How to Achieve Diversity in Tech Recruitment

  • July 27, 2021

How to Achieve Diversity in Tech Recruitment

Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash

Diversity is a word that can get a mixed reaction. It makes some people nervous. It makes some people angry. It leaves some people feeling like it falls a little short and just isn’t enough to tackle the issues it is intended to address. But, regardless of how it makes you feel, it’s important to be having open conversations about diversity and inclusion, and not only about how it can benefit minority groups. Read on to find out why diversifying your workforce should be high on the agenda for improving profitability.

Tech industry jobs outlook is good

The tech industry is experiencing a strong recovery from the economic downturn. This is due to the fact that the technology industry is growing almost three times faster than the whole economy, contributing around £200billion a year to the UK coffers. Despite this rapid growth, there seems to be a growing diversity gap, with only 14% of the tech workforce coming from BAME backgrounds and only 8.5% of senior IT leaders are from a BAME background.

Gender diversity is also a continued challenge, as we have blogged about previously – women represent only 19% of the tech workforce, compared to a 49% National average.

With caution not to take a cynical look at this situation,  because there are greater ethical and moral issues at play, but could UK tech plc be shooting themselves in the foot by not diversifying their workforce?

Diversity = Profitability

There’s a pretty robust school of thought that there’s a direct relevance between how diverse a business’s workforce is and how successful that business is. A McKinsey study has reaffirmed the strong link between employee diversity and financial performance.

The logic behind why this is the case is pretty simple – a diverse workforce can best serve a diverse customer base. When businesses are largely composed of people who look the same and have the same experiences, they often leave diverse ideas and perspectives behind.

The quandary is that despite gender and ethnic diversity being so clearly correlated with profitability, women and minorities remain underrepresented in tech jobs.

Women and minorities are less likely to secure tech jobs

Not only are fewer women, neurodivergent and disabled people and people from BAME backgrounds employed in tech, when they are they are often paid less and don’t stay employed for as long. The ethnic minority pay gap in tech stands at 10%, but shockingly women are paid as much as 28% less than their male counterparts.

It’s a situation that just doesn’t belong in the 2021 workplace, and it’s all of our responsibility to iron out inequality.

What can your business do to improve diversity and inclusion in tech recruitment?

1 – Recognize a broader definition of diversity

Many people presume diversity just means being defined by differences in race or ethnicity. Diversity should be defined in a broad sense as human groupings based on race, ethnicity, gender, class and socio-economic background, age, religion, sexual orientation, neurotype, nationality and ability.

2 – Metrics, metrics, metrics

It’s important to track diversity metrics in multiple ways. You won’t know the full picture about your metrics unless you are tracking both at a department/team/seniority level as well as company-wide. It’s also important to measure job satisfaction and retention levels to give a fuller picture of your diversity statistics. Though you cannot tackle diversity in silos, in terms of improvement it’s important to identify key areas, set a target and focus on achieving that. For example, aim to increase the number of qualified female tech employees by 10% within the next 6 months.

3 – Reduce the potential for unconscious bias

Blind hiring is a pre-interview recruitment strategy that aims to remove unconscious bias from the shortlisting process. Businesses like Deloitte often opt to hide which universities applicants went to from hiring managers, and removing names and photographs from CVs or applications can also remove unconscious bias on the basis of ethnicity or gender.

4 – Provide specific support for minority groups within your workplace

A study has shown the two biggest barriers for women in tech are a lack of mentors (48%) and a lack of female role models (42%).  For similar reasons, it’s frequent that when tech companies do hire individuals from a BAME background, they struggle to retain them. Work cultures and stereotyping are the main reasons why people leave the industry along with pay and unequal opportunities. Unfair treatment leading to turnover in the workplace costs our economy £4bn each year. Setting up employee-led support groups or mentoring schemes can help increase representation and support for underrepresented sectors of your workforce.

Tackling diversity takes commitment but pays dividends

If your business can commit to implementing a diversity and inclusion strategy, and demonstrate this commitment as an integral part of your employer brand and culture, there is strong evidence that doing so could have a positive impact on profitability, innovation and the wider economy. It’s important to look at a diversity strategy as a win-win situation for everyone involved, and not something that is done to benefit underrepresented segments of society.

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