Friday, June 14, 2024

Advancing Diversity and Inclusivity in Small Tech Companies: A Global Perspective

In our rapidly evolving tech-driven world, small tech companies serve as crucibles of innovation and economic vitality. They hold the promise of shaping our collective future. Yet, there’s an imperative that cannot be ignored any longer: the pressing need to advance diversity and inclusivity within these burgeoning organizations. 

In this comprehensive exploration at TECHTHIRSTY, we will deeply dig into the critical importance of nurturing diversity and inclusivity within small tech companies, both in India and abroad. And let’s find out actionable strategies to forge a more inclusive, equitable, and thriving tech ecosystem.

The Current Landscape of Diversity Statistics in Tech Companies: A Global Overview

The tech industry’s diversity dilemma is a challenge shared by nations across the globe. To better understand the gravity of this issue, let’s examine the current statistical portrait:

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Gender Diversity: On a global scale, the tech workforce remains starkly imbalanced in terms of gender representation. In India, women constitute a mere 26% of the tech workforce, with the United States marginally ahead at approximately 25%. These figures, although slightly varying by region, underscore a consistent global pattern of gender underrepresentation in the tech sector.

Here Juhi Kulshreshtha, Co-founder of HR Tech firm REVIEWIA, has a point to assert, “Small tech Companies need to be smart about their hiring and employee engagement techniques. Instead of competing with the biggies and looking for conventional talent, they should look at niche talent cohorts eg. Young mothers or candidates coming after a long break due to personal or professional reasons. Offer these folks a job and allow some flexibility e.g. work from home or hybrid work. This talent pool would value these options far more as they aren’t going to get it with big companies who are sceptical to hire talent with long career gaps.”

Racial and Ethnic Diversity: While diversity issues are particularly salient in the United States due to its diverse demographic landscape, the problem is not confined to a single nation. In the U.S., for instance, African Americans account for just 7% of the tech workforce. In India, despite its predominantly homogenous population, diversity issues persist along lines of ethnicity and region.

Age Diversity: The tech industry also grapples with ageism, exhibiting a pronounced bias towards younger professionals. A survey reveals that approximately 46% of tech workers in the U.S. acknowledge the presence of ageism within their industry.

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The Imperative of Diversity and Inclusivity

Now let us showcase the profound significance of diversity and inclusivity within the realm of small tech companies:

Innovation Ignited: Diverse teams bring a tapestry of perspectives to the innovation table. The collision of unique viewpoints sparks creativity, catalyzing groundbreaking solutions. In a compelling revelation, a McKinsey & Company study discerned that companies with diverse executive boards are 33% more likely to outperform their competitors in terms of profitability.

Market Expansion: Inclusivity in small tech companies serves as a gateway to uncharted markets. A diverse workforce is better poised to understand and cater to the multifaceted needs of a global customer base, thereby fostering market expansion and revenue growth.

Talent Thrives: An inclusive environment is a magnet for top talent. Employees gravitate toward companies where they feel valued, heard, and included. Retaining diverse talent through this inclusive environment becomes an organic consequence.

Global Competence: As small tech companies embark on international ventures, cultural and market complexities loom large. Diverse teams are adept at navigating these multifarious challenges, offering a distinct edge in global relevance and competitiveness.

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How We Must Be Advancing Diversity and Inclusivity in Small Tech Companies

Vikas Singh, CEO and Co-founder of Sugmya Finance Pvt Limited is of the view, ” Advancing inclusivity and diversity entails fostering an environment that embraces individuals from varied backgrounds, regardless of gender, race, age, or other characteristics. This involves implementing inclusive hiring practices, providing equal opportunities for career growth, and creating a culture of respect and belonging. In a small tech-driven space, this may translate to initiatives like targeted recruitment efforts, mentorship programs, and inclusive policies. It also means ensuring that products and services cater to a diverse clientele. This approach not only aligns with ethical standards but also enhances innovation, creativity, and overall organizational performance.”

Now let’s dissect each step one by one and see how these will also be beneficial to the parent company.

Diverse Hiring: Forge the path to inclusivity through blind hiring practices designed to mitigate unconscious biases. Develop job postings that exude inclusivity, and actively scout for underrepresented talent. Prioritize equal opportunities for all. AI based-hirings should also be consciously done so that the existing work force is not left behind. 

Inclusive Culture: Cultivate an organizational culture where every voice is not only heard but also cherished. Implement comprehensive diversity and inclusion training for all employees, from entry-level staff to executive leadership. Create an environment where differences are celebrated, fostering a sense of belonging.

Mentorship and Sponsorship: Establish robust mentorship programs to nurture the growth and advancement of underrepresented employees. Champion sponsorship initiatives wherein senior leaders advocate for and actively promote diverse talent, propelling them into leadership roles.

Data-Driven Approach: Employ a meticulous data-driven strategy to gauge the efficacy of diversity and inclusivity efforts. Regularly collect and analyze diversity metrics to chart progress and identify areas in need of improvement. Data serves as the compass guiding organizations toward meaningful change.

Community Engagement: Forge meaningful connections with local communities and organizations that champion diversity and inclusivity. Collaborate with these entities to enhance outreach and recruit diverse talent pools. Actively participating in such initiatives bolsters an organization’s commitment to societal progress.

Flexible Work Policies: Embrace flexible work arrangements that accommodate diverse needs, such as caregiving responsibilities or individuals with disabilities. Flexibility paves the way for an inclusive workplace where all talents can thrive. Women in tech will make a return in larger numbers, because not many know that attrition rate of women in IT sector in India is higher than their inclusion rate! Women in tech need a better support system. 

But then Juhi Kulshreshtha of REVIEWIA has a strong point to make,” In my view small tech companies are much better positioned to execute diversity and inclusion-related initiatives. The issue with large companies is that it is very difficult to implement any kind of changes at grassroots level. While we see that most large organizations talk a lot about diversity and inclusion but these organizations are so set in their ways that any kind of change implementation is very difficult. On the other hand, small companies, be it tech or otherwise are far more nimble. The moment they are able to see merit in anything new, they can implement it much faster. Decision making is far more concentrated and hence takes much lesser time.” 

So whether it is small-tech firms or large, the call to take action on an all-inclusive work culture is now, because as we have listed, rewards are boundless!

Image Courtesy: Freepik.com

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Mahima Sharma
Mahima Sharma
Mahima Sharma is an Independent Senior Journalist based in Delhi NCR known for her multi-niche news reach. She has been in the field of TV, Print & Online Journalism since 2005 (earlier additional three years in the allied media). With a rich professional history at CNN-News18, ANI - Asian News International (in collaboration with Reuters), Voice of India, and Hindustan Times, Mahima is also the Founder & Editor of The Think Pot. Recipient of various awards for different works beyond journalism as well, Mahima Sharma was conferred with the REX Karmaveer Chakra (Silver) 2023, presented by iCONGO in partnership with the United Nations. Known for her Digital Media Strategy skills, in 2022 she was assigned the pivotal role of Entrepreneurship Education Mentor at Women Will, a Google-backed program in collaboration with SHEROES.

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