Attracting and retaining top talent is a significant challenge for establishing a successful organization. This process not only involves acquiring skilled IT professionals but also ensuring their sustained commitment. Retaining your employees requires fostering an environment where they experience a sense of value, inclusion, and respect.
While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to effectively implement DEI programs in your company, starting the journey requires a comprehensive understanding of what DEI encompasses and recognizing its potential contributions to the long-term success of IT initiatives in your organization.
Fostering Inclusivity: Addressing Workplace Discrimination
When addressing discrimination, fostering a work environment that values inclusivity is important. To create a welcoming atmosphere and minimize discrimination within the IT workplace, exploring practical strategies that enhance employee morale and contribute to a more innovative and dynamic work environment is essential.
1. Approach every complaint seriously.
Discrimination is a significant concern in the workplace, as reported on Gallup by 75 percent of black employees who experience discrimination based on their race or ethnicity.¹ Given the substantial impact of this statistic, it’s important to treat individuals, regardless of color, with understanding and empathy.
Acknowledging and addressing these experiences without blaming the affected employee is key to fostering a psychologically safe work environment. Everyone’s perspective should be considered valid, and efforts should be directed towards creating an inclusive workplace where employees facing discrimination are heard, and positive outcomes are sought.
Just as physical safety is prioritized, ensuring psychological safety becomes equally imperative in promoting a healthy and respectful workplace environment.
2. Designate an officer for DEI.
In your organization, the success of diversity initiatives depends on the support of your leadership team. Appointing a DEI officer can help your organization understand the principles of cultivating an inclusive and diverse culture.
It’s essential to model, emphasize, and encourage growth to transform your company culture. This involves having both allies and individuals from underrepresented backgrounds in senior roles.
The role of the DEI officer is to promote an environment that embraces differences, appreciating each unique employee. Other responsibilities include:
- Advocating for positive relations and practices toward various minority groups.
- Providing support to those facing discrimination.
- Conducting diversity workshops for communities, staff, and volunteers.
- Analyzing qualitative data to identify any potential risk of exclusion and proactively addressing issues.
3. Allocate resources to train employees.
Diversity training helps employees understand how cultural differences can influence work dynamics and interpersonal relationships in the office. This training includes language, communication styles, self-identity, and conflict resolution.
According to InStride, 92 percent of business leaders believe that implementing a strategic workforce education program is vital for attaining DEI goals.² Promoting a culture of continuous learning is a fundamental principle for your organization. This can be achieved by introducing coaching or courses on mentoring to foster inclusivity throughout teams.
Conducting training sessions equips all employees with the necessary tools to actively reshape their thinking and contribute to a more positive work culture.
4. Establish employee resource groups.
Establishing employee resource groups (ERGs) can be a valuable strategy for promoting DEI within the tech workplace.
ERGs within the IT field can provide a platform for employees who share common interests or concerns related to technology, conducting regular discussions on overcoming barriers to DEI. These groups encourage employee engagement and collaboration and contribute to meaningful conversations that can positively impact diversity among team members.
While the initiative to form such groups should ideally come from employees, IT leaders and HR professionals can kickstart the process by disseminating announcements through digital platforms, emails, and communication channels commonly used in the tech community. This approach empowers IT professionals to have their voices heard and actively contribute to creating a more inclusive and diverse environment.
Equitable Hiring Practices: Diversity in Recruitment
Embracing a positive approach to diversity allows you to select the most qualified individual for a job based on their skills and abilities rather than considering factors like age, disability, gender, or race.
Below are some tips on how to improve the inclusivity of your recruitment and hiring processes to attract a diverse range of candidates.
1. Application forms
The language you choose for application forms carries a significant weight. Choosing an inclusive language ensures that all applicants feel welcome, understood, and acknowledged. Even seemingly trivial questions can affect a candidate’s experience, so prioritize creating a sense of acceptance from the beginning.
Before designing application forms for IT roles, consider the questions you plan to include. While specific questions, like age, might seem conventional, they are not essential for an IT role.
Adopting fair and inclusive interviews expands your reach and streamlines the overall process. Here are some starting points:
Standardize the interview.
