You need to try harder to be diverse, digital forum tells the industry

You need to try harder to be diverse, digital forum tells the industry

Stephanie Liston2.jpg

The telecoms industry in the UK is not as diverse as it likes to think it is, a new report has told the UK government.

The Digital Connectivity Forum (DCF), which reports to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), says “much work has been carried out [but] further action is still needed”.

Stephanie Liston (pictured), a telecoms lawyer who chairs the DCF, said: “Sadly, the research shows what we see on the ground in our industry – insufficient diversity in telecoms.”

There is “limited publicly available information” on the diversity of the workforce, and “that which is available for the wider sector indicates that telecommunications directors disproportionately consist of older males”, the DCF notes.

So it commissioned Opinium, an insight agency, to assess diversity across UK telecoms.

Alex Mather, head of the DCF, said: “The snapshot provided by this research is powerful and revealing. It demonstrates that much work remains to be done to ensure a workforce that truly reflects the diversity of the UK.”

Apart from the that diverse teams bring benefits “in terms of encouraging smarter, more innovative outcomes and driving improved business performance”, the DCF notes that “with a labour market that is increasingly tightening and challenging, it has never been more important for the UK telecoms sector to ensure that it appeals to as broad a section of the national population as possible”.

The quantitative research consisted of a survey of over 500 people who work in the UK telecoms industry.

The report notes that “two thirds of telecoms employees believe their companies are diverse”, but it admits that the facts might be interpreted differently.

“Gender diversity worsens by parental age, with 67% of those in the industry above the age of 35 being male.” And the industry has an under-representation of people with a disability or long-term condition – only one in six telecoms, “considerably lower than the proportion of those in the UK workforce”, which is 26%.

Do telecoms companies have an active diversity and inclusion culture? If so, only one in three employees are aware of it. And three in 10 telecoms employees have experienced discrimination in the industry, says the report.

The DCF report says: “The research suggests a discouraging picture for the workforce and the levels of discrimination seen against those who are women, disabled and LGBTQ+.”

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