Tech firms trumpeted diversity pledges after George Floyd’s death. But half the UK’s tech workforce say nothing has changed a year on.

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Tech companies pledged billions of dollars to tackle racial inequalities following George Floyd’s death.

  • Around 38% of tech workers think companies’ responses to Floyd’s death were ‘tokenistic’.
  • The figures come from a study of 55,000 people in the UK tech sector by Black Tech Fest.
  • Tech companies pledged billions of dollars to tackle racial inequalities over the past year.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Tech companies pledged billions of dollars to address racial inequality following the death of George Floyd but many of the sector’s employees have noticed little change since his murder at the hands of the police a year ago.

Almost two fifths (38%) of tech workers in the UK said their employers’ response to the Black Lives Matter protests in the wake of Floyd’s death was “tokenistic”, according to a survey of 55,000 people in the industry by Black Tech Fest, a sister event to London Tech Week.

Floyd’s death, though at the hands of US police, triggered protests in the UK in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and a broader discussion of racism in Britain.

The survey undermines the public pledges made by tech companies to improve in areas such as diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) inside their own workplaces. A total of 159 large-scale tech companies made 535 DEI pledges totalling $4.56 billion following the protests, according to a recent study by Blendoor.

Despite sizeable level of pledges and grants put forward by the industry, more than half (51%) of tech workers in the UK “observed no change” when it came to witnessing instances of racism in the workplace.

Around 30% said that “things had gotten worse” in terms of race relations in the UK. A total of 4% of respondents said things had improved significantly in the past year.

Of the 55,000 people quizzed, 63% said they had experienced or witnessed racist abuse in their place of work. Around 52% said they had experienced it in their personal life.

Half of the tech workers said they had noticed no change from their own employers when it came to race relations.

Ashleigh Ainsley, the cofounder of Black Tech Fest, said there had been some authentic improvements by some businesses over the past year.

“However, there is still a long way to go, and we would like to encourage the introduction of more anti-racist initiatives such as the ones respondents of our survey have called for,” he added.

“These include increased career-advancing opportunities for Black people, setting and achieving senior management or board diversity targets, and the introduction of dismissal for racist behaviour.”

Ainsley also said he would like to see the introduction of “pay parity targets” as well as full well-being support for Black employees and students.

The survey also found that 80% observed no change in the UK’s startup ecosystem over the past year in terms of diversity. A further 69% stated the same thing when it came to venture capital funding.

Some tech workers quizzed reported improved conditions in some areas. Around 38% said their place of work or study had introduced anti-racism or allyship training.

Another small survey of around 200 tech workers from Tech London Advocates and UKBlackTech released on Thursday found that more than half of Black tech workers felt George Floyd’s murder and the subsequent protests had not inspired companies to take enough meaningful action around diversity and inclusion.

Two-thirds said increasing diversity on executive boards was the single-most meaningful way to address inequalities in the workplace.

The survey findings compound another damning study of the tech sector in the UK. Around 3% of founders that received VC backing in London in 2019 identified as Black, despite the city’s wider population being 16% Black, according to figures from angel network Cornerstone Partners.

https://markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/racial-inequality-tech-much-same-after-floyd-death-workers-say-2021-5-1030469744

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