How do you truly promote diversity in the tech industry?
The truth is that the tech industry has long struggled with diversity and inclusivity in the workplace. Billions of dollars have been poured into making tech companies adhere to diversity and inclusion. However, despite the huge investment, by and large, progress has been very limited for the typical tech company.
Just look at big tech companies, for instance. In the last five years, data shows that from a mere three percent, Meta has only increased its hiring of Black employees by eight-tenths percent. Moreover, Apple’s workforce in 2019 was nine percent Black employees and only three percent of Black employees occupied leadership roles.
On the whole, the tech industry not only has a perennial talent shortage crisis, but it also has a lingering diversity problem.
In the high-tech labor force, 62 percent of all workers are White. Regarding ethnic diversity, 20 percent are Asians, eight percent are Hispanic, and only seven percent are Black. More than racial or ethnic diversity, the gender gap is more apparent. On the national average in the United States, 75 percent of all tech workers are men, while only 25 percent are women.
Women, Native American, Asian, Latino, and other minorities almost always find themselves at a disadvantage in filling roles within a tech company. The gap also seems to be much more apparent when it comes to leadership positions.
The recent Summit Focus Sessions hosted by Great Place to Work cast the spotlight on the CEO and co-founder of Bitwise Industries, Irma Olguin Jr. This California-based tech firm boasts a 99 percent GPTW rating.
How did this company manage to do this, and what makes this tech firm such a winner when it comes to diversity and inclusion?
Diversity in Tech: Making the Main Thing THE Main Thing
According to Olguin, despite Bitwise Industries branching out from the workforce to tech services and onto real estate, it has always remained on its root mission to drive equity in the tech industry.
Advancing equity is the mission that Bitwise Industries has placed upon its shoulders. The tech company was able to realize this by proactively hiring individuals who come from underrepresented communities within the tech sector. However, this tech firm takes it a step further by deliberately creating a welcoming and supportive workplace around its workers.
Beginning in 2013, the tech company used a three-pronged approach to draw people from poverty and marginalization into promising careers as part of a wider pool of tech talent and empowered workers.
Honing a Diverse Workforce
Olguin narrates that Bitwise Industries actively recruits workers from non-traditional backgrounds and puts them in tech pre-apprenticeships and apprenticeship classes while at the same time surrounding them with a supportive environment.
This tech company also makes it a point to drive teamwork and to learn from one another, a cornerstone of their company culture. It has welcomed students, apprentices, entrepreneurs, and CEOs from major tech companies to train and inspire the tech firm’s diverse tech talent. The company has also revitalized historic buildings as part of its real estate investments and turned them into avenues of learning and support for diverse talent.
This solid commitment to tech diversity by championing racial equity, gender diversity, and underrepresented communities has been groundbreaking in California and the United States.
Since 2013, Bitwise has trained more than 10,000 students. Of these, 80 percent have already entered the tech industry. These workers have tripled their income from 21,000 USD to 63,000 USD yearly. After three years, many see their incomes surpass the 80,000 USD mark.
As for its current workforce, Bitwise is a stunning testament to diversity and inclusion in the tech industry.
Sixty percent of its trainees are either female or non-binary. Sixty percent are also Black and Brown. Additionally, close to half of them are first-generation Americans or undocumented immigrants. Interestingly, one in every 20 workers is a veteran, while one in 50 was formerly incarcerated.
Hiring Practices Worth Rethinking
Many employers and hiring managers claim that hiring tech talent has been difficult. So much so that maintaining a diverse and inclusive workforce would be a much more daunting task if hiring competent tech workers is already an issue.
However, as per Olguin’s report, many hiring practices still exist that perpetuate instead of attempting to dismantle the homogenous workforce that is very apparent in the tech industry.
How many of these hiring practices does your tech firm still adhere to?
Let’s face it. Many hiring managers and employers often think twice about hiring people who were formerly incarcerated, unhoused, or former veterans. Worse, many tech companies also do not proactively hire women employees or people of color. Especially in leadership positions, hence showing that the invisible and invincible glass ceiling still exists.
This renders the workforce less diverse, less inclusive, and, therefore – less innovative. Additionally, even if more tech companies are now open to diversity, equality, and inclusion (DEI) when accepting new hires. Many of the same tech firms still fail miserably in implementing programs that aim to remove the barriers to their DEI efforts.
The reason why so many women, ethnic minorities, and marginalized groups do not have a fair shot at a tech job is because of the systemic and societal barriers that prevent underrepresented groups from entering and succeeding in the tech industry. These include a lack of access to resources and education, unconscious bias in hiring and promotion practices, and a lack of representation and role models in the industry.
Efforts to address these barriers, such as diversity and inclusion initiatives, targeted outreach and mentorship programs are important for promoting greater equity in the tech industry.
What does this mean to you as an employer?
For your company to succeed in its DEI efforts, do not begin and end with the hiring process. It would be best if you invested considerably in creating policies and a company culture that will translate into a welcoming and supportive environment for underrepresented groups. You can do this by:
- Implementing fair and transparent hiring practices that reduce unconscious bias and increases underrepresented groups’ representation.
- Providing training and resources for employees to better understand and address issues of diversity and inclusion.
- Prioritizing the career development and advancement of underrepresented groups.
- Encouraging and supporting employee resource groups for underrepresented groups.
- Encouraging diversity in the candidates for leadership positions.
- Partnering with organizations that focus on increasing diversity in the tech industry.
- Setting goals and tracking progress toward increasing diversity and inclusion in your company.
By proactively removing barriers preventing ethnic minorities and all genders from successfully entering your company, you create a real and tangible supportive work environment for all. A great working environment that ensures your efforts at diversity, equality, and inclusion are genuinely taking shape and coming alive within your tech company.
DAVIS COMPANIES IS HERE TO HELP WITH YOUR COMPANY’S DEI EFFORTS.
The expert recruiters at DAVIS Companies provide support and guidance towards ensuring that you hire top tech talents that adhere to the best DEI initiatives. We will use the DAVIS Way to eliminate any obstacles preventing you from a diverse, equal, and inclusive workforce.
Let our experienced and reputable recruiters help you in finding the best and most diverse tech talent for your firm. Talk to us today!