Technology is fueling growth in the 21st-century economy, but for the tech industry to reach its true potential there must be an industry-wide effort to address issues around diversity and inclusion.
Diversity problems, such as pay inequities and biased recruiting strategies, have been holding the tech industry back for far too long. This has led to a tech industry workforce that’s overwhelmingly white and male, with fewer African Americans, Hispanics or women than other industries.
It’s critical that we work to address these issues because diverse workforces spur innovation. There are opportunity costs if the people dreaming up the next big thing lack diversity and think and act alike. In fact, it’s estimated the IT industry could generate an additional $400 billion in revenue each year if the ethnic and gender makeup of its workforce reflected the nation’s talent pool.
A key element to addressing this issue is understanding the current landscape of diversity in the tech workforce and examining how members of the tech community perceive these challenges. A new report that surveyed workers in the high-tech industry provides insight into trends and viewpoints that are shaping the discussion around diversity in tech. Here are four key takeaways from the report:
The diversity discussion is often contradictory.
Nearly eight in 10 high-tech industry workers say they are satisfied with their organization’s diversity efforts, and 87 percent say they’ve worked in a department comprised of a diverse group of employees in the last year.
But at the same time, 45 percent say the industry has lagged in promoting diversity, and data shows that compared with overall private industry, the high-tech sector employs a larger share of white workers (68.5% vs 63.5%) and men (64% vs 52%), while a smaller share of African Americans (7.4% vs 14.4%), Hispanics (8% vs 13.9%), and women (36% vs 48%).
The gender gap is widest when it comes to pay equity.
The average tech sector wage is more than double the average national wage, which is one reason why it’s such a popular field to enter. But despite a higher salary benchmark than other industries, the pay gap between men and women in high tech exists nonetheless. In Seattle, a tech-dominated metropolitan area, men earned an average of 30 percent more in base salary plus bonuses than women. In Boston, another tech hub, the gap was 33 percent.
It’s no surprise that pay inequity resonates loudly with women. Two-thirds of women in high tech say they would leave their job if they discovered pay imbalances among employees doing equal work, compared to 44 percent of men who said the same.
Tech’s lack of diversity is most significant at the executive level.
In the tech sector, whites are represented at a much higher rate in executive-level roles than African Americans, Hispanics and Asian Americans. Furthermore, by gender, men occupy 80 percent of executive roles compared with 20 percent for women. That compares with the overall private sector, where 71 percent of executive positions are held by men and 29 percent occupied by women.
There is consensus on diversity’s impact on innovation.
One bright area is that two-thirds of respondents agree that an organization with a heterogeneous employee base is more likely to produce world-class innovation than one that is largely homogeneous in makeup. Another 28 percent partially agree.
A lack of diversity in the tech industry is causing many to think that a career in tech is not for them, but for technology to realize its potential, it needs the broadest perspective possible. CompTIA AITP is poised to help expand the universe of those who see a career for themselves in technology by providing training, mentorship and networking opportunities to help individuals of all backgrounds start, grow and advance careers in tech.