Recently, the Kapor Center for Social Impact released the 2017 Tech Leavers Study. Those who know me, know that women in technology/agile is one of the key issues that I love to support, in addition to supporting diverse workplaces in general.
The statistics in the study are interesting, and the key takeaway is that “unfairness” led to the majority of the turnover. The main page of the website does a great job of explaining the problem areas and the statistics associated.
In the report, companies can find the following ways to address unfairness:
Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives Can Improve Culture and Reduce Turnover—if they are done right*.
- Employees indicate that improving workplace culture can improve retention. 62% of all employees would have stayed if their company had taken steps to create a more positive and respectful work environment. 57% would have stayed if their company had taken steps to make the company culture more fair and inclusive.
- When 5 common diversity and inclusion initiatives are in place, unfair experiences are significantly lower, and employees are significantly less likely to leave due to feeling mistreated.
- Having all 5 initiatives implemented (a comprehensive diversity and inclusion strategy) provided a larger reduction in unfair experiences than any single initiative alone, indicating that one-off initiatives cannot take the place of a comprehensive strategy.
What can companies do? 3 recommendations for addressing unfairness*:
- Implement Comprehensive D&I Strategies. Develop and implement a diversity and inclusion strategy that starts with unequivocal leadership from the CEO and executive team, is comprehensive, and implements multiple initiatives, measures the effectiveness of strategies and allows for course-correct when needed.
- Create Inclusive Cultures. Identify a set of core values, develop a code of conduct, and strive to create and continuously evaluate and improve the culture. Conduct employee surveys at regular intervals, examine data by each demographic group, provide transparency about culture issues and act
upon the findings, addressing areas of concern.
- Develop Effective and Fair Management Processes. Audit performance management and compensation practices for potential biases and implement management training and bias-mitigation.
Studies like these and the cognitive bias work that Google is doing help generate awareness in the tech community to helpfully begin to alleviate the situations that cause unfairness. I also believe that there’s more we can do as a tech community to help break down these stereotypes of technology companies to those who are considering entering the tech field.
Last week, I was chatting with a woman who is an undergraduate studying cyber security, and you could tell she was extremely passionate about the field and the work. I quickly found myself fielding questions like “is tech really a boy’s club?,” “should I, as a woman, pursue this career?” Hopefully, I helped by sharing my experience as a woman in tech and encouraging her to pursue her passion.
As I type these words, I start to get angry (not at her), but at the system and the stereotypes and perceptions that are out there (and not unfounded).
Let’s change this so that we don’t lose out on passionate, committed and experienced talent for the industry.
*Content from From the Kapor Center for Social Impact – 2017 Tech Leavers Study; Image courtesy of the Kapor Center for Social Impact.