Global survey finds diversity in tech has increased over the last decade, still not enough

POC in Tech

More than half of people of colour working in tech globally have seen diversity increase in the last decade, according to a new report from TrustRadius.

Yet, despite the indication of an increase in diversity, the report found that in many areas of the sector concerns persist around the lack of representation of people of colour.

Less than half of respondents said they work with a company with an executive or department focused on diversity and inclusion.

TrustRadius’ report surveyed 1,207 people in order to highlight the experiences and opinions of marginalized groups in the tech industry. The report surveyed respondents globally, and six percent of the respondents were Canadian.

The report found 65 percent of people of colour view diversity in tech as having increased over the last ten years. Comparatively, 58 percent of their white peers reported the same.

In Canada, a number of programs and initiatives focused on diversity and inclusion have emerged in the tech ecosystem of late. The BlackNorth Initiative, for example, was formed in the Spring and is aimed at removing systemic barriers for Black-owned businesses across Canada. A coalition of senior tech leaders was also launched in June to combat systemic racism in the innovation economy. The recent launch of a federal government program, with $221 million in funding specifically for supporting Black Canadian entrepreneurs, was also met with great interest.

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While these types of initiatives, in addition to TrustRadius’ report, point to some progress around diversity in tech, there are persisting concerns about the lack of diversity in several factions of the sector.

The majority of survey respondents (67 percent) reported that people of colour make up less than a quarter of their companies’ leadership teams. Only 21 percent reported leadership teams with more than a quarter of people of colour.

A larger disparity observed in TrustRadius was the experiences of white versus people of colour respondents. Eight-one percent of white respondents reported never having any issues at work due to their race or ethnicity, while 43 percent of people of colour reported they have. Of the 19 percent of white tech professionals who did report issues, all were of ethnic minorities, such as Latinx workers, the report found.

Less than half (44 percent) of respondents said they work with a company with an executive or department focused on diversity and inclusion (D&I). TrustRadius attributed this to a correlation between company size and the likelihood of having a D&I department or executive, with D&I departments being more common at larger enterprises.

RELATED: Canadian government announces $221 million Black Entrepreneurship Program

The report also noted there is not a unanimous consensus on the effectiveness of D&I programs. Sixty percent of survey respondents said they do believe D&I initiatives can be effective. However, 14 percent said such initiatives are not effective at all, including 38 percent of respondents who identified as people of colour.

Another concern highlighted in the report is the venture capital (VC) funding gap between white workers and people of colour. According to research conducted by Morgan Stanley, three out of five VC firms say that investing in diverse entrepreneurs is not a top priority for their firms. TrustRadius’ report found that 65 percent of respondents are concerned about the VC funding gap for people of colour-owned startups.

When TrustRadius asked respondents why they believe there is a gap in VC funding for people of colour, the most commonly cited reason was that people of colour do not have the same connections or network as white tech workers. An equal number of respondents said this is because people of colour are not fairly represented within VC firms.

In addition to TrustRadius’ report, a number of studies conducted during COVID-19 have revealed the pandemic’s adverse impact on underrepresented professionals in Canada’s tech community. A report released in April found that 85 percent of underrepresented entrepreneurs in Canada have experienced a loss in revenue, contracts, and cash flow since the onset of the pandemic.

Image source Unsplash. Photo by Cytonn Photography.

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle Kirkwood

Writer, globetrotter, drone pilot & David Attenborough enthusiast