DE&I isn’t just the right thing to do – it benefits your business too

You’d think the freedom and flexibility that’s come along with hybrid working would have meant equal opportunities for everyone.

So why are we still talking about “box ticking” when it comes to workplace diversity, equity and inclusion? 

Unfortunately, the tech industry – a sector you’d assume would be progressive by default – is one of the worst culprits of them all. This is according to the findings from Wiley Edge’s second annual ‘Diversity in Tech’ report, anyway.

When surveying 2,000 18-24-year-olds – 44% of whom were already working in technology roles – the responses around DE&I were worrying, to say the least:

  • Almost half (48%) have felt uncomfortable in a job because of their gender, ethnicity, socio-economic background or neurodevelopmental condition.
  • Women were 22% less likely to say they felt welcomed by their colleagues than men. Perhaps even more alarming is the fact that they were also 45% more likely to say they had not had enough personal support.
  • Finally, white respondents were more likely to say they liked their company culture than any other ethnic group (23% compared to an average of 20%, respectively). What’s more, Black African respondents were the most likely to say they do not feel welcomed by their colleagues and actively don’t like their company’s culture. 

So what’s going on here?

“Our findings seem to indicate that it’s not the nature of the work itself that is an issue for most unhappy young tech employees,” says Tom Seymour, senior director of HR at Wiley Edge. “Instead, the research suggests that many businesses are still struggling to establish an inclusive, welcoming environment which is having a negative impact on the wellbeing of their tech teams.”

But this is assuming talent even makes it past the application or interview stage in the first place.

Research by McKinsey suggests that in the US alone, only 26% of women held C-suite positions in 2022; just 5% of these were women of colour. Competitively, of the 74% of men who held C-suite positions, 13% were men of colour. 

The picture does look a little more promising in the UK, as diversity in tech is on the rise. According to Tech Talent Charter, 28% of tech workers are gender minorities and 25% are from minority ethnic backgrounds

But that doesn’t tell the full story. 

That’s because the report also revealed there’s a lack of representation in senior leadership positions. The TTC data suggests just 22% of senior tech roles are held by gender minorities; a figure that is 6% lower when compared to tech roles overall. What’s more, ethnic diversity almost halves in senior roles, dropping from 25% to just 13%.

Without a doubt, there is still a lot of work to do.

The thing is, investing in DE&I isn’t just the right thing to do by your people – that goes without staying. On top of that, having a more diverse and inclusive workplace has countless benefits for your business as well. 

Solve business problems more effectively

Diverse teams bring together a multitude of perspectives and experiences, perfect for thinking creatively and solving business problems more effectively. 

And why are they so effective, exactly? 

Essentially, because a wider range of viewpoints in the decision-making process challenges the status quo and avoids unhelpful  ‘groupthink’.

There’s growing research to support this too, with diverse teams reportedly being up to 87% better at making decisions

But diverse teams don’t just solve everyday problems; they’re also much better at thinking outside of the box too.

Increase innovation levels – and boost profits

Many Gen Z workers might be in the formative stages of their careers right now. However, millennial workers have been around long enough to notice the upsides of having a diverse and inclusive team. In fact, 74% of millennial employees believe their organisation is more innovative when it has a culture of inclusion.

And there’s research to suggest their assumptions are correct. 

Companies with above-average diversity produced a greater proportion of revenue from innovation than companies with below-average diversity (45% vs. 26%). Importantly, this 19% innovation-related advantage equates into an overall greater financial performance.

But it’s not just your profits that will see a boost from DE&I.

Boost morale and your business reputation 

It just makes sense that an environment which feels welcoming and inclusive is likely to lead to happier and more relaxed employees. 

And once again, the stats in this area speak for themselves. 

Up to 81% of employees who believe they work in an inclusive culture are also happy in their jobs; to put that figure into context, that’s three times more than those who don’t feel included. But it’s not just those inside the business that feel bolstered by your commitment to DE&I, though. Businesses that are serious about diversity and inclusion are also much more inviting to prospects too. Research suggests that 2 out of 3 candidates look for companies that have diverse workforces when applying for roles. 

And this is even more prevalent in younger workers. 

A Monster study revealed that up to 83% of Gen Z individuals cited an employer’s commitment to diversity and inclusion as significant when choosing where to work. And further research suggests that 75% of Zoomers would reconsider applying to a company if they weren’t satisfied with its diversity and inclusion efforts.

Just a no-brainer all around then, right?

Sure. But businesses also need to be aware that, much like greenwashing around climate commitments, Gen Z can spot inauthenticity a mile away.

DE&I honesty is the only policy

When it comes to workplace DE&I, it’s not enough to say you’re committed. To truly reap all the benefits that come from diversity and inclusion, businesses must make strides to deliver the goods too.

Unfortunately, in a market where vacancies are at a record high, we’re seeing a growing trend in diversity dishonesty.

“Diversity dishonesty is a company or organisation working hard to give the appearance that they are invested in diversity, but not making the internal changes to support diverse people in the organisation,” says Tricia Callender, PhD, head of diversity, equity and inclusion at Thinx Inc. “It’s hiring a ton of diverse people, putting diverse people on company photographs and advertising assets, but not valuing them in the organisation and then gaslighting when the issue is raised,” she told Stylist.

At DigitalGrads, we don’t just talk about the importance of diversity in tech; we practise what we preach. Our diverse community of almost 5,000 grads consists of 35% women and 57% BAME individuals. That means we can help you run a fair, inclusive and representative hiring process from start to finish. 

Work with an agency that values diversity as much as you do and feel assured you’ll both feel its benefits and never knowingly discriminate either. A win for your reputation, bottom line and those talented tech professionals that make your culture what it is.

Looking to get serious about diversity and inclusion in your team? Head over to our grad recruitment app and check out today’s burgeoning talent.