How Diversity Efforts Impact Turnover And Economic Gains In Tech

Posted on March 5, 2021 by BWBacon. Tagged: Resources for Candidates, For Candidates, Resources for Entrepreneurs, For Clients

Technology permeates every industry and interaction with a modern customer base that is as diverse as the global population. However, in industries like tech in the US, there has only been slight change when it comes to hiring people that more accurately reflect that diverse customer base. We’re taking a closer look at how not just a lack of diversity, but also a lack of inclusion negatively impacts turnover, and how to start fixing it.

In a study by the Harris Poll and Kapor Center on why people left their tech jobs, turnover due to discrimination, sexism, and racial stereotyping costs the industry $16 Billion a year. The high price tag of not addressing these existing patterns pails in comparison to the potential benefits gained of addressing them. In this article we’ll show why it’s important, and how to take more action when it comes to building a resilient and representative workforce.

An Information Disconnect

For an industry that considers itself to be agile and inventive, there are too many examples of tech companies investing big money in diversity efforts to have little to show for it. As of May 2020, Google reported that 5.9% of its employees and contractors are Latino and 3.7% are Black, out of 135,000 employees. According to CNBC, these increases are marginal as compared to their 2014 numbers. So where is the disconnect?

Certainly, there is no lack of diverse talent. One study from Intel and the Dalberg Group concluded that “improving ethnic and gender diversity in the U.S. technology workforce represents a massive economic opportunity, one that could create $470 – $570 Billion in new value for the tech industry, and could add 1.2 – 1.6% to national GDP.” With these staggering findings, one would think every company would be rushing to diversify their teams, but it’s still not the case.

The issue is more closely associated with the avenues that companies use to find and recruit candidates that are not predominately white and male. On the other side of that coin, there is a need to break down barriers that prevent access to higher-paying tech roles and confront biases that come up in interviews. Picture this: everything from your website, to your job description, to your organization’s cultural values, to aspects of your interview process can be unwelcoming for certain groups. Where the opportunity lies is in investing in inclusion programs and developing policies that positively influence the retention and loyalty of marginalized groups. Also, closing the gap between women, Asian, and BIPOC people in leadership is the crux of fostering this kind of financial success and building a vision for the future.

Inequities In Investment

All of this information points to a conclusion that while the tech industry is interested in diversity, and sees the value heterogeneous teams, taking action to figure out what’s missing is easier said than done. Tech companies may be able to find eager candidates, but have trouble holding onto them on the long-term due to employees experiencing unfair behavior or treatment, lack of inclusion, unwanted sexual attention, bullying, and other issues.

These problems face us in and outside of work, and taking a hard look at when they happen is the first step. Ask, how can our organization be more inclusive? Can leadership be more direct about promoting and rewarding the efforts of different people? Do your benefits or perks favor a certain group and create a disconnect for others?

Create a code of conduct and continuously strive to improve your culture. Implement management training opportunities and bias-mitigating strategies. Make sure to include diverse voices on what that looks like for your specific organization. Build new ways to track data on diversity and retention in order to analyze what kind of investments lead to better results over time. When attracting talent to your open positions, laying out the paths for personal development and leadership indicates to the candidate that they are there to do more than fill a quota or diversity box.

For example, companies that allow for personal training budgets or funding for management or skills training courses note higher satisfaction rates. Building a relationship with depth and trust is especially important when broadening the demographics of your team; training budgets show that someone’s career is valued.

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Diversity Is Key To Creating A Welcoming Culture

Additionally, a more diverse team is an automatically more inclusive one. New employees can become quickly disenchanted or frustrated if there are not real opportunities to connect with their peers and the values of the company. Set up your employees for success beyond onboarding by letting them know who they can reach out to if they have questions. Talented people stay invested in their jobs longer in environments that are open to different styles of learning and leadership.

When preparing your business for the future, another reason diversity plays a huge role in development are the shifting priorities of our society. Millennials are the most racially diverse generation in US history, and have different values that influence their career moves than those of their parents. More than ever, people understand that incorporating ideas from different perspectives, open collaboration, and transparency keeps workplaces positive, engaging, and successful.

The trend doesn’t just extend to Millennials either. Boomers and Gen-Xers in the US and globally are catching on that it is legally and morally imperative to even the scales and create more opportunity for more people. This can be done by creating space for open conversations, purposefully highlighting different voices in meetings, and ensuring equal leadership opportunities for women and people of color. Representation across an organization matters, and benefits everyone.

What Else Can Your Organization Do To Fight Turnover?

We always recommend to our clients to start by breaking down the interview process. Are your hiring managers and teams examining all avenues for accessing Black, indigenous, female, veteran, Asian, or youth talent? Do you reject candidates based on their name, location, or educational experience? Is your interview panel diverse or homogenous?

Think outside the box when it comes to diversity. Racial diversity is hugely important, but acknowledging other cross-sections of diversity and identity can allow your team to view new candidates as complex individuals with a range of experiences to offer. Did the candidate work in another country or in a different career before tech? Bias can be powerful internal informant, but as we know it is not always accurate. Learn more about mitigating bias in tech interviews in our full post on the topic here.

Acknowledging the work that is cut out for us is a great start. Unfortunately, many companies put effort into changing their interview, onboarding, and recruiting processes to fail to address microaggressions and inclusion in the day-to-day work environment. Diversity and inclusion work is comprehensive, and must start with leaders realizing the value of continuing this effort from the top-down, inside and outside of the business. This is where employee training, follow-up sessions, and break out groups that can address the needs of your whole team are beneficial. Read our other post on fostering an honest work culture, with tips for productive conversations on hard topics.

The Time Is Now

In breaking down the above facts and figures, plus what we have experienced as a team, there is no better time to expand your mind, community outreach, candidate pool, diverse partnerships, and chances to keep growing in this area. In conclusion, we can say with confidence that

  • More diverse teams are nimbler and more successful
  • Diversity in leadership is connected to retention of diverse employees
  • Support programs outside of onboarding boost engagement and tenure
  • Working for organizations that invest in D&I is a widely held value across generations

In order to leverage every individual’s strengths, commitment, passion, and creativity, help your team and be willing to break down the walls of diversity and inclusion. Building a truly inclusive culture starts with acknowledging changes need to be made, and listening to those who need to be heard.

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