Thursday, 22 June 2023

Pride month: Does the tech sector have a diversity problem?

We’re delighted to celebrate Pride month at Grant McGregor. The tech sector hasn’t always been noted for its diversity and inclusiveness, but things are changing.

June is Pride month. We’re delighted to celebrate Pride month at Grant McGregor.

The tech sector hasn’t always been noted for its diversity and inclusiveness, but things are changing. And that change begins with each and every one of us.


In Pride month we’d like to celebrate our LGBTQ+ colleagues. At the same time, we think it’s important to acknowledge that, unfortunately, LGBTQ+ people encounter discrimination in the workplace and in wider society. In this, the tech sector is no different. In fact, there is some evidence to suggest that the LGBTQ+ experience in the tech sector is worse.


Does the tech sector have a diversity problem?

In 2018, the Institution of Engineering and Technology found that a third (30%) of LGBTQ+ young people in the UK would not consider a career in science or technology sector because of fear of discrimination.


Their fears are shared by LGBTQ+ people working in the sector. A 2023 Proud Ventures report found that three quarters (75%) of LGBTQ+ founders in the UK tech industry do not feel safe sharing their sexual identity with their peers. Over a quarter (27%) said their identity gave them a disadvantage and 18 percent said it would damage their fundraising attempts.


Why does the diversity problem matter so much?

As well as being a problem for individuals, the tech diversity problem has a negative effect on businesses too. Plenty of evidence clearly illustrates that diverse teams perform better than less diverse teams.


This is especially true in the development of new technology. We know that all product development is shaped by the people who create those products. Examples abound of products that do not truly serve the people who use them. If we want new technologies to truly serve our society, they must be created by teams which represent all of society.


Not only that, unfair treatment in the workplace is the largest driver of turnover in the tech industry. The campaign website Diversity in Tech estimates that in the US alone it costs companies up to £4 billion per year.


It says that it is critical for companies working in the tech space to try to achieve diversity because individuals and businesses are becoming more reliant on technology. The technology industry is growing faster than the economy and contributes around £12 billion a year to the UK economy.


What are companies doing to improve diversity and inclusion?

Some companies in the tech sector are actively working to improve. For example, Microsoft funds an employee action group called GLEAM run by LGBTQ+ colleagues to provide support and build allyship.


Diversity in Tech is a site dedicated to helping close the diversity gap in the technology sector. There are a lot of useful resources on the website that you can use to support your diversity and inclusion initiatives.


The not-for-profit organisations Out in Tech, Lesbians Who Tech and LGBTQ Tech Advocates are just some of the groups seeking to make the sector more inclusive and welcoming. Commercial organisations also offer hope. Cloud Decisions is a recruitment business which helps Microsoft partners fulfil their diversity and inclusivity commitment as part of their Microsoft partner pledge. While Inclusive Boards is a specialist executive search agency that supports companies to diversity their boards.


However, much of the focus of diversity and inclusion initiatives is centred on women and BAME people. For example, Tech Nation’s 2022 D&I survey did not look at the representation of LBGTQ+ individuals. More needs to be done to ensure diversity and inclusion programmes are truly diverse and inclusive.


What can we do to make tech a welcoming space for our LGBTQ+ colleagues?


Improving the LGBTQ+ experience in the tech sector demands a multi-faceted approach, including:

  • Representation is important to encourage LGBTQ+ young people to choose a career in tech. If you have a platform, speak out to encourage young LGBTQ+ people into the sector and emphasise how they can build a career here.

  • Organisations should work to ensure that they are training and recruiting people from different, underrepresented backgrounds – not only the LGBTQ+ community. This offers better results for us all. It will help to address inequality, make better products and help to tackle the tech skills gap crisis.

  • Establish LGBTQ+ groups in your business for mentoring, support and building allyship.

  • Mentoring within your organisation or outside it is a great way to pay it forward. What can you do to promote mentoring within your own organisation?

  • Press the government for more investment and funding to make better, more inclusive tech.

  • Remember you don’t have to do it alone: seek help and support.



What next?

If you are interested in working at Grant McGregor and becoming part of our team, we’re always seeking applications from motivated, talented people.

Share your CV with us.


Further reading

Find more articles about our sector on our blog: