As the younger generation moves further into the tech workforce, so has an awareness of the disparity that preceded them. More than ever before, under-represented groups speak up about the inequality that has gone unaddressed in the workplace for decades, demanding that tech companies take accountability and make more efforts towards inclusion.
However, you shouldn’t employ diversity merely because it’s morally “the right thing to do.” More than that, it can be highly beneficial to a business’ growth and impact in remarkable ways. Let’s explore more reasons why diversity is essential in technology.
Diversity: Why Is It Important in the Tech Sector?
Diversity in tech jobs – and the private sector in general – helps to create a culture that welcomes new ideas and different perspectives. We’re not just talking about combating gender discrimination. This diversity also includes race, ethnicity, religion, age, disability status, and sexual orientation.
The future can only be shaped by those who create it. Diversity in technology can not only broaden perspectives but also make breakthroughs possible.
Better Overall Performance
The simple truth is that diverse teams perform better. Studies prove that groups of varying backgrounds and abilities are more creative and productive. They’re also more likely to be innovative – and innovation is critical in this rapidly evolving industry.
When people don’t feel like they belong or are welcomed by their peers at work or school for any reason – whether it be something as simple as the color of their skin or wearing hijab- this creates an environment where these individuals can fail to reach their full potential.
It limits innovation and creativity in the workplace when only one group has all of the answers. We need everyone involved to make sure we have a diverse workforce with various backgrounds from which to draw when developing products.
Creates a More Equal and Inclusive Environment
The more minorities a company employs, the more they create an environment where people feel comfortable bringing their whole selves to work. Doing this allows them to fully enjoy their job without being preoccupied and distracted by the limitations that surround them.
An equal and more inclusive working environment helps team members feel much more at ease and as though they can more easily relate to their peers without fear of judgment or lack of understanding.
An equal environment also helps foster an inclusive culture where employees feel comfortable sharing specific experiences or asking questions about others.
For example, if black employees can look around and see black representation in technology, they may have access to the support they need at the company. The most diverse tech companies tend to have higher retention rates, lower employee turnover, and greater customer satisfaction because people are more comfortable and confident in their tech roles.
Creates Better Products Designed for Everyone
There are many different aspects of diversity such as gender, age, disability status, ethnicity/race/culture/nationality, etc. With each persona, you will find a unique perspective that other companies can apply to their overarching goals.
A diverse team brings new perceptions, which can help solve problems creatively and potentially tap into markets that have for so long gone neglected. As a result, diversity is essential because it allows for tech diversity and inclusion of underrepresented groups of people.
The future of our world depends on various viewpoints working together and collectively creating better products that have been designed for everyone.
When working in such an influential industry like tech, we have a moral obligation to ensure everything we create can appeal to varying types of individuals. Onboarding the expertise of a diverse team will only create more opportunities to execute this much more effectively and create a more inclusive environment in the process.
Leads to New Ideas and Innovation
Minority representation is crucial because it enhances creativity and innovation. Studies show that exposure to individuals from different backgrounds can facilitate the perfect breeding ground of creative ingenuity.
Experts suggest that deep understanding and learning about another culture can be a great way to expand our thinking and create more innovative ideas. Think about those trips you take overseas that leave you with a truly transformative experience.
While familiarity might be comfortable, going outside of that comfort zone and taking the time to see the world with a fresher lens leads to better problem-solving strategies and more creative solutions.
That being said, there’s no worse way to showcase yourself as a diverse company than to simply hire underrepresented minorities for the sake of doing so and hoping they’ll inspire your existing staff.
Varied viewpoints themselves are necessary for a company’s success – this means that you should hear all opinions, encouraged and respected.
How Australia’s Top Companies Do Diversity Right
It’s not enough to give women or people from the black community tech jobs in an attempt to fill a quota and slap a new mission statement onto your company website. Implementing change and witnessing the following domino effect means showing real consideration for the diverse team you hire.
While Australia has had a poor track record when it comes to diversity in the tech world, it’s important now for them more than ever to begin changing the narrative.
Fortunately, in the past five years we’ve seen quite a few Australian tech companies who have been doing it right by not only talking the talk but walking the walk.
Accenture, for example, is committed to creating a 50-50 gender-balanced office, with 25% of managing directors being women. As part of their efforts, they’ve also partnered with TupuToa, which aims to create more pathways for Indigenous students into corporate tech careers.
Matthias Bizilis, Director of Enterprise Business Development for Australia and New Zealand at Cheetah Digital, explains that “Diversity doesn’t happen by chance. It is intentional and requires careful planning, a firm strategy, and leadership.”
The company aims to create a more diverse work environment, not through traditional methods, which it deems outdated, but instead by encouraging communication among team members.
Many companies like Work180 encourage employees and new hires to provide full transparency regarding:
- Pay equity
- Flexible working
- Paid parental leave
- Equal opportunities
What More Can Be Done to Improve Diversity in Technology?
There is no denying that the tech industry has an inclusion issue. Tech companies are overwhelmingly made up of men, and just 6% of venture capital-backed startups have a female founder or co-founder. This lack of representation in the workforce can lead to biases in product design, company culture, and more.
