The Tech Talent Charter (TTC) is a commitment by organisations to a set of undertakings that aim to deliver greater diversity in the tech workforce of the UK, one that better reflects the make-up of the population. This covers both organisations in the technology sector itself, and organisations across all other sectors, who have employees in tech roles. Signatories of the charter make a number of pledges in relation to their approach to recruitment and retention. Although it is very much an employer-led initiative, in March 2017 the TTC was supported in the government’s policy paper on the UK Digital Strategy.
Just 17% of Tech/ICT workers in the UK are female, only one in ten females are currently taking A-Level computer studies, and yet there is a looming digital skills gap where the UK needs one million more tech workers by 2020. Half the population cannot be ignored, and nor should it be, if there is to be a more diverse, inclusive, fairer and commercially successful tech workforce and industry.
Signatories fully acknowledge that diversity encompasses much more than gender, and while the majority of the charter principles and pledges are generically about diversity and inclusion, many actions relating to gender will lead to diversity on other workforce demographics. However, the low number of women in tech is by far the most pressing issue at present, and the charter therefore specifically includes one reference to gender in relation to recruitment practices.
The charter recognises that challenge by setting this as a goal for signatories to work towards, and by the phrase “wherever possible”. To help signatories achieve that goal the TTC team has pulled together all sorts of material on best practice that has been proven to increase the number of women applicants, ranging from how job specifications are written to ensuring your employer branding represents females in your imagery and videos. In the US National Football League a policy called the “Rooney Rule” was created in 2002 that requires leagues to interview minority candidates for certain roles, and led to a significant increase in the percentage of African American coaches – this is a similar idea.
The belief that “what isn’t measured isn’t managed” is a key belief under-pinning the TTC. And so, yes, one of the five pledges of a TTC signatory is to measure their employee diversity, and to share that data. However, this is anonymised and collated, which then allows you to benchmark your own organisation’s diversity position – which only you can see – across the TTC signatory group.
A very basic data set is required from all signatories, that we would expect all organisations to already hold in their HR systems. Further data can be entered on an optional basis, and over time we expect that more and more employers will also gather this optional information, enabling richer insight and analysis. You will find that you already need to gather some of this data under the recent UK gender pay gap legislation.
The company providing this service, Attest, carry out all the data management. Research data is gathered and stored in accordance with the Market Research Society (MRS) Code of Conduct. Attest is a member of the MRS (mrs.org.uk), and is a fully-accredited Fair Data company (fairdata.org.uk). They are also an Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) Registered Data Controller (ZA120737), use SSL encryption, and run on secure servers based in the EU to ensure all data is treated securely.
Additionally, Amali de Alwis who is the co-lead with Jeremy King on the Charter’s report and research is herself an MRS-qualified market and social research practitioner, and previously worked as a researcher at both TNS and PwC.
Note that as at October 2017, the TTC data collection is just beginning to get underway, and the TTC team will be are working with early charter signatories to optimise the most practical and useful data set. A sample report with “dummy data” was produced during June 2017, with the first report containing real data being scheduled for the end of 2017. As a first report with a relatively small data set, what can be reported on will be limited and it will lack the year-on-year comparison that will be possible in future annual reports. Instead, this first pilot of the report will offer a “proof of concept” and demonstrate the potential of subsequent reports in terms of breadth, depth and degree of segmentation that will be possible over time. Our first 100 supporters will be key to helping shape that.
One of the biggest challenges to an organisation hoping to make change is the ability to measure the impact of that change over time. Especially when it comes to understanding diversity in a business, being able to monitor progress, and understand what the real differences are in jobs done by men and women at different levels across tech roles (with anonymised pay benchmarking) is a critical aspect of making effective change.
As such, the Tech Talent Charter will help to collect this data from its membership companies and beyond, and so help its member companies to improve diversity through collection of consistent and comparable tech talent data.
This data collection will be conducted with the support from the pioneering research company Attest, with direct support from Attest CEO, Jeremy King, who will not only ensure the research is conducted to industry leading standards of data privacy and security, but also support the Charter with interpretation and analysis of the aggregated and anonymised data.