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Diversity in Tech Industry



Tech career is verified to be one of the most promising careers in the world. However, the diversity gap is the prevailing problem in the tech industry that has gotten global attention.


The diversity gap plays out in the vast disparity or imbalance according to Built In's 2022 report among age, gender, race, sexual orientation, socio-economic class, physical ability, religious or ethical values system, national origin, and ethnicity factors. Many tech companies have been trying to shrink the diversity gap. However, the problem of the diversity gap continues to be an issue today.


With the great resignation and reshuffle aftermath of the pandemic, lack of information, poor encouragement for females, and exclusive company culture affecting the progress of leveling up the diversity gap, many organizations are yet to access innovative ideas and talents at their peak.


The State of Diversity in Tech


Diversity in tech denotes the representation and inclusion of all people of varying age, gender, race, sexual orientation, socioeconomic class, physical ability, ethical values system, national origin, and ethnicity in tech. It includes all people of different qualities in the hiring process, company culture, job or technical roles, and every other aspect of organization operations.

As a sector with 13% growth trajectories, and potential work benefits and opportunities, it falls behind the expectations of representative diversity.

The narrative is that white men largely occupy the workforce in the tech industry. Many tech organizations have begun turning the narrative around with inclusion efforts and strategies to include the LGBTQ community, people of color, women, and multicultural company culture.


Diverse talent

Diverse talent is crucial to driving innovation and increasing productivity. There are hundreds of thousands of job openings that tech companies struggle to fill yearly. Does this mean that there are no qualified talents to fill these openings? Are people not reacting enough to tech job postings?

One problem that impedes diversity in most tech organizations and the filling of skill gaps is the filter problem. In the early recruitment process, organizations filter out diverse and talented individuals based on age, gender, and race from job postings to interviews.

Hiring managers using a particular network to assess a talent pool worsens the issue of diversity. Exploring a specific channel with a limited or non-diverse community of job seekers restrains access to talents from diverse backgrounds. Organizations can increase diversity using two or more agencies with diverse networks.


People with diverse cognition, backgrounds, ideologies, and cultures drive technological advancements.

Diverse workforce

According to Zippia's research findings on the level of exclusivity and diversity of the tech industry in the United States:

  • Men hold 75 percent of tech job positions, and women have 25 percent

  • White Americans hold 62 percent of tech jobs,

  • African Americans hold 7 percent,

  • Latin Americans hold 8 percent, and

  • Asian Americans hold 20 percent.

The high-tech industry, compared with industries in general, employs more:

  • White workers (68.5%); industries in general (63.5%),

  • Asian Americans (14%); industries in general (5.8%),

  • men (64%); industries in general (52%)

The high-tech industry, in comparison with industries in general, employs a smaller proportion of:

  • Black Americans (7.4%); industries in general (14.4%),

  • Latinx Americans (8%); industries in general (13.9%), and

  • Women (36%); industries in general( 48%)

The findings above show that the tech sector has only been advancing technologically but is far behind in human diversity growth.

Gender diversity in tech


More women are taking up roles in the tech industry, thanks to motivations from schools or colleges, parents, friends, and female role models.

From the top position of leadership representation, management, and the general workforce in the tech sector, women constitute the minority group. According to a Silicon Valley Bank report in 2020, over half of U.S. tech start-ups do not have women in leadership positions. That leaves about 40 percent of start-ups with at least one woman in a leadership position -

  • C-Suite Executive (41%)

  • Board of Directors (37%)

  • Founding team (28%)

  • CEO (14%)

Meanwhile, 30% of tech start-ups had programs to enhance gender diversity. The report also indicates that the Female technologist workforce is made up of:

  • 25.9% in 2018

  • 26.2% in 2019

  • 28.8% in 2020

As of 2021 female workforce in 4 major tech companies stand:

  • Facebook (24%)

  • Apple (24%)

  • Google (25%)

  • Microsoft (23%)

More women are taking up roles in the tech industry, thanks to motivations from schools or colleges, parents, friends, and female role models.


Age diversity

Another crucial area where tech companies fall short. Tech companies have been under fire for acts of marginalization and discrimination of workers due to their age and age segregation in the recruitment process. Age segregation is perpetuated by restricting job ads to a specific age group and is sometimes clearly stated in job descriptions.