Create interview questions that align with the basic requirements of the IT role. Ensure that the process and experience are similar across multiple candidates.
Evaluate the structure of your questions.
Shifting the focus to capabilities rather than direct experience improves inclusivity, allowing candidates from diverse backgrounds to share their thoughts and experiences.
Instead of asking, “Have you done this?” you can ask, “How would you approach doing this?”
Ask for sample work.
Ask candidates to provide samples of code they’ve written or projects they’ve completed so that the hiring team can directly assess the candidate’s coding proficiency, problem-solving abilities, and the quality of their work.
This approach offers an in-depth understanding of a candidate’s technical skills and helps mitigate unconscious biases in the hiring process.
Related Article: 11 Essential Interview Tips and Techniques for Candidates in 2023
Small Changes, Big Impact: Everyday Approaches to Promoting DEI
In establishing DEI initiatives, even small everyday changes can have a significant impact. Here are some simple yet effective approaches that can contribute to promoting inclusive workplaces.
1. Recognize Accomplishments
Recognizing the achievements of each team member emerges as a straightforward yet impactful method to uplift spirits and cultivate a feeling of worth and inclusivity for everyone.
Showing appreciation or offering a sincere “thank you” has a substantial impact, even through small gestures. Arranging face-to-face gatherings to celebrate accomplishments shows genuine gratitude for their contributions, highlighting the importance of their role as an IT professional.
You can celebrate by:
- Providing incentives and rewards for exceptional contributions.
- Broadcasting achievements company-wide through group meetings, online platforms, or newsletters.
- Showcasing their achievements and contributions on the company’s LinkedIn page.
2. Evaluate Organizational Practices
Review existing policies and content to ensure they align with your company’s current direction. Incorporate inclusive phrases and positive messages in mission statements, policies, or announcements.
- Avoid using gender-specific terms or slang.
- Use BAME (Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic) instead of POC (People of Color).
- Refer to individuals without disabilities as “able-bodied” instead of “normal,” recognizing that employees with disabilities are “normal” too.
- If unsure how to refer to someone, ask about their pronouns.
- Ask if someone with a disability prefers “people-first” or “identity-first” language.³
Related Article: Mastering Remote Team Management: A Comprehensive Guide for Managers
3. Monitor Long-Term Progress
Adobe believes that fostering respect and inclusion unleashes creativity, innovation, and success.⁴ While they acknowledge the ongoing work required to advance diversity and inclusion, Adobe is committed to investing in the progress of their company and industry. The company recognizes its employees as “agile, resilient, and uniquely capable of innovating to make an impact” and reports substantial progress toward their DEI goals.
Adobe also maintains transparency by regularly publishing annual diversity reports. In 2021, they earned 16 DEI awards, highlighting their continuous dedication to providing equal opportunities for everyone.
Through active monitoring of long-term progress, organizations can assess the impact of their initiatives, identify areas for improvement, and maintain a dedicated commitment to cultivating a diverse and inclusive environment.
Broaden Your Outreach to Include Diverse Talent Pools with Strategic Systems
Assess your current hiring processes to identify potential biases and barriers. Explore partnerships with Strategic Systems that specialize in connecting employers with diverse groups.
We can help you promote equal opportunities for career growth and advancement within your organization that fosters an environment where all employees, regardless of background, can thrive and progress in their careers.
Contact us today and start your organization’s journey toward progress, initiatives, and success in creating a more inclusive workplace.
1. Lloyd, Camille. “One in Four Black Workers Report Discrimination at Work.” Gallup, 12 Jan. 2021, news.gallup.com/one-four-black-workers-report-discrimination-work.
2. “Business Leaders Value Talent Development. You Should Too.” InStride, 1 Oct. 2020, www.instride.com/csuite-executives-value-talent-development-why-you-should-too.
3. “Person-First and Identity-First Language.” Earn, askearn.org/people-first-language. 16 Jan. 2023.
4. “Our Strategy | Adobe Diversity and Inclusion.” Adobe, www.adobe.com/diversity/strategy/overview. 16 Jan, 2023.