Diversifying the technology sector is absolutely vital to the success of its innovations. While tech jobs continue to grow at stand-out rates in the national labor market, its improvements in diverse hiring have been widely lackluster. With recent studies reporting a 4:1 male-to-female ratio working in STEM jobs globally and a nearly 50/50 split between white and minority employees at the Big 5 tech companies, the time to bolster efforts to increase diversity in tech is now. (Of course, this is not limited to the tech industry, as disparaging diversity gaps are also prevalent in many other sectors: To name a few, Media, finance and government.)

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Swetha Pb, Co-founder and Head of Product for Brilliant Hire shares the benefits of unbiased hiring on the Inside Out Podcast during Fall Experiment 2019.

Brilliant Hire recently had a chance to start a conversation around ways the tech industry and industries worldwide can take a step in the right direction and begin building diverse teams. Thanks to Milwaukee-based tech convention FallX, our team presented a solution to tech’s diversity problem that begins with the hiring process: Companies design hiring processes with diverse and inclusive practices in mind, which in turn lends way for more equal minority and gender representation across the tech sector. Here are our biggest takeaways:

  1. Building diverse teams starts with building a diverse hiring process
  2. Sourcing inclusively
  3. Using HR tech tools can help — but companies need to be cognizant of their drawbacks
  4. Building diverse teams includes ongoing day-to-day support

Diversify Through Process

Increasing diversity in the workplace doesn’t happen at a single step of the hiring process. There’s not just oneSecret Sauce companies can pour into their applicant screenings, no simple one-size-fits-all solution that will bring in (and retain) a more diverse candidate pool. Instead, promoting a diverse community of employees requires careful consideration of the entire hiring process — from job post creation to onboarding.

A hiring process is just that: A process. Other industries have seen an increase in inclusivity and accessibility of processes (think: UI/UX design, product development, product testing), so why should talent acquisition be any different? Consider the societal implications of a soap dispenser created without diversity in mind and the outrage it caused. Shouldn’t we hold our hiring practices to the same design-for-diversity standard?

The bottom line is that companies need to tackle tech sector hiring with a holistic, process-focused mindset. Hiring committees, departments and managers alike should aim to incorporate inclusive hiring practices into each step of the hiring process. Prioritizing inclusivity before applicants become candidates and hirees will help companies build more diverse teams.

Source Inclusively

Oftentimes, companies begin losing diversity as early as the applicant sourcing stage. From the creation of the job description to the platforms on which they’re posted, it’s important to show applicants a commitment to diversity and inclusion. Here are some best practices for sourcing inclusively:

  • Check for and eliminate gendered words and pronouns from the job description: A study found that gendered words can eliminate diversity in the applicant pool. Use this text checking tool to see if a job description contains gendered language.
  • Pare down long lists of “must-have” job requirements to four or five absolutely necessary skills/experiences: Research suggests that focusing on the candidate’s needs rather than the company’s wants can increase diversity in an applicant pool.
  • Use clear, approachable and culture-inclusive language in place of jargon and corporate speak: Studies show that jargon-filled job descriptions cause less diversity among applicants. Try using a jargon detector tool to determine where clarity can be added to the job description.
  • Include a blurb about the company’s commitment to diversity, along with a list of its inclusive benefits like parental leave, health insurance and family sick time: IBM is a great example of a company who has adopted a robust diversity statement with a personal touch.

Take Advantage of HR Tech Tools — but vet them carefully

Talent acquisition has enjoyed many benefits of the tech boom, from project management programs, to candidate sourcing platforms, to applicant assessment software. When it comes to screening, technology can be helpful in quickly sorting out the most qualified candidates from a high-volume applicant pool. However, if the screening engine’s artificial intelligence isn’t trained appropriately, it can actually hinder diverse hiring — a lesson that Amazon learned the hard way when its system favored male over female applicants.

To make sure automation and efficiency doesn’t derail diversity and inclusion efforts, every hiring technology used by a company’s HR department should be thoroughly vetted and managed accordingly. Companies can incorporate more inclusive applicant screening solutions like Brilliant Hire, which uses an Expert Network rather than AI technology to ensure biases are not at play.

Prioritize Continued Support

Employers often make the mistake of thinking diverse hiring begins and ends in HR, but the reality is that innovation and productivity come from employees who feel supported, valued and safe in their workspace. In other words, more effective products require managers to give ongoing diversity support. Google’s Psychological Safety study agrees: When employees feel safe at work, they are more likely to be vulnerable within their teams and take risks that could lead to new discoveries, solutions and technologies. In fact, while executives more often than not might think effective teams begin with factors like team size, colocation, seniority, size of team workload or consensus-driven decision making, Google found that having a high level of psychological safety among team members is a far better predictor of team success than all other factors.

Diversity should be a mindset, a way of operating a company — not just a means to a statistical parity ends. While HR departments at tech companies are responsible for ensuring their applicant, interviewee and hiree pools are representative of the larger population, it’s up to managers and the employee community at large to foster a sense of safety and inclusivity around the office itself. Some things management might employ to promote inclusivity in the workplace include regular diversity training and no-tolerance policies for harassment or unsafe work practices.

It’s no big revelation that the tech sector has long lagged in its ability to attract, hire and retain minority populations in a way that reflects society as a whole. As the lack of diversity stands now, vital perspectives, experiences and voices are missing from the landscape of innovation. These are the same voices that must be heard to continue to drive technology’s success and accessibility in modern society. What better reason do we need to begin designing hiring processes with diversity in mind?

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Brilliant Hire by SAP provides companies with an innovative way to build diverse and inclusive teams. It offers an efficient, unbiased applicant screening solution powered by a network of experts. With a mission to remove unconscious bias from the hiring process, Brilliant Hire has been trusted by countless talent acquisition professionals to cut down on screening time while ensuring every applicant has an equal chance of moving forward. Check out our blog for more information, or request a demo here.