Diversity in tech: How tech recruiters can bridge the gap

Talent Acquisition Technology
Charlotte Bosley-Plumb

By Charlotte Bosley-Plumb
November 1, 2023

July 16, 2024

0 min read

The tech world is buzzing, but there’s a catch: diversity is lagging behind.

Acting as a bridge between talent and opportunity, tech recruiters have the unique power to turn the tide on the diversity deficit holding the industry back.

Despite good intentions, the tech sector is still playing catch-up when it comes to the fair representation of many different groups, including genders, ethnicities, and those of varying socio-economic backgrounds.

Bridging this gap is not merely a tick-box exercise; it’s an opportunity for companies to unlock innovation and connect with the global audience that tech aims to serve.

As a recruitment agency, we’re active participants in this change. With a rich background in technology talent acquisition and a laser focus on diversity, our recruitment team is on a mission to create a workforce as varied and vibrant as the world around us.

We believe in the power of diversity as a catalyst for innovation and a critical component of business success.

Let’s dive into the current state of diversity in tech, uncover strategies to bridge the gap, and celebrate the undeniable benefits of a diverse workforce.

Understanding the diversity gap in tech

The technology sector, renowned for its innovation and progress, faces a crucial challenge: the diversity gap.

This disparity in the representation of various genders and ethnicities goes beyond a superficial issue; it is a deep-rooted problem that requires urgent attention and action.

What exactly is the tech diversity gap?

It refers to the underrepresentation of certain groups, including women, people of colour, and individuals from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, in the technology sector.

Despite years of efforts to bridge this gap, statistics continue to show a stark imbalance. For example, according to the US National Center for Women & Information Technology, women constitute only 26% of the tech workforce. Similarly, people of colour are significantly underrepresented, holding only about 22% of IT industry roles.

Understanding and addressing this gap is essential for fostering a more inclusive and equitable tech industry.

Industry data on diversity

Recent data has been shedding light on this diversity gap. Studies and reports consistently highlight the underrepresentation of women and individuals from ethnic minority backgrounds, particularly in senior-level technical and leadership positions.

A study from 2023 revealed that only 26.7% of tech roles in the United States were held by women, and those who did break into the sector earned less for the same role than their male colleagues. On average, a woman working in Silicon Valley will earn 61% less than a Silicon Valley man.

For ethnic minorities, the gap in representation is even larger. According to a 2023 Diversity in Tech study, 25% of tech workers in the UK belong to ethnic minority groups, compared to 20% reported last year. This marks a small but positive improvement in the right direction. However, ethnic diversity almost halves in senior-level roles, from 25% to 13%.

These numbers speak volumes, painting a picture of an industry that is yet to fully embrace and reflect the diversity of the society it serves.

It is imperative that we bring these statistics to the forefront, not just as a topic of discussion but as a catalyst for change. By acknowledging the extent of the issue, we lay the groundwork for meaningful progress and set the stage for a more inclusive future in technology.

Historical context and systemic issues

The roots of this diversity gap extend far beyond the confines of the industry itself. This is an issue that is deeply embedded in historic and systemic practices that have long enabled inequality.

Educational disparities, biased hiring practices, a lack of representation, and even outright discrimination have all played a part in shaping the current landscape, both consciously and unconsciously.

To truly address the diversity gap, we must delve into these aspects, challenging the status quo and dismantling the barriers that have hindered progress for far too long. It is a journey that requires introspection, commitment, and a relentless pursuit of equality.

The imperative for diversity

Diversity in tech is not just about improving equality to create a more just society for all; it’s also about driving innovation and business growth. It is an imperative for businesses and a source of strength.

A workforce that reflects myriad perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds is better equipped to navigate the complexities of the digital world, fostering creativity and driving transformation. Diverse teams bring a variety of problem-solving approaches, leading to more robust and innovative solutions. They can better anticipate and meet the needs of a global customer base, enhancing user experiences and expanding market reach.

Research consistently shows that companies embracing diversity outperform their less diverse counterparts. A study by McKinsey & Company found that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 25% more likely to have above-average profitability. Similarly, those in the top quartile for ethnic and cultural diversity outperformed by 36% in profitability.

