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Here’s how we can solve tech’s diversity crisis


The UK tech scene is known for its vibrance, its innovation and above all, its exciting and unconventional talent base. Yet for an industry so progressive, diversity remains a big issue.

Women and minorities are still massively underrepresented, particularly at senior levels. Research by Innovate Finance shows that in the FinTech sector alone, women make up just 5% of the senior executive roles in Europe’s top 50 companies.

Why is this the case?

We’re all aware of the benefits of having a diverse team – employees are more creative, more productive and more connected with wider client groups. So why are we not seeing greater diversity in the tech industry and how can we remedy it?

£21m in UK tech investment, the Spring Budget, a crisis at Facebook and more in The Week in Tech

We asked some industry experts (and EXPAND London key speakers) for their insights on the issue.

Airbnb is one brand which has been very public about its commitment to diversity. Following the publication of a Harvard Study which indicated racial discrimination by hosts on their site, the founders recruited a third party to assess bias on their entire platform. One of the findings was that to improve diversity, they needed to start with their employee base.

As a result they pledged to increase the number of underrepresented minorities to 11% in 2017 and increase their women in tech to 25%

Fiona Keane, European recruitment manager at Airbnb, said difficulties around diversity don’t stem from a lack of diverse candidates, but from getting hiring managers to rethink how they source talent.

She commented: “We run quite a large referral programme and sometimes when you run a referral programme you can end up hiring people of like mind and values.

“You often have people coming from the same universities so you end up with a situation where you have a lot of homogeneity, this is something to be aware of.”

To combat this, recruiters need to look to underrepresented universities and community groups.

Lu Li, CEO of Blooming Founders

Lu Li, CEO of Blooming Founders

Lu Li, CEO of Blooming Founders, agrees that recruiters need to cast the net wider if they’re serious about having a truly diverse team: “Invest some effort to scout passive or open talent from minority groups and encourage them to try the job.

“Another good option is to produce and share more content about existing minority workers to empower younger generations to consider wider career options.”

For her, inclusivity is about a sense of belonging, not fitting in. She says to attract minorities you need to have initiatives which make them feel welcome.

“My events are titled ‘How She Did It’ or ‘The Power Women Chat on Investing’ to encourage more women to attend,” she added.

Want to learn more about nurturing diversity? Lu Li and Fiona Keane will be sharing more insights at the HR sessions at EXPAND London on March 9th. Click here to RSVP for free.

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