Diversity in Tech Tips – by Pearl Kasirye

The tech industry is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world. We live in a digital era where technology has become an essential part of our daily lives and work processes. For this reason, we need tech companies that create software that improves our lives, cybersecurity agencies that protect our online data, and experts who develop new technologies annually.

There is a high demand for technology and people who specialize in this field. What strikes me the most is the lack of diversity in such an essential industry like tech. Are the most qualified people always white and male? Or are other groups of people intentionally underrepresented?

According to the Pew Research Center, women are not only underrepresented in the tech industry but are also underpaid. The research shows that white males are an overwhelming majority in STEM fields, which is particularly true for tech. This does not bode well for diversity and inclusion efforts, and it’s not a good trend to follow for the rest of our lives.

Some companies specialize in tech recruitment and consulting that find ways to address the gender and racial inequalities in the tech industries. Mercator IT Solutions is one of those companies that is paving the way for others to improve the diversity of their teams.

Gender Diversity

Sarah Bennett, the CIO at Mercator IT Solutions, shared how the company approaches recruitment to be more inclusive. Bennett states, “When posting an advert for a role, we have always ensured that wording is clear, not littered with industry-serving terminology, and there is no reference to gender. Within the last year in our permanent workforce, we have increased the number of female employees by 1% and the number of employees from an ethnic minority by 9%.”

By avoiding referencing gender in job adverts, Mercator positions itself as a gender-neutral company that focuses on qualifications and experience rather than gender-specific attributes. Their leadership team also has women, which is a good indicator of gender diversity in the company.

Tech companies need to be intentional with the phrasing they use in their job adverts because they can deter promising candidates from applying. Adding information about the company’s commitment to diversity and empowering women in tech can be a great way to show that your company is welcoming and approachable. It might not seem like much, but it does make an impact.

Geographical Diversity

By creating more opportunities from around the country, companies can diversify their teams and have people with valuable experiences and unique perspectives to enrich their workforce.

Bennett states, “All roles are now flexible in terms of location, ensuring the office itself does not present a barrier to employment.” By doing this, people who live in different parts of the country aren’t automatically rejected. This is essential because not all the best talent can be found in urban cities. Mercator IT Solutions provides more opportunities for people that aren’t strictly dependent on their location.

The tech industry isn’t reliant on in-person contact, so remote/hybrid work options should always be available to give workers more flexibility.  Industries like tech, digital marketing, media relations, and many others can greatly benefit from having geographically diverse teams.

Deepak Shukla managed to do this with his organization where he has employees in Asia, Europe, Africa, North America, and South America. Their experiences, perspectives and drive help his organization grow and stand out from competitors.

This can be done, it has been done, and it should be an example that companies don’t have to be so rigid about geographical factors when they work in industries that don’t require employees to be in-person. That’s the beauty of this digital era, it’s opening more doors for the underrepresented!

Racial Diversity

When a team of diverse workers conducts interviews, you’ll have a much easier time finding diverse candidates and evaluating applicants with different backgrounds. It’s also a great way to show applicants that the company is inclusive and welcoming of people from diverse backgrounds.

Bennett continues, “In 2021, we signed up to the Race at Work Charter, and we have taken steps to ensure interviews are now always conducted by more diverse panels. Skills tests are provided before the interview to reduce the likelihood of bias.”

This is a great strategy to use when you want to ensure that your recruitment process is truly inclusive.

Tips for Building Diverse Teams

We asked Sarah Bennett about what advice she would give other tech companies trying to diversify their teams. Bennett said, “We provided training for all staff with additional training/courses/seminars for senior management. Senior management also talked to staff in a “reverse mentoring” fashion to help gain better knowledge and understanding.”

Bennett continues, “In addition, the flexibility gained from remote working has meant that we have reached out to geographical locations to which our offices would previously have been inaccessible.”

Here are some actionable tips:

  1. Invest in cultural sensitivity training of staff (especially people in senior management positions)
  2. Cultivate a diverse team of hiring managers who will make the recruitment process more inclusive
  3. Be flexible about locations and offer remote/hybrid work options to increase the diversity of your team
  4. Go out of your way to empower underrepresented people in your company to foster a healthy work environment for them

Final Thoughts

Building a diverse team is possible when you follow the right tips. It’s also sustainable long-term when your staff is well-trained and is intentional about inclusivity.


Photo by fauxels from Pexels

Pearl M. Kasirye

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