Diversity is not just a buzzword!
It’s a critical aspect of the tech industry that can drive innovation, improve performance, and create a more inclusive environment for everyone.
But how can we enhance gender diversity in tech?
But despite its importance, there is still a long way to go before we can honestly say we have achieved diversity in the tech sector.
I will delve into the current state of diversity in Australia, explore WHY we need more diversity, and suggest some practical strategies to improve it.
First things first…
The Importance of diversity in the tech industry
Diversity in the tech industry is essential for several reasons.
Firstly, it fosters innovation.
Diverse teams bring together various perspectives, experiences, and ideas that can lead to more creative and effective solutions.
Secondly, diversity promotes inclusivity.
We can create a more equitable industry by ensuring everyone feels valued and included regardless of their background or identity.
“Without inclusion diversity can never thrive”
Lastly, diversity is good for business.
Numerous studies have shown that companies with diverse workforces are more profitable and successful.
Current statistics in Australia’s tech industry
Despite these benefits, diversity in Australia’s tech industry needs to catch up.
Currently, only 31% of the tech workforce is women.
This shows a significant gender gap in the industry, which must be addressed to ensure that the tech sector genuinely represents the population it serves.
The gender gap in Australia’s tech industry is only the tip of the iceberg.
Beyond this, there are also disparities in terms of race, ethnicity, ability, and other aspects of identity.
Despite making up a significant portion of the population, people from these groups are often underrepresented in the tech industry.
I believe it is up to each one of us to make DEI a priority in our workplaces.
Benefits of diversity in tech
Diversity in the tech industry brings so many benefits.
Firstly, it promotes innovation by bringing together different perspectives and ideas.
This enables businesses to understand better and serve a diverse customer base. (We don’t just create products and services for one gender or type of person, right!)
Without a diverse team, biases can be built into technology, leading to products that do not meet the needs of a diverse user base. This could result in exclusionary practices and even harm to certain user groups.
Secondly, diversity enhances problem-solving capabilities and decision-making processes, leading to better business performance.
Companies with a diverse workforce tend to have better brand reputations and are more attractive to potential employees.
Ultimately, the tech industry plays a significant role in shaping our society and future.
If the industry is not representative of the population it serves, it risks developing technologies that do not meet everyone’s needs and could prolong existing biases and inequalities.
Unconscious bias in recruiting and promotions
One of the main barriers to achieving diversity in tech is unconscious bias.
We are unaware of these biases, but they can influence our decisions and actions.
We all have some level of unconscious bias, most of which is CAUGHT, not TAUGHT.
It is up to everyone to become aware of it, as then we have the power to change it!
In the context of the tech industry, unconscious bias can affect recruitment and promotion processes, leading to a lack of diversity in the workforce.
When I started my tech recruitment career over a decade ago, I could count on one hand how many women hiring managers I spoke to and women I placed. This is why I am so passionate about creating change!
The industry has traditionally been male-dominated, and this can lead to stereotypes and beliefs that women are not suited for tech roles.
We cannot be what we cannot see, which is why representation matters so much and why I founded Sisterhood Club to showcase what a tech career can look like whilst elevating the voices already working in it.
A lack of gender diversity can discourage women from pursuing careers in tech and limit their opportunities within the industry.
Finally, the lack of support systems and mentorship for underrepresented groups can also hinder diversity.
Without adequate support and guidance, women may face challenges in navigating the industry and advancing their careers.
So, what can be done to improve DEI within the tech sector?
A question I ask myself multiple times a day.
I am grateful to have spoken with leading experts in this space on my podcast, Career Confidence.
So here are some ideas and strategies to consider;
1. Promote gender diversity in education:
We can all play a part in encouraging young girls to pursue STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) subjects from an early age. Provide support and resources to schools and organisations that promote girls’ participation in these fields.
2. Offer mentorship and sponsorship programs:
By creating mentorship programs that connect underrepresented groups with experienced professionals in the tech industry, mentors can provide guidance, support, and networking opportunities to help individuals overcome barriers and advance their careers.
3. Implement diversity and inclusion initiatives:
Companies should prioritise diversity and inclusion by setting goals, establishing metrics, and holding leadership accountable for progress. This includes creating diverse hiring panels, implementing bias training, and actively seeking diverse candidates.
4. Expand recruitment efforts:
To reach more diverse talent pools, look to partner with organisations focused on diversity and inclusion (like CH Solutions and Sisterhood Club). Or look to host or sponsor networking events and offer internships and scholarships to underrepresented individuals.
5. Create inclusive workplaces:
Without inclusivity and belonging, diversity can never thrive. Foster a culture of inclusivity within the organisation by promoting diversity at all levels and providing equal opportunities for career advancement. This can include implementing flexible work policies, promoting work-life balance, and addressing unconscious bias in performance reviews.
6. Collaborate with diversity-focused organisations:
Partner with organisations that focus on promoting diversity in the tech industry, such as Women Who Code, Sisterhood Club and Code Like a Girl. Companies can broaden their networks and access a more diverse talent pool by collaborating and supporting these organisations.
7. Prioritise diversity in leadership positions:
Companies should strive for diversity not only in entry-level positions but also in leadership roles and C-Suite. Having diverse representation at the top can help drive change and create a more inclusive environment for all employees (remember, we cannot be what we cannot see)
8. Encourage allyship:
Encourage employees to become allies and advocates for underrepresented groups. This can include participating in employee resource groups, attending diversity and inclusion workshops, and actively challenging and addressing bias in the workplace.
💡Final thoughts on the journey towards a more diverse tech industry
The journey towards a more diverse tech industry is challenging, but it is one that we must undertake.
The benefits of diversity are clear – from promoting innovation to creating a more inclusive and thriving industry.
However, achieving this diversity requires effort from everyone in the tech sector.
Senior leaders play a crucial role in driving this change. We need to not only talk about the importance of diversity but also take action to promote it.
Only then can we truly achieve a diverse tech industry that benefits us all.