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How to Improve Diversity and Inclusion in Tech Workforces

Author: Brian Johnson
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You may have seen the stats

They’ve become increasingly public since the 2017 legislation that announced companies must produce reports on pay gaps in the workplace. There’s a harrowing 4% difference across the same job roles, with one huge factor causing the disparity: a difference in gender. 78% of tech organisations have pay gaps, and ethnic minority workers are still offered 37% lower rates than their white counterparts. 

That’s not all.

Due to a competitive market and expensive qualifications, people (and especially women) of colour experience extra barriers to entry when applying for tech jobs.

The technology industry has been praised for being dynamic, innovative, and forward-thinking. However, diversity and inclusion in our workforces have a long way to come.

The Cause of The Problem

Microaggressions are still a daily occurrence, and business leaders need to be called into the limelight and make huge changes in order to continue attracting the top talent, no matter their race, sexuality, or gender.  

In a world where 50% of women have experienced gender discrimination at work, and black tech graduates are earning 14% less than white graduates, it comes to question: where did the problem start?

Unconscious Bias

Bias plays a huge part in the “workplace culture gap” apparent in tech, but there is a bright side. It’s easier to make improvements than you think. Equality is about levelling out the playing field, and being prepared to genuinely listen to your staff when they have diversity complaints will do most of the work for you. 

Whilst it’s clear there are huge leaps that need to be made, progress starts by taking smaller steps. 

Here are 7 simple solutions you can implement today to cultivate a diverse business culture in your offices, teams, and beyond:

7 Solutions for A Diverse and Inclusive Workforce

1. Transparent Salaries & Strict Guidelines

In workforces where “discussing pay is advised against”, employees are still highly likely to discuss salary rates, rightfully encouraging honest conversations about the disparity in pay.

The solution? Transparent salaries. Industries of all types have been pushing for years for companies to be honest about salary during recruitment. Not only will this encourage more applications per job, but being open with rates also makes a statement - proving to minorities that you won’t discriminate based on prejudice.

Alongside, you should hold your recruiting standards to strict practices where women and men of any race are offered the same starting salary rate. This will help reduce barriers to entry, long-term complaints, turnover, and also allow you to be more conscious of areas where bias arises in the workplace. 

2. Manage Bias

Speaking of bias - educating staff about subconscious bias and potential microaggressions could be a great way to retain diversity in the workplace. 

No employee wants to come into a work environment where they feel undervalued due to something inherent to their identity. In fact, “unfair treatment in the workplace is the largest driver of turnover in the tech industry, costing companies up to £4 billion per year.” (Source: Diversity in Tech) Making steps to eliminate unconscious bias includes assessing situations and predicting occurrences. Business executives should encourage other leaders to be aware of where issues may arise (such as women being asked to do the tea-run more than men), and enforce changes where appropriate. 

3. Paid Mentorships

One common complaint of women in tech is the lack of role models and mentorships. 

When women are faced with an all-male leadership team, it can be difficult to push past barriers to improve their careers. As a result, businesses should move to encourage diversity in executive positions by sponsoring mentorships for their female-identifying (and non-binary) staff. This could be in the form of either:

  1. Paid weekly consultancy calls with successful women in similar career paths.

  2. Paid role models invited to host talks and meetings in or after hours.

Paid mentorships are especially useful for male-dominated companies that want to increase diversity. Improving access to powerful women working in the same fields is proven to motivate and encourage others to chase their goals. 

However - you do need to be careful who you work with. A survey conducted by She Can Code expressed that “inviting [only] highly successful female speakers can sometimes have the wrong impact; it discourages women. They look at the successful person, and it is so far away from their own experience that they can’t imagine themselves in that position.” Your best bet would be to create a “mentorship ladder”, with role models from a range of different experiences and job levels. 

4. Holiday Approval

Another important solution to improving diversity and inclusion in the workplace is to expand holiday allowance to automatically approve vital religious days for practicing staff members. Not only will this improve employee-employer relationships, but it will build trust and loyalty. Muslims that want to use their holiday dates for Eid but are told “Steven is away that week,” are likely to feel hurt and unseen - reducing their likelihood to stay with a company long-term. Publicly announcing that religious staff members can request religion-related holidays at the start of the year will allow them - and you - to stay ahead of the game and feel valued in the workplace. 

5. STEM Sponsorships and Education Scholarships & Training

A simple part of improving diversity in the long run is improving access to education for disadvantaged ethnic minority groups and STEM support. Sponsoring “Women in Tech” events and University scholarships for Black and Asian Minorities (BAME) can help reduce barriers to entry and help your company be a driver for change. 

6. Strong Communication Channels for Feedback

Building strong communication channels for honest feedback about your diversity efforts will help you see things from new perspectives and adapt accordingly. 

You have one key resource that can help you improve inclusion in the workplace: the staff you already have.

If you are a CEO protected by layers of leadership, make it possible for employees to reach out to you in an emergency or in the event of discrimination or racism. Being open and responsive to minority groups will help you retain top, experienced talent already working within your company. Additionally, if you are proven for being a boss who cares for the happiness and wellbeing of your staff, you are more likely to have diverse candidates accepting roles within your workplace. 

7. Diverse Recruitment Teams and HR

Sometimes, improving diversity and inclusion in the workplace is as simple as hiring a minority HR Manager, or working with diverse recruitment teams. Not only will they be less likely to be subject to unconscious bias, but wider points of view will help you improve mindsets and approaches to diversity in the workplace.

Forward Role Represent is our inclusive recruitment approach that provides equality of opportunity for everyone. We have partnered with Mel Venner of Instinct Performance to ensure that ED&I is fully integrated into our business at all levels. For us D&I has never been a 'tick box' exercise, it's about inclusive recruitment and building systems and processes that provide equal opportunities for all.

For help expanding your horizons and driving change in your industry through intelligent recruitment, contact us! At Forward Role you’ll find genuine industry experts who care passionately about delivering for their clients and candidates.

If you're a candidate, we'll treat you the way we'd like to be treated when making an important life decision like moving jobs. If you're a client you can expect exceptional delivery and communication as a matter of course.


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