Report: 54% of Tech Workers Don’t Know What Actions Their Company is Taking for Inclusion and Diversity

Inclusion and Diversity. These two terms have gained significance in Canada’s employer landscape. And while they each have their own distinct meaning, one can’t exist without the other. After all, a company must be inclusive in order to attract  and retain a diverse workforce.

At Indeed, maintaining and continuously enhancing an inclusive environment and diverse workforce is a top priority. And we celebrate this aspect of our business: This past weekend, Indeed participated in the Pride Parade in Toronto for its second year, and I was proud to march alongside fellow Indeedians as well as reps from our tech counterparts.

Pride 2018: Marching towards inclusion and diversity

Pride is an event that our Toronto employees are extremely passionate about. The planning and execution is entirely led by employees, with full support from the senior leadership team. We joined forces with other Toronto tech giants – participating in the Venture Out Talks panel and marching together during the Pride Paradeto show a unified commitment to diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

While many employers have made significant efforts towards inclusion and diversity, according to a recent survey from Indeed, which looked at diversity in the Canadian technology industry, some companies still have a long way to go. And even those who have embraced inclusion and diversity wholeheartedly, should recognize that there is always room for improvement.

Let’s take a look at the results of our survey and then some of the ways we can all better achieve an inclusive and diverse workplace.

32% of Canadians in tech feel they have been personally discriminated against at their current company

Indeed’s  survey found that 32% of all respondents feel they have been personally discriminated against at their current company due to their race, gender, age, religion, disability or sexual orientation.

The survey also revealed that women are more likely to feel discriminated against in the male-dominated tech industry, with 37% of female tech workers stating they have been personally discriminated against, compared to 28% of male tech workers.

And overall, nearly half (46%) of respondents have witnessed non-inclusive behaviour that has made them feel uncomfortable at their current company.

89% of Canadians in tech think a diverse workforce positively impacts business performance

Diversity is integral to a company’s prosperity, as it helps an organization to innovate and adapt in a fast-changing environment. Research also shows that a more diverse talent pool gives companies a competitive advantage and increased economic success. The study notes that  multicultural employees are highly ambitious, with  35% of African-Americans, nearly half of Asians and 42% of Hispanics “willing to do whatever it takes to get to the top.”

This shouldn’t come as a surprise – people with varying backgrounds and experiences can offer different ideas and perspectives that are essential to an organization. When Indeed spoke with Cherise Mendoza, HR Director at Microsoft Canada, she echoed this sentiment, stating that “We need the best minds to help us build technology that makes a positive difference in the world. And the best minds come from having a diverse workforce. It’s not just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do.”

Employees acknowledge these benefits and have experienced them first hand. In fact, the majority (89%) of respondents think a diverse workforce positively impacts business performance. Moreover, eight in 10 respondents believe a diverse workforce is important in helping a company gain new business and build its brand.

Not only is the tech industry always in a constant state of flux, but it’s growing – and fast. In fact, according to the Information and Communications Technology Council, more than 182,000 information and communications technology positions will need to be filled by 2019.

Cultivating a workplace that is inclusive and diverse will be key to attracting much-needed talent. And over four in five of our survey respondents think it’s important to work at a diverse company.

However, when we asked respondents what meaningful action their company is taking to recruit and retain a diverse workforce, more than half (54%) did not know what actions their company was taking. And a quarter of respondents (26%) did not believe their company was taking any meaningful action to recruit and retain a diverse workforce at all.

So, then, the question is: How can companies help foster an inclusive environment where a diverse workforce can thrive?  

Tips to achieve an inclusive and diverse workplace

In order to achieve workplace diversity, it must be promoted, embraced and executed by all levels of an organization. I like how Amerah Egab, Brand Manager at Tucows (a Toronto-based tech company headquartered in Toronto), articulates the issue: “Inclusion and Diversity goes far beyond writing a policy, it needs to be part of the organization’s fabric. This is a topic that matters to new hires, and candidates are increasingly asking recruiters and hiring managers questions about inclusion and diversity because they want to ensure they will feel comfortable in their workplace.” Here are some ways to achieve an inclusive and diverse workplace.

  1. Hire a dedicated leader for inclusivity

Many companies have started employing professionals who specialize in inclusion and diversity initiatives, and ensure that employees feel supported. Other organization take a grassroots approach, leveraging their employees who are passionate about the cause to volunteer their time to support inclusion and diversity.

When taking this approach, companies should provide support and encourage their employees to form groups, host events and promote various causes. One way companies can do this is by encouraging employee resource groups, which act as a platform for communication and collaboration.

Here at Indeed, employees have a myriad of groups to join, such as “Women at Indeed” or “iPride,” all of which are employee led, with full support from the company. From the first day of onboarding, employees are informed of the various groups and are encouraged to join the ones they’re passionate about or spearhead new ones.

  1. Provide Training

Training hiring managers and recruiters to commit to a diverse slate of candidates for every position is one way to help foster an inclusive and diverse workplace. Moreover, training is essential to help combat unconscious biases.

As part of training, it’s critical to look at how these unconscious biases might be present during different stages of the hiring process. For example, ensuring your job descriptions are gender neutral can make a big difference. It’s common for a job posting to imply a certain gender in its descriptions by referring to the candidate as either “he” or “she.” In fact, according to research, removing gender-biased words from job postings can increase the number of applicants by 42%.

  1. Create a candidate pipeline

Another way to encourage inclusion and diversity is to create a candidate pipeline by partnering with associations and schools, and investing in your future pool of talent.

Many tech companies are facing the challenge of attracting women to their roles. As such, companies are starting to support and sponsor various groups to encourage more women to enter the tech field. For example, Tucows sponsors Canada Learning Code and She++, which helps ensure that women, and other groups that are historically underrepresented in the sector, have an equal opportunity to learn the skills required to pursue a career in tech.

The efforts are twofold: not only does this encourage women to consider careers in tech, but it also helps you build a relationship with these group members, who could eventually be primed for a career at your company.

  1. Showcase your diversity through storytelling

A goal to aim for is that inclusion and diversity will eventually be ingrained in your company’s employer brand. One way to do this is by creating video content that features staff members telling their own stories – what does diversity mean to them? How does your company help them thrive?

Content is a powerful vehicle and can help build your reputation. These videos can be hosted on your website, social media channels and third-party sites such as Indeed Company Pages.

These are just a few efforts towards cultivating an environment where all people – regardless of race, age, gender, disability and sexual orientation – can flourish. And when your workforce succeeds, so too does your company.