Employers claim to prioritise diversity, employees remain dubious

Career

Younger tech workers don’t believe diversity initiatives are working, according to research by Wiley Edge.

The training provider found that 10% of people aged 18 to 24 working in tech claim any efforts their employers are making to improve diversity in their business are not working, and 12% said diversity is not a priority where they work.

But 53% of employers claimed they are actively working to increase the diversity profile of their technology teams.

Becs Roycroft, senior director of global emerging talent at Wiley Edge, said: “These findings highlight the importance of not only implementing anti-bias recruitment tactics, but also ensuring that these tactics are communicated to existing employees.

“Doing so can make a big difference to the way that young people perceive their employer and provide them with the reassurance they might need that improving diversity is genuinely a priority for them.”

While ongoing efforts are being made by industry, government and education providers to address the lack of diversity in the technology sector, there are still diversity gaps. BCS figures from 2020 found that women made up 17% of tech workers, 8% of IT specialists were of Indian ethnicity, 2% were from a black, African, Caribbean or black British background, and 2% from Pakistani or Bangladeshi backgrounds.

When it comes to the reasons for this lack of diversity, many point towards a lack of inclusive culture as a barrier to attracting and retaining diverse talent for the tech sector.

Some avoid the sector altogether because they don’t see others like them in tech roles or do not consider their skills good enough for the sector, and in some cases people already in the industry end up leaving because of a lack of inclusion. Around 10% of tech employers believe their efforts to improve diversity in their teams has worked, and 9% believe their tech teams are already diverse.

The steps firms are taking to advance diversity varies, with 40% saying they have invested in anti-bias training for managers, 88% of which said it led to an improvement in diversity in their tech teams, and 38% requesting diverse candidate lists when hiring.

When it comes to recruitment practices, 39% make an effort to ensure job descriptions are neutral, and 32% anonymise CVs so they don’t know the gender or ethnicity of the person when making a decision.

Just over half of employers say these steps have led to a significant improvement in the diversity of tech teams, and 37% said there have been improvements but more needs to be done.

Previous research by Wiley Edge found that more than half of businesses are struggling to recruit young people from diverse backgrounds, with many young people claiming to have had negative experiences in the industry, in some cases causing them to leave the sector completely.

It was suggested that bad culture in organisations was to blame for young people’s poor experiences, and more needed to be done to address the lack of diversity and inclusive culture in the sector.

Its current research found that just over a third of young people have noticed the efforts made to improve the diversity of tech teams, and 27% said diversity practices are a focus for firms when hiring.

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