As has been widely documented, the technology sector has a longstanding and persistent issue as it pertains to its lack of diversity and representation.
As it stands, only 26% of the UK technology sector’s workforce are women, while ethnic minorities make up only 18% of its numbers. While the numbers may show promise nowadays compared to recent years, it’s evident that there is still a long way to go. It doesn’t help that the sector itself is plagued with outdated preconceptions of being a ‘boys-only’ club, which is why it’s unsurprising that so many young women are dissuaded from joining the sector.
Most technology employers would agree that improving their diversity ratio helps them be more creative, innovative and achieve better results for their clients and customers. Embracing diversity is crucial for challenging biases and reflecting on the diversity that exists within technology as a whole. Incorporating diverse hiring practices should not be seen as a tick-box exercise; it should be viewed strategically as a way for companies to be more visible and actively demonstrate inclusivity.
One of the most effective ways for companies to bridge the diversity gap and build a more inclusive workforce is to establish internship programmes. These programmes have been embraced for some time in sectors like technology – and beyond – but how can organisations successfully overcome diversity challenges by hiring the right interns? Let’s look into this in more detail.
Internships provide work experience for – usually young – people looking to break into industries or fields for the first time, or who are looking for ways to learn valuable skills while earning a basic salary or completing their education.
It’s no secret that unpaid internships have received heavy criticism in the past, which is why companies have to tread carefully. If they can pay interns a respectable wage while providing them with valuable real-world experience, the agreement is more likely to be mutually beneficial and lead to long-term success.
From a business’s perspective, internships can help build solid talent pipelines and save them significant amounts on recruitment costs. Individuals benefit greatly from internships as they can learn crucial technical skills and begin to get used to working for a reputable and respected firm. For technology companies in particular, internships present them with opportunities to tap into new and diverse talent pools.
By adopting inclusive recruitment policies and establishing a diverse company culture from the outset, internship programmes can appeal to greater numbers of applicants. Furthermore, over time, they can address issues around the sector’s longstanding lack of diversity.
It’s all well and good saying that internships present such opportunities, but how exactly can a company alter its hiring practices and culture to attract the right types of interns?
Technology firms can become more ‘visible’ and ‘active’ in the ongoing fight to close the diversity gap in three distinct ways:
For a company’s internship programme to attract diverse candidates who can offer different, unique perspectives and points of view, the business owner must work diligently to foster an inclusive culture from top to bottom.
This will involve:
By building an inclusive workplace and culture, interns will see first-hand that your company takes diversity seriously and provides opportunities for deserving individuals regardless of their background.
Any company’s reputation for inclusion and diversity inside and outside the organisation is vital for attracting more potential interns when vacancies arise. Not only that, but your followers, suppliers, partners and stakeholders will also take notice if you are visibly trying to improve your company’s diversity.
Companies should consider the following as far as reputation and engagement are concerned:
Following the above steps will work wonders at helping technology firms quash many of the misconceptions and outdated ideals that people may hold about them.
Another way that technology companies can attract greater numbers of diverse interns involves them diversifying and adjusting their recruitment strategies.
To attract more interns, companies need to:
While many of the tactics outlined above don’t require a huge amount of adjustment for a recruitment strategy, it’s astounding how many more diverse candidates your company could attract by implementing them.
In summary, an inclusive company internship programme will bring provide a company with:
An inclusive internship programme that embraces diversity will build a sustainable pipeline of talent for the future.