When you were growing up, what did you want to be?
Whether it was an astronaut, ballerina, or farmer, you got the idea from somewhere. You saw it on TV, or knew someone in your family who was already doing it. The point is – you saw it. And you saw someone who looked like you doing it.
That’s what makes our aspirations feel attainable, to an extent. Of course, other factors come into play, but we need to acknowledge the importance of accessibility through representation. Lack of this is what can, consciously or subconsciously, hold people back from pursuing certain opportunities – on top of the internal and inherent processes accountable for accessibility, too, of course.
Specifically, the technology industry needs to continue taking responsibility by removing barriers to diversity and inclusion. These barriers might be not hiring people who haven’t come from specific educational backgrounds, or creating assessment stages that aren’t accessible to everyone. It might even be in the screening stage of job applications, indicating that D&I and unconscious bias training need even more focus than they’ve garnered over recent years.
And there’s a demand for it.
50% of employees want their companies to be actively working towards increasing diversity, showing that there’s an existing level of pressure on the sector to continue making changes. In fact, 67% of job seekers value diversity in the workplace, ranking it as one of the most important aspects of looking for a new job.
The good news? Things are improving already.
One of the benefits of the pandemic was the shift towards remote working. This is something that many companies embraced, and have stuck to despite the easing of restrictions in 2021. The freedom to hire remote staff hugely expands the talent pool – employers no longer have to recruit from within a certain mile-radius of their offices, and can now look to building remote, global workforces. Again, this enhances diversity within the workplace even more, and is set to be a trend for years to come.
The knock-on effects of this are a more engaged workplace, more insightful hires in the future due to an established environment of diversity, and an overall sense of value for employees. The range of experiences and perspectives that comes from a diverse workforce is hugely beneficial, both to business in general and to overall employee attitudes. This leads to more creative problem solving, better communication, and more informed decision making. Diversity in the workplace represents a wider mentality shift, and a changing approach to inclusion, too…
Inclusivity isn’t just a buzzword anymore, but a proven driver of success. Companies that are actively embracing inclusivity are 1.7 times more likely to be leading the way in their sector in terms of innovation. Employees themselves feel that they can work from a more innovative mindset (83% more!) if their companies are actively engaging in improving diversity within the workplace.
So, we know that diversity is important in tech, but what about its impact on wider society?
Well, role models need to be representative of how diverse society is – and, naturally, that includes role models within tech. The more diversity there is in tech, the more things start to shift in general.
Processes and policies are already becoming more accessible and inclusive, mindsets are changing in the workplace as well as wider society, and there are more and more opportunities – for everyone.
Creating a more diverse workforce within tech creates space for important conversations, the results of which have ripple effects beyond the (remote) office, and into society.
Often, it’s only through sharing that we learn the true challenges that people face. It’s near impossible to imagine how someone feels when we haven’t lived their experiences, which is why it’s crucial that everyone has a platform to share them on. That means representation at every level of the workplace, especially in such a fast-developing industry as tech – which then impacts society in general.
Diversity at work means more visibility, which, in turn, gives people the opportunity to highlight the barriers they have experienced themselves, and to guide better policy making in the future. This isn’t just an industry-specific issue – increasing diversity in tech allows for these important conversations to drive and create change in wider life, too.
Representation needs to go beyond tokenism, box-checking, or fulfilling a quota; it needs to be about creating safe spaces that people feel they are able to actively participate in. The knock-on effect that all of this positive representation has on mental health is invaluable. We need to continue the work we are doing in the tech sector to rewrite the narrative. To create inspiring stories; to promote accessibility, not because it’s the ‘right thing to do’, but because it is a basic right that everyone deserves.
Accessibility isn’t just about opening doors and expecting people to leap through them – it’s about mapping out a route paved with role models; people who look like you, come from the same place as you, have had the same upbringing as you, have experienced the same challenges or obstacles as you. If we can start getting more representation within the tech industry, we are sending out that message to people across the world and inviting them to join. And that is accessibility.
It’s all well and good being told, ‘Hey, pull up a seat at the table’, but, if nobody who looks like you is already sitting there, it’s still a barrier.
So, let’s make tech diverse. Let’s set examples and create role models. Let’s pave the way so that nobody ever has to be ‘the first’ again.
And let’s build a really, really long table – one with seats for everyone.
The core focus of _nology has always been diversity and inclusion within the technology sector. As such, we are committed to investing in positive change, through funding tech training and securing employment for talented, passionate people from underrepresented and underprivileged backgrounds. This is facilitated via our CSR partnerships and community work. Employment opportunities are secured by the 2000+ organisations we work with via our recruitment partner company, Opus Talent Solutions. We find talented, underrepresented people, fund their training, and dramatically increase their employability, helping them realise their full potential.
We guarantee a minimum of 10% of all places on our courses are reserved for individuals from underrepresented backgrounds – and we’ll not only cover the cost of their training, but also ensure they are fully supported throughout their journey.
Alongside our existing initiatives, we work closely with our recruitment partners, Opus Talent Solutions, to create space in the tech sector for people from underrepresented backgrounds. Via OTS, we run partnerships with a number of organisations who are also committed to social mobility. They guarantee a role for successful _nology graduates, and we find, and fund the training of, the right talent for the opportunity, ensuring they are equipped with the necessary skills and tech stack for the job. We offer bespoke, multi-channel advertising campaigns to ensure we reach an audience that these opportunities would otherwise be inaccessible to, fulfilling the needs of the client while promoting diversity and inclusion at every stage.
If you’re interested in learning to code and future proofing your career, you might want to join one of our informational webinars on how to take the leap into tech, or join one of our coding taster sessions.
More information on our self-paced flexible coding course can be found here.