Google has it, Facebook’s got it, Amazon has it too, Apple, Microsoft and even Twitter's got it! They are all faced with the same problem, Lack of Diversity and Inclusion in the Technology Workforce, the struggle is real but we know how they can start to fix it.
So why the struggle and what’s causing all this drama in Tech? According to the U.S Bureau of Statistics, the estimated size of the STEM workforce in the U.S by 2018 is projected to reach 8,650,000 jobs but there is a huge lack of employees of color within technology based companies. When we take an in-depth look at the demographics data of these companies we see that there is typically only about 10% or less people of color on most tech staff teams today. So, if you think about it that’s basically just a handful of people in each company.
Why are there so few people of color in the Technology sector? Let’s take it down to the ground level; our education system and its lasting impact on communities of color. Communities of color tend to receive limited access for funding towards programs dedicated to STEM education. Investing in a student’s education from an early age is vital to their success, professional growth and career development. If students are not introduced to the field of technology at a young age, then go on to pursue a higher education; they typically miss out on valuable learning experiences, degrees, certifications and higher salaries leading to financial wealth. Most universities and colleges traditionally focus on academia centered on trade careers promoting students to enter sectors like nursing, healthcare, teaching, electrical, plumbing, etc. This leaves Tech companies with limited options for a diverse candidate pool.
The few eligible candidates who do make into the field can oftentimes face tough scrutiny from recruiters and hiring managers who may scrutinize and critique their technical abilities more so than candidates of other races. Those that receive a job offer become a very small minority group in the company where they face a whole new set of challenges. People of color in technology companies can often face racism, prejudice, conscious and unconscious bias, discrimination, sexism, harassment, and corporate abuse of power just to name a few. There will certainly need to be room for empathy and understanding that new employees have a learning curve that they can eventually master. This would help to alleviate some of the pressure for people of color to perform perfectly.
For true diversity and inclusion practices to succeed, buy in must also come from the top down. Company CEO must admit their shortcomings and invest in professionals with expertise in Learning and Development as well as Diversity and Inclusion. Once they have implemented and identified these key roles they can begin training and educating their staff teams to create organizational change while also outlining their goals on how to attract, recruit and hire a diverse pool of applicants. Hiring Managers and Onboarding Specialists are tasked with being the face of the welcoming committee to orient new staff members for a smooth transition into the company. Supervisors and team leaders perhaps have the most important roles in managing and leading that talent towards success by making everyone feel included. Team members make lasting impressions through their daily contact with the new staff. These are the key members who help to create a company’s culture which ultimately determines whether it becomes an exclusive or inclusive environment. True diversity allows a company to better innovate and increase its revenue, market share and stock value. To find out more information about diversity and inclusion in tech email us at firstname.lastname@example.org