What’s the problem with diversity in tech and what are we doing about it?

Written by Abbe Smith
November 26th 2019

3 minute read

What’s the problem with diversity in tech? This is an interesting question. Ask Google and you get about 314,000,000 results…

In my opinion, it boils down to a simple fact: 

A wide range of people allows for a wide range of ideas and by not having different backgrounds represented in the tech industry, there will be lasting impacts across society.

Most facial recognition software can almost perfectly identify white faces but can’t consistently identify people with darker skin tones as the algorithms are trained on data that features primarily white faces. Smart phones that are designed and tested by male dominated teams end up too large for the average female hand (I’m looking at you Apple). Advances in banking technology could lead to discrimination against vulnerable customers as they allow lenders and insurers to identify ‘unprofitable’ customers

Here at MMT Digital, we want to recruit a diverse team. This is so that we can be fair to our team and those interested in working for us. We also want to better reflect the make-up of society, our clients and ensure that the solutions we design and deliver meet everyone’s needs. 

We work collaboratively with our clients by forging strong relationships so having a diverse team who are empowered to challenge and make suggestions contributes to successful outcomes.

We’ve started tackling this issue in several ways:

1. We’re making changes to our job adverts to split out the mandatory requirements, and those which are beneficial but not essential. On average, women will apply for a role if they meet 100% of the criteria, whereas men will apply if they meet about 60%. By being realistic about exactly what’s needed, we aim to encourage more female applicants. 

2. Our interviewing teams have all been retrained on interview best practice, including discrimination and bias and how to avoid these.

3. We’ve been running our Academy scheme for 18 months now. People join the scheme from a range of paths – university graduate, completing a coding bootcamp or self-taught! They bring with them a range of experience and knowledge from different sources which is invaluable to us. We support them through an extended induction and training plan before they join our projects – client feedback has been fantastic.

4. We work closely with De Montfort University (who are also big supporters of diversity in the tech industry) on a number of schemes and events to encourage a wider range of applications to our placement schemes. For example, some of the team recently joined a panel event for ‘Women in CEM’ (Computing, Engineering and Media) to talk about some of the challenges they faced when getting started in the industry, while providing advice to the students. 

5. We also partner with Nottingham Trent University. I joined a panel earlier in the year - ‘Where are all the female icons?’ to discuss how women are viewed and treated both in and out of the workplace. We’re also taking part in a mentoring scheme, through which members of the team work with female students to provide support and guidance as they begin to explore their future career options. Discussions are also taking place around how we can work more effectively with their widening participation students in the future.

6. We’re about to kick off a partnership with a school local to our Uppingham office to help raise awareness of careers in the industry, particularly in the East Midlands area. We’ll be focussing on encouraging people from all backgrounds to find their passion for tech and supporting them in learning more.

This is only just scratching the surface of what we can be doing to make sure we’re as diverse as we can be.

Keep your eyes on our Twitter and LinkedIn for more initiatives in the future.

Interested in joining us? Check out our current vacancies.