The business case for increasing workplace diversity is exceptionally clear – from the fact that companies with the most diverse boards having 53% higher returns on equity than those in the bottom 25% to diverse businesses having an average of 19% higher revenue due to increased innovation, and diversity being an essential quality that 88% of job seekers are looking for in employers. Finally, with Australia suffering a severe lack of IT workers and every business desperately needing them, it’s a good way to get the talent every digitised business needs!
The good news is that the tech sector offers arguably the fastest-growing and most secure jobs in the country, as well as some of the most flexible work options. This makes it a very attractive sector for everyone. It also half the gender pay gap of other high-paying industries, which serves to help encourage women – who currently only make up ¼ of the tech workforce – to enter the industry.
But how exactly does a business go about becoming more diverse? Like any other strategy, it has to be put into practice the right way to actually see those returns.
With that in mind, here are our tips.
Best practices for increasing diversity in any business!
- Make it a team effort – Teambuilding is a great way to immerse your team in diversity. Your team is probably already somewhat diverse, so approach your team members about creating diversity initiative events – and make it fun! You want to celebrate and value differences after all!
- Invest in interpersonal training – There’s a lot of evidence that unconscious bias training and similar approaches simply don’t work – in fact, they can actually reinforce negative feelings and biases! Instead, interpersonal skill training is a much more effective way to go, teaching staff how to communicate, build relationships, deal with conflict, and understand both themselves and the people around them better.
- Upskill and reskill – Unfortunately, the government’s $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund which is designed to meet critical skills gaps in the tech sector doesn’t support reskilling women or other minorities from other sectors to allow them to enter the tech industry. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do it! Building your own talent pipeline by identifying people interested in entering IT and getting them the right qualification and skills for the job fills those gaps in your teams. Not only that, but it also encourages loyalty and high performance because those individuals can see you’ve invested in them. This is especially notable for women in the tech sector because studies have shown that women tend to move into IT between 25 and 30 as a mid-or-early career transition.
- Try out blind hiring, not quotas – Quotas tend to raise hackles wherever they’re introduced, not only setting staff against people who are perceived to be there simply because they ticked a box, but also harming the self-worth and confidence of the individual involved. A much easier option than trying to implement quotas and fight the backlash is to use blind hiring. This uses automated, customised tests to vet applicants for a role based on their skill – not their name, school, university, race, gender, or anything else. It simplifies a lot of the areas where businesses tend to struggle to eliminate unconscious bias from the hiring process, paring it down to what matters most – if the person can get the job done well or not.
- Measure your KPIs – In the tech and business world, KPIs are everything when it comes to showing us what’s working and what isn’t. It’s no different for diversity and inclusion, as it is an investment where you want to see good returns. Rather than lining your staff up every quarter and collecting data on their gender, ethnicity, or culture (please don’t do this), there are much more important KPIs to measure. This includes the diversity of applicants (if you are using blind hiring, this can be drawn from the next stage of in-person interviews) versus diverse hires, retention periods, diversity across different levels of the business, salary and bonuses, and even job satisfaction through surveys.
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