Four Takeaways About Diversity and Hiring

I was recently asked by my friends at the Turing School of Software and Design @turingschool along with fellow Quick Lefter, Laura Steadman @AdventureSteady to join a TechIsMore Digital Event Series panel about diversity and hiring in tech, hosted by the Women In Tech Campaign @WITCampaign.

There were 5 other panelist from across the US with a range of different backgrounds including engineering, education, and technical recruiting. Each contributed unique and wonderful insights about diversity, tech, and hiring. The digital panel was hosted on Periscope with a simultaneous Twitter chat using hashtag #TechIsMore, engaging over 300 participants from the US, UK, Panama, Czech Republic, and Brazil.

There were many good ideas shared throughout the discussion, four of which really stood out to me.

1. To truly achieve diversity, companies need to disruptively change processes and systems that hinder its progress

Companies desire to change but are slow to do so because systems and processes are so embedded in the culture. These processes can include relying solely on keywords when sorting resumes and employee referrals for hiring. If not carefully monitored, these processes can exclude highly qualified applicants that may not fit the traditional mold. A disruptive change in the application process is needed in order to foster hiring diverse teams.

2. Hiring for culture fit can be damaging to diversity

Culture fit, while seemingly harmless, can be a cover for discrimination. Often people will hire others who look and act like themselves under the guise of ‘culture fit’. Whether done intentionally or unintentionally, hiring only people who are like you naturally hinders diversity. Defining ‘fit’ by alignment to company core values rather than culture may yield better results.

3. Increasing diversity increases the bottom line

Various studies have shown that increasing diversity in teams has lead to an increase in the bottom line of companies. More diverse teams include a broader range of backgrounds, skill sets and tribal knowledge which can contribute to higher performance. To further explore this idea, one panellist mentioned the book The Diversity Advantage by Ruchika Tulshyan.

4. There is a difference between diversity and inclusion

Hiring employees is one thing, keeping employees is another. It is inclusion in the day to day activities of the company that helps employees feel that they are accepted and valued members of the team. This includes activities that happen during business hours, on the golf course, (or climbing wall) or even at happy hour. Are the activities and conversations that foster relationship-building within your company inclusive of a broader range of participants, or tailored to a specific group?

Fostering diversity in the workplace is everyone’s responsibility. We all have a role in helping to create a diverse and inclusive work environment. When was the last time you stepped out of your comfort zone and really got to know someone different from you? What did you learn, and how can you apply that to your workplace?