American tech knows it has a diversity problem while Europe lags behind. This is why – and what we have to do.

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Summary List Placement

American tech knows it has a race problem.

Despite making up 13% of the US population, Black professionals represent just 5% of the tech workforce, 3% of tech execs, and 1% of tech founders, according to data from the Karpor Center.

The center noted Black representation in tech rose by just one percentage point between 2014 and 2020. At that rate, there won’t be fair representation until 2068.

The figures are bleak, but many US companies are at least collecting the data and starting to act meaningfully on it. Salesforce, for instance, spent $2.1 million in 2020 correcting the pay disparities between employees globally and made the data available to the public.

No large European tech firm that we’re aware of has done the same. Even the UK government-backed Tech Talent Charter reported that 55% of its own signatories did not share ethnicity-related diversity data for its 2020 report.

What we do know about ethnicity-related pay gaps is still troubling. According to UK government data from 2019, covering all industries, the pay gap between white people and people of color is 23.8% in London.

Breaking the taboo 

Frustrated with being among the few Black people in tech, we started Colorintech in 2016. We’re a non-profit that helps increase the number of people from ethnic minorities entering the UK and European tech workforce.

Our ambition is to make Europe the most inclusive tech hub in the world. Five years on, we have seen the landscape slowly shift around us — but progress remains glacial. 

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When we started this journey, we found there was no substantive action by any European tech companies on ethnicity. Before 2020, the majority of people didn’t even want to talk about race and ethnicity, and when that conversation was happening, it was usually because it had been ported over from the US.

The key pain point we faced was trying to make the business case for diversity without tangible data that we could share.

While firms like McKinsey articulated the business case for diversity using data as far back as 2015, we still can’t name five major European tech companies that declare their ethnicity data, even in the countries where they legally can. 

In the UK, the lack of data still remains a major issue.

More than one in five organizations are still not using self-identification surveys to gather data on the diversity of their employees, and when companies do declare this information, they tend to lump together both their US and European statistics — painting a distorted picture. 

The pipeline excuse 

While European tech firms and corporations may not be very open with sharing this data, the higher education sector is, which made it the natural starting point for Colorintech’s work. 

The so-called “pipeline problem” — or the pipeline “excuse” depending on who you ask — is a common justification for the lack of diversity in VC portfolios, tech workforces and founders’ programmes.

It essentially posits that, because women, Black, and ethnic minority students are underrepresented in STEM subjects at school or …read more

Source:: Businessinsider – Tech

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