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 of the global majority 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 of the global majority 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 that women and people of the global majority face, 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

Global majority 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 tech founders of the global majority, funded by our alumni companies.
  • Enterprising Women, a fully-funded business support programme to help women take their business or idea to the next stage.
  • 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% were from the global majority. Women now make up 49% of our companies’ founders/C-suite and 21% of our companies’ founders/C-suite are from the global majority.

In 2021, 70% of the highest investment raises came from our women-led companies. In 2022, 49% of total funds raised by our companies were led by women.

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 ethnic diversity, including improving investment experiences for underrepresented founders, and also to look into inclusion work regarding founders with disabilities, LGBTQIA+ founders and founders from lower socio-economic backgrounds.

SETsquared Bristol, together with Bristol Innovations 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.

Diverse founders are worth investing in

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