Screenshot 2024-05-31 at 15.35.11-min 2

Source: McKinsey

Companies that embrace diversity are not just making a moral choice but a strategic one. By prioritizing diversity, they position themselves to outperform their competitors and lead the way in their respective fields.

They are better able to attract top talent from a wider pool, innovate faster, and adapt more effectively to change. In a rapidly evolving tech landscape, these advantages can be the key to long-term success and leadership.

The role of tech recruiters in addressing diversity

The technology sector is one of the most rapidly evolving industries, and technical recruiters, positioned at the epicentre of talent acquisition, hold significant influence and responsibility in shaping this landscape and connecting companies with the best people to fill their open tech roles.

Tech recruiters are instrumental in moulding the workforce of the technical sector. They have an opportunity and a responsibility to become agents of change, capable of influencing diversity and inclusion at a foundational level.

By actively seeking out and engaging with a broader spectrum of candidates, recruiters can challenge the existing norms and contribute to a shift towards more inclusive hiring practices.

Strategies and best practices for technology recruiters

The journey towards a more diverse workforce requires a multifaceted approach, encompassing a range of strategies and best practices. Tech recruiters must strive to create job descriptions that are inclusive and welcoming to all, irrespective of their background.

Expanding recruitment channels to ensure they reach underrepresented groups and implementing blind recruitment processes are crucial steps in minimising unconscious bias.

Forging partnerships with charitable organisations and businesses that are dedicated to supporting diversity in tech can further amplify a recruiter’s efforts and attract a diverse pool of talent.

In embracing these strategies and committing to change, tech recruiters stand as pivotal figures in the journey toward a more diverse and inclusive technology sector.

Understanding implicit bias

Implicit bias refers to the unconscious attitudes or stereotypes that subtly and often unconsciously influence our decisions and actions.

In recruitment, these biases can manifest in various ways, inadvertently affecting hiring decisions and leading to a homogenous workforce.

Acknowledging the existence of these biases and understanding their potential impact on the hiring process is the first crucial step towards mitigating their effects and fostering a more inclusive work environment.

Tackling implicit bias in the hiring process

Implicit bias often goes unnoticed yet often shapes decisions and actions within the recruitment sphere. It is a subtle force, influencing hiring decisions in ways that can hinder diversity and inclusion within the workplace.

Addressing this issue requires a multifaceted approach, combining awareness, education, and the implementation of unbiased technologies.

For any recruiter, navigating the complexities of unconscious bias requires a dual approach, focusing on both personal development and procedural refinement. It requires a deep commitment to introspection and a willingness to challenge our own preconceived notions.

Personal development: A journey of self-awareness

Recruiters must be willing to scrutinise their own beliefs and attitudes, recognising that bias is a universal human condition, not a personal flaw. This process involves:

  • Regular training: Engaging in regular training sessions on unconscious bias helps keep the issue at the forefront of recruiters’ minds, providing them with the tools needed to identify and counteract their biases.
  • Seeking feedback: Encouraging feedback from colleagues and candidates can provide valuable insights into potential areas of bias, helping recruiters to see their actions through the eyes of others and adjust their behaviour accordingly.
  • Mindfulness practices: Incorporating mindfulness practices into the daily routine can enhance a recruiter’s ability to remain present, conscious, and objective.

Procedural refinement: Creating a level playing field

On the procedural front, tech recruiters must take tangible steps to ensure that their hiring processes are as unbiased as possible. Here is a list of some of the best ways a recruiter can achieve this:

  • Structured interviews: Implementing structured interviews, where every candidate is asked the same set of questions in the same order, helps to ensure that each person is assessed based on the same criteria.
  • Blind recruitment: Utilising blind recruitment practices, where identifiable information is removed from resumes and applications, can further level the playing field, ensuring that candidates are evaluated solely on their skills and experience.
  • Diverse hiring panels: Assembling diverse hiring panels can provide a range of perspectives, helping to counteract individual biases and leading to more balanced hiring decisions.
  • Data-driven decision-making: Encouraging a data-driven approach to recruitment ensures that decisions are based on objective criteria rather than subjective impressions.

Two happy business men shaking hands at office meeting

Committing to change

Mitigating unconscious bias is not a one-time effort; it is a continuous journey of learning and adaptation. By combining personal development with better processes, tech recruiters can significantly influence inclusivity within the hiring process.

