July 26, 2021
Ninety percent of global businesses struggle with inclusion and diversity practices within their technology/ IT teams according to ‘The key to designing inclusive tech: creating diverse and inclusive tech teams’ report by the Capgemini Research Institute.
Recognition of a lack of inclusion from the top is a key enabler to access diverse communities. Organisations that focus on diversity and inclusion in their tech teams will benefit from innovation, revenue, and brand value opportunities, highlights the report.
Over the course of the pandemic, great pressure has been placed upon businesses to recruit tech talent from a shrinking pool. As enterprises have struggled to find the appropriate talent to fulfil their needs, the focus on good diversity and inclusion practices has slipped. A gulf has emerged between the leadership’s positive perception of inclusion in IT and tech teams and the harsh reality experienced by ethnic minority and female team members.
According to the report, 85 percent of leadership executives believe their organisations provide equitable opportunities for career development and promotions to every employee across their organisations, but only 19 percent of women and ethnic minority employees agree. This misalignment adds to a perpetuating Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) problem across industries deploying technologies for end-users as leaders believe progress is being made, but tech employees on the ground remain pessimistic about the reality.
The spectrum of the perception gap is vast. 75 percent of leadership executives believe that women and ethnic minorities feel a sense of belonging in their organisations, but only 24 percent of these employees in tech functions concur. 53 percent of women and ethnic minority employees feel comfortable sharing personal experiences with other employees and peers, whereas only 9 percent of them feel the same comfort level with their leadership.
Only 16 percent of women and ethnic-minority tech employees believe that they are well represented in tech teams. Further, in IT/tech teams, only one in five employees is female, and one in six is from an ethnic-minority community. When it comes to career opportunities, the gap between non-diverse and male employees and ethnic-minority tech employees and women tech employees is palpable; for instance, just 22 percent of Black tech employees feel they have an equal opportunity to grow compared to their non-diverse colleagues.
The perception gap between leadership and women and ethnic minorities in tech functions on inclusion processes and measures is narrower for organisations with an advanced inclusive culture. When asked whether women and ethnic minorities have equal access to employee resources, groups, and HR as compared to other employees from non-diverse backgrounds, the perception gap between inclusive organisations and the rest is significant (31 percent compared with 55 percent).
Consumers are experiencing discriminatory technologies because of deficient diversity and inclusion practices in the tech teams of global businesses. In the financial services sector, for instance, 50 percent of ethnic minorities on average believe they were offered lower credit for certain banking products online, compared to 28 percent of customers who were not from ethnic minority communities. Meanwhile in healthcare, 43 percent of women and consumers from ethnic minority communities believe they were not shown healthcare facilities in high-end locations or those offering very specialised services.
As a result, consumers are concerned about discriminatory technology and are increasingly conscious of how their data is used and how it might impact them negatively. For example, two thirds (66 percent) of ethnic minority consumers say they worry that their personal data could be used to negatively impact their employment opportunities.
The report highlights that organisations with diverse and inclusive tech teams are 4 times more likely to create inclusive products.
“The importance of inclusive tech workforces, cultures and practices, is more important than ever.”
Shobha Meera, Chief Corporate Social Responsibility Officer and Group Executive Committee Member at Capgemini, comments: “In a world of increasing demand for tech-fueled products and services that are free of discrimination and are inclusive by design, the importance of inclusive tech workforces, cultures and practices, is more important than ever. And yet, we see a wide gap not only in the state of inclusive representation in the tech workforce of organisations, but also in the perceptions of leaders Vs women and ethnic minorities on the state of inclusion in tech. This report draws attention to the urgent need for organisations and leaders to embrace this reality and focus on improving diversity and inclusion in tech teams in a challenging talent environment.”
Organisations need to build an effective inclusion strategy, beyond upping education and awareness at the highest levels, concludes the report. Organisations need to deploy various processes, policies and value systems that champion inclusion. This includes diversity and anti-harassment policies, and a clear inclusion mandate for technology teams.
Leaders of technology teams need to ensure that women and ethnic-minority employees are given equal opportunities for career growth, progression, and input into product development, while also building the tech and data foundations for measuring, monitoring and improving inclusion outcomes. Fairness in AI systems must also be deployed while checking and correcting for algorithmic biases.
Lastly, organisations must keep diverse users at the heart of their product design, development and deployment processes.
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