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Diversity in tech: What can HR and managers do to attract a more diverse workforce?

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ARTICLE SUMMARY

In this piece, Sathya Smith, CEO and founder of Piper, takes a look at diversity within the tech industry and what HR teams and managers can do to attract a more diverse workforce.

THE WORLD IS BECOMING MORE DIVERSE, AND ORGANISATIONS ARE NOW REALISING THE IMPORTANCE OF INCLUSIVITY.

Despite this, the tech industry remains largely homogenous and organisations need to hold themselves accountable. DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) should be a core value, with companies developing programmes to actively support these principles.

SATHYA SMITH, CEO AND FOUNDER OF PIPER, TAKES A LOOK AT DIVERSITY WITHIN THE TECH INDUSTRY

Sathya Smith is the CEO and founder of Piper, a people management platform that helps managers become great leaders and bring out the best in their teams. She has more than 15 years’ management experience, spending the majority of that time working for Google in various technology and leadership roles. She is also former CTO of onefinestay (acquired by Accor hotels) and Venture Partner at VC firm Localglobe.

THERE IS A CONVERSATION TO BE HAD ON THE TECH INDUSTRY’S LACK OF DIVERSITY.

Businesses that lack diversity are at risk of overlooking a varied range of ideas and perspectives; tech companies with higher levels of gender and racial diversity are 12% more likely to have above average profitability and yield more innovative concepts.

Workplace diversity offers various benefits to a business, from increased profitability to longer-term value creation and productivity, while offering a space that is inclusive and welcoming to their employees. Inclusion is how we come together to achieve goals and, all in all, provide a working environment that attracts and retains talent.

WHAT CAN BE DONE?

Recognise the broader definition of diversity

Supporting efforts that encourage diversity within the workplace is crucial and especially significant in the world of tech, which has traditionally been fairly exclusive. For instance, a 2021 study by Deloitte shows that women make up less than a third (31.5%) of the workforce in technology companies, and this percentage drops to just 23.1% in technical roles. All businesses, but particularly those in tech, must do more to promote further gender equality.

While the number of women in tech is small, diversity does not begin and end with gender. Diversity is far broader, encompassing different generations, ethnicities, religions, sexual orientations, and mental and physical abilities, as well as a person’s socioeconomic, academic, and professional backgrounds.

Businesses can only consciously implement inclusion and diversity efforts when they acknowledge it among the workforce.

Think about hiring metrics and accommodations

It’s important to send the right signals to potential hires, especially if you’re looking to diversify your workforce. Think about changing your language when advertising vacancies; instead of listing skills, speak of the company’s values and what you expect from eligible candidates, the reasons for the role, and how the team works. Skills are important, of course, and should be a focus, but it is vital that we eliminate the bias in hiring.

It is also key that employee accommodations, or equity, are made clear and discussed during onboarding. Employees have a growing desire for flexibility and this should be taken into account, from varied working hours to more accessible communications platforms promoting open dialogue  for all individuals.

Transform company culture

HR leaders and managers should lead by example and demonstrate inclusive practices which, in turn, will establish an inclusive standard across the business. Employers must actively address how to implement non-discriminatory practices and policies to overcome biases, unconscious or otherwise.

Representation is essential for cultivating an inclusive work environment where employees feel they have a voice. Conversations on diversity must take place, with all voices welcome in a space in which to share their ideas. Employees should feel free to express themselves based on their unique perspectives. Fostering a culture of diverse thinking affords businesses access to different viewpoints.

MORE THAN AN INITIATIVE

It’s easy to consider the lack of diversity within the tech industry as a product of time and tradition, making it someone else’s problem. However, businesses must strive to break these barriers by creating interest in the field, presenting role models, and cultivating a sense of inclusion. Diversity is not an initiative for organisations to adopt, it has to be a part of the business’ culture – one built on trust and transparency.

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