It’s about striving for excellence in every aspect of recruitment, ensuring that every candidate has an equal opportunity to succeed.

Leveraging recruitment technology

Recent advancements in technology are already playing a pivotal role in shaping the future of recruitment.

If it can be unbiased recruitment technology, such as AI-driven applicant tracking systems (ATS), has the potential to revolutionise the hiring process.

These systems ensure candidates are evaluated based on their skills and experience rather than unconscious biases.

However, it is imperative to ensure that these technologies are themselves free from biases, necessitating regular audits and updates to maintain their integrity and effectiveness.

Confronting implicit bias head-on and embracing unbiased recruiting practices is the first step towards cultivating a diverse tech industry.

Building a diverse talent pipeline

Diversity in the workforce drives innovation, enhances problem-solving capabilities, and contributes to a more inclusive and creative environment.

Building a diverse talent pool requires a varied approach, integrating numerous communication and recruitment strategies to ensure a wide range of professionals are considered for jobs.

Tech recruiters have a large part to play in this; they are the bridge between potential staff and future employers. They must actively seek out and encourage candidates from all backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives to apply.

Here is a list of the ways that a recruiting agency can do this:

  • Enrich your network: Tech recruiters can expand their reach by connecting with professional groups and associations that cater to underrepresented communities in the tech industry.
  • Host an inclusive meetup: Organise or participate in job fairs that are specifically designed to attract a diverse set of technology professionals from all backgrounds.
  • Leverage social media: Utilising social media platforms to advertise a job vacancy offers a wider reach within your digital community. Crafting a job description that resonates with a diverse audience will be essential.
  • Implement blind recruiting practices: Adopting blind recruitment practices, where personal information is anonymised, ensures that candidates are evaluated solely on their skills and experience, not their background.
  • Provide mentorship programs: Establishing mentorship programs that connect underrepresented talent with experienced professionals in the field can foster a sense of belonging and encourage more diverse candidates to pursue jobs in technology.
  • Encourage employee referrals: Encouraging existing employees to refer a candidate from their own digital network can help build a more diverse talent pool.
  • Continuous learning and training: Providing training for recruiters on diversity best practices ensures they are equipped to make fairer hiring decisions.

Importance of matching a candidate with the right vacancy

Matching people with the right job is crucial, not only to the success of the placement but also for enhancing diversity in the workplace. Flexible working options, including remote working, are significant factors.

These options make positions more accessible to various groups including women, people with physical limitations, and neurodivergent individuals.

For neurodiverse individuals, finding a match with companies that are open to making accommodations and fostering a culture of understanding is vital. This ensures that they can thrive in their work environment, bringing with them their unique skills and perspectives.

Building long-term relationships and engaging with communities

Creating a diverse workforce requires an ongoing commitment to engaging with different communities.

Engaging with community groups, educational institutions, and other organisations and startups that support underrepresented talent is also vital. This not only helps in sourcing diverse candidates but also contributes to the broader goal of creating an inclusive tech community.

Gaining insights through practical application of recruiting practices

A strategic yet hands-on approach is one of the quickest ways that technology recruiters can identify the best strategies for fair and unbiased hiring. Working directly with a diverse range of candidates and companies enables recruiters to gain valuable hands-on experience.

Each interaction is a chance to learn, helping them understand more about inclusive recruitment.

Feedback helps a recruiter improve their methods, making sure they stay effective and relevant. Through this approach, they can better meet the needs of talented people from all backgrounds while also keeping up with the fast-paced nature of the tech world.

In the end, this commitment to learning and adapting helps refine a recruiter's skills, contributing to the wider goal of increasing diversity and inclusion in tech.

Supporting underrepresented professionals

Navigating the tech industry can be daunting, especially for professionals from underrepresented backgrounds.

Companies can exercise their commitment to levelling the playing field by participating in programmes designed to uplift these individuals.

Across the tech landscape, numerous initiatives aim to provide support, education, and work opportunities to those who might otherwise be overlooked. These programmes range from coding boot camps and mentorship schemes to network events specifically tailored for women, people of colour, and other minority groups.

By creating spaces where under-represented talent can thrive, the industry takes a significant step toward diversifying its workforce.

