The technology industry suffers from a major diversity drought. You can even see it in idealized pop-culture depictions of the tech world - like the offices seen in “The Social Network” and “Silicon Valley." The majority-male (and majority-white and Asian) tech population hasn’t yet taken meaningful strides toward changing their demographic.
The diversity problem in tech is popularly attributed to a “pipeline problem." Believers in this theory suggest that the tech industry’s lack of diversity is caused by a paucity of women choosing to enter this particular workforce. However, a recent article in Entrepreneur refutes this theory, arguing instead that the tech world’s gender imbalance is “a symptom of our broken industry."
Writer Brenda Darden Wilkerson insists that “rather than blaming the pipeline, leaders need to work harder to create better environments that encourage women to stay.” According to her research, these 7 tactics provide a good starting point for a more inclusive tech sphere.
Companies need to examine their paths for advancement and ensure a level playing field for all applicants.
“Challenge leaders to advance more women and people of color, and tie compensation to measurable progress,” she specifies.
Hiring practices should be tailored to fight implicit bias.
Wilkerson warns against the use of “gender-coded” language in job postings, instead suggesting “anti-bias tools like blind resume screening,” which can prove “equally important during promotion and retention."
Employers should monitor their company’s departure rates in terms of gender and race.
In order to gain an accurate picture of the corporate environment and how welcoming it is to an inclusive workforce, Wilkerson recommends “measuring exit rates by gender and race” and “conducting exit interviews to uncover problems with workplace culture or advancement paths."
Be sure to staff major projects with diversity in mind.
It’s not enough for companies to have a diverse group of employees on the payroll. Wilkerson emphasizes the importance of ensuring that “your most prestigious projects are staffed intentionally," urging companies to avoid the “fraternity effect” by “revisiting team allocation practices to make sure they’re equitable."
Encourage flexible scheduling.
Companies that support a healthy work-life balance and allow for flexible scheduling rank highly among female employees, and if tech wants to diversify its employment pool, Wilkerson advises a strong good-faith effort to implement these practices.
Abolish the pay gap once and for all.
This advice applies to all industries, but a field already suffering from a not-so-favorable inclusivity perception needs to directly confront pay inequalities and rectify them with a true process. Wilkerson explains that in order to truly solve the pay-gap issue, “this must be a constant process, not a one-and-done moment.”
Talk to your employees to find out what they want to see from their workplace.
Above all else, Wilkerson calls upon tech companies to “let [their employees] offer you input on changes that would help them. They’ll tell you what they want, but you also need to be prepared to listen and act upon those wishes”.