It is a commonly acknowledged fact that technology companies have a diversity problem. There are far too few women or ethnic minorities working in tech teams or companies. However, identifying diversity gaps in your organisation is only half the battle. Rebuilding and restructuring to ensure diversity is adopted (and encouraged) is a challenge in itself. So, what can you do to ensure you’re creating and maintaining a truly diverse workplace?
Match mentors with mentees from different backgrounds and experiences to help stamp out prejudices and build real relationships. These relationships will force people to evaluate any perceptions or judgements they may have had about a particular group of people.
In terms of diversity, consider using software which allows for “blind hiring” to ensure you are eliminating any unconscious bias. For inclusion, use psychometric tests to determine personality types. This way you’ll be better placed to understand a person’s behaviour. Are they expressive or reserved? Do they focus more on the long or short term? Are they familiar in tone or formal?
Write inclusive job descriptions
Strive to write job specs and descriptions that don’t favour one group of people over another. Use gender neutral language and list qualifications as preferred not required, unless they are absolutely crucial to carry out the role. You can even reference your company’s commitment to an inclusive team to attract more diverse tech applicants.
Educate the team on how to act appropriately when faced with conflict or confusion. It’s important for them to be aware of the differing backgrounds, beliefs and opinions of their colleagues. Foster an environment that recognises differences and is respectful of them. For example, tech managers should take a zero tolerance approach to slang or derogatory language being used to describe a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
Cast the net wider
There can be a tendency for hiring managers to return to the same universities or groups where they may have sourced tech talent previously. This can also happen with referral programmes, where employees endorse former classmates or colleagues with similar experience. Expand your hiring horizons by recruiting from underrepresented universities, colleges and community groups.
Facilitate open discussion in the workplace by creating an environment where people feel comfortable discussing issues and sharing views, even if they go against popular opinion.
Education partnerships and networking events allow companies to build relationships with talent in their formative years. This helps change perceptions of the industry and promote inclusiveness. Initiatives like SAGE, Science in Australia Gender Equity, aim to attract and retain more women and minorities to STEM industries.
Put procedures in place to assess your hiring after a new employee is on board. Investigate whether or not interviewers have stayed true to the initial requirements advertised and if not, why not?
In an attempt to promote equality, we can sometimes ignore aspects of a person’s make up - their ethnicity, religion, sexuality, etc. because they simply don’t make a difference to how we view them. While that’s fine in theory, in reality it can be problematic. For one, these elements play a large role in a person’s identity so failure to recognise them undervalues a large part of who they are as individuals. It can also trivialise any negative experiences or discrimination a person may have endured because of their race, gender or sexuality. To be truly inclusive means acknowledging and celebrating differences, not underplaying them.
A sense of belonging and inclusion doesn’t come from fitting in but from being accepted.
To learn more, check out Jobbio’s Mastering Diversity eBook.