A diverse, equitable, and inclusive company is a successful company. Enhancing diversity and inclusion in your workplace goes beyond maintaining gender balance or hiring BIPOC employees. Instead, it entails weaving genuine inclusivity into your organizational culture, and building a diverse team where every member is trusted, empowered, and involved.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion have been pressing issues in workplaces across all sectors for some time, but the tech industry in particular has seen slow progress in this space. Keep reading to understand the importance of diversity in tech, and to learn how leaders can improve diversity and foster inclusivity in their teams.
What is Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in Tech?
Diversity refers to the existence of acknowledged differences in your workplace. It generally covers race, political beliefs, class, culture, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity differences. Diversity within your tech organization means your team comprises members with a variety of different backgrounds and perspectives.
Equity in the workspace ensures all workers have access to the same advancement, opportunities, and treatment. It identifies and eliminates barriers to full participation for specific groups.
Tech inclusion entails ensuring a sense of belonging where all workers feel supported and comfortable when attending work as their authentic selves.
A diverse, equitable, and inclusive team makes better decisions and is more innovative. Companies that ignore these mutually reinforced principles fail to tap into their workers’ full potential.
How Is the Tech Industry Faring in Terms of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in 2021?
The tech sector is making significant efforts to overcome the longstanding lack of diversity in the industry, but problems still exist. While tech experts drive value through practical solutions to complex problems, most still struggle to fix bias, discrimination, and underrepresentation among their own ranks.
Currently, most tech executives are white, while only a handful of organizations have at least one woman on their board. Google, for instance, has shown some improvement in its 2021 annual diversity report, but even the tech giants are yet to achieve balance. Black+ employees form only 4.4% of Google’s overall workforce, falling to 3% for leadership positions, to quote just one example from their reporting.
The tech industry still has a long way to go. To deliver on your responsibility as an employer to build upon diversity and inclusion, organizations must create specific DEI goals and implement plans to achieve them.
The Benefits of a Diverse and Inclusive Workforce for Tech Companies
Maintaining a diverse and inclusive team benefits your organization in the following ways:
Different perspectives: A diverse team comprises staff with vast skills, backgrounds, and attributes to deliver different perspectives when designing and fulfilling company strategies.
Faster problem solving: Highly diversified teams can solve problems better and faster than their less diverse counterparts..
Improved creativity: Different perspectives can significantly increase your team’s overall creativity and ability to think differently.
Better decisions: Workspace diversity has a direct impact on the quality of decision-making, and forces all team members to question their assumptions.
Foster innovation: A survey by Josh Bersin found that organizations can improve their innovation by 1.7x by maintaining workplace diversity.
Better company reputation: Diversity-oriented companies are recognized as being socially conscious and more attractive employers, ultimately contributing to a better brand identity or reputation
Better returns: Diversity enhances innovation and decision-making; meaning companies can enjoy better business returns and increase their profitability.
7 Steps to Improve Diversity and Inclusion in Tech
There are still numerous barriers to diversity and inclusion in tech, but that doesn’t mean improvements are out of reach. Implement the following solutions to cultivate a diverse, inclusive culture in your organization:
1. Offer Transparent and Equitable Wages
Managers and other relevant decision-makers must level out the playing field through fair opportunities for all workers. Use analytics to identify underpaid staff or any other gaps in remuneration. Also, take note of any trends or patterns in the underpayment of particular groups of employees, and ensure they are rectified.
2. Manage Bias
Educating your workers on potential microaggressions and subconscious bias can go a long way toward improving diversity. No employee wants to work in an environment where they feel undervalued for any reason inherent to their identity, and employers have a duty to eliminate any workplace behaviors that alienate or discriminate against their team members.
3. Acknowledge Holidays from Every Culture
Learn about and acknowledge a wide range of cultural and religious holidays. Leverage the company’s intranet to keep track of all upcoming celebrations and be flexible and respectful of these dates in the calendar when approving vacation days or appointing time off.
4. Provide Mentorship
Women and other underrepresented groups within the tech industry can experience a lack of mentorship and role models from similar backgrounds. Working under exclusively white or male leadership can lead diverse team members to believe career progression is not an option for them at your company. Ensure a plan is in place to deliver the same level of feedback and professional development opportunities to all employees.
5. Solicit Ongoing Feedback
Encouraging team members to share feedback can help executives better understand what’s taking place below the surface. Pulse surveys, for instance, provide essential insights for informed and mindful decision-making, while equipping you to eliminate any discrimination or bias patterns. This approach should allow for anonymous feedback, which facilitates open and honest responses.
6. Diversify Your Recruitment and Human Resource Teams
If you want to improve inclusion and diversity within your organization, don’t fall into the trap of limiting yourself to junior or entry level hires. Maintaining a diverse HR and recruitment team is a great place to start, as this will help to reduce unconscious bias in the hiring process, provide broad points of view, and change mindsets to improve the company’s approaches to diversity and inclusion.
7. Track Progress
Significant and long-lasting change doesn’t happen overnight. From making structural adjustments, to implementing new workforce strategies, a cultural shift requires time. Make sure you set benchmarks and track your progress to determine whether you’re reaching your goals and achieving continuous improvement. This way, you’ll learn what’s working and where you’re falling short.
Diversity and Inclusion in Tech Benefits Everyone
Companies in the tech industry still have a lot of work to do to create truly diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplaces. Fortunately, the above steps can help you dismantle existing barriers within your organization to reap the benefits of a diverse team. Ready to take the next step? Empower your HR department with an IT solution that equips them to spend less time on operations, and more time on people.