The high-tech companies, particularly Silicon Valley, are known for ageism. Ageism can take the form of direct or implicit bias. That is, the refusal to hire seasoned workers of a particular age downwards irrespective of their experiences and skills. In addition, they deny them work benefits and promotions or lay them off to replace them with people of lesser age.

Ageism is perpetuated on the perspective that older workers are not adventurous, energetic, technology inclined, and not flexible enough to work in tech companies.

Racial diversity

The world is an entity filled with people of various races that ought to co-exist in an equitable world. However, reality in the tech space falls short of this due to systemic racism. Racial bias is evident in all areas of the life of people of color - education, entrepreneurship, justice, human rights, health, employment, and particularly tech.

As a result of the unbalanced racial diversity in tech, minority groups are yet to enjoy the benefits and opportunities of tech careers. Racism in tech goes way back to the accessibility of tech-oriented courses (computer science and engineering), digital skills, job opportunities, and career growth.

The population growth of underrepresented communities (minority groups) in the technology sector—from general job positions, C-Suite, founding executive director, co-founder, and other leadership roles are barely significant.

The trend of white dominance in many tech companies keeps the minority group under represented - African American and Hispanic workers.

Data from Pew Research Center elucidates the levels of Hispanic and Black representation in STEM jobs. In comparison, with the U.S. workforce in general, Black workers make up 9 percent of the STEM workforce, compared to their composition of all employed U.S. adults, which is 11 percent. Black workers make up 5 percent of the workforce in engineering and architecture jobs and 6 percent in life and physical science jobs.

Hispanic workers represent 8 percent of the STEM workforce, compared to their composition of all employed adults in the U.S. at 17 percent.

Meanwhile, White workers constitute 67 percent STEM job workforce compared with their population of 63 percent of all jobs in America. They also comprise 71 percent of engineers and 62 percent of computer workers in America.


Why does diversity matter to tech companies?

Humans are the fundamental drivers of innovation. In an endeavor to make life better and solve problems, humans develop problem-solving ideas and transform them into usable products. Technological advancement aims at solving problems and making business and life, in general, easier and more productive.

People with diverse cognition, backgrounds, ideologies, and cultures drive technological advancements.

In the same vein, a company having employees of different gender, ages, race, or ethnicity results in having diverse employees with diverse cognitive capacities and approaches, beliefs, experiences, skills, and backgrounds. It can be the necessary boost to drive extraordinary ideation crucial to solving real-world problems.

Tech teams undergo a series of ideation processes. Cognitive diversity can be the necessary prerequisite for problem-solving ideation. Having diverse employees can translate to having tech workers with diverse perspectives. Thus, each team member's reasoning and approach toward new, uncertain, and complex situations differ. Also, how they deploy their skills and expertise and that of others to solve problems.


Tech teams undergo a series of ideation processes. Cognitive diversity can be the necessary prerequisite for problem-solving ideation.

Barriers to a diverse tech workforce


Lack of information

Information is salient to decision-making and everyday living. The quality and quantity of information one have influences decision-making and actions. Many youths do not have access to enough information about tech careers and everything it entails.

There is a need for high schools and colleges to provide tech career orientation programs. It will help youths make informed decisions to consider STEM or any related courses to explore careers in tech.

According to Mthree research on tech diversity, 44 percent of female respondents between the ages of 18-28 did not have access to any information or resources to help them learn about tech career opportunities, compared with 33% of the informed males.

Access to education and skill development programs

One of the challenges of improving diversity is the under-representation of women and minority groups in STEM courses. These are computer science, information science, engineering, physics, statistics, e.t.c. Despite the efforts to create more inclusion of female genders and minorities in STEM courses, the field is still far away from achieving sustainable equity for all genders and races. Women represent

  • 16 percent of Bachelor’s degree holders in computer and information sciences,

  • 21 percent of Bachelor’s degree holders in engineering and engineering technology

  • 27 percent of Bachelor’s degree holders in economics

  • 38 percent of Bachelor’s degree holders in physical sciences.

