Awareness around diversity and inclusion has experienced a huge surge in both the professional and public spheres in the past few years, and this rise is having a direct impact on how companies put together their internal policies.
Recent data from Deloitte found a 32% increase in executives citing inclusion as a top business priority over the past three years. But businesses aren’t adopting more proactive diversity and inclusion policies simply because it’s the right thing to do.
In talent-strapped sectors like tech, growing the talent pool has become a necessity. Thanks to increasing demand for tech skills, there just aren’t enough candidates to go around, and businesses need to widen their nets if they want to be able to fill crucial roles.
Fostering diversity and inclusion isn’t just about new talent, however. Businesses that don’t take active steps to create a diverse and inclusive workplace could also find themselves overlooked by professionals already in the market.
Today’s workforce expects transparency from their employers — a recent report found that 80% of millennial respondents wouldn’t even apply for a job if they believed the company had a gender pay gap, reiterating the message that businesses must focus on equality and be transparent about this when looking for fresh talent.
Diversity in Tech: A Pervasive Issue
Despite all this progression, the tech sector seems slow to prioritize diversity and inclusion, lagging behind many of its peer industries. Notorious for its predominantly white, male, heterosexual workforce, the tech space has a lot of work to do when it comes to fostering diversity of talent.
Take Google, for example. Just 2% of the tech giant’s 100,000 employees are black, and a mere 20% of their technical roles are held by women.
While some other large tech corporations have made concerted efforts to narrow the pay gap recently — including Salesforce and Microsoft — they are, unfortunately, in the minority.
If the sector wants to continue to attract and utilize fresh new talent, steps must be taken to implement, promote, and uphold policies that ensure a culture of equality.
And all this begins with a simple diversity and inclusion statement.
The Importance of a Diversity and Inclusion Statement
A key part of putting diversity and inclusion at the forefront of company policy is promoting a clear diversity and inclusion statement throughout the business.
All good companies have a mission statement — something that summarizes their values, their goals, and gives employees something they can get behind.
These pithy declarations are incredibly useful for reminding people throughout your business what you’re working toward, and act as a unifying sentiment that shows everyone what’s most important to you as an organization.
A diversity statement is no different. You can talk about diversity and inclusion until the cows come home, but don’t underestimate the power of summing up your core values, even if it’s only a few sentences.
Putting your diversity position into words and making it public shows everyone that you’re committed to walking the walk, as well as talking the talk.
A statement makes you accountable. It makes a statement internally and externally that you’re devoted to making a difference, that you have firm boundaries in place to ensure you’re working towards a more diverse and inclusive workplace, and that everyone, no matter who they are, will enjoy the same treatment, considerations, and protections under your roof.
The First Step Toward a More Diverse Tech Landscape
Having a clear-cut and visible diversity statement is especially important in the tech space where diversity and inclusion are still lacking in many areas.
The tech sector is desperate for new talent. It needs new blood to survive, and recruiting and retaining professionals from diverse pools of talent is the only way to ensure a thriving tech industry.
Despite the fantastic work being done by a whole host of initiatives to make tech more inclusive, many skilled tech professionals are being driven away by the homogenous, cliquish reputation the industry still shoulders.
If your employees can see your values enshrined in a diversity statement, they’re more likely to view your organization as somewhere they can flourish in a fair, just environment.
Of course, solving the sector’s diversity issues requires a lot more than good intentions.
Businesses need to live up to the values embedded in their diversity statement if they’re to create a truly nurturing environment and benefit from the best talent from all walks of life.
A strong diversity statement does not an inclusive workplace make — but it’s a good start.
About the Author
Zoe Morris is President of niche technology recruitment firm Nelson Frank. Zoe has played a vital role in building Nelson Frank into the global, award-winning specialist staffing company that it is today. Under Zoe’s leadership, the company has consistently achieved substantial year on year growth as well as winning many industry-based awards.