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Quantum computing and diversity

Quantum computing in the forefront. Diverse recruiting essential

The quantum computing sector is at the forefront of technology, dealing with some of the world’s most pressing issues, such as energy provision and supply chain logistics. It relies on its workforce to be innovative and creative. However, diversity is lacking: only 1 in 54 applicants for quantum roles are female, while 80% of quantum companies do not have a senior female figure, a briefing from the London School of Economics and Political Science says in a briefing.

The Inclusion Initiative at LSE released a briefing saying it paves the way for future research focus on Diversity & Inclusion in a quantum sector forecast to be worth up to $10 billion by 2027.

The briefing stresses the importance of debiasing search and hiring, encouraging task-based assessments to overcome affinity-based hiring from over-relying on interviews.

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“Hiring diverse candidates will become easier with increasingly larger networks of diverse individuals and more information on diverse and inclusive hiring and retaining practices in the sector. Ultimately, the Quantum industry is missing out on talent, innovation and productivity without hiring diversely and turning its firms into inclusive employers”, the briefing states.

It says Diversity & Inclusion should be treated like any other major business priority. Finally, the briefing states that the quantum sector needs to invest in upskilling leaders in inclusive leadership, so that every leader ensures that all colleagues get equal opportunities, visibility and voice.

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Highlights from the briefing:

Recruiting

Companies and organisations need to focus on unbiased job descriptions and interview processes. By relying less on an applicant’s background and more on, for example, taskbased assessments, recruiters can broaden their talent spectrum and hire more diversely. It is also key for companies to bear in mind that that diversity and inclusion is both a selling point for their company and can be helpful to retain talent.

To note, 62 per cent of current employees in quantum want their workforce to do more to increase diversity, according to Quantum Futures.

Treat diversity and inclusion like any other business critical issue

Collecting data is necessary to progress on gender issues such as the gender pay gap. The power of publication should not be underestimated and transparency drives change in the industry. Like any other business goal, executives need to work hard to foster diversity and inclusion.

The status quo needs to be challenged and norms surrounding hiring removed. It takes a multi-layered, multi-year and systematic approach to change the make up and culture of an organisation. D&I must be owned and held accountable at the Board level.

Opportunity, visibility, voice

To achieve inclusion at work we need to ensure equal opportunities for all talent of both growth and networking opportunities. Auditing this type of behaviour is crucial to make salient the choices leaders are making, often unconsciously.

We need to ensure the equal visibility of all talent. Inclusive leaders should ensure equal visibility for their colleagues i.e. give accolades or speak about them positively when they are not in the room.

We need to ensure the equal voice of all talent. Inclusive leaders should make sure that everyone is heard and has voice when they are having meetings. Companies can implement an advocation system where advocates act as promoter of opportunities, visibility and voice for the employee and as enabler of their career.

Dr Grace Lordan, Director of the Inclusion Initiative, says: “Quantum computing will play a big role in shaping our world in the future. It is important that the world is shaped by people with different perspectives and backgrounds. Women are few and far between in the sector right now: we need to change this.”

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