Building Diversity Across Tech Leadership Teams

Tech leaders face challenges in addressing diversity within their organizations and the broader tech ecosystem.

Nathan Eddy, Freelance Writer

December 27, 2023

4 Min Read
Photo depicting diverse group of IT leaders.
Kzenon via Alamy Stock

At a Glance

  • Most tech leaders surveyed said diversity improved performance in organizations.
  • Focusing on recent graduates is one way to find gender parity in hiring.
  • Internal promotions can foster equality and inclusion.

As diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts in the tech space continue to evolve, organizations are looking to improve outreach and internal promotion efforts.

A recent JetRockets survey of 350 CIOs and CTOs indicated the positive impact of diversity on performance, with 83% of survey respondents saying the diversity of their team was responsible for improving problem-solving within their organization.

Additionally, nearly three-quarters (73%) noted team dynamics and collaboration were better when working on a team with balanced gender representation.

However, despite half of survey respondents feeling their organization’s diversity outstrips industry norms, less than 20% achieved gender parity in leadership roles.

Challenges in diverse talent acquisition were also evident, with 37% citing limited candidate availability and a quarter acknowledging unconscious biases in recruitment.

Mentorships, Transparency, Fairness

“At JetRockets, we’ve found that the key lies in developing an ecosystem that actively supports and promotes underrepresented groups,” company CEO and co-founder Natalie Kaminski told InformationWeek via email.

This includes initiating mentorship programs tailored to prepare women and minorities for leadership positions and ensuring transparency and fairness in recruitment to attract a diverse range of candidates.

Related:IT Diversity Efforts May Feel Sting of Supreme Court Ruling

“Moreover, recognizing the importance of cross-cultural communication is vital,” she added.

It involves understanding and valuing different perspectives and approaches individuals from varied backgrounds bring to the table.

“This insight is essential in today’s globalized business environment, as it enhances collaboration and fosters a deeper connection among team members from diverse cultural backgrounds,” Kaminski said.

While the report suggests some tech leaders believe diversity might compromise merit, from her perspective, it’s crucial to understand that merit and diversity are not mutually exclusive -- in fact, they complement each other.

“At JetRockets we focus on identifying and nurturing diverse talents by ensuring our evaluation process is fair and unbiased,” she said.

During the recruitment process, the company prioritizes alignment with core values above educational background or previous job experience.

“Additionally, we are committed to the professional development of our employees, often favoring internal mentorship and promotion to leadership roles over external recruitment,” she explained. “This approach helps us nurture diverse leaders who excel in their roles, proving that diversity can go hand-in-hand with high merit and excellence.”

Related:Achieving Diversity: The Role IT Plays in DEI Recruiting

Building Diversity Outreach Early

Krishna Subramanian, co-founder and COO of Komprise, admitted it is hard to address diversity at the leadership level alone because the talent pool available to recruit leaders with diverse backgrounds is small.

“Recruiting more diverse talent at all ranks and promoting from within are two ways to improve diversity ratios at the leadership level,” she explained via email.  

She said college recruiting is a great avenue to start addressing this gap, as over half of college graduates are female.

“We have found a diverse talent pool through our college internship programs, and it is a positive way to help young people get hands-on experience, mentoring, and for them to experience cultural fit,” she noted. “We have hired more women through this program globally, both in our India and US teams, many of whom have proceeded to join us full-time after graduation.”   

Khalil Smith, vice president of inclusion, diversity, and engagement at Akamai, said in an email that the company’s DEI team partners closely with the talent acquisition team to ensure they have created optimal job posts, awareness, candidate pools, and interview slates.

Related:Eliminating Remote Work Will Ruin Tech’s Drive for Diversity

“Continually measuring and evolving to ensure we are finding traditionally underrepresented talent, while also being sure to recognize people from all backgrounds and locations, is key to diversifying our workforce and setting us up to achieve all of our goals,” Smith noted. “We have targeted programs across the talent lifecycle that ensure we’re able to assess applicants from all geographies, backgrounds, and demographics.”

Focus on Internal Promotions CEO Josh Brenner explained via email that the company works towards achieving gender parity in leadership roles by focusing on internal promotions and external hiring from female executive networks.

“Internally, we are committed to nurturing our managers through our parent company Adecco’s UF Foundation leadership program, engAGe,” he said.

The program advocates for women in the workforce and gender parity in leadership, and offers opportunities to hone skills in coaching, feedback systems, strategic leadership, team building, and more.

Brenner noted as part of their proactive commitment to DEI, Hired has implemented a range of initiatives, including providing comprehensive interview training focused on inclusive hiring practices and bias mitigation for hiring managers.

“Additionally, we actively promote upskilling and reskilling opportunities through General Assembly workshops and courses supported by our scholarship program,” he said.

The efforts extend beyond internal programs, partnering with organizations including Per Scholas, Baddies in Tech, and CodeYourFuture.

“We also publicly disclose required salary information on all job postings to drive awareness for candidates about the compensation they deserve,” he added.

Hired reports show underrepresented candidates’ lower salary expectations significantly contribute to wage gaps.

“By establishing transparency from the onset, we aim to empower candidates with the insights they need to negotiate salaries in line with their market value, skills, and experiences,” Brenner said.

About the Author(s)

Nathan Eddy

Freelance Writer

Nathan Eddy is a freelance writer for InformationWeek. He has written for Popular Mechanics, Sales & Marketing Management Magazine, FierceMarkets, and CRN, among others. In 2012 he made his first documentary film, The Absent Column. He currently lives in Berlin.

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