According to the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics report, the composition of women from various races in comparison to men in the population of STEM degree recipients:

  • Men: 61.1%

  • Women: 38.9%

  • White Women: 23.3%

  • Asian Women: 5.0%

  • Hispanic/Latina Women: 4.6%

  • Black Women: 2.9%

  • American Indian or Alaska Native Women: 0.16%

  • More than one race: 1.5%

Self-doubt

Self-doubt is a blocker for some individuals who want to build a tech career. Mthree findings indicate that some young people are skeptical about venturing into tech. They are worried that they do not have the right qualifications or educational background and do not have enough knowledge about the various available technology jobs.

Discrimination and Bias

The tech space is known for discrimination and bias towards gender, color, and age. People have charged big tech companies like Facebook and IBM with a lawsuit for age discrimination. The tech structure has a systemic bias that limits underrepresented groups, access to benefits, and their pursuits for career growth.

Old is used to label workers as weak and non-tech savvy. People encounter ageism during the recruitment process. It is difficult for people aged 40 and above to change careers in tech. The restrictions in job ads prevent people from applying or transitioning into tech.


Work Culture

Work culture sets the tone for the atmosphere of a company. A positive work culture promotes employee enthusiasm, team efficiency, and productivity.


Women feel unwelcome in tech-related roles due to their gender, ethnicity, and socio-economic background. In Mthree research, 75% of all female respondents affirmed feeling uncomfortable. Likewise, 69% of Hispanic and Latino respondents and 81% of Black and African American respondents.

Women in a workplace environment that was initially male-dominated struggle to fit into the workplace. That is because the work policies, culture, and system are male-oriented.

How can Tech Companies enhance diversity in the tech workforce?


Diversity is vital for every tech company that desires to enhance productivity and sustain its economic relevance. Thus it is necessary to redesign and structure the workplace environment to accommodate more diversity and inclusion.


Access to more entry-level roles

An entry-level job position is a tremendous strategic medium for improving diversity in tech. Some people - undergraduates, college graduates, and non-tech workers- need entry-level positions to launch and build their careers in tech. Companies can attract more diverse talent through recruitment efforts geared towards creating entry-level tech job opportunities for new grads and career changers.


Alongside creating entry-level jobs, hiring managers need to consult various recruiting resources with reservoirs of diverse talent from different regions to get diverse candidates into tech.


Encouragement of resource groups

Another way a tech company can strengthen diversity and inclusion efforts is to promote employee resource groups in the workplace. An employee resource group can help employees of common characteristics form a healthy and supportive safe space. It is beneficial for emotional, professional, and career needs and development.


Consider geographical recruitment strategy.

Geographical inclusivity is another means to increase diversity. Sometimes, companies need to go beyond their geographical location to access new hires to increase the representation of minorities. The two means to that are remote work systems and establishing satellite offices. Availing tech job opportunities in locations close by or within the under-represented communities will provide diverse candidates for hire.


Improve leadership representation

Representation of minorities in leadership roles can make a company's effort to build sustainable equity in the work workplace easier. Diversity in leadership positions improves business productivity and enables companies to rank high in the business community.


A McKinsey report indicates that companies with above 30 percent women executives have higher chances to surpass companies with a percentage ranging from 10 to 30. In addition, these companies with less than 30 percent women executives are more likely to overtop those with fewer women executives or none.


The report also rates the differential likelihood of outperformance between the company with the most female executive and other tech companies with the least female executives at 48 percent.


Sensitize employees towards diversity in tech

To create a positive and conducive company culture for female genders and other underrepresented groups in the company, employers need to invest more in inclusion training for their employees. Also, erasing non-inclusive language and work system requires conscious efforts.


Conclusion

Diversity in tech is salient for having a bank of diverse ideas to drive problem-solving creativity and innovation, enhance business efficiency and revenue, and create a better standard of living for minority communities.


Today, big tech such as Amazon, Facebook, and others are investing in diversity and inclusion of underrepresented groups to create an equitable world. There is the need for more collaborative efforts from high schools, colleges, media, career coaches or counselors, and managers to develop and support great diversity initiatives capable of driving in and accommodating more tech talent into the tech space.

See Also

How to get into Tech

How companies can resolve the skill gap in tech with funded skill training

7 high-paying job titles in tech, which one will be yours?


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