Poor diversity hiring in tech sector may cost women, minorities billions

Poor diversity hiring in tech sector may cost women, minorities billions

Dive Brief:

  • The tech industry is making only slight gains in hiring women and nonwhites, reports CNET. Although there are many reasons for recruiting more women and minorities, economic opportunity alone is perhaps the most significant. A recent report by consulting firm Accenture showed that without enhanced diversity hiring measures in the tech industry, women alone could miss out on $299 billion in income by 2025.
  • Additionally, the American Institute for Economic Research found that African Americans, Asians and Hispanics in skilled tech positions earn less than their whites in similar positions. Some Silicon Valley firms have started issuing diversity reports, CNET says. Though the intention of these reports is to improve transparency, sources argue that 1% annual increases in diversity aren’t a cause for celebration.
  • Tech firms are using metrics to track progress in hiring. Separating out the number of new hires can demonstrate a firm’s commitment to diversity. Retention is the second metric, which can show whether women and minorities leave soon after being hired.

Dive Insight:

Diversity reports might not be easy to digest, but they are a much-needed reality check for firms making little to no progress in diversity hiring.

Catherine Ashcraft, a senior research scientist at the National Center for Women and Information Technology, told CNET that tech firms might misinterpret the low numbers of women and nonwhites in the industry as their reluctance to work in technology.

That might explain why tech firms haven’t stepped up their recruitment efforts, but it’s no excuse if whole segments of the workforce are shut out of career opportunities and the chance to earn good wages.

Hiring isn’t enough, either. Tech jobs generally pay well, but if there are pay disparities along gender, racial and ethnic line, that’s a black eye for the industry. Firms need to review wage and salary levels among similarly situated workers to avoid bias and possibly discrimination charges. Similarly, hiring a diverse workforce means little if firms can’t retain that talent.

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