The tech world has made some recent strides in increasing diversity initiatives, but it still has a long way to go. The problem is systemic and deeply rooted in the culture of Silicon Valley, San Francisco – or the Aussie counterpart, Greater Springfield – where harassment and discrimination has been well documented.
Some companies are showing their support and dedication to improve the situation. Their efforts include the Tech Inclusion Pledge created by Microsoft, Google, Apple, and Facebook. These tech companies promise to publish inclusion data on their workforce each year to create accountability within the industry.
While company leaders like Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recognize a racial bias and desire to increase diversity numbers, there is still a significant lack of diversity in these companies. For example, black people only account for 4.4% of Facebook’s overall workforce, and only 4.7% of the leadership includes African Americans. In the Asia-Pacific sector of Google employees, the data shows that only 1.1% are Hispanic.
The good news, though, is that companies like Google are slowly eliminating the lack of diversity. Thanks to their efforts, being a Hispanic or black woman at Google is becoming more commonplace. The company released its data, showing the number of women working at Google has increased by 0.5% just in the last year.
Furthermore, companies are taking steps to include more women in their talent pipeline by supporting girls’ education through initiatives like Girls Who Code or sponsoring female students for STEM fields scholarships.
Other tech companies are also getting creative about hiring people by targeting diverse communities with digital marketing campaigns or by hosting hackathons that allow underrepresented groups to show off their skills.
The “Social Enterprise”
With the rise of a new class of companies referred to as the ‘social enterprise,’ companies are seeing the broader market diversify their products and services and its approach to succeeding in this new era.
A social enterprise refers to a revenue-generating organization whose objective is to have a social impact. In order to stay ahead of the curve, every reputable company should employ a business model that makes diversity part of its mission and include some qualities of the social enterprise.
Companies must look at every level of the organization with an eye toward equality and inclusion across all areas, including cultural background, gender balance, disability representation, LGBTIQ+ community, and age.
Employers should focus on increasing representation and build sustainable equity. They can start with a focus on recruitment strategies that allow them to hire from more diverse pools of candidates rather than relying solely on referrals from existing employees. Perhaps this includes a gender-neutral job description and unconscious bias awareness initiatives.
This strategy can lead to increased representation within senior leadership roles across these Australian firms with improved innovation. It’s not just about recruiting women or people who identify outside the gender binary but also looking beyond traditional networks when sourcing talent.
Implementing diversified hiring practices should be the main priority if you want your company to be innovative and stay ahead of its competition.
What Does This Mean for Tech Companies in Australia?
Unfortunately, Australia has been among the worst for diversity and inclusion in tech initiatives, with very little progress being made.
Salesforce Australia and New Zealand CEO Pip Marlow is quoted as saying, “[while] we’re pretty good at talking about it, the pace of change probably hasn’t matched the pace of frequency of the conversation.”
It’s also worth knowing that the Australian tech industry is expected to face a shortage of 200,000 skilled tech workers by 2025. So Australian businesses must reconsider their representation and inclusion practices to fill these roles and remain relevant within the global industry.
Diversity on a Spectrum
Experts have also suggested that while discussions about gender equality are welcomed and encouraged, discussions surrounding ethnic and racial diversity are not.
This disparity leaves many believing that inclusion initiatives exist on more of a spectrum, each with its own level of importance rather than being treated as one systemic issue.
Cisco Australia and New Zealand vice president Ken Boal expressed that “We’ve always had strong participation in Indigenous affairs and programs at Cisco. It did actually drop off for a while there because we channelled our energy into other areas of social impact.”
Employer-Driven Absence of Diversity and Inclusion
One study, in particular, showed that out of 1000 people, 69% blamed inclusion issues on employers and their lack of action rather than low interest in STEM education.
University course completion rates within the STEM category are also a contributing factor. While nearly 70,000 international students enrolled on Victorian campuses, only 17% were completing their courses.
Based on tech company data, it’s estimated that 71% of employees have experienced discrimination at some point in the workplace.
Many of these same employees believe they were passed up for a promotion or pay increase despite having the same credentials as others who make up the more significant majority.
The Bigger Picture
More and more, companies are held accountable by their employees and consumers regarding representation among historically underrepresented groups, such as black employees and Hispanic employees.
For organizations, their approach to creating a more inclusive work environment is fundamental to their human resources and bottom line.
While some of Australia’s top big tech companies are making strides in hiring more diverse talent, more work is still to be done in tackling this diversity problem and providing equal access and support to all.
We must focus on striving towards making tech environments more welcoming spaces by making representation a priority in the tech industry. Perhaps it’s by hiring people who reflect the world around us or creating environments where everyone feels safe and comfortable sharing their ideas without fear of judgment or criticism.
It’s essential to think about how we want the industry to grow and what workforce we need for that future. The only way to do this is by encouraging more people from different backgrounds to join this exciting, ever-growing industry.
Is your company open to closing the diversity gap and looking for diverse talent? At Crew, we can help with talent acquisition insights and find you the quality diverse candidates that align with the core values of inclusion.
Contact us today for more information on how to get started! Let’s lead the path of change together.