There has been a real focus on diversity in recent times, with all industries declaring their commitment to inclusivity. However, although there has been a significant improvement, things aren’t yet where they need to be, especially in some industries.
The technology sector is one where there’s still clear work to be done. Although there is the appetite for change, in the US 95% of the tech workforce is white and 76% of the technical positions are held by men.
Here’s a closer look at why diversity matters, and why it’s as important for the employer as the individual.
Research from Harvard suggests that when a team is more diverse, the performance is better. In studies, problem solving skills were enhanced and the team worked together more effectively when the members were diverse.
Part of the reason for this is cognitive differences. Different cultures, different life experiences and different perspectives provide individuals with a unique perspective and when these are brought together, the end result is far more efficient and rapid than a team where everyone thinks in a similar way.
The other reason is that diversity encourages people to speak up. In a room full of men, a lone woman might feel uncomfortable challenging the accepted status quo. In contrast, where there’s a table full of different individuals, it’s much easier to speak up.
Diversity is essential for innovative tech solutions. It’s not just about giving everyone an equal opportunity to work in tech, it’s also about the end user having the best, and most appropriate, solutions.
For example, the way a white man views a product, and its stumbling blocks, may be a very different reality to women or minority groups. If you don’t have these diverse voices included in the development, the tech product may not perform as a large proportion of the end users need. This means that the tech could fail simply due to the lack of diversity in the process.
One study shows that having a workforce which supports diversity has the potential to increase innovation by up to 83%. The representation of different voices is crucial to create solutions which genuinely work for all.
Numerous studies have shown that in a diverse workplace, levels of employee satisfaction increase. With greater productivity, lower absenteeism and fewer quality issues, it seems that proactively fostering an inclusive environment is valued by all employees.
It’s not just those within diverse groups who benefit from the change. Research demonstrates that the feel-good atmosphere is universal, with changes even in environments which have been traditionally all-male, such as tech development.
Inclusivity and improved employee satisfaction helps with staff turnover too.
Companies will be able to retain the best talent as well as attracting the cream of the crop, as word spreads about who’s a good company to work for.
Despite agreeing with the benefits of diversity in the workplace, there will be some who say that the best candidate for the role should be employed. While that’s true, there’s a problem in attracting diverse candidates, particularly when the workplace currently doesn’t show any signs of diversity or inclusivity. Within tech and other industries who are lagging behind, work still needs to be done on why candidates are so often white and male, and what can be done to attract the best talent from diverse groups.
Promoting diversity is essential for progress within the modern world, and it’s vital for everyone to have representation. However, diversity benefits employers as much as employees, so for many different reasons, the tech sector needs to redouble its efforts to improve its stats on diversity in the workplace.