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The future of diversity and inclusion in the IT sector

The IT sector, or information technology, has experienced strong evolution in recent years, and not only at a technical level. One of the most important adjustments that have occurred has been the arrival of groups that, until not too long ago, were excluded. And this raises a series of challenges both when it comes to advancing diversity and achieving inclusion.

In its early days, the IT industry was largely dominated by white men, with a clear underrepresentation of women and ethnic minorities in both technical and leadership roles.

But, as the sector has matured, and as Human Resources theories that speak about the importance of diversity in the workplace have evolved, the presence of minorities is beginning to become more and more common. In fact, in recent years they have developed globally campaigns to attract women and less present ethnic groups to the IT industry. 

Many companies have already adopted inclusive hiring policies, and have set themselves the challenge of achieving diversity and equity objectives. To achieve this, they have implemented different measures such as training their HR staff on unconscious bias.

There is still a lot of work to do, but the progress has been quite significant. Let's see in more detail what the outlook is for this sector to become as inclusive as it should be.

Table of Contents

Diversity as a key to innovation

The technology sector is advancing at breakneck speed. Companies do not want to fall behind their competitors and, to do so, they have to enhance their innovation processes as much as possible. And it turns out that, to achieve this, diversity may be the key.

Variety of perspectives and experiences

Searching for new ideas and solutions is more complicated in an environment in which all professional profiles are homogeneous. If all or almost all members of the workforce have very similar life and work experiences, there is a risk that there will be a creative block.

On the contrary, when the workforce is made up of people of different gender, ethnicity, cultural origin, age, etc., there is a wider range of perspectives and approaches, which allows you to find creative solutions faster and easier.

When people with different points of view and approaches have to work together, they dialogue, debate, and explore new ways of thinking that can lead to interesting innovations.

Creativity and divergent thinking

In an environment where everyone thinks more or less the same, raising a divergent idea can pose a risk that many employees are not willing to take. Thus, even if someone has a good proposal, it is possible that it ends up being lost.

This is a phenomenon that does not happen in the diverse work environments that are already being generated in the IT sector. As each member of the team has different points of view and has had different experiences, everyone is more open to receiving new ideas. Thus, the fear of proposing disruptive proposals disappears and progress is made.

Improving the decision-making process

The diverse work team works and collaborates together, but does not have the “hive” thought which is typical in work groups made up of people with a very homogeneous profile. Now it is especially interesting when making decisions.

The diverse teams discuss ideas and conduct a full analysis of available options to try to reach an agreement. This allows you to have more information about each proposal, know its pros and cons and, consequently, be able to make decisions in a more informed and effective way.

Identification of market opportunities

Each person identifies more with the people in the group to which they belong, and this makes them better aware of their needs and preferences. 

This, applied to the commercial field, is very important. Because a heterogeneous work group is capable of develop products adapted to a greater variety of customers and users than a less diverse one.

Inclusion, the great challenge

Create diverse work teams It's easy once you overcome barriers like unconscious bias. But diversity also implies challenges that must be dealt with because, otherwise, teams made up of different personal and professional profiles will not work.

In the case of the IT sector, diversity is still something very recent, so the main challenge for the future is to achieve good integration. 

The first step is to create a inclusive organizational culture. That allows all employees to feel valued, respected and supported, regardless of issues such as their origin, gender, age, sexual orientation, disability, etc.

To get to this point, it is necessary to turn inclusion into a real value within the company culture, and put into practice policies and practices aimed at ending discrimination.

Inclusion must be supported at all levels. It is not enough to have teams of technicians made up of heterogeneous profiles that are well integrated with each other. We must go one step further and promote diversity also in leadership positions. 

A good way to achieve this is by including people who belong to underrepresented groups in leadership development programs. Within the organization there must be true equality of opportunity, so that any member of the staff has the opportunity to grow professionally.

What is needed, ultimately, is for companies to have a true commitment to inclusion. And they are willing to work to address the barriers and challenges that underrepresented groups have to face in the IT sector.

Diversity and inclusion initiatives and best practices in the IT sector

Diversity and inclusion are a challenge that companies must begin to address now. A good way to move towards this goal is to implement some good practices that have already proven to be effective.

Workforce Diversification Programs

They focus on expand the scope of contraction, so that a greater number of people of different origins, genders and cultures participate in the selection processes. Because, the more heterogeneity there is among the applicants, the easier it will be. overcome unconscious biases in the selection and the more diverse the staff will become naturally.

To achieve this, you can launch specific programs or look for talent outside the usual channels.

One of the pioneers in workforce diversification programs has been Google, which through its “Grow with Google” program offers training programs in digital skills for people from different backgrounds.

Unconscious bias training

Achieving a diverse workforce is only possible if recruiters leave unconscious biases aside. To get to this point you must receive training and information on this topic.

Furthermore, it is necessary to implement selection methods that prevent certain personal conditions of the applicant may influence whether or not they advance within the recruitment process.

In Facebook, they have been offering all staff members for a long time unconscious bias training. In this way, they have achieved a hiring of more heterogeneous profiles and greater inclusion of all employees.

Employee Resource Groups

In an ideal future we will not have to talk about how to promote diversity in the IT sector, because this will already be a consolidated reality. But for the moment, Belonging to a minority in a workspace with a certain homogeneity can be complicated.

One way to solve this problem is for companies to strengthen resource groups for employees belonging to different groups. So that they can organize awareness events and activities.

In Microsoft There are different programs of this type such as “Women at Microsoft” or “Blacks at Microsoft”, and through them they are achieving very good results when it comes to promoting diversity and inclusion, not only in the company but in the technology industry in general.

Inclusion in the design of products and services

It is important that the products and services that reach the market are as inclusive and accessible as possible. So that all people can use them. For this to be possible, it is essential that there be diversity in the design and development process.

A good example is that of Manzana. The company has not only promoted the hiring of people with disabilities, but has committed to making its products more accessible for people with disabilities.

These types of policies contribute to creating more diverse, inclusive and equitable work environments, and that is the goal. Because only in this way can people belonging to different minorities have an interest in working in the IT sector. Something that, as we have seen, can greatly enrich this industry.

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