The diversity and inclusion agenda in science and technology

One reason why there is still a lack of diversity in the science and technology sectors is because of our inherent belief that a certain gender or people from certain geographies are better at technology than others. The gender ratio in most engineering colleges continues to be skewed. Naturally, if fewer women are studying engineering or technology in schools and colleges, even fewer will end up entering the tech work force eventually.

Why is diversity in tech important?

Diversity is crucial in every aspect of work and life, and the technology space is no different. In fact, we need to think how we can use technology to push our diversity and inclusion (D&I) agenda. One way that I can think of integrating technology to push the diversity agenda in talent management, is having tech tools and resources to eliminate any information at the screening stage that points to one’s gender, race or ethnicity. This will make the entire hiring process fair and inclusive.

For Cactus, a technology company accelerating scientific advancement, our customer base is global and diverse, and only a diverse workforce can enable us to truly meet our customers’ needs by understanding their unique requirements and building strong relationships. A diverse team will guarantee you more varied, unique and innovative solutions to customer needs. Research also suggests that diverse teams are more productive and high performing than homogeneous teams.

The top reasons why a lack of diversity in tech remains a problem

This article will explore why a lack of diversity in tech remains a problem for organisations, despite efforts being made to mitigate this. Read here

What are organisations doing?

Increasingly, organisations are now becoming location agnostic, which automatically opens doors for a wider range of applicants. Organisations are also moving towards assessing candidates for hiring by using objective tests rather than relying on their interview assessments alone.

Women in key positions in tech are leading from the front and actively participating in hiring tech talent. Many technology companies now have dedicated diversity and inclusion goals. For instance, having clear mandates to hire women into tech roles to balance the gender ratio. Tech companies are also actively participating in hiring from the LGBTQ+ community. Sharing these targets and progress with employees will build trust and the goal will become a shared responsibility where, through initiatives like referral programmes, employees will also get to contribute to the company’s goals.

Organisations are becoming cognisant to making their policies inclusive, gender neutral and not rigid or biased towards certain groups. D&I is increasingly on everyone’s agenda, not just limited to leaders and HR personnel only. This creates a shared sense of responsibility and community across the entire organisation.

There is a huge opportunity for the tech industry to grow economically and physically by increasing its diverse workforce. For starters, we could consider tackling unconscious biases by training managers and leaders to recognise them. We can also support those returning to the organisation, as well promoting internships and ensuring equal pay.

Adapting hiring strategies

When it comes to hiring, one must walk the talk. Let your minority voices do the talking – what is it like for them to be working for your organisation as, say a woman or from the LGBTQ community? If your organisation has been able to bridge the gender pay gap in tech roles, showcase that to potential candidates. Another way would be to train women who have had a break in their career and upskill them to take on key tech roles. Hire and upskill students and candidates from allied fields and get them training and exposure to play core tech roles.

Nominations are now open for the 2022 Women in IT Awards – one of the largest technology diversity awards programme in the world

Over the last 18 months, we’ve seen some incredible dedication, transformations, and innovation from professionals and organisations alike – especially in the tech sector. And our 2022 Awards, now in its eighth year, aims to highlight the growth, continuity and results of these incredible women, allies, and organisations.

View the categories and nominate yourself or a colleague/peer who deserves to be recognised and celebrated.

What more can be done?

There is more that can be done to get more people from underrepresented groups into tech leadership roles. Just some of the few things include partnering with minority colleges to attract diverse talent, hiring minorities actively and partnering with groups that support minorities. Organisations can also mandate a percentage of women in key leadership roles and reassess the number each year, as well as mandating an equal split of successors to be women under a company’s succession planning. Companies can also actively support people who have had a break in their careers and encourage those working part time as well as single mothers, for example.

Bringing the diversity and inclusion agenda to the fore is critical in making progress. By reassessing these policies, and incorporating tech tools, organisations can help yield strong candidates who can help grow your team, enable your organisation to become more diverse and rise to leadership positions.

Written by Yashmi Pujara, chief human resources officer at Cactus Communications

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