Diversity and Inclusion in Tech: Strategies for Building Inclusive Workplaces

More women and under-represented minorities are truly needed in the tech sector.

The tech industry, historically lacking diversity and inclusion, now recognizes their value for innovation, productivity, and culture. According to Boston Consulting Group research, diverse management teams boost revenue by 19%. Embracing diversity is a competitive advantage, fostering innovation in tech and aiding career growth. Inclusive workplaces attract talent, encourage varied viewpoints, and develop leaders who prioritize diversity for business success.

The Current State of Diversity in Tech.  Despite progress, the tech industry still grapples with diversity. A 2020 report from the AnitaB.org Institute reveals only 28.8% of tech roles are filled by women, a modest increase from previous years. Ethnic diversity also lags, with under-representation of African Americans and Hispanics in major tech firms, far below national employment figures.

Barriers such as unconscious bias and a non-inclusive culture persist, hindering diversity in tech. These challenges go beyond hiring; they touch on retention and career advancement. Companies need to address not just the numbers but also the environment, ensuring it supports and encourages diverse talent to thrive and lead.

Why Diversity and Inclusion Matter.  Diversity and inclusion in tech are not just buzzwords; they are essential drivers of innovation and business success.

>  Enhanced Creativity: Diverse teams in technology lead to enhanced creativity through varied perspectives. McKinsey & Company found that diverse workforces are 33% more likely to outperform peers in profitability.
>  Broader Market Reach: A workforce reflective of a diverse customer base improves market reach and user understanding. It’s no coincidence that businesses with diverse teams are 70% more likely to capture new markets.
>  Improved Decision-Making: Diverse teams make more informed decisions. They are 87% better at decision-making, leading to reduced errors and higher-quality outcomes.
>  Talent Attraction: Embracing diversity attracts top talent. A study revealed that 67% of job seekers consider diversity an essential factor when evaluating job offers.
>  Enhanced Reputation: Companies committed to inclusion enjoy a better reputation. In fact, 78% of consumers prefer to support businesses that prioritize diversity and inclusion

Strategies for Building Inclusive Workplaces

Recruitment and Hiring.  Crafting inclusive job descriptions and using unbiased hiring practices are key for diversity in tech. Gender-neutral postings get 42% more applicants. Inclusive language and structured interviews reduce bias, attracting more talent.

Creating an Inclusive Culture.  Leadership plays a pivotal role in cultivating a culture of diversity, where every voice is valued and heard. Training for awareness and sensitivity is crucial:
>  Interactive workshops on unconscious bias.
>  Regular diversity and inclusion seminars.
>  Sensitivity training tailored to different departments.
>  Inclusive communication techniques.
>  Scenario-based training for conflict resolution.

Providing equitable career growth opportunities for women and under-represented minorities in tech is key.

Career Development and Growth.  Empowering diverse talent through career development is key for inclusive growth. According to Josh Bersin, inclusive companies are 1.7 times more likely to be innovation leaders in their market.
>  Mentorship programs tailored for underrepresented groups.
>  Sponsorship initiatives to support career advancement.
>  Leadership training for diverse employees.
>  Networking events focusing on minority groups.

Assessing and Measuring Inclusion.  Effective tools for evaluating workplace diversity include:
1)  Employee surveys to gauge inclusivity perceptions.
2)  Demographic data analysis for representation metrics.
3)  Feedback tools for continuous employee input.
4)  Inclusion KPIs linked to business outcomes.

Strategies for continuous improvement:
1) Regular review of hiring and promotion data.
2) Updating policies to reflect diversity goals.
3) Training refreshers based on feedback.
4) Celebrating diversity milestones and achievements.

Overcoming Common Challenges.  Unconscious bias and stereotypes are often the silent disruptors in tech workplaces. A study by the IMPACT Group reports that 33% of employees who perceive bias are less likely to feel alienated. To combat this, companies must first acknowledge and then actively work to dismantle these biases through comprehensive training and awareness programs.
1) Clear career paths for all employees.
2) Train leaders to value diverse talents and perspectives.
3) Support groups for diverse employees, build community.
4) Systems for sharing experiences and suggestions.
5) Accommodate diverse personal needs, reduce burnout, boost job satisfaction.

The Final Thoughts.  The journey towards diversity and inclusion is ongoing and requires continuous commitment. It’s a proactive process, demanding consistent effort and adaptation to new challenges and opportunities. By embracing these strategies, tech companies can not only enhance their innovation and productivity but also contribute to a more equitable and dynamic industry. Let’s keep pushing the boundaries to ensure tech is inclusive for everyone.

4 invaluable career lessons from a long time IBM friend

Steve Schumer as a 40 year IBM leader is indeed “Super-IBM-Man”

One of the joys of my 31-year career at IBM was the many wonderful friends I made, several of whom I still keep in touch with. People often marvel over my tremendous 31-year stint at IBM, but you believe my good friend Steve Schumer has been there 40 years and is still growing strong?

Steve has had an illustrious career with “Big Blue,” but it did not come without some struggles and roadblocks. Yet Steve remains an outstanding professional with an undying positive attitude.

Recently, Steve presented his “4 Lessons from (almost) 40 Years” at the Hillsdale, New Jersey Career Networking Group. Steve sent me the link to the presentation on Youtube, and since career development programs for companies and organizations is one of my consulting offerings and since I consider Steve a close friend, I took a listen.

It truly was an excellent and very useful session! I will summarize his 4 lessons below and also include a link to the video which I strongly encourage you to listen to. And Steve shared so much about his own personal journey will so many cool stories, the time watching the video flew by very quickly

Not only is Steve passionate about his IBM career, he is also a 2015 inductee into the Green Bay Packers Fan Hall of Fame!

Lesson 1: Pursue something you’re passionate about. Absolutely, you are going to do your best work and progress in your career if you do something you truly love. When I do career mapping modules for my clients, often I discover that their most successful people are truly passionate about their work and their field. I once mentored a young man who was miserable in a high paying job that he cared nothing about, but when he went into a lower paying field he really loved, vocational joy returned to his life.

Lesson 2: Differentiate yourself by your questions and points made. With hundreds of people applying for and competing for every job, how will you differentiate yourself from the masses? Steve shared the importance of really researching the company, the industry and the job well so that you shine in the interview by asking intelligent and relevant questions. He shared some great stories of how he did this in his early job search.

Lesson 3: Don’t take no for an answer. Steve shares that one of the top 10 qualities for long-term selling success, including selling yourself, is tenacity; the strength to not give up, even against opposition. Steve is not advocating being argumentative here, but does share several examples of standing strong and not giving up, including a cool story about his son interviewing for a job.

Lesson 4: Personalize your network. In terms of connecting with others during a career search, never send out mass standard letters or emails. Instead, take the time to add a unique personal touch to your networking with each person. Steve shared how he utilized personalized networking during a very dark period of his career when he was being laid off, but managed to defy all odds and stay at IBM. What is cool is, after I listened to the recorded session and emailed Steve, he was able to retrieve the personal email he sent to me 11 years ago when he was going through this tough challenge.

Whether you are early, mid, or late career, do take the time to watch this insightful presentation (link) by Steve Schumer.