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All to gain: Unlocking the potential of a diverse and inclusive workforce

We look at the business benefits of opening the doors to a diverse workforce

This article can also be found in the Premium Editorial Download: MicroScope: MicroScope: The surge in home working

The business case for diversity is undeniable. As technology continues to interconnect our societies, our workplaces must mirror the changing environment in which we do business. CompTIA’s Diversity in the high-tech industry research report shared the finding that 64% of respondents believe an organisation with a diverse employee base is more likely to produce world-class innovation.

However, with nearly half of UK businesses reporting that the skills gap has worsened over the past two years, small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) must take steps to ensure their workplaces are diverse and inclusive, or risk falling behind.

What’s at risk?

Not only can a lack of diversity damage a firm from the perspective of morale point of view, it can also hinder success on many other fronts. A shortage of technology professionals is an ongoing concern on an international level.

According to CompTIA’s recent Diversity and inclusion plan for technology SMBs, the average employee retention period is approximately three years. With three in 10 non-white high-tech workers saying they have left a job because of a lack of diversity or a hostile culture, organisations cannot afford to ignore the issue of diversity any longer.

In fact, McKinsey’s Delivering through diversity report recently found that companies in the bottom quartile for both gender and ethnic/cultural diversity were 29% less likely to achieve above-average profitability.

In terms of business spending, of course, not everyone can qualify to be a diverse supplier, but everyone can be a diverse spender by doing business with diverse suppliers. The message is clear: companies have a lot to gain by investing in diversity and inclusion, and a lot to lose by not doing so.

Making diversity transparent

For efforts to be made, organisations must be transparent about the state of diversity from the start, but at present this is not always the case. Notably, more than half of diversity professionals do not have the resources or support needed to execute programmes and strategies, and only 35% have access to company demographic metrics.

“With three in 10 non-white high-tech workers saying they have left a job because of a lack of diversity or a hostile culture, organisations cannot afford to ignore the issue of diversity any longer”
Yvette Steele, CompTIA

While it’s everyone’s responsibility when it comes to diversity, executive leadership should take the reins to ensure teams such as human resources can be purposeful in their efforts. While broad workforce recruitment can be carried out nationally, truly successful diverse recruitment and retention plans require small to mid-sized technology solution providers to examine hiring practices and make every effort to source talent that is reflective of the communities they serve and in which they reside.

Diversifying opportunity

The suite of skills required by workers in the technology sector is ever-changing, evolving at a pace of knots, led by the momentum of change in technology at large. To cope with this, organisations need to remain agile in approach and should continually review minimum skills requirements and emerging trends of interest when considering approaches to recruitment and retention.

By shifting focus from recruiting for a position to upskilling existing workers to fill positions, organisations can ensure their culture is inclusive, providing opportunities for all workers to progress.

A key focus of CompTIA’s Advancing tech talent and diversity community is preparing the tech workforce for current and future tech jobs while providing best practices to hiring managers to support with upskilling and retraining. Regular training schemes ensure that organisations are able to adapt as new technology emerges.

Senior management sets the tone for prioritising diversity in every aspect for the talent leadership team, so it’s important to show the wider workforce that effort is being made to be inclusive.

Looking inside

By turning their gaze inward, organisations can better determine the objectives of their diversity and inclusion efforts. Employee resource groups help organisations deliver a workplace that reflects the people who work there. By ensuring workers feel involved, employers can tap into new problem-solving approaches, which in turn raise productivity, future-proof the business and deliver sustainable growth.

In fact, research shows that 64% of SME technology solution providers agree that a diverse employee base is more likely to produce world-class innovation. Clearly, employee resource groups exist to benefit and advance their own group members by working strategically both internally and externally.

Diverse methods for diverse talent

Organisations need to ensure their workplace reflects the workers they want to recruit.

In an increasingly competitive market, tech companies must enrich their workforce through diversifying approaches to recruitment, retraining and engagement. By failing to do so, employers are missing out on invaluable skills needed to help the company excel as technology develops and skills requirements change.

The solution is simple: adapt and excel.

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