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Can tech employers be doing more to attract diverse talent?

(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/Kirill Wright)

Can tech employers be doing more to attract diverse talent? Over half (56 per cent) of professionals working in tech say their chances of being selected for a job have been lowered because of an identifying factor, according to the Hays Diversity & Inclusion 2019 report. This is higher when compared to the 52 per cent UK all-sector average, indicating that recruiting diverse talent ought to be a focus for employers in tech organisations.

The report specified identifying factors to include age, gender/gender identity, ethnicity/nationality, disability, mental health, neurodivergency, sexual orientation, religion, dependents status, marital/civil-partnership status and socio-economic background.

Among tech professionals, around three in five (59 per cent) felt that their chances of being selected for a job had been lowered due to their age. Following this, 42 per cent felt their chances had been limited because of their ethnicity or nationality and, 29 per cent said it was because of their gender or gender identity. Close to two thirds 61 per cent said this had occurred in the last 12 months.

When it comes to career progression, almost half (48 per cent) said their chances to progress have also been limited due to an identifying factor. The top three reasons cited were also age (49 per cent), ethnicity or nationality (42 per cent) and gender or gender identity (35 per cent).

Impact of unbiased language in attracting diverse talent

Considering the high proportions of tech professionals who felt limited in the way of selection and progression, what can tech employers do to ensure they are attracting truly diverse talent?

Findings from the report reveal that the language which is used to describe vacancies, organisation and culture may help. In fact, almost three quarters (71 per cent) of tech professionals believe that having unbiased language in these areas will have the most positive impact on attracting a diverse range of candidates.

Despite this, only just over half (53 per cent) believe their organisation currently uses unbiased language in their recruitment material. Even fewer (41 per cent) say their organisation has clearly defined, unbiased tone of voice guidelines when it comes to recruitment purposes.

Providing unconscious bias training to hiring managers or interviewers may be the answer to avoid using biased language in recruitment material. Over two thirds (68 per cent) of tech professionals believe that providing this training would have a positive impact, although less than a third (32 per cent) say that their organisation currently offers this.

Jobseekers struggle to see their employer’s commitment to diversity and inclusion

In addition to using unbiased language, displaying a commitment to diversity and inclusion was also revealed as a way tech employers can recruit diverse talent. Over half (53 per cent) of tech professionals say they actively look for an organisation’s commitment to diversity and inclusion when researching a potential employer, but more (69 per cent) said this type of information is hard or extremely hard to find. Across the UK overall, 61 per cent said this was hard or extremely hard to find.

In light of this, organisations are encouraged to profile their commitment to diversity and inclusion, as clearly this is a priority for those working in tech. When asked about the impact this would have, almost two thirds (63 per cent) said that it would have a positive impact on the attraction of new and more diverse talent.

Currently, only 37 per cent agree that their organisation does which is lower than the 44 per cent of professionals across all sectors in the UK. Along with addressing unconscious bias in recruitment material through providing adequate training, employers are urged to better profile their commitment to diversity and inclusion to attract diverse talent to their organisation.

About the research

The research was carried out in Spring 2019 and is based on a survey of over 5,200 employers and employees from across the UK, from a range of key demographics, industries and sectors.

James Milligan, Director, Hays Digital Technology