Current inclusion and diversity practices in technology are inadequate – but perhaps even more alarming is that leaders seem to have not recognised this lack of inclusion, a new research by the Capgemini Research Institute has found.
According to ‘The key to designing inclusive tech: creating diverse and inclusive tech teams’ report, a vast majority (90%) of global businesses struggle with inclusion and diversity practices within their technology/IT teams.
“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,” researchers note.
The report highlights that recognition of a lack of inclusion from the top is a key enabler to access diverse communities and that organizations that focus on diversity and inclusion in their tech teams will ultimately benefit from innovation, revenue, and brand value opportunities.
85% of leadership executives believe that their organizations provide equitable opportunities for career development to every employee, but only 18% women and ethnic-minority tech employees agree.
Key Findings at a Glance
Leaders Believe their Organisations are Inclusive - Diverse Employees Disagree
The research has revealed a gap between leadership’s positive perception of inclusion in the workplace and the harsh reality experienced by ethnic-minority and women tech employees.
While 85% of leadership executives believe their organisations provide fair and impartial opportunities to technology employees for career growth and promotions, only 18% of women and ethnic-minority employees in tech functions agree with that assessment.
Similarly, 81% of the leadership executives believe that leaders, managers, recruiters, and supervisors undergo rigorous and periodic bias training and are assigned personal accountability for systematically reducing microinequities16 and promoting inclusive leadership. However, only 27% of women and ethnic-minority employees in tech functions agree that this is the case.
“This perception gap creates a significant problem, with leadership executives believing progress is being made but on-the-ground employees being pessimistic about the real picture,” the report points out.
The spectrum of the perception gap is vast. 75% of leadership executives believe that women and ethnic minorities feel a sense of belonging in their organizations, but only 24% of these employees in tech functions concur.
Additionally, only 16% 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% of Black tech employees feel they have an equal opportunity to grow compared to their non-diverse colleagues.
Organizations with advanced inclusive practices are 4 times more likely to create inclusive products.
Inclusive Design is Still a Rare Phenomenon
The report also notes that 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% of ethnic minorities on average believe they were offered lower credit for certain banking products online, compared to 28% of customers who were not from ethnic minority communities. Meanwhile in healthcare, 43% of women and consumers from ethnic minority communities believe they were not shown healthcare facilities in high-end locations or those offering very specialized 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%) of ethnic minority consumers say they worry that their personal data could be used to negatively impact their employment opportunities.
The report highlights that organizations with diverse and inclusive tech teams are 4 times more likely to create inclusive products.
How Can Organizations Move Towards Greater Inclusion in Tech Teams and Products?
The report argues that organizations need to build an effective inclusion strategy, beyond upping education and awareness at the highest levels. Organizations 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.
At the same time, 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.
The report also suggests that organizations must keep diverse users at the heart of their product design, development and deployment processes.