Zero Discrimination Day: The Importance of Inclusivity in Tech

Creating an equal space for as many people as possible to thrive is an obvious reason to improve diversity and inclusion in any workplace. But why is it so important in tech specifically? How can we, and our companies, benefit from having a more diverse workforce?

Written by Nology Team - 01.03.22

Everyone has an equal right to live their lives free of discrimination on the basis of race, gender, age, sexuality, and more. This year, we’re focusing on the impact of diversity within the tech sector, and the ways we’re committed to improving it. _nology is a fully remote, immersive coding academy that’s open to everyone, with the intention of creating an inclusive, sustainable tech talent pool that will continue to address and fill the diversity gap in tech. 

Promoting a culture of anti-discrimination and inclusion is often a top priority for organisations across all sectors of the economy, with more and more employers placing a focus on achieving a more diverse workforce. And this goes both ways – 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. 

There have been many interventions to promote better diversity, such as companies signing up to having more female representation on company boards, through to initiatives that encourage individuals from underrepresented and underprivileged backgrounds at school and university to consider STEM careers.

Creating an equal space for as many people as possible to thrive is an obvious reason to improve diversity and inclusion in any workplace. But why is it so important in tech specifically? How can we, and our companies, benefit from having a more diverse workforce?

Innovation

When employees who are different from one another are heard and able to flourish, a company will benefit more from their ideas and skills, according to the Society for Human Resource Management.

A diverse workplace with inclusion at its core means there is more access to different points of views, skill sets, creative visions, approaches, and experiences. This is more likely to result in a company producing more innovative products and services for its clients – which is vital for a company to thrive in the tech sector. Given that the people who use products and engage with services are part of our wonderfully diverse society, it makes sense that the people making those products and services are reflective of their end users.

In fact, inclusivity has proven to promote success. Companies that are actively embracing inclusivity are 1.7 times more likely to be leading the way in terms of innovation. Employees themselves feel they can work from a more innovative mindset (83% more!) if their companies are actively engaging in improving diversity in the workplace. As well as this, with the development and deployment of more and more digital technologies being accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s clear that the sufficient representation of underprivileged and underrepresented groups is more important than ever for tech and innovation.

We ran a _nology consultancy course for Mode Banking, and they were thrilled with the new perspectives they gained through promoting internal diversity: “She is a truly refreshing member of the tech team. She brings a different way of thinking and is unafraid to challenge the status quo of an already very innovative business”. 

More talent to choose from

It has often been reported that the tech industry is suffering from a skills shortage. Increasing and improving diversity and inclusion in the sector could expand the talent pool and address the skills gap. Employers who look for the same candidates over and over could be missing out on innovative skills and ideas, especially if they aren’t being perceived as an inclusive place to work, as people may be put off applying for their vacancies.

Rather than simply looking for technologists already within the tech sector, which is widely known to be lacking in diversity, our model allows us to find people from all backgrounds and careers, meaning we’re searching a huge pool of diverse individuals.  As such, our cohorts are exponentially more diverse than the general tech population – in fact, our retraining cohort for Admiral was 40% female, a huge increase from the industry average of around 25% (according to GAFAM metrics in 2020). 

Social responsibility

It’s safe to say that the world of tech has taken over most aspects of our daily lives – how we shop, travel, communicate, receive news, and so on. We believe that it’s socially responsible for tech companies to not only be diverse, but foster true inclusion as well. We live in an extremely diverse world and, as a result, the technology we use day to day should be produced by not only a workforce reflective of the countries we live in, but also those who use the technology themselves. 

One of our Corporate Social Responsibility partners, Resurgo, is a charity that’s committed to supporting individuals from underprivileged backgrounds and connecting them with transformational opportunities. They identify people with the aptitude to thrive in a tech environment, and we host webinars and workshops to introduce them to _nology, before offering them free training and career support. James Woolley, Resurgo’s Employer Partnerships Manager, has been a key role in facilitating social mobility through our partnership, “Thank you for taking so many of our young people forward, so glad that they impressed and so grateful for you giving them these opportunities… It really is a dream opportunity for them.” 

While a lot of our diversity commitments include gender, race, and ethnicity, a huge part of our focus is on improving social mobility. That means ensuring that everything we do is contributing to a more diverse workforce, namely by providing opportunities to those that may not have otherwise had the opportunity to pursue a career in tech. In fact, half of the individuals in the _nology cohort we sourced and trained for Accenture were career-changers, and 50% are from non-STEM backgrounds. 

Rather than simply focusing on BAME stats or on gender diversity, we put a lot of effort into ensuring social mobility – supporting those from non-STEM backgrounds, those without degrees, and those from underrepresented and underprivileged backgrounds in pursuing their passions and kickstarting their careers in technology.

Better for business

It’s pretty obvious that diversity and inclusion benefits employees in many ways, but, if we’re looking at profitability, too, then being diverse as a business can also help…

Tech Nation’s report suggests that there was a £70,000 turnover premium for directors on boards with gender diversity, and 453% higher investment for directors sitting on internationally diverse boards. So, not only is it better for our workforce and social mobility, but also our businesses.

So – how are we improving diversity and inclusion within tech?

As tech becomes increasingly prevalent in our everyday lives, we need to take the necessary steps to make sure it works for everyone. By taking a proactive approach to being inclusive and developing a diverse workforce, organisations can future-proof their businesses against any skills shortages that could hold back any potential growth.

Rather than simply looking for technologists already within the tech sector, which is widely known to be lacking in diversity, our model allows us to find talented people from all backgrounds and careers, meaning we’re searching a huge pool of diverse individuals. As such, our cohorts are exponentially more diverse than the general tech population – in fact, our retraining cohort for Admiral was 35% ethnically diverse, much higher than the industry average. 

We specifically market to underrepresented groups, including women, BAME individuals, the LGBTQIA+ community, and those from underprivileged backgrounds. By marketing directly to these groups, we are able to dispel myths around working in the tech sector – 67% of our students do not come from STEM backgrounds!

We use targeted campaigns to promote social mobility, and, 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. 

_nology and diversity

At _nology, connecting people with opportunities is what we do – regardless of their background. In fact we’re so committed to this initiative that we ensure 10% of our intake is reserved for people from underprivileged and underrepresented backgrounds, and we cover the cost of their training.

Connecting people with opportunities is what we do – regardless of their background. This not only fills the gap in technology, but fills it with diverse talent and opens doors to a future that may not have been possible otherwise…

Find out more about _nology here, and discover how to diversify your workforce.

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