How to Attract and Hire Diverse Talent in Tech
Although the tech industry is renowned for its transformational impact on the world, the same can’t be said for its ability to build a diverse workforce. The move to achieving equality, diversity and inclusion is an ongoing process that aims to remove bias from the recruitment process and make tech jobs.
Achieving diversity doesn’t just make you a fairer and better employer, it will impact your bottom line and improve your brand and reputation as an employer which will, in turn, make you a more attractive prospect to high quality prospective employees. However, according to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the tech industry is far behind other industries in achieving equality and diversity.
EDI doesn’t happen overnight; it is a lengthy process that will almost always require strategic activities in order to achieve some pretty dramatic culture shifts. Alongside internal realignment of both conscious and unconscious bias, external work must be done to help you to attract – and retain- a diverse workforce.
A culture shift
Many organizations worry that pushing for a change in culture will dilute the branding and risk alienating loyal customers. Shifting your culture to be more inclusive doesn’t mean that you have to lose positive elements of your branding and reputation; in fact, this particular culture shift can be used to your advantage as you showcase your commitment to moving your organization forward by achieving diversity at all levels. There can be a tendency to feel circumspect about the process of re-educating your staff and rethinking your recruitment strategy to be more inclusive. After all, acknowledging that you need to change your culture is tantamount to admitting that there was a bias in the first place. Rather than covertly going about achieving the culture shift, be big, brash and proud. Not only will this help you to showcase your EDI activities to a broader pool of people, it will demonstrate to the most resistant employees that EDI is not a choice that they can make.
Reach a diverse pool of candidates
Reaching candidates from underrepresented groups is especially challenging if you are in an organization and industry that has until now been known for its lack of diversity. Transparency regarding your EDI efforts will certainly help you to get exposure from recruitment boards and sites who champion those committed to diversity.
Tailoring your candidate journey so that it is fair and equitable to people from underrepresented groups will also help you to reach a broader audience. This includes scouring your job description and terms for biased language. For example, women are unlikely to apply for a job unless they are sure that they are at least qualified – or preferably overqualified. By including a long list of “preferred” skills in addition to the “essential” list, you are less likely to receive applications from females who possess all of the essential characteristics, but are lacking in terms of some of the non-essentials.
Start with the recruiters
It can be tough for an all-white, all-male recruiting team to achieve diversity when they are not part of a diverse workforce themselves. Where possible, build your recruitment team to represent the diverse network of people that you want them to attract. This not only presents your view on and commitment to diversity to prospective employees, it helps you to mitigate unconscious bias at every stage of the recruitment process. Not least because candidates will feel much more at ease in an interview if there is a balance of color, gender, and neurodivergence.
Utilize blind screening
Blind hiring isn’t a new concept. In fact, it was first utilized in the ‘70s where blind orchestra auditions resulted in a huge rise in the number of female musicians being hired. Blind screening allows you to remove the presence of protected characteristics during the screening process. Elements such as a person’s name and which school they went to can infer a surprising amount about the candidate, by removing them from resumes, recruiters can shortlist based entirely on the applicants’ merits, skills and experience.
Like many strategic shifts, it can help to have professional guidance to ensure that the right cultural and structural changes are implemented. A tech recruiter will have access to, and the trust of, different employment boards, as well as a database of potential employees from across all underrepresented groups. They will also have the skills and experience needed to help you to reach, and engage with, a diverse range of talent.
Lead the way
In order to achieve long term impact, your commitment to diversity needs to be embedded at every level of your organization, from the top down. According to the EEOC report, 83.3% of executives in the tech industry are white men. Part of your commitment to diversity must, therefore, include a commitment to developing a board that is representative of your overall workforce.
Recognizing that you need to work on your diversity is the first step in a long journey to promoting a diverse workforce. Rather than being ashamed of the lack of EDI activities that your organization has supported in the past, it is important that you celebrate the fact that you are implementing permanent changes for the future. This long term commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion will help you to attract the best talent for the job, develop a diverse workforce, and engage talented individuals who will propel your organization forward.