5 Ways to Improve Diversity in Tech


February 12, 2024

While the technology sector has experienced employment growth at double the national average rate, it continues to face significant challenges in enhancing diversity within its workforce. The tech industry notably lags behind other private sectors in achieving racial and gender balance. There exists a substantial economic incentive for improving diversity in tech, with potential benefits amounting to £490 billion in added value. Recognising this, it’s crucial for employers to thoroughly examine and understand the obstacles to diversity in order to implement and benefit from effective diversity initiatives.

5 Strategies for Enhancing Diversity in the Tech Industry

To capitalise on the economic and cultural benefits of a more diverse workforce, the technology sector must consider where to begin and what actions to take. Below are several strategies aimed at fostering diversity within the tech industry.

Address Unconscious Bias

A fundamental step towards diversifying the tech workforce involves addressing and mitigating unconscious bias within the team. Unconscious biases can lead to judgement and discrimination, discouraging women and minority groups from pursuing careers in tech. By identifying and eliminating these biases, companies can create a more inclusive and encouraging work environment for underrepresented individuals. Unconscious bias is particularly prevalent during the hiring process, where initial impressions can skew decisions towards candidates who resemble existing employees, potentially overlooking better-suited applicants. Companies are combating unconscious bias through various measures, including training programs, blind recruitment processes, and support groups for employees with shared interests.

Encourage Professionals Returning to the Field

A common misconception is that diversity challenges stem from a talent deficit within the industry. However, many skilled individuals seeking to re-enter the tech sector, particularly women, face difficulties due to being consistently overlooked. Initiatives like “returnships” could significantly aid in supporting individuals, especially women, aiming to return to tech roles.

Implementing programs for these returning professionals can be a more effective and efficient approach for companies. Employing someone with extensive industry experience, who may only require a brief period of skill refreshment, is often more economical and quicker than training a newcomer from the ground up. Moreover, mentorship programs can prove invaluable for current employees seeking to advance their careers and possibly move into more senior positions. It’s been observed that, alongside a general diversity deficit, there’s also a pronounced lack of representation within leadership roles in tech. Promoting diversity at the leadership level is essential for enhancing overall diversity in the sector and challenging prevailing stereotypes.

Promote Apprenticeships

Incorporating on-the-job training opportunities is an effective strategy for expanding a company’s talent pool. Given the diversity shortfall in the tech talent pipeline, companies should consider endorsing apprenticeships. These programs offer a cost-effective method of recruiting individuals keen on entering the tech industry. Many organisations favour apprenticeships because they allow for customised training aligned with the company’s methodologies. Over the course of their apprenticeship, participants gain a comprehensive understanding of the company, facilitating a smoother transition to full-time roles upon completion.

Promote Pay Equity

Prior to the mandatory disclosure of gender pay disparities in 2018, the issue of equal pay was largely overlooked. By ensuring that women and men in equivalent positions receive comparable remuneration, tech companies can enhance their diversity. Public commitment to bridging the gender pay gap attracts a broader spectrum of job applicants, improving recruitment and retention rates. Moreover, awarding bonuses equitably across genders demonstrates a commitment to equal growth opportunities, aiding in the attraction and maintenance of a diverse workforce.

Strive for Inclusivity

Despite a rise in computer science enrollments among Black, Latina, and Native American women, they constitute only 4% of the technology workforce. This is in stark contrast to their representation, which is 16.5% of the working-age population in the United States. Establishing inclusivity targets can guide organisations towards greater diversity. It’s vital for all employees to feel their voices are heard and their opinions valued, which is key to fostering a diverse tech environment. Forming resource groups within a company can acknowledge and utilise diverse ideas, driving positive change. This approach is cost-effective and can enhance employee retention. Companies should also engage in activities like perspective-taking and goal-setting exercises, which have been shown to positively influence attitudes towards diversity and inclusion. Goal-setting exercises should encourage employees to pursue diversity-related objectives, such as addressing inappropriate remarks, while perspective-taking exercises help employees empathise with others’ experiences.

Published on 12-02-2024