By Ed Carr
Diversity and inclusion are very much on the agenda for employers of every size. At no point in history have we been as collectively aware of how necessary it is to encourage as diverse a workforce as possible. The technology space is no different in this respect. Yet, it is arguably an industry where the most, and strangely possibly also the least, work needs to be done to accommodate a move to more inclusion.
The reason I say ‘least’ is that this is an area where probably the smallest amount of development is needed in terms of the mindset. We work with technology businesses daily, and you will struggle to find a more accepting and open group of professionals in any other arena. That said, there is still a frustratingly long way to go with diversity, and male employees still dominate in most aspect of the industry.
In fact, it is estimated that only 22 – 25% of director-level employees in technology do not identify as male. While other sectors do suffer from this problem, I doubt there is one where the grassroots attitude is so at odds with the statistics. In short, tech industries want diversity and are driven to achieve it, but somehow the numbers always seem to be disappointing. So, what can we do about it when so much has already been done?
Improving diversity in technology industries
That last statement in the previous paragraph makes a particularly good point. A great deal has already been done, and much has already been achieved. There is certainly a lot to be proud of, and the next step will be to follow that work with continued development.
At the education level, there has, and continues to be, a number of initiatives to engage with different communities and young girls to increase the number of people leaving school with the intention of working in tech.
There is also a great deal that we can do in the workplace and in recruitment to ensure the talent we need is available.
- Awareness is vital – The more our workforces become aware of how to create an inclusive workplace, the more it will become a reality. When you think about how much has changed in recent years, it is clear that diversity and inclusion is constantly developing. Seemingly small changes, such as the use of appropriate pronouns, all help create an unconscious culture of acceptance. The more aware of the needs of a diverse workforce we are, the better.
- Tackling bias, conscious and unconscious – Difficult though it may be to address, we are all human, and we all have our quirks. A lot of businesses we see are accepting this and developing processes that address and hopefully remove the issue.
- Recruiting from the widest pool possible – Using a recruitment partner to reach out to diverse communities and help with the selection process is an especially important aspect of bridging the skills gap.
- Re-assessing the recruitment process – That old saying about small pebbles creating avalanches is very applicable here. The cumulative effect of re-assessing small parts of the recruitment process, such as the language used in job ads or anonymising applicants correctly, can pay dividends.
- Working conditions and benefits – If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that the 9 – 5 may not be the be-all and end-all of the working day. Flexible hours, remote working, increased benefits that are specifically targeted towards particular candidates and other changes all combine to help encourage a more diverse candidate pool.
How important is diversity?
The UK tech sector is growing at an incredible rate. Around 10% of all UK jobs advertised are tech-related, and the industry tops the UK growth tables in almost all meaningful ways. So, with such a strong profile of expansion and development, why does encouraging a diverse workforce deserve such a high place on the agenda?
Once again here, the numbers do not really tell the story. To continue this incredible growth curve, we will need the resources and, most of all, skilled people to maintain it. The skills gap in technology is wide and in danger of widening. If we want to maintain our place as a world leader, then we need to reach out to talented individuals in increasing numbers. That alone is diametrically at odds with a less diverse workforce.
There is a great deal of research on the benefits of diversity and inclusion in the workplace that we do not really have the space to go into here, but it all points to increased creativity, upscaled productivity and the culture of development that is the bread and butter of the UK technology sector.
There are many reasons for embracing a more diverse workforce, but simply put, without one, any business is missing out on the vast potential that comes with reaching out to a wider set of candidates. Increased diversity opens the flood gates to a wealth of talent.
We would love to help you with any hiring needs you have especially if you are as committed to diversity and inclusion as we are. Please get in contact if you think we can help.