Diversity and Inclusion

We are committed to working towards fairer representation of minoritised groups within the tech sector. Improving equality and inclusion is at the core of our ethos and strategy.

Why inclusivity matters

It is well documented that there is a lack of diversity and disparity of opportunities in the UK tech scene. Currently less than 10% of women are CEOs in tech companies, and less than 9% of people from a Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) background are senior tech leaders.

McKinsey’s Diversity Matters research series proves that more diverse companies have a higher likelihood to financially outperform their less diverse counterparts. Despite this, research from the British Business Bank shows that startups founded by women or people from a BAME background received less than 3% of all equity investment into tech in 2020. This drastically needs to improve.

What we’re doing about it

To explore the barriers facing women and BAME tech entrepreneurs, we worked with partners to commission the following research papers in 2016/2018 to find out how we can champion diversity in tech leadership:

Increasing gender diversity at SETsquared incubation centres - SETsquared Partnership

Black, Asian and Minority Ethic Inclusion: Research to improve engagement with business incubation at SETsquared - Ashley Community Housing and Up Our Street

And we’ve implemented the following changes:

  • Regular EDI training for staff and our companies, delivered by our community partner, Babbasa.
  • Marketing and programme audits, working with community partner Arima & Co, which have helped us reframe and add representative diversity in our content, training and events.
  • A Breakthrough Bursary, providing heavily subsidised programme membership for BAME tech founders, funded by our alumni companies.
  • Enterprising Women, a pre-incubation programme for women with early-stage ideas or businesses, funded by NatWest.
  • Regular Women Founders’ Forums for entrepreneurs to connect, skill share, problem solve and network.
  • Career talks to school children and young women about careers in STEM with our companies' women tech leaders.

Where we are now

Prior to our research, just 4% of our companies’ founders/C-suite were women and 4.5% from a BAME background. Women now make up 45% of our companies’ founders/C-suite and 24% of our companies’ founders/C-suite are from a BAME background.

In 2021, 70% of the highest investment raises came from our women-led companies.

Although these figures don’t yet demonstrate fair representation amongst our members, they do compare favourably to the UK average.

But we recognise that there is more to do. Our longitudinal aims are to continue our work to improve gender and BAME diversity, including improving investment experiences for diverse founders, and also to look into inclusion work regarding differently abled founders, founders from working class and LGBTQIA+ backgrounds.

SETsquared Bristol, together with our partners, University of Bristol and Engine Shed, have the ambition to enable a pioneering approach to responsible innovation and enterprise, putting the University at the vanguard of best practice in the innovation sector.

Working towards a more inclusive and equal tech scene

Find out more in this blog by Paul Forster, Community Manager