What Tech Companies Can Do To Practice Inclusive Recruiting

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A peek into Facebook HQ further reveals the tech firm's homogenous workforce.
A peek into Facebook HQ further reveals the tech firm’s homogenous workforce.

There is a serious lack of diversity among tech companies. While many have made efforts to increase their diversity numbers, the results are lackluster at best.

LinkedIn recently released its 2016 diversity report. Women make up 42 percent of the company’s workforce, while men are 58 percent. White people are 54 percent of the workforce, Asian 36 percent, Latino 5 percent, and African American a dismal 3 percent.

LinkedIn included global statistics for the tech industry in its report, and it showed the company has made progress. Globally, men make up 80 percent of the tech industry workforce. LinkedIn also included statistics for the non-tech workforce, which is 52 percent female and 48 percent male. So, clearly the tech industry is behind the non-tech workforce when it comes to diversity and inclusion. 

“We will continue to strive to do better,” Pat Wadors, LinkedIn SVP for global talent organization, wrote in a blog post earlier this month.

Data from other tech companies makes it clear the entire tech industry needs to do better when it comes to diversity. Take Facebook and Google. Facebook’s workforce, as of July 2016, is 27 percent women, 3 percent African-American, and 3 percent Latino. Its senior leadership hires in the U.S. over the last 12 months were 9 percent African-American, 5 percent Hispanic and 29 percent female. Google’s workforce consists of 31 percent women and 69 percent men. Its employees are also 59 percent white, with Latinos and African-Americans making up 2 and 3 percent, respectively.

Data on the diversity of tech companies compiled by Pixel Envy shows similar results to the diversity reports by LinkedIn, Facebook and Google. So, what can companies do to improve?

They can start by focusing on two things that help companies build more inclusive organizations, Tyi McCray, a partner at Paradigm, told TriplePundit. She said companies must look not only at their hiring processes, but also at how they attract candidates.

To increase diversity, a company must first increase transparency, McCray explained. As Hudson, which helps companies find talent, put it: Companies need to do an “honest, accurate and transparent assessment” of their diversity shortcomings. In other words, companies must conduct self-assessments. McCray believes that a self-assessment should always be the first step. In the self assessment, a company should “reflect on what their current processes look like, and how these process might be limiting or advancing inclusion,” she added.

McCray cites examples about how a company can conduct a self-assessment. They “should consider how they write job descriptions, review resumes, structure interviews, write interview feedback, and discuss candidates,” she told us. The “entire hiring process is a prime setting for unconscious bias.”

Companies that do not design a “fair and objective process” will not be able to increase diversity and “miss out on the best candidates,” McCray explained. Companies can also use “an outside firm” to conduct a “thorough assessment of the culture of the organization including discrimination in pay and hiring practices,” author Bonnie Marcus suggested last year in Forbes.

What can companies do beyond conducting self assessments? The website Hire More Women in Tech lists steps companies can take to increase diversity, as does Marcus in her Forbes piece. One of those steps is finding ways to expand networks. Partnering with influential organizations and companies is one way to do better networking. Hudson lists examples of potential partner organizations, including historically black colleges, minority business associations and women’s professional networks.

Other steps include:

  • Offer mandatory training for every employee in unconscious bias. Pinterest includes training in unconscious bias in their diversity plain.
  • Develop career paths for employees that enable them to see how they can advance.
  • Develop coaching and training programs for women and minorities on relational skills.
  • Create mentor programs to help women and minorities both understand the culture and politics of their organization.
  • Track the gender of applicants, not just the hires.
  • Invest in existing women and minority tech communities.
  • Invest in the future by sponsoring events and underwriting scholarships, paying fellows or interns in the communities a company is trying to reach, start a mentoring program, and underwrite trainings.
  • Treat well the women and minorities who already work for you.

McCray also suggested that firms take a look at their company websites. Career websites in tech “very often depict homogenous cultures, showing images of young (and often primarily white) men,” she explained. Women and minorities might look at those images and “conclude they don’t belong.” Companies need to “showcase the range of people in their organization,” she told us, and the company website is a “great place to promote inclusive policies.” In other words: Tech companies need to rethink the image they portray to women and minorities on their websites.

Image credit: Flickr/Jakob Steinschaden

Gina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.

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