Despite calls for inclusion and remote working making IT jobs more accessible, tech workers still worry about the lack of diversity in the industry.
Two-thirds (65%) of women and non-white tech workers report experiencing some form of prejudice in the workplace, according to the .TECH Diversity Report survey of 550 tech workers in the United States released in May.
While 45% of tech workers say they have seen an increased focus on diversity and inclusion within their teams in the past year, 55% believe their employers could do more, according to the survey. A stronger emphasis on tangible efforts in terms of diversity, equity and inclusion can stimulate innovation and make a business more attractive to job seekers.
Women and non-white workers see less room for career advancement in tech, according to the .TECH survey. While 22% of white men don’t think they have the same opportunities for advancement as their colleagues at the same level, the number jumps to 32% for women and 38% for workers from under-represented racial groups.
Innovation only works if there is a culture of inclusiveness where employees feel comfortable sharing ideas, discussing opportunities and addressing challenges, according to Laura Thiele, HR manager at Optimizely, in a e-mail to CIO Dive.
Eighty-six percent of digital leaders, individuals considered more effective at implementing the right technologies at the right time, foster an inclusive work environment, according to a TEKSystems survey released in March.
“We want people to be themselves and to feel comfortable sharing their ideas and experiences,” Thiele said. “Getting people to identify with each other and understand perspectives creates a shared understanding. When you have a common understanding, you can respect each other.[‘s] differences while working towards a common goal. “
Making sure every employee feels listened to and respected in the workplace is about leadership. If, for example, someone is interrupted during a meeting, management can step in to ensure that person has the opportunity to complete their comment.
Diversity and talent shortage
Engaging in diversity and inclusion initiatives can inspire tech talent to join an organization and improve retention efforts.
“The competition for talent is fierce and we want to attract the best talent,” said Charlotte Streat, vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion at Liberty Mutual Insurance by email. “Candidates, in turn, want to work for a company with like-minded people represented at all levels of the company.”
According to the .TECH report, 32% of women in tech and 38% of tech workers from under-represented racial groups say they do not have the same opportunities for advancement as their colleagues at the same level.
A culture of inclusion supports applicants from diverse backgrounds to improve employee retention. When hiring, an openness to applicants without technical training could also help fill in the gaps.
Seizing the opportunity to build a diverse workforce can be a solution by re-qualifying candidates from non-traditional backgrounds, according to Kristi Lamar, Managing Director and U.S. Leader for Women in Technology at Deloitte, in an interview with CIO Dive.
“This retraining takes really qualified employees … [and] shows them that this work, this organization, these results are available to everyone, “Lamar said.” They shouldn’t devalue themselves, just because they don’t necessarily have the certificate in XYZ, but they have the opportunity to ‘go learn and grow. “
Consider, for example, where companies recruit employees. If organizations are only looking for the best tech talent on college campuses, they will “inherently screen out potential future employees because they might not have had the opportunity,” Lamar said. The company is missing a huge pool of talents.
Lamar recommends looking in different pools and looking for passion and curiosity about technology, not just technical skills.