studies, with 91% of the Global{M} survey participants responding that remuneration for IT roles is not the same for men and women (Fig. 9).

Fig.9
Do you think remuneration for IT roles is the same for men and women?


Discussion

The gender differences in responses across both studies, highlights the question mark over the real efficacy of such D&I and Unconscious Bias training, within organisations. Some people have reported feeling resentful about the diversity training they received. There is a popular opinion now that the anti-bias diversity training programs often focus mainly on treating underrepresented minorities and women fairly, in white male-dominated workplaces. Because of this, white males have reported feeling resentful and excluded and feel that preferential treatment is being given to certain groups and viewpoints (Psychology Today, 2020).

Although, over half the respondents (53%) in this survey study at the event for Women in Tech, were from companies with over 1000 employees (Fig 10.), it was clearly apparent that the larger companies represented, had a significantly lower percentage of women in tech roles – 24.2% at organisations employing 500-1000+ employees vs 75.8% working at SME/MSE (1-500). Could it be said that startups and smaller companies have a more agile and flexible structure and also a culture that allows more inclusion of females in tech roles? Or are these smaller companies more interesting to female tech talent to join?

The answers to these questions suggest “not really”. Tiger Recruitment by YouGov,  carried out an online survey of more than 1,000 UK employees. In this new research, only 1% of female job seekers would most like to work in a startup, compared to 8% of men.

Fig. 10
And approximately how many of these (organisation’s IT staff) are female?

From our Study and comparison with the earlier one by the BCS, it appears that Gender D&I has remained at the top of employee’s minds, over the past 7 years and that there are still differences in responses from men and women regarding gender diversity and the gender pay gap. It also seems in the UK, that D&I and anti-bias training is still widely carried out by companies. Work life Balance and Working from Home came through as important issues within our mainly female population of participants and Global{M} predicts an increasing number of tech companies to start integrating their D&I policies with Work from Home Policies.

Despite its continued prevalence within companies, research and expert reports are suggesting that D&I training, including teaching employees how to identify hidden bias in the workplace, does not actually work.

Psychology Today has stated recently that these programs are very expensive and as some researchers and practitioners have suggested they are also of “dubious value in terms of effectiveness”. In 2015 alone Google spent $150 million on diversity initiatives, which included anti-bias training. Companies have typically justified such expenditures citing consumer pressures, the need for compliance, and the desire to project a positive corporate image.  

Instead of lecturing to employees about D&I within compulsory training sessions, it might be better to concentrate on rebranding your D&I initiatives. Dr. Frank Dobbin, from Harvard University has suggested making D&I training, including unconscious bias,  practical to everyday working life and development. Specifically, framing inclusion as part of being a good leader, could help people see inclusion as a skill they can learn, instead of feeling like their bias makes them fundamentally flawed.

Additionally, concentrating on diversity as a whole, not specifically Gender diversity, might be better in cultivating a culture of inclusion within organisations. Global{M} has found during onsite projects, that in a department where all your engineers are white caucasian, male, university educated, you cannot reasonably expect to bring in a female engineer and for her to to be and feel accepted into the department or team for very long, when the department has not experienced inclusion in other ways.

A recent CIPD report has suggested that we focus away from diversity hiring and more on inclusion. This report highlighted that employers were often too worried about creating a workforce that looked diverse, and needed to focus more on how employees with diverse backgrounds were supported and included once they were in the business.

Some hiring managers might consider their work irrelevant to helping forge an inclusive and diverse culture. However, you might be an engineering manager of a development team that highly focuses on making their technology accessible to customers and users. This of course is behaviour that can be said to support a more diverse and inclusive workforce. If you are a manager who focuses this inclusive attitude externally towards your customers, then Global{M} advises you to send reports of your work and success and customer feedback to your leadership team and publish it to internal blogs, highlighting this inclusive work, so that the rest of the company can clearly see it. We assure you that the amount of inclusive behaviour will spread across your org, as a consequence of your actions.