There are certain things that tech companies are really good at doing: building gadgets we didn’t know we needed but now can’t live without (iPhone, we’re looking at you), creating apps that simplify all the annoyances of modern-day life like, ugh, shopping for your own food or doing your own laundry, and basically making it easier to spend even more time connected to our devices.
One thing they are not so good at, though, is hiring different types of people. The non-male, non-white type of people in particular. Starting in June 2014, many tech giants began publishing their workforce’s gender and ethnicity statistics, which they all admit are pretty dire. Take a look.
They look even worse when broken down into tech and management roles.
These numbers are disheartening since they show how homogeneous these companies (many of which are regularly ranked “top places to work”) really are. And, of course, focusing only on gender and ethnicity is just a small piece of the diversity equation. A truly diverse workforce will also make efforts to include people with disabilities, veterans, members of the LGBTQ community, and people of various socioeconomic backgrounds.
The good news is that these companies have begun to acknowledge that they have a problem and many of them have taken various steps to diversify their workforces. Many organizations recognize that part of the problem is the lack of qualified graduates and have begun to work with K–12 programs to encourage interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) among younger populations. Microsoft lists all the K–12 programs they support on their diversity page.
Others have realized that hiring diverse employees is the first step, but if these employees are not staying and progressing to leadership positions, that’s another type of diversity shortcoming. Twitter and Google, for example, have a range of employee groups to help support diverse members of their communities.
In early January 2015, Intel made a splash at the Consumer Electronics Show when CEO Brian Krzanich announced that the company was committing to diversifying its workforce. Not only did the company pledge to spend $300 million over the next five years, but they would tie compensation in with divisions’ ability to recruit and retain a more diverse workforce.
A few other notable aspects of Intel’s program:
- Partnering with groups that encourage women and minorities to work in computer science
- Funding education programs to create more engineers
- Attempting to bring down the dropout rates of computer science majors
- Granting access to students from community colleges (not just elite institutions)
It all sounds good on paper, but how does this all stack up? I turned to Johnny Torrance-Nesbitt, MBA, Director of Employer Brand at Randstad Sourceright (and former Diversity Trainer at Monsanto), to weigh in on Intel’s outlined program. Torrance-Nesbitt says Intel’s strategies are excellent, and he’s impressed that they’re willing to commit significant funds toward achieving their goals.
“They are creating a pipeline strategy, tying diversity achievements to compensation, broadening and partnering with different types of schools they go to. They are also helping to build the ‘pie’ of minority students who elect STEM academic disciplines. In a word, all of these efforts will help immensely.
All great things; I applaud them. However, what they truly need is a C-suite executive mentoring program. Namely, matching up minority and female executives with majority executives, available for coaching, one on one discussions, etc. They need a ‘grooming system and mechanism’ for diverse executives which would help to break down any ‘good ole boy network’ and give non-traditional people access to various corporate back channels.”
In other words, it’s not just about recruiting and retaining diverse employees. You need to have a system in place that will help people from different backgrounds rise through the ranks to leadership positions.
The topic of diversity is not a new one to the AfterCollege Employer Blog—in past posts, we’ve looked at how some organizations like Enterprise Holdings Inc. have made diversity a priority, how university recruiters can get involved with diverse student groups to build an inclusive talent pipeline, and how you can make your university recruiting program more inclusive toward students and recent graduates with disabilities.
But diversity recruiting in the tech space brings its own unique challenges. Clearly this is a complex problem and one that requires multiple approaches. It will be interesting to see how Intel documents its successes and failures as well as how this influences other tech companies to change their own practices.
Over to you! What’s your take on diversity recruiting? Are there any organizations that you’d like to applaud for their ability to recruit and retain diverse employees? What are some changes you’re still waiting to see? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below!