Sad diverse woman sitting at desk, head in hands, diversity  and inclusionThe data industry has long been celebrated as ethnically diverse.

However, dig a little deeper and shocking statistics around pay and opportunity emerge not only for Black professionals but for gender diversity and people with disabilities too.

New research carried out by Rockborne on behalf of parent company Harnham, the global leaders in Data and Analytics recruitment, has shown that there has been little change in the diverse make-up of the industry over the last 12 months. This is despite employers hailing it as a priority.

Harnham’s annual State of Diversity in Data and Analytics report involving 9,500 respondents takes a deep dive into the state of play of Diversity and Inclusion across the data industry, focusing on gender, ethnicity, race, disability, and age. It reveals a mixed landscape, with pockets of both progress and stark stagnation.

Whilst acknowledging that there are initiatives being taken by employers to actively improve diversity, the findings highlight the need for the industry to continue to put its money where its mouth is if it hopes to remain trailblazing and innovative.

Ethnic diversity lags behind

When it comes to ethnic diversity, Rockborne research found that White/Caucasian professionals made up a smaller percentage of the Data & Analytics industry (75%) than they do of the UK population as a whole (86% nationally). This makes the data industry across the board one of the more ethnically diverse industries in the UK.

That said, just because there are fewer white professionals than the national average, not all other ethnicities are experiencing increased representation. Indeed, while Asian/Asian British professionals account for 15% of the industry (vs 7.8% in the 2011 census), Black/African/Caribbean/Black British professionals only account for just 3% of the (vs 3.5% in the 2011 census).

On top of this, the report reveals that the ethnicity pay gap is up over 50% from where it sat 12 months ago, with the highest-paid individual group in the Data & Analytics industry being White/Caucasian men. They earn an average of £69,260 per year, whilst the lowest paid group are women from a Black/African/Caribbean/Black British background, with average earnings of £53,850 – a pay gap of 22%.

Diversity decreases as seniority rises

Equality doesn’t improve higher up the chain either, with a significant trend of diversity decreasing as seniority rises, coming to light. For example, representation of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic professionals falls sharply from 42% at Entry-level to just 16% at Head of/Director level.

Sadiqah Musa, founder of Black In Data works closely with Harnham and provides her thoughts on the findings:

“People of Afro/Caribbean heritage make up only 3% of data professionals and have the widest pay gap. If you are, as I am, a Black female working in data, you are likely to be paid 22% less than your white male counterpart. 

Black people are often given the double burden of experiencing racism and discrimination, and then being expected to fix it.

This year, the theme of Black History Month is ‘Time for Change: Action Not Words’. I challenge all of us in the data industry to be courageous, educate ourselves, and take action for greater equality.”

Gender in early careers talent edges closer to parity

In terms of gender, 28% of Data & Analytics professionals across the entire industry are women – the same as Harnham’s 2021 report. However, the gender balance in professionals who are in their first role in data, has moved significantly closer to parity, increasing to 40%, up from 28% across the entire industry.

Gender pay gap decreases overall but a gap between professionals with parental responsibilities opens up.

There are some more promising signs, though., The gender pay gap across professionals in Data & Analytics now stands at 6% – a figure which is not only an improvement on last year, but also falls below the UK average of 9.8%.

But there are certain areas calling out for improvement, such as for parents. Male professionals with parental responsibilities earn £76,700 on average, whereas female professionals in the same position take home significantly less – an average of £65,580 (a pay gap of 14%).

These figures are tempered by the fact that all specialisms surveyed reported a gap smaller than the UK average, ranging from 9% in Data & Technology to -1% (as in the gap favoured women) in Marketing & Insight.

Harnham’s CEO David Farmer believes that “while we should be positive about the progress the industry has made, this is clearly not the time to hang up our boots.”

Farmer continues: “It is vital to us at Harnham that we continue to monitor the industry’s progress and do not shy away from revealing where gaps exist. There is no benefit in burying our heads in the sand, we must instead continue striving forwards. 

“We know that change takes time, but I firmly believe that if businesses and, crucially, educational institutions keep pushing for better diversity, we will see significant change over the next five to ten years.”

These statistics drive home the reality that the data industry still has some way to go if it wants to continue to hail itself as innovative and disruptive. There are employers actively trying to improve diversity, and the industry should use data like this as grounds for following their lead.