Much is made of the lack of diversity in Britain’s top boardrooms, and rightly so - it seems remarkable than in 2015 just one quarter of FTSE 100 board members are women. But it would appear that the country’s supposedly more progressive technology sector has massive diversity issues of its own.
According to Companies House data analysed by professional services consultants Procorre, just 18% of members of the area's tech company boards are women – compared to 24% of the FTSE 100. Procorre said the problem could not be explained simply as the result of fewer women studying technical subjects.
‘Women make up 38% of maths graduates, which could easily be a stepping stone into a career in software development,’ said Wiktor Podgorski, Procorre’s contracts and HR manager. ‘But in fact, only half of female graduates of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects go into STEM careers, compared with 68% of their male peers from the same courses. Technology-based industries seem to be unable to attract the female talent available, and we have to look at the reasons why."
That could potentially be addressed by the introduction of self-imposed targets, which seem to be working for the FTSE 100, he said. ‘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,’ he added, suggesting there could be a deeper cultural problem.
Of course not all of Britain’s tech sector is located in east London and to be fair it’s not really a level playing field. Listed companies tend to have much larger boards than start-ups and a disproportionate amount of the FTSE 100’s female directors are in non-executive roles – just 8.6% of executives are women.
If (and it’s a big if) most of Silicon Roundabout’s female board directors are part of the management team then it could be outgunning the FTSE on that arguably more important measure. Neither is exactly shining though.