Diversity Equity and Inclusion in the IT Sector


Business is all about money; and people, let's not forget the people.

Business is the process of making money, that’s why our company reports use metrics like revenue, profit, shareholder returns and return on capital employed. Much of that capital is the investment in employees and companies are increasingly aware of and held to account for, the impact their business has on their employees and society in general. Companies typically use two programs to measure and drive these non-financial initiatives, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI). We covered Sustainability in a previous blog, this time we will examine DEI.

Multicultural business professionals having a group discussion during a meeting in a modern office. Team of diverse businesspeople sharing creative ideas in an inclusive workplace.

What are the main components of DEI?

The three components of DEI are a framework to help companies create a set of practices and policies to create a welcoming a respectful working environment for employees of all backgrounds and identities (1).

  • Diversity refers to who is represented in the workforce. Some examples of diversity in workplaces include: Gender, Age, Ethnicity, Social background, Physical Ability and Neuro Diversity.
  • Equity refers to fair treatment for all people, so that the norms, practices, and policies in place ensure identity is not predictive of opportunities or workplace outcomes.
  • Inclusion refers to how the workforce experiences the workplace and the degree to which organisations embrace all employees and enable them to make meaningful contributions.

Why is DEI important to society?

Just like CSR, the implementation of DEI within a business is morally the right thing to do. It’s impossible to argue against a level playing field where all individuals can succeed in business without having to look, act or think a certain way.  The advancement of society is most complete when the talents of all the individuals within it are allowed to flourish. A less inclusive business environment is likely to place more of a demand on the public purse to support those that do not fit the corporate mould.

The 2021 UK Census asked a voluntary question “Is the gender you identify with the same as your sex registered at birth?”. 93.5% of people responded yes, 0.5% no and 6% didn’t answer(2). A OnePoll survey of 2,036 people that found 23% of Generation Z adults in the UK are now identifying with genderless pronouns (e.g. they/them). This is not just a UK phenomena, the Canadian census showed a very similar 0.5% identifying as non-binary or trans-gender.  Generation Z Canadians, aged 17 to 24 years, were seven times more likely to identify as trans or non-binary than those in the oldest generation, aged 76 years and older (3). It is looking like Generation Alpha are even more likely to question their gender identity and use gender-neutral pronouns(4).

Why is DEI important to business?

Companies are increasingly being held to account for their CSR and DEI initiatives by their customers, regulators and society in general. There is strong evidence that companies embracing DEI, deliver better financial results than those that do not. (5). This is a challenging point for companies to make as highlighting the financial success of DEI initiatives can appear that they are driven by the wrong motives (6).

The most obvious area where DEI has an impact is gender, the UK population, according to the 2021 Census was 51% female by birth (7). In an environment where DEI is perfectly implemented we should expect women to be making up approximately half of the work force, including senior management positions. Ten years , nearly half of the FTSE350 companies had no women on their boards. Recent pressure including a 40% minimum female quota by the Financial Conduct Authority has led to that target being achieved (8). This demonstrates that change can happen although much work is yet to be done.


There have been significant strides made in the diagnosis, treatment and acceptance of mental health over the last twenty years. A recent study found that over 90% of workers identified as having some type of Neuro Diverse condition. It’s unlikely all these people would receive a medical diagnosis, but the statistic does demonstrate how few people actually feel ‘normal’. When it comes to receiving a medical diagnosis, 72% fell into the 18-34 bracket whilst only 6% of the over 45s(9). There has been a huge move to identify, diagnose, treat and support Neuro Diverse conditions among young people in the medical area and the business World will need to keep up. The employee of tomorrow is far more educated on the area of mental health and the old school attitudes in the workplace will not be good enough for them.

As a manager in a large corporate I observed Millennials entering the workforce looking for more freedom, autonomy and work life balance than their predecessors.  As generation Alpha leave education and enter the workforce in the coming years, joining Generation Z, the demands on employers will increase again (10). Companies who do not encourage Diversity, Equity and Inclusion are not going to attract and retain the talent they need.  As our society changes, business must adapt to thrive.

