December 20, 2019
Diversity. Inclusion. Equity.
All of these words are synonymous with one thing: opportunity. The opportunity to express and be yourself and to be respected for the person you are. The opportunity to thrive in life and be accepted. The opportunity to have the same advantage as the rest of the population regardless of race, gender, religion, status, or sexual orientation.
Over the years we have significantly increased diversity in the workplace. However, the technology sector, in particular, still has a long way to go in order to be truly inclusive. The disparities in place are still overwhelming, especially in larger tech companies like Amazon, which opted to not report their demographics of its tech workforce. Amazon stated that almost 42 percent of its workers were women and almost 42 percent of its US workers were black or Latino ending in 2018. However, those numbers include the vast majority of Amazon’s 647,000 employees and include those that work in its distribution centers, making it hard to determine how many of those employees are working in tech.
Facebook was the winner for diversity growth over the last five years. Their technical workforce is 23 percent female, up from 15 percent in 2014. Their overall racial & ethnicity diversity ratios were the highest growing with 41% of their tech force being a visible minority in 2014 up to 52% in 2019. While we have seen incredible efforts by many companies, other companies are letting us down. Some have gone so far as photoshopping women into pictures, as was the case with a picture from the GQ CEO summit from summer.
Another aspect of diversity that often overlooked and nearly always underrepresented in the tech sector is age. At HubSpot, 64% of the workforce is age 26-35 with only 3% of their staff aged 46+. Considering the 46+ population is the largest in history, these numbers are shocking and appalling.
At Sage, we make it a part of our company’s mission to ensure we recruit for diversity. In 2019, almost 40% of the hires made with the help of Sage were females, and almost 60% were minorities. Our biggest challenge is finding candidates that are over the age of 46, though we have been successful working with several candidates in this age group this year. To hire for diversity takes a concerted effort by the company doing the hiring. More and more STEM programs are starting across the country and more females and visible minorities are getting into these programs than ever before. According to an ongoing study by StatsCan from 2010 through 2015, 44% of first-year STEM students in Canada were women. Despite departures from the program, women still accounted for more than 40% of those who graduated from a STEM program or continued to a sixth year of STEM studies. A large part of attracting a more diverse pool of applicants lies in the branding of your company. More than 75% of job seekers consider an employer’s brand before even filling out an application. Recruiting diverse talent alone isn’t enough — there should be an equal focus on creating a culture of inclusion, where employees feel both valued and empowered.
Recruiting for diversity begins with fostering an inclusive environment. The primary way to showcase your commitment to diversity is through your company’s advertisements, job postings, corporate website, and above all else, by your team. Pay attention to the verbiage used in job postings; simple things like the use of masculine pronouns should be replaced with gender-neutral pronouns such as “the person”, or “the candidate. In addition, using extreme language like “expert”, “dominant”, or “compete”. Instead, using words like “motivational”, “tireless”.
As we mentioned in a previous article, acquiring talent is the easy part; retaining them requires hard work. The number one way to foster an inclusive workspace is to diversify your senior and executive teams. A diverse senior leadership team shows promise of opportunity and fosters the promise of growth opportunities that aren’t limited. Another way to encourage a diverse and inclusive environment is to celebrate differences. Small things like a potluck or acknowledging cultural celebrations of coworkers is a great way to not only showcase diversity, but to learn about other groups. If there is an intent made to make this a priority, solicit ideas from your team for activities outside of maintaining diversity statistics & filling seats.
Building an inclusive workforce isn’t an option; it is a responsibility. The benefits that a more diverse team can bring to organizations are instrumental in the success of the teams and the organization. Here’s to many more strides in diversity for 2020!