Diversity in tech has come under the microscope in recent years, mainly due to changes in consumers' and employees' attitudes and social awareness. For businesses, it plays a vital role in attracting and retaining top tech talent, allowing them to create and market cutting-edge products and services and lead the competition. A significant focus on diversity in tech will enable businesses to create a fair and inclusive working environment and increase their chances of growth and elevated financial return.
Therefore, businesses must actively take steps to reach broader talent pools, create an inclusive culture, and inspire underrepresented groups to seek a career in the tech industry. Businesses need diverse tech talent to stay ahead of the game, future-proof their organisation, and remain attractive in the fiercely competitive talent market. So, ask yourself, is my business doing enough to attract and retain diverse tech talent?
In this guide, we will dive deep into the importance of diversity in tech, its benefits to the workplace, and tech recruitment process strategies that can be implemented to increase diverse hires.
Why Diversity in Tech is Important
We know that diversity enriches society; it adds new ways of thinking, provides different perspectives and allows us to experience different cultural practices. So, why is diversity in tech so vital to business? Here are five key reasons:
Increased Creativity and Innovation
Teams comprising employees from different backgrounds can produce more creative and innovative solutions than less diverse groups. This is due to team members offering a variety of perspectives and angles, identifying flaws in thinking, and arriving together at a more informed solution. Katherine W. Phillip of Columbia University commented on the role diversity plays in enhancing innovative thought:
'Diversity is not only about bringing different perspectives to the table. Simply adding social diversity to a group makes people believe that differences of perspective might exist among them, and that belief makes people change their behaviour.'
Diversity significantly enriches the learning process and pushes employees to think differently. This is crucial when building products and services for an ever-growing customer base and continuously adapting to the changing demands of the tech market.
There is also a strong financial connection to increased innovation, in a study by Boston Consultancy Group (BCG) found that businesses with above-average diversity produced an increased proportion of revenue from innovation (45%) compared with companies with below-average diversity (26%)
Elevated Customer Experience
A tech team from various backgrounds will be more likely to adapt to customers' needs, requirements, and expectations, whether designing a new platform, app, or service.
This is vital as the customers using the product or service will also be a vast range of societal groups. So the team will have to design and build it in a way that offers all these different groups the best possible user experience. Having a diverse team that can produce a wide range of ideas and evaluate them through various perspectives can be highly beneficial for predicting and encompassing the needs of their end user.
Enhances Brand Reputation
Diversity is a hot topic in society following recent global events, and businesses are under increasing pressure to be transparent and active in their steps to improve diversity. By ensuring your company teams have a range of diverse tech talent, you will show the world that you are an inclusive brand striving for equality.
This has become especially true with Millennial and Gen Z customers, who are becoming increasingly socially aware and actively looking for brands that share their values when considering purchases in their professional and personal lives. If you aren't being seen as a bastion of diversity and equality, then you may be missing out on opportunities to increase sales, build customer relationships, and elevate your financial returns.
Boost Employee Engagement
By creating a culture of inclusion, you build a workplace where everyone is more likely to feel that their contributions are valued and that they have the respect of their managers and colleagues. This leads to greater job satisfaction and an increased sense of belonging. In a survey by BCG, 81% of employees said they felt happier working in an inclusive culture.
Julia Bateson, head of degrees and apprenticeships at TechSkills, explains how vital it is for UK companies (and, we'd add, businesses globally) to engage with diverse talent to increase innovation and create tech products that will drive the world's future.
'It's crucial that the tech industry involves a diverse workforce from all walks of life that represents global tech users. This involves bringing different insights to understand an intuitive user experience, designing innovative software and systems, improving our online security, and creating outstanding products. In order to compete on a global scale, businesses in the UK need to recruit a diverse workforce to reflect gender, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and disability and provide motivational opportunities to encourage social mobility.'
Increased innovation, customer experience, brand reputation, and employee engagement are all areas that can lead to higher profitability.
In McKinsey's report, Diversity Wins: How Inclusion Matters, they reported:
Companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to see financial returns above the national sector average.
Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15% more likely to have financial returns above the national sector average.
The focus on diversity is not going to fade over time, and for tech businesses to remain leading the market and drive their growth, ensuring that their tech talent is diverse and inclusive is key to their financial success.
It is also worth noting that a whitepaper published by Principles for Responsible Investment found that investors globally are increasing their focus on a business's progress and work around diversity, equality, and inclusion when deciding on whether to invest in a company. Funding, as we know, is vitally important to tech.
Even though we can see the incredible benefits that diversity in tech brings to the industry, the number of top tech talent from minority backgrounds is severely lacking. In the UK, for example, only 8.5% of senior leaders in UK tech are from ethnic minority backgrounds, and 16% of IT professionals are female. In the US, it is similar, with only 8% of tech employees being black, and this drops further to 3% when looking at leadership and C-suite level roles.
However, this also provides an incredible opportunity for your business to increase its focus on hiring diverse talent to increase performance, create a happier workplace, and be a leader in an uber-competitive market. So, what can your business do to attract and place top tech talent from different backgrounds? Next, we'll look at what changes can be made to your recruitment process to make it fairer and more inclusive for all.
Improving the Hiring Process to Increase Diversity in Tech
With diversity becoming increasingly crucial to current and future generations of job seekers and businesses innovative and financial performance, action needs to be taken to ensure you have an increased workforce. This is highlighted in a recent survey by Glassdoor, where 67% of job seekers feel diversity is vital while looking for tech jobs, and 50% of employees want their employer to increase their focus on improving workplace diversity.
