Diversity = Profitability = Sorting Your Recruitment Strategy

Andrew Weaver
September 8, 2021

Despite some progress, lack of diversity in tech recruitment remains an issue.

Here in the UK, the number of women working in technology is significantly lower than most other work sectors, with just 17% of those working in technology being female.

Story in the US appears to be better but the overall tech industry remains overwhelmingly white and male. The bro culture still writ large across most tech companies, large and small.

But a lack of diversity – aside from being pretty dull – is highly likely to be having a negative impact on profitability, with a 2018 report from McKinsey [“Delivering Through Diversity”] indicating that gender diversity in management positions, increases profitability.

Employing people like me might be easier, but looks a lot less healthy from the perspective of the CEO, CFO and investors.

But it wasn’t just diversity in gender. The report also found that companies with more culturally and ethnically diverse executive teams were 33% more likely to see better than average profits.

An excellent article by Devskiller lists “14 reasons why diversity in tech still matters in 2018”, the headlines being ….

  • People think diversity in tech is important
  • Silicon Valley doesn’t think their own diversity initiatives are working
  • Diversity in tech is being misrepresented and needs to be refined
  • Diversity leads to better financial performance
  • Recruiting diverse candidates helps you get the best talent
  • Diversity in tech increases employee engagement
  • You can retain your best employees with a diverse workplace
  • Your developers are more satisfied in a diverse environment
  • Diverse teams do better work
  • Diverse teams build better products
  • Better innovation and productivity
  • Diversity makes your team more creative
  • Diversity contributes to better decision-making
  • Financiers who pay attention to diversity in tech gain access to untapped opportunities

Into the mix we introduce Forbes, who recently published a ‘Best Employers for Diversity 2019’ list. This ranked the US companies who have taken significant steps to improve diversity within their organisations.

They surveyed 50,000 Americans working for businesses with at least 1,000 employees, and produced a list of 500 companies achieving improvements with diversity.

Alas, only six companies listed under the category of “IT, Internet, Software and Services”, made their top 100 [for the record … SAP, Salesforce.com, Ultimate Software Group, Intuit, PayPal, Workday].

Professor Binna Kandola;

“There was once a sense that tech companies would not only be disruptive in the way business is carried out, but would be free of prejudices and biases seen in older, longer-established organisations. The tech companies would not be hide-bound by old-fashioned and traditional attitudes. Instead they would be open, liberal and fair. Unfortunately, whilst they are transforming the way business is conducted, their results as far as diversity is concerned, are just as bad, arguably worse, than more conventional companies.”

Despite the evidence of what can happen to the bottom line when companies become more diverse, and ongoing efforts in the UK, US and beyond to redress the current imbalance, it’s a drip feed of change, rather than a swift revolution.

Whilst some argue that more role models are needed to accelerate the shift, it also needs recruitment strategies to really drive change.

It’s too easy (and lazy) to say … “we advertised, but the only candidates were white and male” … in justifying the latest appointment of someone like you.

Perhaps you didn’t look far enough or long enough?

If diversity is likely to have a positive impact on your culture and profitability then it’s worth going that extra mile in your search. Extend the recruitment timeline, ensure you have a diverse range of candidates, hold back on an appointment if necessary.

Then of course, there has to be a conscious policy to challenge the risk of unconscious bias.

Razvan Creanga, CEO and co-founder of hackajob, thinks that high-tech solution may go some way to combat the issue. The use of artificial intelligence in recruiting has been trialled at a number of companies, and Creanga believes it might be a way of reducing unconscious bias:

“While highly skilled technical candidates from a diverse range of backgrounds are poised for work and actively seeking new roles, they are often overlooked for a variety of reasons, whether it’s due to unconscious bias, vacancies being offered to candidates who have previously worked for the company, or recruitment managers filling roles with a limited understanding of the technical skills required.

In order to become a truly diverse and unbiased workforce, the technology industry must move to a recruitment system that promotes meritocracy above all else. Candidates must be evaluated on their technical skills and strengths, and must be matched to a role based on these factors primarily, rather than the contents of their CV.”

Hiring people is rarely an easy process but goes without saying, it’s super crucial to the success of any company.

Putting in measures to ensure you’ve exhausted your search for the right fit and diversity, might cause short term delay but can deliver long term benefits.

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