The technology sector frequently gets in the neck for its record on diversity – those working in startups are disproportionately male and white or Asian, and have sometimes seemed less than accomodating to those who don't fit the stereotype. But according to a new report, some places in the world are much better than others.
Research commisioned by Wayra, the startup accelerator launched by Telefonica, found that women held almost one third of senior startup roles in the UK, five times as many as in the US. Britain's certainly produced a strong crop of female entrepreneurs, from Lastminute.com co-founder Martha Lane Fox (pictured) to Decoded's Kathryn Parsons.
The report also found that a third of Britain's startup leaders were born abroad and 10 times more likely than those in the US to be non-white and non-Asian. It seems as well that British entrepreneurs recognise the value of diversity to a business – 78.9% said it had helped them compete, 75% said it helped them overcome challenges and 71.5% that it had helped them find new markets.
'For too long, cultural differences and even languages were seen as putting the UK at some kind of disadvantage,' said Simon Fanshawe, co-founder of the report's producers Astar-Fanshawe. 'But this research clearly demonstrates the impact the UK’s rich social makeup is having on the growth and performance of our fledgling businesses.'
The report does have some shortcomings: it only spoke with 222 UK startups, which isn't really a representative sample, and comparisons with the US seemed to be based on a hodgepodge of different data, rather than responses to the same questionnaire. But if its findings are accurate then it seems like Britain has a solid head start on Silicon Valley, even if there is still much more to be done.