A REPORT on the diversity of the region’s growing tech sector found historical cultural issues had been a barrier for change in the past, but made recommendations to ensure equality and diversity remain priorities.

Dynamo, the North-East's tech sector network, launched a survey late last year into equality and diversity at regional tech companies which focused on areas of behaviours, attitude, sense of belonging, mental health and training.

It was complemented by interviews, podcasts and a series of interviews conducted by Dynamo’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Innovation Manager, Fareeha Usman.

The results have now been published in Dynamo’s EDI Initial Findings Report, which was launched at a well-attended online webinar.

The Northern Echo:

She said: “Dynamo wants to help diversify the region’s tech sector and we hope our initial findings report will help companies and organisations understand what they could be doing – if they’re not doing it already.

“In gathering information for the report we wanted to explore how the regional tech sector perceived diversity and inclusivity – and to provide a snapshot of the current position in terms of representation from communities with protected characteristics covered under the Equality Act 2010.

“We also wanted to understand tech companies’ different approaches and attitudes to diversity and inclusion.”

The report reveals greater sharing of best practice, and the development of sector-wide diversity and inclusion guidance was highlighted as a need.

It also concludes historical cultural issues at leadership levels have been a barrier to necessary change, although attitudes had begun to change in recent years.

The report recommends that a sector working group, facilitated by Dynamo, continues its work and, supported by external professional advice, devises regional guidance on diversity and inclusion for all tech SMEs.

The regional tech sector should collectively agree its aspirational aims and key objectives with regard to diversity and inclusion for the next five years, it said.

Regional tech leaders should convene a session to explore the question of culture within the sector in order to highlight potential barriers that exist and outline steps that should be taken to remove these.

And it recommended that Dynamo members and SMEs undertake their own audits of processes and procedures and each produce a diversity action plan, identifying strong practices and where work is needed.

The report also includes examples of EDI role models identified through Dynamo’s #HERO campaign, and case studies of best practice.

Fareeha added: “Among the case studies are some terrific examples of where equality and diversity are a key focus and priority. There is a significant amount of pride in the North-East around the wide range of services, and support, the tech sector provides to a diverse range of individuals.

“It is from this sense of pride that Dynamo wants SMEs to do even better around diversity and inclusion issues, and also to become an organisation that leads the way. We realise that we also need to do more to ensure we represent our diverse society and support the region’s SMEs and wider tech community to do the same.”

Dynamo members can request a copy of the initial research findings by emailing info@dynamonortheast.co.uk. Dynamo is now planning to launch a wider EDI survey of tech employers and employees in June.

Dynamo North East is a business-led organisation with the core mission of 'Growing the North-East tech economy through collaboration, innovation, skills and noise.'

With more than 160 members, it is made up of IT organisations, large corporate employers in the region, consultants, technology hubs, education providers, local government and suppliers to the industry.

Dynamo is part funded by the ERDF as part of the Catalysing Innovation 2021-23 in North East Clusters project, delivered by the Innovation SuperNetwork.