Diverse technology teams are necessary for creating tech that serves everyone. From IT to AI these ED&I techniques will help you to build diverse technology teams through talent attraction, an inclusive culture that retains diverse talent and equitable routes to promotion.
Why do we need diverse technology teams?
Aside from the obvious moral drive for diversity, and the enrichment of a diverse workforce, there are many reasons why diversity in the technology industry is so important.
- All businesses should reflect their customers to best understand and serve their interests.
- Digital skills are increasingly valuable across myriad industries. If certain groups are not given equal access to these careers, this could create real social inequality in future.
- As the tech industry explores AI, machine learning and automation, the people working in the industry will shape what machines understand about people and human behaviour. Diversity of perspective is crucial to avoiding biased technology.
- As businesses are becoming increasingly global it is no longer enough to reflect the demographics of the local area. Instead, businesses need to be able to understand, speak to and reflect a global customer base.
How diverse is the technology industry?
The technology industry famously has a gender imbalance problem, as well as over representation of white professionals and under-representation of those from other backgrounds.
- In the UK women make up 49% of the workforce, but just 19% of the technology workforce and 22% of directors in the technology industry.
- In the US tech sector, 83.3% of executives are white, the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has reported. That is 15% more than in the professional sector.
- 68% of young technology workers (18-28) reported that they have felt uncomfortable in a job because of their gender, ethnicity, socio-economic background, or neurodevelopmental condition. with 50% having left a role for that reason, according to a 2021 survey by Wiley.
How do you build diverse technology teams?
To create a diverse technology team, you need an effective ED&I strategy, targeted to address the specific challenges of the technology industry. This comes down to three core elements: attracting diverse talent, creating an inclusive work culture, and providing equitable routes to promotion. If your equity, diversity, and inclusion strategy addresses elements you will be on your way to creating lasting change.
It is important to remember that ED&I is not a one stop exercise and will require continuous investment and monitoring. One important step is to seek honest feedback from your employees, prospective employees and those exiting the business. This requires an environment and processes in which minority team members feel safe enough to share their honest experiences.
What techniques and strategies can help build a diverse technology team?
We hosted our first webinar, Attract, Retain, Promote: Building a Diverse Technology Workforce, on 11th November 2021 and were joined by a diverse panel of business leaders, technology leaders and talent acquisition experts to discuss building a diverse technology workforce. Our panel shared techniques that they had seen success with:
- Remove bias from interviews; using an ATS, a scoring system or relevant practical tasks is a great way to assess candidates’ suitability for a role, without involving personal preferences or unconscious biases.
- Don’t recruit for the best-case scenario. Instead, think about the minimum required skill set to do a good job in that role, rather than the optimum. That will open your pool to a much wider range of candidates.
- Be honest and upfront about your current diversity; authenticity is invaluable, be honest about your starting point with ED&I and what your plans are to improve things.
- Do the work; hiring diverse candidates won’t make your culture more inclusive, but working to make your culture more inclusive will help you hire more diverse candidates.
- Use your networks and go beyond them; technology career opportunities are often found and filled through networks, but if your networks lack diversity, so will your teams. Use all the resources at your disposal to reach candidates beyond your immediate professional network.
- Work with recruitment partners who understand your ED&I strategy and can work to strict targets.
- Watch our webinar playback for more techniques you can implement in your ED&I strategy.
Our panel included:
Jordan Butler, Recruitment Manager, Trilogy International, host
Melissa Benua, Director of Engineering, mParticle
Fred Swaniker, Founder & CEO, African Leadership Group
Maura Coyle, Talent Acquisition & Development Lead, Canoe Intelligence
Chinedu Enekwe, General Partner, Passbook Ventures
If you’d like to learn more about our diverse recruitment offering, get in touch.