Diversity in the tech industry has never been more important. Our planet is made up of a variety of individuals from all walks of life, and the digital world is no different. Technology is now the norm, and people of all genders, ages, ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds use digital platforms, products and services as intuitively as breathing.
According to Diversity in Tech, the technology industry has been growing almost 3 times faster than the whole economy and contributes around £200 billion a year to the UK economy.
But despite the diversity in users of tech, the industry itself has a rather monotone history with little diversity.
Why is that a problem?
When businesses consist only of people from the same backgrounds, diverse ideas and perspectives are left behind. As a result, products and services created are optimised for users like themselves but not always for those who are different to them.
Take the device you’re looking at right now, for instance. The same device may be used differently by a blind person, a disabled person and a hard-of-hearing person.
In the 2019 book ‘Invisible Women’, Caroline Perez highlights the ‘gender data gap’ – that the majority of the world’s data is based on male bodies and behaviour, resulting in a world that caters to men and often disadvantages women. Here is just one of many stats from the book that may surprise you:
Google Home is 70% more likely to recognise male speech – speech-recognition tech is trained on large databases of voice recordings mostly dominated by male voices.
That’s exactly why we need diversity in the tech industry, from men and women, young and old, regardless of race, sexual orientation, disabilities or religious beliefs.
Past studies have shown that two of the biggest barriers for women in tech are:
1. a lack of mentors and
2. a lack of female role models in the industry.
Having little support can have an impact on gender diversity in tech as it can cause uncertainty for those who are interested in entering the sector.
Other stats have also shown that ethnic minorities are paid around 10% less than their white counterparts in the UK. This imbalance discourages diversity across tech and other sectors. It is no surprise that unfair treatment in the workplace is the largest driver of turnover in the tech industry, costing companies up to £4 billion per year.
But things are slowly changing.
Tech companies are actively seeking to diversify their teams. Here are 4 ways your business can join and do the same.
4 Ways to Promote Workplace Diversity
It is not enough to simply hire people of different backgrounds and claim you’re an inclusive employer. The workplace also needs to reflect said diversity. So, what can be done to achieve workplace diversity?
1. Develop more inclusive workplace policies.
Do a deep dive into your current practices and evaluate whether your workplace properly caters to the diverse needs of your employees.
This could include:
a. Taking religious holidays that may not be officially observed by the company into account and allowing employees to take time off accordingly.
b. Providing options for flexible work hours or on-site daycare.
c. Working in the office? Ensure that your workplace set-up is an inclusive facility such as providing ease of accessibility for employees with disabilities.
d. Ensure that diversity practices are integrated into your onboarding. Employee inductions should involve training across your company’s values and inclusion policy.
2. Hire managers who understand your company’s diversity values.
To promote inclusivity and diversity at work, you need leaders who embody the same values and goals.
It’s hard to create a welcoming company culture if you hire managers who do not really care about creating a safe workspace for all employees! Invite different voices and viewpoints to help lead your company towards a more diverse environment.
Another key thing to remember is not to assume that managers understand the importance of workplace diversity. Or to assume that every manager knows how to hire and oversee a diverse group of employees. Being aware of the need and benefits of diversity does not equal knowing how to put it into practice.
It is crucial that you empower your team leaders with the skills to grow and nurture a diverse team, such as through cultural or sensitivity training as well as providing clear reporting structures for employee feedback.
3. Create safe spaces for employees’ beliefs.
A great way to encourage inclusivity is by providing a safe space for your employees to practice their beliefs.
For example, many companies now have separate prayer rooms specifically for employees to perform their prayers or meditations during the workday.
Such a policy demonstrates that your company cares about its employees and wants to create a work culture where people feel safe, and of which they feel proud.
4. Provide mentorship opportunities.
As we mentioned previously, a huge barrier is lack of mentorship for women in tech. But businesses themselves can be a part of the solution by providing mentorship programmes.
Not only for women but, employees with high potential should be offered mentors regardless of their age, race, gender, sexuality or any other factors to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to advance.
Sponsoring mentorship programmes might not be feasible for all businesses but there are other ways to give your employees these opportunities:
a. Your company could support professional development opportunities by contributing to employees’ continued education.
b. Connecting employees to outside resource groups, like those dedicated to young professionals and women’s leadership. For example, one of our diversity partners, Coding Black Females, provides women of colour fantastic training and growth opportunities.
c. Hiring and promoting diverse candidates into leadership roles as they act as a first point of contact and initial mentor of sorts for your employees.
At Initi8, we are committed to diversity in the tech industry and always seek to action what we promise in our equality and diversity statement.
Connect with us over on LinkedIn and Twitter to stay-up-date with our diversity initiatives and start a conversation with our team to find out what you can be doing to promote diversity and inclusion.
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