The issue of the gender imbalance in the tech sector has been an ongoing struggle for many years, yet as some companies strive to bring more women to the workplace there are others still struggling.

Google's 2018 diversity report found that almost 70 percent of its staff are men, a figure that hasn't changed since 2014. The figures show that just over 25 percent of leaders were women, only a five percent increase since 2014.

© Suki Fuller
© Suki Fuller

In a blog post on the report, Danielle Brown, Google’s VP of diversity and inclusion, recognised that the firm has a lot more work to do to solve the lack of women in its workplace. “We must also renew our focus on development, progression, and retention and ensure Google’s culture is inclusive for everyone,” she says.

Other big named brands like Microsoft and Facebook are also amongst numerous global companies with a male-dominated workplace culture.

Although many tech firms deem passionate to diversify and include more women in their business, the failure to distinguish the difference between diversity and inclusion is a consistent pattern.

It is clear that diversity and inclusion both work hand in hand. If a company fails to make its business culture inclusive, it automatically becomes impossible to retain a diverse workforce.

Read next: Diversity in tech: here are the practical steps companies can take

Diversity and inclusion in tech

Particularly in the tech industry, diversity is often seen as an male and female issue but it actually comes down to a range of different things such as race, religion and being part of a different group of people.

“Unfortunately, people really have made it diluted the meaning and use a word like diversity where for a lot of people they automatically think of your ethnicity, which is fine because I think that really encapsulates what it means but at the same time diversity just means difference, it means a wider array, there’s diversity with thought and there’s neural diversity,” Suki Fuller, CEO at Salaam Ventures tells Techworld.

Inclusion is the act of including people irrespective of their race, gender, religion or other criteria. For businesses that claim to be making efforts to pursue a more inclusive workplace culture, these aspects are essential to consider.

“It needs to be about inclusion and the sub-population of equality and diversity that can be spoken about, but we want to get to that place where it’s inclusion and where people are looking into different areas, for example, tech firms that see a black female working in tech and they’re not going to think it’s a black female but instead they just say oh that’s a full stack developer,” she adds.

Overall, companies that are really committed to providing diversity and inclusion in the workplace are likely to do a lot more than just speaking on it. This goes past ticking boxes like unconscious bias training and marketing.

Figures from a 2018 inclusion in the workplace survey found that 54 percent of British workers believe their employers could do a lot more to truly embrace a culture of diversity and inclusion.

“We want it to be about the profession, the expertise first and not ticking a box and often it is checking the box first and then your profession.

“I am for it being a stated change but at the same time, when you make a stated change then you have a backlash. You have people that say they’re working on a diversity initiative but you’re going to get someone who is unconsciously bias who says they are all for it but then their hackles are constantly raised at the thought that people only get their jobs because they may be black and a female,” she says.

Fuller, who describes herself as an analytical storyteller and underboss told us of an initiative she is working on to bring more women into venture capital. The initiative named FiftyFiftyPledge was ironically co-founded with general partner at Notion Capital, Chris Tottman.

“We’re working with a group that Chris helped found called ‘LinkyBrains neural diversity’ and the FiftyFiftyPledge is about getting more women into VC, because we know in order to get more females that are founding companies funded we need more women at the top of the funnel,” she adds.