In 2014, Silicon Valley companies began disclosing the demographics of their workforce for the first time, in part in an attempt to become a more diverse and inclusive sector. Ensuring each sector has a diverse workforce is of high importance. It’s one of the essential ways in which the technology sector can continue its developing success in both its own field and when crossing over into others. At the time, Apple CEO Tim Cook told employees that the company would be “as innovative in advancing diversity as we are in developing products.”
But, with five years of data to look back on, has anything changed? According to a recent study from WIRED, it seems not. At tech giants Google and Microsoft, the proportion of US technical employees who are black or Latinx rose by less than one percentage point in the last half decade. Over at Apple, the share of black technical workers is unchanged at 6 per cent – comparatively, black people make up 13 per cent of the US population. Things are slightly better for women – at Facebook, for example, the technical workforce is 23 per cent female, up from 15 per cent in 2014, and Google reports similar improvements.
Clearly, though, there is still a long way to go. So, what can businesses, and ultimately the tech sector as a whole, do to become more diverse?
Start from the bottom
It’s important that the big players in the industry do what they can to make sure their tech careers really appeal to the younger generation. Other industries have also started to address this; examples are wide and varied, from gender diverse toys hitting the shelves, to various educational competitions in which children and young adults from all backgrounds are given the opportunity to get stuck in to the tech world.
This is something that the wider industry can certainly learn from. As well as focusing on being a household name for their consumers, it’s essential that the variety of career paths within tech are showcased to those who will become the next generation of workers.
Address unconscious bias in hiring
Often, companies that are attempting to become more diverse and inclusive fail at the first hurdle – and through no conscious fault of their own. Job posts, body language and interview technique can all affect how we think about a person, based on preconceived notions that don’t even register on a conscious level, but can have an impact on decision making.
We’ve previously covered unconscious bias and how to avoid it over on our sister site, Faulkner Scott – take a look here for more details.
Finally, each individual company must consider its own brand. If a business wants to increase the diversity within their workforce, it’s essential that they show they are open to candidates who look, think and behave differently to themselves. A website full of white middle-class males is likely to attract more of the same, while putting-off potential candidates from different demographics. Of course, sometimes a white middle-class male is the best person for the job, but the likelihood is that you’ll never know this for sure without proper representation of different types of people.
It is true that even the smallest change makes a huge difference. Studies have shown that for every one per cent rise in diversity of the workforce, sales also grow between three and nine per cent. In order for the sector to become more diverse as a whole, each individual and business will need to play their part – but they will also be able to share in the reward.
Looking to expand your workforce? Contact an expert at CPS and they will help you find the perfect people for your business.