Why we need to focus on inclusivity as well as diversity in the tech industry?

This year’s Computer Weekly diversity in technology event focused on the importance of inclusivity in attracting and retaining diverse talent. Inclusivity can mean many things to many people, and creating an environment that makes everyone feel welcome can be easier said than done.

But why is inclusivity such an important topic in relation to attracting and retaining diverse talent in the technology industry?

It has already been proven that diverse teams are more innovative, but part of the point of introducing diversity into an organisation is to reap the benefit of different mindsets, coming up with ideas a team of the same type of people wouldn’t have thought of and ultimately better reflecting the diverse customer base the technology industry has.

Without inclusivity, however, it can be difficult to retain people when they don’t feel like they can be themselves in the workplace, and if people have to put on a persona at work it defeats the point of having a diverse workforce.

For people who fit the stereotypical “IT guy” mould, inclusivity is already built in – they have been the only people in the industry up until this point who needed to be catered to.

This is obviously a massive generalisation, but workplace culture in the technology industry is weighted towards a particular group of people.

That’s why I wanted to tackle the importance of inclusion in attracting and retaining a diverse workforce as part of Computer Weekly’s annual diversity in technology event, in partnership with Mortimer Spinks.

To make it easier for organisations and individuals to understand how they can contribute to an inclusive environment, a number of industry experts and noteworthy women in IT gathered to talk about what inclusion means to them.

Creating a network of likeminded people, making sure people feel comfortable discussing inclusion topics and shutting down any negative-self-talk were all suggestions given to make the technology industry a better place to work for people who don’t match the usual IT stereotype.

But of all the topics covered throughout the day, acting as a role model and seeking out roles models was by far the most popular suggestion.

Joshy Uwadiae, who appeared on one of the day’s panels, has spoken to Computer Weekly before about how positive role models helped to encourage him into his career in IT, and this year’s Most Influential Woman in UK technology Amali de Alwis emphasised that everyone should feel they are a role model – there will always be someone who can benefit from your experience.

Computer Weekly’s annual list of the 50 Most Influential Women in UK technology aims to make industry role models  more visible and accessible for those who feel they are standing outside of the industry looking in.

In 2018 the longlist reached more than 200, and several of the women who made it through to the next round of judging were new to the shortlist.

Represented among the top 50 were more small businesses and social enterprises than ever before, pushing aside some of the larger corporates and highlighting the number of entrepreneurial women who are contributing a large amount of time and effort to making the industry more diverse.

Alongside the top 50 are Hall of Famers and Rising Stars, representing the two ends of the role model spectrum, and all are important in ensuring more people from outside of the techie stereotype consider a career in technology.

So what does inclusion mean to me? It means feeling comfortable enough to be myself in the workplace and giving the company the benefit of me as an individual. It seems to be working so far…

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