We have looked at how Gender, Gender Identity and Neuro Diversity are areas that show how much progress has been made by business although much more can be done. We have also stated that the changes in attitudes by the younger generation are going to test this further. Progress is also being made in the other areas of Diversity around race, religion, and physical disability although worker reports of discrimination are still too high.  In the UK, 45 per cent of people from a Black background, 41 per cent of people from an Asian background, and around a third of people who belong to the LGBTQIA+ community say they have experienced discrimination in the workplace. The results of this working environment are that nearly a quarter of staff interviewed had left or were planning to leave a company where they did not feel comfortable expressing their views (11).  Companies need to do much more to ensure that diversity isn’t about meeting quotas but about creating an environment where everyone has a voice and can contribute.



DEI In the IT Sector

The IT sector, especially the large American companies that dominate it, is often seen as a politically left of centre industry less susceptible to old ways of working and thinking. There is some truth to this and the leading IT companies are making good progress in DEI although right across the sector, there is work to be done.

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) indicates that the number of women in the technology sector declined through the start of 2023 (12). The total percentage of women in the sector is approximately 22%, way below the 51% for the population.  Analysis of publicly available data by Embedded Intelligence indicates that approximately 75% of company directors in the IT channel are men. The figures are actually worse for companies formed since 2000 than for more established businesses which is a worrying trend (13).

Examples of DEI initiatives in the IT Sector

The Global Distributor TD Synnex has created DEI councils for each of their Geographic regions and within that are a number of virtual teams called Business Resource Groups (BRG). Each BRG focusses on a pillar of the DEI journey (e.g. LGBT, Neuro Diversity, Women in Technology, Race and Religion) and comprises a group of individuals who put themselves forward to contribute. Each BRG is given time and budget to create programs to guide the organisation on its’ DEI journey, they report directly to the Country Board. This mechanism of giving a voice to staff with the passion to drive change is in itself inclusive and is likely to drive change faster than a top-down edict (14).

Each of the large IT Vendors has their own approach to DEI. We would call out Microsoft for not only having an ambitious DEI push internally but also calling its partner channel to sign the Partner Pledge which encourages three pillars, Growing talent in our industry, Enhancing Diversity and inclusion and shaping a desirable World (15).



DEI initiatives have received some negative press of late but the fact that the business environment has turned a majority of the population (women), into a minority when it comes to the top jobs demonstrates how far we have to go to achieve equality and inclusion in the workplace. A workplace where we feel safe, supported and able to do our best work is good for us as individuals and appears to be good for the bottom line too.

Links and References

  1. What is diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I)? | McKinsey
  2. Male and female populations – GOV.UK Ethnicity facts and figures (ethnicity-facts-figures.service.gov.uk)
  3. ‘Historic’ census data sheds light on number of trans and non-binary people for first time | CBC News
  4. Get Ready for Gen Alpha’s Impact on the Workforce – HR News
  5. Why diversity matters | McKinsey
  6. Stop Making the Business Case for Diversity (hbr.org)
  7. Male and female populations – GOV.UK Ethnicity facts and figures (ethnicity-facts-figures.service.gov.uk)
  8. Women make up 40% of boards at top UK companies for first time | Reuters
  9. Only Half Of UK Office Workers In Favour Of Employers Supporting Neurodiversity  – HR News
  10. Get Ready for Gen Alpha’s Impact on the Workforce – HR News
  11. 7.3 Million UK Adults Have Experienced Discrimination At Work – HR News
  12. Number of women in tech dipped last quarter, ONS data shows | Computer Weekly
  13. Outsourced IT Support & Technology Companies – Data & Gender (embedded-intelligence.com)
  14. Corporate Citizenship (tdsynnex.com)
  15. Partner Pledge – Microsoft UK






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Neurodiversity in Business

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