Diversity & Inclusion In Tech: Your Strategy To Fuel Innovation
Did you know that unfair treatment in the workplace is the most significant factor pushing turnover in the tech sector and costing companies up to £4 billion every year? Or that ethnic minorities in the UK receive roughly 10% less pay than their white counterparts?
These facts highlight the need for radical change within the tech industry, but not just to reduce employee turnover: to fuel innovation. Time and time again, the research proves that a diverse workforce performs better and is more innovative.
But tech diversity in the workplace is not without its roadblocks.
These challenges, deeply ingrained and sometimes subtle, range from innate biases in the tech labour market to systemic lack of representation. By acknowledging these statistics and confronting challenges head-on, UK tech companies can pave a path to true inclusivity in the tech sector.
In this blog, we’re exploring what those diversity and inclusion challenges are as well as the steps you can take to combat them.
The challenges in building a diverse tech culture
The most recent Diversity in Tech report highlights that in tech jobs:
1. 25% of tech workers belong to ethnic minority groups
2. 28% of tech workers are gender minorities (1-2% higher than previous years)
3. Ethnic diversity almost halves when it comes to tech leaders from 25% to 13%
And while there are signs of progress when it comes to diverse talent in tech, the progress is slow. But why is that? Let’s take a look at some of the challenges tech companies face when it comes to diversity and inclusion in tech.
Unconscious bias in tech hiring
The subconscious mind can harbour biases formed over years due to societal influences, cultural upbringing, and personal experiences -- widening the diversity gap.
In the context of tech hiring, this means that hiring managers, perhaps unintentionally, might favour candidates that fit a particular mould or stereotype over diverse candidates, often based on their own background and comfort zone.
The impact: This unintentional favouritism sidelines underrepresented groups who might bring unique perspectives and skills to the table. Over time, this may limit creativity, problem-solving, and the company's potential to connect with diverse user bases.
Lack of representation
Historically, the tech industry has been dominated by certain groups, leading to underrepresentation of women, racial and ethnic minorities, and other marginalised communities.
The impact: This lack of diversity in the technology sector can lead to products and solutions that don’t consider the needs of the broader population. But that's not all. Perpetuating stereotypes can discourage potential diverse talent from even considering a career in tech, thinking they might not "fit in".
Cultivating an inclusive culture
Diversity is not just about hiring people from different backgrounds but ensuring they have an equal voice and opportunities once they're in. An inclusive culture recognizes and respects differences, fostering a sense of belonging.
The impact: Without inclusivity, companies risk high turnover rates, low morale, and missed opportunities. Employees who don’t feel included are less likely to contribute fully, limiting their potential output and impact.
How to create a more diverse and inclusive tech company
Recognising the need to increase diversity and inclusion is just the start. Translating this realisation into actionable steps is where the real journey begins.
Below you’ll find a six-step diversity and inclusion roadmap, backed by RED Global's expertise, to attract, hire, and nurture diverse teams.
Step one: Broaden your talent search
If you’ve been fishing in traditional talent pools and not encountering the diverse range of candidates you’re seeking, it might be time to look outside the norm.
By reaching out to colleges with diverse populations, attending global job fairs, or even using platforms that cater specifically to underrepresented communities, tech firms can unearth a wealth of talent brimming with fresh perspectives and unique problem-solving abilities.
Think globally and act inclusively.
Step two: Implement bias training
Unconscious biases aren't necessarily a result of deliberate discrimination, but they can be just as harmful. It's essential to implement bias training to minimise the levels of unconscious bias within your workplace.
You can do this by hosting regular workshops led by diversity and inclusion experts, that incorporate real-life scenarios, interactive sessions, and role-playing.
This makes it tangible for employees to recognise their inherent biases and gives them actionable strategies to counteract them.
Step three: Engage in mentorship programs
A recent study showed that the two main barriers for women in tech are a lack of mentors (48%) and a lack of female role models (42%). You can address this by introducing a mentorship program in your company.
After all, they’re a win-win. While young professionals gain invaluable insights, mentors often learn new perspectives from their mentees.
Create structures where these relationships are nurtured in your work environment, perhaps by incorporating rotational mentorship systems or encouraging cross-departmental mentoring.
This blending of experiences and expertise is what will drive innovation in your organisation.
Dealing with resistant stakeholders in implementing your diversity and inclusion strategy? Read our previous blog, “How to deal with stakeholder resistance to change.”
Step four: Collaborate with diverse organisations
Engaging with organisations that represent different ethnicities, genders, and backgrounds provides a unique lens into the challenges faced by these communities.
From recruitment drives co-hosted with these organisations to knowledge-sharing workshops, these collaborations can provide actionable insights into making the tech environment more welcoming for everyone.
Here are some examples of incredible organisations you could partner with:
1. Black Girls Code: An organisation that aims to increase the number of women of colour in the digital space by empowering girls of colour aged 7-17 to become innovators in STEM fields.
2. Girls Who Code: This organisation is on a mission to close the gender gap in technology and change the image of what a programmer looks like.
3. Out In Tech: This organisation provides resources and mentorship to ensure career access for LGBTQ individuals and ensures that tech products are built by and for the community.
4. The Hidden Genius Project: An initiative that trains and mentors black male youths in technology creation, entrepreneurship, and leadership skills.
5. PEAT: They work to ensure that emerging workplace technology is accessible to people with disabilities and push for the adoption of inclusive workplace technologies.
6. The Valuable 500: A global movement putting disability on the business leadership agenda. Their goal is to persuade 500 of the world's most influential business leaders to make a commitment to disability inclusion.
Step five: Foster an inclusive environment
Making sure that diversity and inclusion isn’t simply a buzzword, but woven into the fabric of your tech company should be a top priority.
An inclusive culture goes beyond surface-level initiatives. It's about creating spaces where diverse voices are genuinely heard and valued and ensuring each and every employee has equal opportunities.
Implementing tools like anonymous feedback systems, celebrating international holidays, or providing platforms for minority groups within the organisation to share their experiences can drive real change.
By respecting and understanding differences, your company can create a diverse and inclusive sounding board of ideas and solutions.
Step six: Regularly review diversity and inclusion policies
The global conversation on diversity and inclusivity is continually evolving. Policies that seemed progressive two years ago might be outdated today.
That's why it's vital your organisation has a dedicated team or committee that routinely examines and updates company policies.
Gathering inputs from diverse employee groups, studying industry best practices, and being open to change ensures your company remains at the forefront of inclusivity in the tech industry.
Diversity in tech: A future we can build together
A diverse and inclusive tech industry isn't just an ideal for tech companies — it's a necessity for ground-breaking innovation and long-lasting success.
As we stand on the cusp of technological marvels, ensuring every voice, perspective, and talent is included becomes imperative.
With the challenges recognized and actionable steps laid out, the tech world is poised for a transformation. And RED Global is here to guide the way.
At RED Global, we are more than recruiters — we are your partners in building an inclusive tech workforce. With a deep understanding of the tech industry and a commitment to diversity, we can find the talent you've been searching for.
Start the conversation with RED Global now.
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