The tech industry claims to have made an effort to increase diversity in its workforce, but results have been limited in recent years. For example, 23 percent of Facebook’s workforce is female, and only 3.8 percent are Black. Six percent of Twitter’s workforce is Black. The situation is similar for other tech giants.
Here are some strategies you can apply to hire more diverse employees and take an active role in fighting inequality in the tech industry.
What Is Diversity?
Diversity is any characteristic that makes us different from one another. It can be gender, sexuality, race, background, condition, or anything else that makes us look or think differently. We are aware of certain types of diversity in our society, like religion and race. But there are also other groups, like people with disabilities, that we may not consider as often during hiring.
Diversity has become a hot topic in recent years, mainly because underrepresented groups are tired of being judged and treated poorly. Companies have also started to realize the benefits of employing a diverse team, with research showing that decisions made by diverse teams delivered 60 percent better results.
Diversity has become a real goal for many tech companies. But some are not sure where to start. Unconscious biases are also a problem. An unconscious bias is when you hold stereotypes about groups that are different from you. This is one of the main obstacles to eliminating systemic racism because most people have negative unconscious biases that they don’t know how to identify or control.
Build Inclusive Interview Panels
When your screening processes for new hires are controlled by only one or two employees, you will have a greater risk of unconscious bias and racism. If only one or two people are deciding which candidates are the best, they may rule out applicants for many unfair reasons.
You can avoid this issue by creating an inclusive interview panel. A group of people will then decide which candidates are best based on their skills and values. The group is meant to be diverse, so you should choose people from different backgrounds. And even if one person in the panel has a bias against certain people, they will not win out against the group’s overall opinion.
Having a diverse panel will also make the candidate more comfortable during the interview. For example, imagine you are a Black woman applying for a role as a full-stack developer, and at your first interviewer, the panel comprises three white men. You’ll probably feel out of place and can assume you won’t fit in at that company.
Use Gender-Fluid Job Descriptions
Job descriptions are an important part of what makes a candidate apply to a job. Sometimes we use wording that is off-putting to certain groups without realizing it. It can be something as small as a descriptive word choice, or mentioning specific colleges or universities. If you graduated from a coding bootcamp, you’d probably be put off from applying to a job that said it requires a bachelor’s degree. You might also not be a fan of terms like “hackers” or “ninja.”
Gender terms relate to the society we grew up in. Words have certain connotations, and our mind makes an instant connection when we hear it. For example, when you hear the word “ninja,” you most likely imagine a man. So, a woman may feel like the role is not for her if she were to read a description using that term.
Remember to screen your job descriptions for gender-coded words that could be driving away potential new employees. This is the first step to recruiting more diverse tech employees.
Personalize the Equal Opportunity Hiring Statement
An equal opportunity hiring statement is meant to show that the company is committed to improving diversity and inclusion in its workforce. But most companies just include a generic statement copied from the Internet, and most applicants can tell.
This makes the company seem like they aren’t committed to equal opportunity hiring if it can’t even put effort into writing a personalized statement. A personalized message will show that you genuinely want to employ a diverse team. For a Latino front-end developer, a personalized paragraph would be more appealing than the generic one.
Blind Resume Reviews
Another strategy you can try is blind resume screenings. There are already platforms that allow you to do this. You can choose to leave out required areas like name, background, and college. This way, the screening process only takes into account the person’s work experience, technical skills, interpersonal skills, and any other information they added.
When recruiters are reviewing resumes, is when unconscious biases usually rear their ugly heads. Sometimes a recruiter may eliminate a candidate just because their name is obviously Black, or Latino, or Asian. So, with blind resumes, you will eliminate yet another hurdle to diversity.
Use Diverse Job Boards
Finally, one of the best things you can do is to post openings on diverse job boards. These job boards cater to underrepresented groups. If you publish your openings there, you are ensuring that only diverse applicants will apply.
For example, the website Women Who Code is exclusively for women in tech. It has a job board where you can post roles specifically for women. There is also the website Black in Technology, a community and job board that companies can turn to to hire more Black tech professionals.
Diversity is the way of the future. Companies should have a team that represents the real community they serve, and humans come in all shapes and colors. So, your company should strive to reflect that. To hire more diverse employees, you can start by creating an inclusive interview panel, avoiding gender-coded words in job descriptions, making a personalized equal opportunity statement, using blind resume reviews, and utilizing diverse job boards.
Guest article contributed by
Artur Meyster is the CTO of Career Karma (YC W19), an online marketplace that matches career switchers with coding bootcamps. He is also the host of the Breaking Into Startups podcast, which features people with non-traditional backgrounds who broke into tech.
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