Government commits to diversifying its tech workforce

Digital and Culture Secretary signs up to the Tech Talent Charter. 

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The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has committed itself to tackling gender disparity and promoting diversity in the tech sector by signing up to the Tech Talent Charter. Currently only 17 per cent of tech and ICT workers in the UK are female. 

The charter can be applied to any organisation that employs people for tech roles. It commits signatories to including women in interview shortlists where possible, and submitting anonymous “diversity data” for the development of an annual report to track progress.

Digital and Culture Secretary Matt Hancock announced that following the example of his department all other departments will become signatories, aligning the whole government with the aims of the charter. Margot James, the newly appointed Minister for Digital, will also be writing to large tech firms to ask them to sign up.

Announcing the move at a reception for the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the fourth industrial revolution, Hancock highlighted how important it is that the public sector sets an example and leads the way in changing recruitment norms.

“Cracking the challenge is in part about changing the education system, but it’s also about changing the culture and opening up.” 

The scheme is an “industry collective” and employer-led, but it received backing from the government’s UK Digital Strategy in 2017. It already has 125 companies signed up, including Deloitte, HP UK, Cisco and techUK.

When the charter was first announced, Hancock (then in his previous role as Minister for Digital) said “you can’t catch all the fish if you only fish in half the pool… If we want Britain’s tech industry to prosper, we should be using the talents of the whole nation”. 

Augusta Riddy is a Special Projects Writer at the New Statesman.