The role of recruiters in mentoring and advocacy

Beyond the traditional role of matching a candidate with the right vacancy, a recruiter can also serve as a mentor and advocate, offering guidance, sharing insights, and opening doors for candidates at a disadvantage in their career journey.

Building trust and understanding the unique challenges that underrepresented talent face, is key to addressing these issues.

The benefits of having a diverse workforce

A plethora of research and data underscore the myriad of benefits that diversity brings to businesses, particularly in the tech sector. Here, we’ll explore some of these advantages.

Teams that are diverse in terms of ethnicity, gender, and background bring a rich tapestry of perspectives, leading to enhanced creativity and innovation.

A study by Boston Consulting Group found that companies with more diverse management teams have 19% higher revenues due to innovation. This is particularly pertinent for the tech industry, where innovation is the lifeblood of success.

In addition to these factors, the inclusion and support of neurodiverse individuals play a crucial role in supporting creativity and innovation within the workplace. Neurodiversity encompasses a variety of cognitive conditions such as autism, ADHD, dyslexia, and dyspraxia, which are natural variations in the way people think and process information.

Neurodivergent individuals often bring unique perspectives, problem-solving skills, and creativity to the table, which can significantly enhance a team’s performance and innovative capabilities. However, it is essential to create a supportive  work environment to unlock the full potential of neurodiverse talent.

HPE is an information technology company that supports neuro-inclusion rather than stigmatises these differences. HPE’s neurodiverse teams are now 30% more productive because of this neuro-inclusive environment.

Robust problem-solving

The merging of varied perspectives sparks creativity and strengthens problem-solving capabilities. Research from Harvard Business Review highlights that cognitively diverse teams are quicker at problem-solving.

A diverse workforce becomes an invaluable asset in the tech world, where complex problem-solving is a daily demand.

Cultivating a global mindset

In our interconnected global economy, having a workforce that understands different cultures is a significant competitive advantage.

A diverse workforce is better positioned to connect with a global customer base, understanding their unique needs and tailoring products and services to suit diverse preferences.

Improving workplace engagement, retention, and culture

Diversity and inclusion efforts contribute significantly to a positive work environment. Employees feel valued and included, leading to higher job satisfaction, better performance, and lower turnover rates.

Tech companies, known for their competitive hiring environments, can leverage diversity as a strategic advantage to attract and retain top talent.

Boosting financial performance

Boosting financial performance is a tangible benefit of fostering diversity within a company. The relationship between a diverse workforce and enhanced financial outcomes has been extensively researched and established.

A report by McKinsey & Company reveals that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 25% more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile.

According to the same report, ethnic and cultural diversity in particular, offer even greater advantages, showing that companies with ethnically diverse executive teams are 36% more likely to outperform their peers in profitability.

This substantial increase highlights the unique value that cultural diversity brings to the table, driving innovation and financial success.

These findings make it abundantly clear that investing in diversity is not just a moral obligation but a smart business strategy. Cultivating a diverse and inclusive workforce benefits equality and the bottom line.

Realising the benefits of diversity

The benefits of having a diverse workforce are numerous and well-substantiated.

From fuelling innovation and enhancing problem-solving capabilities, to building a positive work culture and boosting financial performance, the advantages are clear and compelling.

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Let’s face it, the tech world has a diversity problem. But as tech recruiters, we have the power to influence.

Throughout this blog, we’ve taken a deep dive into the crucial role that technology recruiters play in shaping a more inclusive industry, dissecting the systemic issues and historical context that have contributed to the current state of affairs.

We’ve tackled the topic of implicit bias head-on, providing practical advice for recruiters on recognising and mitigating their own biases, and explored implementing unbiased recruitment technology.

The importance of building a diverse talent pipeline and the need for long-term relationships and community engagement have been highlighted.

Technical recruiters can support under-represented talent as well as the many tangible benefits of having a diverse workforce, with data-backed evidence proving the positive impact on companies’ performance and innovation capabilities.

We invite companies and tech professionals to engage with us, leverage our expert recruitment service, and to join us in our mission to create a more inclusive, innovative, and successful technology industry. The time for change is now; together, we can make it happen.

If you are looking for jobs in the technology sector, visit our job board and contact a recruiter today.

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