With this increase in societal pressure and the numerous benefits that diversity brings, businesses must ensure that their recruitment processes and practices are focused on ensuring that everyone is given equal opportunity and that groups are not excluded.
Here is a selection of effective strategies that can be implemented into your diversity recruitment strategy.
Create an Inclusive Job Advert
Job adverts and descriptions are often overlooked but can negatively affect your ability to attract diverse tech talent. When reviewing your job advert, ask yourself, are you unintentionally narrowing the talent pool of qualified candidates by implying, even very subtly, that people from certain groups may not feel included? Here are some top tips for an inclusive job advert:
- Remove discriminatory language - Ensure your adverts don't contain biased or exclusionary language that will prevent certain candidates from applying for tech jobs. So, use gender-neutral terms rather than gender-specific titles or pronouns. Also, be careful about using words or phrases that have racial or cultural connotations.
- Focus on skills and qualifications - Highlight skills, qualifications, and experiences needed for tech jobs rather than focusing on specific demographics or backgrounds. This will help increase the number of diverse candidates applying as they have the right skills but come from various backgrounds.
- Highlight your company culture and values - If you are proud of your inclusivity and actions around diversity, shine a light on it in your job advert. For example, include a statement discussing that you are a company committed to ensuring a friendly and welcoming workplace for all. Displaying these values and commitments will help candidates from underrepresented groups visualise themselves working for your brand.
- Get feedback and ideas from diverse stakeholders - When creating your advert, seek help from employees from diverse backgrounds or touch base with a tech recruitment agency specialising in attracting diverse tech talent. Their feedback and ideas will ensure the language used, and message comes across as inclusive and appeal to diverse audiences.
Set Diverse and Inclusion Metrics
Setting your business inclusive and diverse hiring metrics will provide you with measurable outcomes and gives accountability to the relevant stakeholders. It also gives you a framework in which to continue to improve. In the recruitment process, these metrics can be used to set targets to improve the rate of diverse hires. For example, the number of women and people from minority groups you want to hire in the next 24 months.
An excellent case study of a brand that is embracing diversity in tech is Salesforce, who have set and achieved impressive targets to increase diversity as they know the benefits it brings. Highlights of their commitments and achievements are:
- 50% of their US employees are made up of underrepresented groups
- Doubled US representation of black leaders
- Aiming for a 50% increase in our US representation of black, indigenous, Latinx, and multiracial employees by year-end 2023.
- Aiming for 40% of employees globally to be women or non-binary by the end of 2026.
Setting clear targets will help motivate the company to strive to achieve these targets and enrich the workforce. Due to their exceptional work, Salesforce can publically highlight their achievements, making them a more attractive brand in the tech market.
When hiring employees with a tech recruitment agency, make them aware of these goals and seek feedback about how these can be achieved. By sharing this information, you and the tech recruitment agency are working towards the same goal, and the agency can target specific groups to help reach these targets.
Diversity training is an excellent way to educate employers on addressing workplace biases and prejudices. This is especially key for hiring managers, as their unconscious bias can help create workforce inequity. The purpose of diversity training is for the following reasons:
- Develop a sense of understanding and togetherness among the workforce.
- Encourage employees to stand up against discrimination.
- Remove unconscious biases
- Celebrate cultural, gender, and ethnic difference
Actively providing diversity can be an effective method of attracting tech talent from diverse backgrounds, as when advertising the job role or during the interview process, it can be highlighted to candidates the work you are doing to build an equal and inclusive work environment.
If you would like to discover more about our free client diversity training, explore our dedicated social impact page.
Diverse Interview Panel
If, after promoting how proud you are of your inclusion and diversity in your job advert, your candidate turns up for the interview and finds themself sat in front of four men, it will likely make the candidate believe that this a male-dominated company and your values aren't matched in reality.
Having a panel that is made up of people of different backgrounds, experiences, ages, and genders will provide a more accurate picture of your culture and the values you hold as a business. Furthermore, having a variety of voices on the panel will allow your candidate to hear different points of view on the business to help them truly understand where they will be working.
Importantly, it also sends the vital message that you care about diversity and inclusion, part of your key values. It shows that you care about offering people equal opportunities from all genders, socio-economic backgrounds, and ethnicities. The candidate will therefore have peace of mind that they will be provided with an equal chance to progress in their career if they are successful in the recruitment process.
This is also worth considering when working with a tech recruitment agency. A recruitment company is usually the first point of contact for many candidates, so the firm must hold the same values as you do around diversity and inclusion. Like with the recruitment panel, if a candidate is greeted by a recruitment team that is diverse and welcoming to all, then they are much more likely to proceed to the next stage of the hiring process.
Throughout this guide, we have seen the incredible innovation, employee togetherness, elevated customer experience, and financial return that having a diverse team can bring you. Still, the tech industry is lagging in diverse representation and is not a welcoming environment for underrepresented groups.
However, things are changing. With the heightened social awareness of Gen Z and Millenials, the future leaders of tech businesses must take action now to embrace diversity and be more attractive to people from all groups in the talent market. Otherwise, companies are simply hurting themselves and will struggle to keep up with the competition.
Need Support to Attract Diverse and Quality Tech Talent?
We are on a mission to help businesses increase the diversity and inclusion of their top tech talent. We provide an extensive network of talent from various backgrounds and experiences to help you broaden your talent pool and not miss out on exceptional candidates. We also work closely with you to improve and streamline your recruitment processes to ensure you are inclusive and open to all.
If you want details about how we can support you in powering diversity in tech, visit our dedicated clients' page or contact the team today.