Strategies to Attract and Retain Diverse Tech Talent

Diverse tech talent brings a variety of perspectives, ideas, and experiences that drive innovation and better problem-solving. This leads to more widely usable products and services. Simply put, diversity is a game-changer.

Without it, you risk creating an echo chamber and potentially driving away or deterring diverse talent. Embracing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) isn’t just a nice-to-have; it’s essential.

Where Are We Now?

DE&I has been a hot topic for a while now, but the recent tech landscape has seen many DE&I initiatives and roles being cut. This can lead to a sense of apathy. But instead of stepping back, now is the time for CTOs and Talent Leaders to show the way towards a fairer, more inclusive tech industry.

Here are six strategies to help you attract and retain diverse tech talent:

1. Rethink Your Approach to DE&I

Shift your mindset from seeing DE&I as one-off training sessions to viewing it as a continuous process of change management. It’s about creating an environment within your tech team (and ideally, beyond) where everyone feels heard, respected, and empowered. Avoid the pitfall of flashy, one-time workshops. Instead, make DE&I an ongoing effort with actionable plans.

For example, after an unconscious bias training session, don’t simply close the door and tick the box. Instead, create specific follow-up plans. Identify how your organisation currently relies on biases or stereotypes when hiring new tech talent and develop methods to address these issues. This ensures that your DE&I efforts are sustained, relevant, and impactful.

2. Audit Your Recruitment and Retention Practices

Broaden your recruitment horizons beyond traditional backgrounds. Focus on skills, aptitude, experience, and potential rather than just formal education. Consider using tools like gender decoders for job descriptions and highlighting flexible working practices. This ensures your process is inclusive and transparent.

Ask yourself: Are you requiring every applicant to have a computer science degree? Why not focus on relevant experience and self-learning, especially for roles in software engineering? Also, provide interview questions in advance to accommodate neurodiverse candidates who may perform better when not caught off guard. These steps can help attract a broader range of applicants.

3. Give Your Team a Voice and Act on Feedback

Your existing team is a valuable source of insights on how to recruit and retain diverse tech talent. Conduct anonymous surveys to understand their experiences and perceptions. Have they ever felt excluded or discriminated against? What was off-putting about the recruitment process or weekly stand-ups? Have they ever considered leaving, and why? Do they consider the workplace flexible? What improvements do they feel are needed? If you’re a CTO, it can be hard to know what’s going on in the everyday, so give that voice and a safe space to those who really experience it.

Gathering this information is just the first step; the real impact comes from acting on the results. Address the issues, communicate the realistic steps you’re taking, and invite your employees to participate in every step of the change process.

4. Diversify Your Leadership Team

Diversity should extend to all levels, especially leadership and whilst this may be particularly challenging in tech, the impact can be huge. Research shows that ethnic and gender diversity drastically decreases the further up the tech ladder you look. Leaders and interview panels should be as diverse as possible. When candidates see a leadership team that represents various backgrounds, it signals that your commitment to diversity is genuine, and that progression in your company is a reality.

Representation and role models across all levels of your organisation are crucial to show that you’re serious about recruiting and developing diverse tech talent.

5. Collaborate with Expert Organisations

You don’t have to go it alone. Partner with organisations that specialise in building diverse tech teams. For example, Tech Returners programmes help individuals from underrepresented groups return to tech after career breaks. Their returners are 53% female and 62% people of colour, and they often bring a wealth of experience, diversity and maturity to the table.

Consider becoming a hiring partner for coding bootcamps like Northcoders, which supports career switchers entering tech. This naturally increases diversity by allowing people from all walks of life to access the same opportunities without the barriers of traditional education. Also, explore partnerships with universities for degree apprenticeships, which can further diversify your talent pool.

6. Invest in Development and Progression

Bringing diverse talent on board is just the first step. Invest in their continuous development with training, mentorship programs, and clear progression plans. Research from Tech Returners and Sage found that 78% of women in tech believe organisations should provide more coaching and support.

Ask yourself: Are you going beyond technical up skilling to include leadership training, growth opportunities, and shadowing? Have you got a mentorship program in place for new or junior employees? Is there a clear progression plan for your tech department and regular meetings to take stock of progress? Investing in these areas will help retain your new diverse talent.

Ready to Lead the Way?

Embracing diversity isn’t just the right thing to do; it’s a strategic advantage. Companies with greater diversity often outperform their less-diverse counterparts in profitability and innovation. Rethink your approach, broaden your tech recruitment strategies, listen to your team, diversify your leadership, collaborate with experts, and invest in growth. The result? Happier employees, a stronger brand reputation, better business outcomes and more relevant products and services.

Want to learn more about sourcing diverse tech teams, get in touch with our team today.

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