There’s no doubt there’s still some way to go to secure meaningful female representation on FTSE 100 boards but apparently big corporates are far from the worst offenders when it comes to boardroom diversity. Despite the fact that the tech firms operating out of Silicon Roundabout are looked upon as some of the UK’s most forward-looking firms, it seems they are lagging a long way behind FTSE 100 firms in terms of the proportion of their board positions held by women.
According to research from Procorre, the professional services consultancy, just 18% of directorship positions in east London’s tech companies are held by women. In contrast, women account for 24% of board positions in FTSE 100 firms, just shy of the 25% target set by the government. This demonstrates just how pernicious the glass ceiling is in UK tech; across the industry as a whole, women make up 27% of the workforce. But even the story behind this figure is bittersweet, as it has fallen from 33% in 2002.
“There is undoubtedly a shortage of female graduates with the right qualifications to go into the digital industries, but the gender gap in Silicon Roundabout cannot be explained by that alone,” said Wiktor Podgorski, contracts & HR manager at Procorre.
According to Podgorski, engagement with STEM subjects is fairly strong amongst women; for example 38% of maths graduates are female. However, it does seem that there is something putting women off entering STEM careers; only half of female STEM graduates enter into careers in the discipline, compared to 68% of male graduates. For this reason, he suggested a few solutions to help change representation in UK tech.
“Self-imposed targets seem to be working in the FTSE 100 — they could also help the tech sector to raise its game,” said Podgorski. “For Silicon Roundabout’s concentration of high growth companies, there is also a need to reassure women that they are not hostile places to work.”
Undoubtedly, UK tech still has a fair way to go to address its lack of boardroom diversity. But, if it follows the lead of the FTSE 100, it seems UK tech can change its culture of underutilising women.