Two-thirds (68%) of businesses feel there's a lack of diversity in their technology workforce, but less than half (46%) are actively addressing the issue within tech teams, according to a WILEY survey of more than 2,000 early career tech workers and 270 business leaders released earlier this month.
Half of young tech workers reported leaving or wanting to leave a tech job because the company culture made them feel uncomfortable or unwelcome. Among women of color surveyed, the number increases to 57%.
The discomfort among underrepresented tech workers starts early in the hiring process. Six in 10 (64%) survey respondents believe the technology job recruitment process discriminates against people from minority backgrounds.
To support a diverse workforce, ingraining inclusivity into workplace culture aligns the effort to business missions to support long-term development.
"When organizations seek to provide a wide variety of minds with the right training and opportunities, they will organically increase the talent pool and attract a diverse group of candidates," Jesse Kinser, CISO at Pathwire, said in an email.
Instead of treating diversity as a box to check, leadership should work continuously to diversify and support the workforce, according to Kinser.
Lack of diversity and inclusion isn't a pipeline issue, but instead an issue that organizations and tech leaders can solve. Individual employees would have more trouble garnering systemic change than those already in leadership positions.
Terms like "lean in" and "work-life balance" set women in technology up for failure, according to Kate Nowrouzi, VP, deliverability & product strategy at Pathwire. "What both of these terms fail to account for is the fact that succeeding is not solely the responsibility of individual women and completely disregards the barriers that societal structures can place around them."
Nearly seven in 10 (68%) young technology workers say they've felt uncomfortable in a job because of their gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic background, or neurodevelopmental condition, according to the WILEY report. The number increases to 77% among women of color.
"To create an inclusive environment, we have to remove the behaviors that progressively teach marginalized employees that they are not valued," by confronting problematic behaviors, Christie Struckman, research vice president at Gartner, told CIO Dive via email.
Question the implicit bias that impacts hiring and promotion decisions, Struckman said. Marginalized employees often feel they have to do more to be considered equal while leadership may gravitate toward candidates that are similar to themselves.
"If a new opportunity arises and there are no women/persons of color on the short list, ask why," Struckman said. It's a chance to give an opportunity to new candidates and leadership can help candidates develop into the role.
Diversity and inclusion is good for business, too. "The business case for diversity is very clear: Organizations have higher profit, higher revenue, higher productivity and more innovation with diverse teams," Struckman said.