Tech sector SMEs – flagbearers for diversity?

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The Aldermore SME Future Attitudes report reveals that over two thirds (69%) of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the IT sector say they have a diverse workforce, with nearly half (45%) stating that improving diversity in the workplace is a focus over the next 12 months.

The report, which surveyed over a thousand senior business decision-makers across the UK, found that there are a number of reasons why they would describe their organisation as diverse. These include having an employee base with a wide age range (57%), having an ethnically diverse employee base (57%), employing diversity initiatives to ensure a positive work environment free from discrimination (42%) and ensuring an inclusive environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) employees (39%).

Over a third (35%) of SMEs in the IT sector are also open to making adjustments for disabled employees to ensure they are not placed at a disadvantage, with a further third (34%) having a positive female to male ratio across the company

Moreover, over half (55%) of SMEs in the IT sector admit to being much more likely to do business with a supplier, partner or provider that is well known for its inclusive employment strategies.

Despite this positive picture, a fifth (19%) of small and medium-sized businesses in the IT sector say they have no intention of becoming more diverse over the next year and a further 17% saying that increasing diversity is a low priority for them. This could be because their workforce is too small to be considered diverse (45%), but, at the same time, some SME leaders also confessed that by its very nature, candidates in the IT sector do not come from a diverse range of backgrounds (24%), that they find it difficult to find a diverse range of candidates for senior jobs (20%) and they tend not to attract a diverse range of potential employees (13%).

Carl D'Ammassa, Group Managing Director, Business Finance at Aldermore, said: "It is heartening that so many small and medium-sized business owners in the UK IT sector describe their workforce as diverse. However you define diversity, be it by age, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation or disability, promoting a diverse workforce should be a key consideration within any business, since employees from a range of backgrounds can offer different experiences to help drive the success of progressive businesses."

About the research

Research conducted by Opinium Research between 28th April and 8th May 2017 with a nationally representative sample size of 1,003 senior decision makers in SMEs.

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