By now, many of us are well aware that diversity is a key driver of business success. But even with the growing awareness of the benefits diversity provides in the workplace, this is an area many organizations still struggle with. For example, McKinsey found that only 26% of C-suite positions are held by women, with 5% being women of color. That number decreases further for tech roles.
Promoting diversity in IT hiring is crucial not only for creating a more inclusive and equitable workplace but also for improving business outcomes. In this article, we’ll explore the benefits of promoting diversity in IT hiring and discuss some of the challenges that companies may face. We’ll also provide strategies companies can use to create a more inclusive and diverse workplace and reap the benefits that diversity can bring.
What are the benefits of promoting diversity in IT hiring?
There’s an abundance of research showcasing the benefits of promoting diversity in the workplace. This is especially true for tech roles, where creative problem-solving, quick thinking, and high adaptability are valuable traits for dealing with tech-related challenges and adopting new technologies.
1. Improved innovation and problem-solving
Diversity in the workplace leads to a variety of perspectives and experiences, which can contribute to more innovative ideas and better problem-solving. In fact, a study by the Boston Consulting Group found that companies with more diverse management teams had 19% higher revenue due to innovation.
2. Enhanced employee engagement and retention
The average employee spends a significant amount of time at work, so spending so much time in a place they don’t feel they belong can be discouraging and lead them to disengage. But when people from different backgrounds and experiences feel welcome and included, they are more likely to contribute their best work and feel a sense of belonging. This, ultimately, leads to higher job satisfaction and lower turnover rates.
3. Expanded customer reach and market opportunities
A diverse team can help a company better understand and serve a diverse customer base, leading to new market opportunities and increased customer loyalty. Harvard Business Review found that companies with a more diverse workforce were 45% more likely to report market share growth.
What are the challenges in promoting diversity in IT hiring?
Building a diverse workplace is so important yet very challenging. So, what’s getting in the way?
1. Unconscious bias
One of the biggest challenges in promoting diversity in IT hiring is unconscious bias. This refers to the automatic and often unconscious stereotypes and assumptions we make about people based on their race, gender, age, or other factors. We all have this and is a natural phenomenon. Unfortunately, these biases can affect hiring decisions and lead to a less diverse workforce. According to Thomas International, 79% of HR professionals believe that unconscious bias exists in recruitment and succession planning decisions, leading to significant disparities in hiring outcomes.
2. Limited pool of qualified candidates
Many companies struggle to find diverse candidates who meet the required qualifications for a given role, preventing them from attracting the IT talent they need. This can be due to factors such as historical barriers to education and career opportunities for certain groups, or simply a lack of outreach and recruiting efforts targeted toward different groups of candidates.
3. Difficulty in measuring the impact of diversity
Another challenge that organizations face is how to measure the impact of diversity in IT hiring. While there is clear evidence that diversity can lead to improved business outcomes, it can be tricky to attribute these outcomes solely to diversity initiatives. Additionally, some diversity metrics, such as race or gender, may not fully capture the complexity of diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
Strategies for promoting diversity in IT hiring
This doesn’t mean that encouraging diversity in the workplace is a lost cause. There are various ways organizations can amp up their diversity efforts. Here are just a few of them.
1. Reevaluate your job postings to encourage diversity
Just as it’s the case for attracting the right customers, language plays an important role in building a diverse pool of candidates. For example, using gender-neutral language and avoiding specific educational or experience requirements that may disadvantage certain groups can help to expand your reach and encourage people from various backgrounds to apply. In fact, job postings that use gender-neutral language can receive 42% more applications than those that contain ‘gendered language’.
2. Establish partnerships with diversity-focused organizations
There’s no need to go and do everything yourself when you don’t have to. Building partnerships with diversity-focused organizations is another good way to increase diversity hiring efforts. These organizations can help to connect companies with candidates that you might have not been able to reach otherwise. They can also provide resources and support for creating an inclusive workplace.
3. Implement blind hiring practices to reduce bias
Blind hiring practices can help reduce the influence of unconscious bias in IT hiring. This includes removing identifying information from resumes and applications, such as names, addresses, and educational institutions, which can be used to infer race, gender, or socioeconomic status.
4. Conduct inclusive interviews and assessments
Using structured interviews that ask all candidates the same questions and avoiding questions that may be biased or irrelevant to the job can create a more inclusive hiring process. Additionally, assessments that focus on relevant skills and experience, rather than factors like cultural fit, can help to avoid unconscious biases.
5. Measure your efforts with diversity-focused KPIs
Finally, it is important to measure the effectiveness of diversity initiatives by setting KPIs and tracking them, such as employee engagement and retention rates, and the diversity of the candidate pool and workforce. This can help companies stay on track and find areas for improvement.
Moving forward with diversity in IT hiring
Promoting diversity in IT hiring is not just a moral imperative, but also a business one. It’s essential that organizations take an intentional and proactive approach to tackling this challenge. By embracing diversity in the workplace, they can then gain a competitive advantage and position themselves for long-term success.