How to increase diversity in the tech sector
There's nothing more appropriate than the article below from the Financial Times.
For five years the world’s biggest technology companies have posted diversity reports as a first step towards changing the culture in the tech workforce. The studies, published by Apple, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft, reveal an industry dominated by white and Asian men.
The status quo is particularly troubling because of how technology now affects every sector from transport and finance to government and healthcare.
If it is only today’s tech-literate workers who can access these growing employment opportunities, swaths of the general population will be left behind. The products and services they make will be skewed too. Since 2014, some progress has been made on gender representation. Facebook says 23 per cent of its tech employees globally are female, up from 15 per cent; Google reports a similar change. Ethnic diversity, however, remains stubbornly low. According to recent numbers, the proportion of US technical employees who are black or Latinx — of Latin American descent — at Google and Microsoft, has risen by about one percentage point since 2014. The share of black technical workers at Apple remains at 6 per cent, less than half the 13 per cent proportion of African Americans in the US population. Ageism continues to be a challenge: when tech workers hit 45, their job offers drop, according to research by Hired, the tech recruitment platform. Salaries start to fall aged 45, with candidates in their fifties and sixties asking for the same pay as millennials with just two years’ experience. In the UK too, data shows diversity in the tech industry to be disappointing, lagging far behind the FTSE 100. About 8.5 per cent of senior executives in technology are from a minority background, according to a 2018 report from Inclusive Boards, an executive search company, while women make up just 12.6 per cent of board members in the sector, compared with the 30 per cent female representation achieved by FTSE 100 businesses. The resulting lack of inclusion affects not just employment but the design of the goods and services that the industry creates. For instance, voice recognition initially did not respond to women because the designers who tested the products were male. Facial recognition is notoriously poor at recognising darker and female faces, again partly because of biased training data. The shortage of talent in the tech sector means that, in spite of progress already made, recruiters must think harder how to find the skills they need from a wider range of people. A more diverse workforce will lead to better products that can address a wider range of customers, who may be older, differently-abled and from different ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds.