Dogpatch back off the leash for first Diversity in Tech Week since the pandemic

Tech hub Dogpatch celebrated Diversity in Tech Week for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic forced its cancellation in 2020. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) are higher priorities for Irish tech firms now more than ever.

ublin was recently ranked 23rd out of 55 cities worldwide for attracting and fostering women entrepreneurs (WEs) in a report undertaken by Dell Technologies, moving up 11 spots since 2017.

At the same time, it should be noted that improvements in representation are not merely the result of ‘trickle down’ effects from Silicon Valley, as native Irish firms have also made a notable contribution to this progress.

In 2021, Ireland had one of the highest disability employment gaps of any country

Dogpatch has been recognised by the ‘Google for Startups’ programme as the top hub in its global network of 80-strong hubs for DEI initiatives, in part due to the Inclusive Hubs Playbook originally published in 2020 with the aim of empowering tech hubs worldwide to implement impactful D&I policies.

Where are we now?

The landscape is slowly changing, but it’s important to stay focused on how much still needs to be done. This is clearly evident in the applications we receive for the NDRC (Ireland’s national startup accelerator programme).

The growth of representation of women in Irish tech is consistently slow, but when we broaden our view to consider other underrepresented minorities (URMs) such as the LGBTQ+ community, people of colour, and people with disabilities this change is even slower.


‘It’s not just ‘trickle down’ from SIlicon Valley, native Irish firms are making a contribution too,’ say Aisling Conlon, communications manager with Dogpatch

For example, in 2021, Ireland had one of the highest disability employment gaps of any country, and was ranked highest among OECD countries for the most employees hiding their disabilities for fear of career regression – a term coined “hiding in the disability closet”.

It’s also important that our approach to DEI isn’t something we do just because it’s mandated by policy, or by company leadership. Building diverse teams doesn’t just lead to a more equitable tech sector or society, it leads to better results for companies.

So what can business leaders and employees do to build a more diverse Irish tech sector? A good place to start is with hiring. “Blind” hiring processes have been shown to result in a 40pc increase in diverse interviews and hires, but setting quotas and removing unconscious bias from the interview process isn’t enough to create lasting, impactful change.

In Sweden, transparency about salaries has cut their gender pay gap

Sweden has set an example that other European countries are starting to follow, by making the salaries of employees available upon request.

This transparency has cut their gender pay gap, such that women and men in similar roles see a 6pc difference in wages, one of the lowest figures in the world.

Salary transparency has been shown to reduce employee churn, and there’s a lot more that can be done to support the progression of URMs. Introducing folks to your network, offering mentorship and sharing opportunities are steps managers can easily take to assist in employee development in any case.

Building a more diverse and inclusive tech sector in Ireland won’t be easy, but if there’s one thing we know about the people working in this industry, it’s that they’re not afraid of hard work, even when the outcome isn’t guaranteed.


‘Blind’ hiring processes have been shown to result in a 40pc increase in diverse interviews and hires, Photo: Stock Image/Getty

Ninety per cent of startups fail, and yet Ireland still boasts one of the highest rates of entrepreneurship in Europe. Founders don’t allow fear of failure to stop them, because they believe in what they’re trying to do. If the Irish tech sector can take the same approach to diversity, the future of DEI looks bright.​

Aisling Conlon is communications manager with Dogpatch Labs

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