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The importance of widening talent pools to improve tech diversity

New research indicates that the UK tech industry is struggling to hire diverse talent. Learn more about the importance of widening your tech talent pool to increase diversity, innovation, and revenue.

The importance of widening talent pools to improve tech diversity

Tech Talent Charter’s most recent Diversity in Tech report reveals that only 13% of senior tech employees are from ethnic minorities, and only 22% are from gender minorities    .

In order to improve diversity in the UK tech workforce, employers need to widen their talent pools and seek out candidates from non-traditional tech backgrounds.

However, recent research from Wiley Edge found that 85% of businesses currently have trouble sourcing a diverse range of tech talent. In fact, 55% report that they struggle to recruit entry-level tech employees from underrepresented groups in particular.

Let’s take a closer look at how widening talent pools can improve tech diversity:

The benefits of diverse tech teams

Having diversity of thought within tech teams is essential for innovation. When people from different backgrounds and cultures work together, projects are typically more successful.

A report from BCG found that companies with above-average diversity had higher revenues from innovation (45% of total) than from those with below average leadership diversity (26%). What’s more, the report found that the most diverse companies also had better financial performance.

This echoes the findings from a recent McKinsey report, which reveals that for every 10% increase in the racial and ethnic diversity of a senior-executive team, companies see a 0.8% increase in earnings.

This correlation between diversity and innovation was also highlighted in a recent CWJobs interview with Alastair McFarlane, CTO at a London based start-up. He said that companies benefit greatly from a diversity of personality and thought, and that companies need to hire different types of people.  He said that companies often end up with a monoculture where everyone thinks the same way, which doesn’t lead to good products.

The value of experience and skills over qualifications

Of the companies surveyed in the Wiley Edge research, almost two-thirds (60%) said they were either ‘likely’ to hire graduates from top universities, or that they ‘exclusively’ hired from them. Whereas just over a quarter (28%) said that they consider applications from all universities equally.

The preference for companies to recruit from top universities illustrates the value that tech employers place on qualifications over experience and skills  . In order to increase diversity in tech teams, employers need to widen their talent pools to include candidates from non-academic backgrounds.

With organisations like codebar offering and increasing number of coding bootcamps across the UK,   there are many candidates with coding and digital skills that would be valuable assets to employers. Likewise, candidates who have gained tech skills through ‘on-the-job’ experience have just as much value to offer as a university graduate.

When CWJobs interviewed Kimberly Cook, Software Developer and Director at codebar, she shared a similar sentiment. Despite  studying a tech-based subject at university, she believes that technical skills can be learned, so enthusiasm and being excited about technology are key when hiring for roles.

To help employers find talent with existing skills and experience, CWJobs created the Tech Talent Attraction Toolkit, which can be downloaded from our website for free. The actionable advice contained in the toolkit offers real value to recruiters who want to widen their hiring pool and improve the diversity of their tech teams.

How hiring entry-level talent can improve diversity

Hiring candidates who have gained tech skills from other industries can help companies close their skills gaps and improve their diversity at the same time.

Similar to the findings in the Wiley Edge report, recent research from Totaljobs found that 54% of employers have struggled to hire entry-level talent over the last two years.

Despite these struggles, CWJobs’ research has found that there’s still a ready  talent pool of young tech workers for companies to recruit from. Our report found that over two-thirds of young adults (67%) are considering a career in tech as they search for a good salary (45%), an exciting industry (36%), and good future prospects (35%).

As such, to attract entry-level talent, employers need to meet candidates’ financial expectations. CWJobs’ Confidence Index 2022 reveals that 53% of tech workers expect their salary to increase over the next 12 months.

Consequently, 23% of senior leaders are planning to increase the number of pay rises in the next 12 months, and nearly a third (30%) also plan to offer pay increases to help combat the rising cost of living.

Likewise, businesses need to ensure that their employer brand presents the company as an exciting place to work. One way recruiters can achieve this is by demonstrating how the company’s work impacts the real world.

Showcasing the different routes into tech

Employers can encourage more applications from candidates with non-traditional tech backgrounds by demonstrating that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to entering the tech industry.

By highlighting the career paths of current employees in the form of case studies and interviews, companies can help change candidates’ perceptions of what working in tech looks like. It can also demystify the potential roadblocks that candidates may have to entering the industry

Making connections with schools, colleges and universities can also make young people aware of the variety of roles that are available in the tech industry. According to recent research from Accenture, young people in the UK are more likely to learn about a future in the tech sector from TV and film (27%) than from school (19%).

This presents employers with an opportunity to raise awareness of tech careers by making information accessible. Giving career presentations, publishing information leaflets and organising company visits can help demonstrate what a career in tech looks like to both students and teachers.

For more information on the tools that are available to widen tech talent pools, visit