Lack of women in tech getting worse, not better

Boardroom

It’s a well-known fact that women are underrepresented in tech workplaces, but despite industry initiatives to change this, representation is actually getting worse.

Worryingly, the number of all-male boards is on the rise, according to SvB’s “Startup Outlook” report, which suggests companies’ focus on diversity initiatives may be mere lip service:

For all the work being done to change this ratio in the U.S., this year’s survey respondents report there is no progress in the aggregate.

The bank surveyed 941 startups and found that 70% didn’t have a single female board member in 2017. This is up from an already unimpressive 66% last year.

Source: SvB Startup Outlook

Similarly, more than half of firms, 54%, reporting no female executives, up from 46% in 2016 to 54% in 2017.

This isn’t just a diversity issue, but a financial one too, as research has found that more diverse boards actually perform better than their more homogenous counterparts. A Grant Thornton study found that UK, US and India firms with at least one woman on board beat male-only boards by £430bn in 2014.

Grant Thornton’s Francesca Lagerberg compared diversity to a shift towards renewables when presenting the study:

We know it’s the right thing to do – both in terms of fairness and for sustainable future growth – but collectively society is dragging its heels.

One quarter of firms surveyed state they have “programs in place” to further diversity. Whether this will be enough to make a change, however, remains to be seen.

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