By Rifa (Raz), Social Mobility Foundation Communications Intern


Diversity in the tech industry is more than just a buzzword; it’s a transformative force that shapes the future of technology. In an industry known for innovation, the push for diversity is not just about equality, but tapping into the power of different perspectives, backgrounds and experiences.  

To mark National Coding Week (18-24 September), we look at the ongoing problem of a lack of diversity in the coding profession – and across the tech industry – and consider how it could be solved.


Diversity covers protected characteristics (Equality Act 2010), such as gender and racial identity, sexual orientation and language, as well as more specialised factors, such as different thought styles and unique life experiences, like coming from a lower socioeconomic background, or having a criminal conviction.

Gender diversity remains a significant issue in the tech world; only 1 in 25 of CEOs in Britain's most well-known companies are women. The leaky pipeline starts in education and occasionally the workplace; with PwC finding that over a quarter (26%) of female students say they’ve been put off a career in technology as it’s too male dominated. 

Ethnic minority women often face a double burden of biases, since they contend with both gender-based stereotypes and racial prejudices. According to our APPG report on Diversity and Inclusion in STEM, the 27% of women who work in the STEM workforce comprises 23% White women (85% of all women in STEM) and 4% ethnic minority women (15% of all women in STEM). 

There are other, lesser-talked backgrounds that can face extreme challenges within the tech industry, such as ex-offenders and neurodivergent people. With many ex-prisoners facing barriers to progressing their careers and gain a stable job, the UK government's Ban the Box campaign encourages employers to remove the criminal record declaration tick box from application forms, allowing candidates to be assessed on their skills and experience first. This helps individuals with criminal records have a fairer chance in the job application process. However, a survey by YouGov found that 50% of employers would not consider hiring an ex-offender, while 45% felt ex-offenders would be untrustworthy as employees.  

The tech sector is broadly embracing neurodivergent individuals who bring fresh perspectives and problem-solving skills. Tech Talent Charter produces annual reports on diversity in technology in the UK, finding that companies are becoming much more interested in neurodiversity in their workforce; 53% of organisations are now measuring it, which is double the number from the previous year. While this indicates positive progress, more still needs to be done.


Diversity is crucial in the workplace because it brings together individuals with unique backgrounds, perspectives and experiences, fostering a rich and progressive environment. A diverse workforce reflects the real world, representing different cultures, genders, ages, ethnicities, abilities and more. This diversity of viewpoints, skills and experiences leads to more innovative and creative problem-solving, as various perspectives challenge conventional thinking and lead to fresh ideas.

Steps the tech industry should take to recruit and retain a more diverse workforce- here we explore some top tips! 


  • Targeted recruitment efforts are essential. Actively seeking out and advertising tech positions to women, while using inclusive language in job descriptions, can attract a more diverse pool of candidates.  
  • Educational outreach initiatives should be established. Collaborating with schools and organisations to encourage girls and young women to pursue tech education and careers can help bridge the gender gap from an early age. 
  • Mentorship programmes can play a significant role. Creating mentorship opportunities where female employees are paired with experienced leaders who can provide guidance, advocacy and career support can help women thrive in the industry.  
  • Equal pay is crucial. Regular salary audits and addressing any gender-based pay disparities are steps businesses can take towards building a more equitable workplace.  
  • Flexible working arrangements are important. Flexible work options, such as remote work or flexible hours, should also be offered to accommodate family and caregiving responsibilities, enabling a more inclusive work environment. 


  • Diversify interview panels to include individuals from a variety of ethnic backgrounds. This can help mitigate unconscious biases during the hiring process.  
  • Employee resource groups can be established where individuals from similar ethnic backgrounds can connect, share experiences, and offer mutual support.  
  • Additionally, hosting cultural competency workshops for employees can enhance their understanding of different norms, sensitivities, and customs, fostering a more harmonious work environment. 


  • Employers can start by eliminating the checkbox related to criminal history from initial job applications to prevent automatic rejection. Instead of solely focusing on the past, a holistic assessment should be conducted that considers the relevance of a candidate's criminal history to the role they're applying for. Providing candidates with the chance to explain their criminal history and the steps they've taken toward rehabilitation is essential. 
  • Partnering with organisations that specialise in second-chance programmes is crucial, as they help individuals with criminal records reintegrate into society through training and employment opportunities. 


  • Offering flexible work arrangements, such as flexible hours or remote work, can accommodate neurodivergent individuals’ unique needs and preferences.  
  • Clear communication is key — employers should provide information in concise and unambiguous terms to ensure neurodivergent employees can thrive.  
  • Managers should be trained to understand and support neurodivergent employees, fostering a workspace that values diverse perspectives, so developing neurodiversity programmes that harness the strengths of these individuals, rather than focusing on their challenges, can lead to innovative problem-solving and a more enriched work environment. 


Diversity in the tech industry isn't just a checklist item; it's a fundamental shift towards a richer, more inclusive environment. From embracing gender and ethnic diversity to valuing neurodiversity and considering individuals with criminal backgrounds, the industry is evolving.  

As we move forward, let's remember that diversity isn't just about ticking boxes; it's about unlocking innovation, driving creativity, and building a future where technology truly serves everyone. Embracing diversity in the tech industry is a collective effort, and each step towards inclusivity is a step towards a more innovative and equitable future.


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