How diverse is your tech team?

The final blog post in this series focuses on one of the key considerations for every tech company in every market on a Global scale – diversity

In the UK, the Tech Talent Charter (TTC) is leading the way in terms of a voluntary initiative supported by companies from tech, recruitment and social enterprises to increase diversity in the technology workforce. In the TTC Benchmarking Report released in 2018, it highlighted a key statistic from the responses to the surveyed signatories; more than 71% of technical roles were held by men, 26% were held by women and less than 3% were held by individuals that classified themselves as non-binary.

The UK Government also made the Gender Pay Gap reporting a focal point when they introduced legislation in April 2017 that made it mandatory for all companies with more than 250 employees to publish information on the pay gap and bonus gap between men and women in their organisation. Whether this law has delivered on its intended mission statement is questionable, however, it has provided more gender related transparency across tech and non-tech companies. 

The question for most companies is ‘how do we increase the diversity in our workforce?’ and ‘how is it possible to consistently do this in such a competitive candidate-driven market?’ – when your company needs specific skills and experience, surely the market decides?  

Powered by new thinking   

If you’re a company and you have committed to increasing diversity as part of your talent strategy, you should be applauded, however, simply vocalising your commitment to diversity and hoping that this will happen organically is not a strategy, it’s a declaration of intent. Your in-house recruitment team and hiring managers will need support, training and further guidance on how this strategy will be delivered. 

Training for the hiring team – everyone that has a responsibility and input into the hiring process should all complete unconscious bias training as a standard; the aim of this will be to set a consistent baseline of thinking amongst those individuals responsible for sourcing, screening, interviewing and making the final decision on a hire. 

Offering a safe space to have conversations about potential biases can be challenging at first, however, the benefits far outweigh any initial and potentially awkward conversations. Starting with an internal process of training and discovery will almost always guarantee valuable insight.  

End-to-end recruitment process  – from job specifications to the advertising strategy all the way through the interview process, every part of the candidate journey will need to be reviewed to enhance the openness and transparency for a diverse pool of skilled job seekers. 

Focusing on using diverse and non-gender specific language, choosing advertising channels that attract a diverse pool of applicants and offering transparency on pay and benefits are simple and effective steps to appeal to a wider candidate audience. 

Recruitment partners – when you outsource the initial sourcing and screening of candidates to 3rd parties or recruitment agencies, how will you ensure the continuity of your diversity strategy? Setting targets for shortlists that the agencies present to you are a positive starting point. Additionally, making a request that your recruitment agencies provide candidate shortlists with 50/50 representation of female and male candidates is one approach; for more niche roles, where gender bias is anticipated, setting a 1 in 3 rule of female to male shortlisted candidates could offer a solution. 

New hiring programmes – the majority of companies will have a Graduate and/or Intern programme and Enterprise companies often have a Returners programme offering skilled individuals the opportunity to access employment. What about those with passion and limited skills? Those individuals that could potentially be amazing, however, have limited or no access to opportunities? 

BT and Code First: Girls piloted an innovative programme that offered 30 women the opportunity to be trained and get a job in software development through an intensive course called the FurtHER programme; the net result was 30 women were trained to code to junior software developer level and BT received an injection of much needed female talent into their business. This could also be offered to 1-2 people in a small start-up or SME.

Talking to the community – if your talent acquisition and recruitment team have limited access to the policies and practices developing around diversity & inclusion, then encouraging them to be active and engaged should be a business priority. As a starting point, social enterprises such as Code First: Girls and STEMettes can offer a good source of information about how to start thinking about increasing female representation in your workplace. 

Measuring your success – it’s important to track the changes you implement into your talent acquisition and recruitment strategy, whilst also having a clear idea of what success looks like. If success is represented in the form of metrics in terms of gender-balance in specific tech teams or an overall metric for the entire technology function, be clear on what that target is and how you intend to achieve greater levels of diversity. 

What’s the next step? have been generous hosts and they have provided a platform for me to share topics with you such as partner ecosystems, recruitment tools and ROI, transitioning to a new recruitment model and accessing the developer community as a new in-house recruitment consultant. As a business that actively promotes the value of meaningful relationships between candidates and companies, I would recommend starting a conversation with them about your talent acquisition strategy.