The Tech Talent Charter (TTC) has launched its inaugural benchmarking report tracking gender diversity in technology roles across the UK.

Gathered from over 200 signatories representing over half a million employees, the data gives a snapshot of today’s tech industry and an insight into practical ways companies can improve it.

Across the TTC signatories, women hold 26% of the technical roles. Looking at the workforce of signatories more broadly, women make up 34.9% of our signatories’ workforces compared to the wider digital tech workforce average of 19%.

When broken down into job roles, it is clear that there remains specific technology specialisms where women are less represented. User-centered design had the highest proportion of women (48%) and Engineer and Programmer had the lowest proportion (15%). There were no surprises here, as it is well known that the engineering sector specifically struggles to attract and retain women.

The data collected shows clear differences between the size of an organisation and its gender representation in technology roles. However, there is no clear trend between size and gender representation. Surprisingly, micro-companies had the highest representation with 53% of all technical roles held by women, in comparison with small companies at 20%, medium at 23% and large at 19%.

Zoe Amar, founder and director of micro-business Zoe Amar Digital, said: “There is an arms race for employees with good tech skills and all organisations need to think creatively about how to attract them. Around 92% of my team are women and as I founded my social enterprise when I had a toddler and a baby I knew how important it was to offer flexible work, so I could create more opportunities for women in tech.

“We use online tools to communicate and manage projects virtually, enabling my team to work easily from anywhere, but also to balance this alongside other professional or family commitments. More organisations need to work in this agile way; doing so has helped us punch above our weight and undertake exciting projects such as developing The Charity Digital Code of Practice.

“This year we plan to grow our team again and develop their leadership skills further so we can inspire more women into careers in tech.”

Abbie Morris, founder and CEO, micro-business Compare Ethics, said: “We currently have an almost even split of male and female employees. Within a few hires from now, I know how easily this balance can slip away.

“As a female founder, I am committed to maintaining this strong diversity balance as we grow. Gender plays a crucial role in achieving diversity of thought, among other important issues such as: socio-economic background, age range, education and cultures.

“To better unearth hidden talents when hiring, we use blank screening where we can and always take time to dig deep into applicants.

“For 2019, we are focusing on building up our team, with diversity of thought firmly at the front of our minds. To emulate the success of micro businesses, larger companies need to do the same.”

Debbie Forster, CEO Tech Talent Charter, said: “We are delighted to see our smaller companies challenging assumptions that they are too small or too busy to focus on diversity. This report clearly shows every size and type of company can and must become more inclusive and diverse.

“The key is learning from each other. At our events across the country our smaller companies are helping larger companies find ways of ‘thinking like a start-up’, to pilot smaller scale-approaches and then scaling them, rather than waiting to create the perfect solution and then trickle it down.”

TTC also collated data on the efforts made by its signatories to rollout gender inclusion and diversity policies. Most have an active policy in place already (70.71%) or plan to roll out such policies in the coming year (27.27%).

Over a third (36%) of signatories also already have policies in place to increase the number of women in included in interview shortlists, with 32% saying they will be adding this in 2019. The remaining 2% of signatories –- those without policies in place or planned – gave a variety of reasons why this was the case, primarily that diversity and inclusion underpins their approach to recruitment already and they see no need for a formal policy.

TTC’s Forster continued: “We believe that, first and foremost, any policy that is implemented should align with a company’s unique culture.

“If a policy cannot fully capture company culture, businesses should focus on identifying the metrics and measurements that will set them up for sustainable progress. Our members know that if you genuinely build an inclusive culture, diversity will follow.

“Policies can and should underpin culture but the culture is the essential component.”

The report also revealed over half (57%) of the signatories outsource all or some of their technology roles to a third party, highlighting that companies need to look beyond their own walls to ensure gender parity.

Forster said:We’re delighted to publish our TTC toolkit. For the first time, we’re bringing together sector-wide data that is not just a restating of the problem; it allows companies to measure their own practice against others and to learn from each other to create solutions.

“We’re also painstakingly documenting existing best practice from across the sector and the huge range of organisations, initiatives and schemes businesses can work with to drive inclusion and diversity themselves.”

Minister for digital and the creative industries, Margot James, said: “One year on from the launch of the Tech Talent Charter, it’s encouraging to see that there’s real buy-in to improve the diversity of our workforce. However, with only one in five digital tech jobs nationally covered by women there is more work to do to get the balance right.

“Diversity makes good business sense and it’s positive to see smaller companies leading the way. I now want more of our larger companies to sign up to the Charter and commit to getting more women into tech jobs.”