When working towards creating a more diverse workforce, it is important to be mindful of the difference between having a diverse team and being inclusive. If you have a diverse team but people don’t feel included, some may see this as a metric highlighting a failing diversity and inclusion strategy. Inclusion is a vital component of any diversity strategy because without inclusion it’s difficult to then reap the benefits of diversity such as innovative products and services, as well as increased talent, and subsequently improved company performance.
Of course diversity is incredibly important, but alongside inclusion it’s more effective because it means that not only is your workforce made up of people who all have something different to offer, but also that those people all feel like they belong, and are valued equally by their employer.
In essence, inclusion is a feeling of genuine belonging. It is an effort that is engrained into the ethos of a company or organisation whereby everyone is culturally and socially accepted regardless of their backgrounds or other differences. Inclusion is equal treatment and a welcoming environment for all.
In order to determine what inclusion in tech means for both employers and employees it’s important to consider what differences there can be within a team. Differences can be age, race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, religion, or socioeconomic. However, they can also be due to what type of education a person has received, what sector experience they’ve had, and even their personality. Personality can make people feel excluded, especially in settings where the environment is more geared towards enabling extroverts to thrive. It has been widely acknowledged that not considering how an environment that may suit an extrovert, may in turn overwhelm an introvert can create divisions in the office environment, therefore risking groups of people not feeling included.
Other important aspects of inclusion are encouragement, participation, and respect. To feel genuinely included these three alongside a sense of genuine belonging and value are goals for employers to focus on when implementing a diversity and inclusion strategy.
If you were to paint a picture of what inclusion in the workplace looks like it would feature an environment where treating everyone with respect is paramount, everyone’s input is valued and discussed equally, and no one is ever held back because they have different motivations or viewpoints.
There are various reason why inclusion is important in tech, diversity is arguably nothing without an inclusive culture to get the best from it. Here are our top 3 benefits for inclusion in the tech industry:
According to a report by The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) when employees who are different from one another are heard and enabled to flourish, a company will benefit more from their ideas and skills. A diverse workplace whereby inclusion is at its core means there is more access to different points of views, skillsets, creative visions, approaches, and experience which is more likely to result in a tech company producing more innovative products and services for users and clients.
Tech has slowly taken over most aspects of daily life from how we shop, how we travel to how we communicate with one another and receive news. Therefore some would argue that actually it is socially responsible for tech companies to not only be diverse but foster true inclusion as well. Putting the production of tech services and products in the hands of one demographic is a lot of responsibility. Especially because we live in a diverse world so the technology we’re using should be produced by a workforce reflective of the diversity of not just the countries we live in, but the world.
It has been widely reported that the tech industry is suffering from a skills shortage. Recent statistics from The Edge Foundation highlighted there were 600,000 tech vacancies in the UK as of summer 2018. Increasing and improving diversity and inclusion in the tech industry is an investment companies can make to increase the talent pool and lessen the skills shortage. Employers are potentially missing out on skills and ideas if they aren’t being perceived as an inclusive place to work, because people may be being put off applying for vacancies.
To read more about how to create an inclusive workplace, see our guide here