How We’re Navigating the Challenges of Diverse Hiring, and Why It Matters
It’s no secret that Big Tech has made little progress regarding diverse hiring, with the significant majority of employees still identifying as white males. Pushes to expand the applicant pool and foster a culture that celebrates diversity appear to fall upon deaf ears, as diversity reports show little to no change.
Why Diversity Matters
Diversity is essential because diverse thoughts lead to innovative ideas, a more robust company culture, and higher quality software solutions.
“IntelliTect’s customer base is from a broad spectrum of industry verticals: utilities, legal, energy, sports, education, insurance, transportation, manufacturing, and travel, just to name a few,” our CEO, Mark Michaelis, said. “As such, our customers and our customer’s customers target a diverse population, and to best meet that diversity, we need ideas and direction from a diverse workforce. To put it simply, diversity makes us better. Ideas are more innovative, creativity improves, perspectives broaden, and understanding increases. Diversity pushes us to act with greater kindness. Also, we are more effective at hiring, and our ability to keep employees increases. Ultimately, business overall is better.”
Humans who have experienced wealth, poverty, different countries, and cultures, being majority or minority, being men or women, having disabilities, having worked in other industries, and the countless other myriads of factors that make us all unique each give a slightly different angle of how to look at the world. Some of the most innovative solutions I’ve run across literally would never have occurred to me because I didn’t think that way. Put enough of us together, and the unique perspectives allow greatness.
Attracting All Applicants
Software development companies worldwide struggle to find enough skilled developers to fill vital roles, regardless of diversity. We would love to hire five qualified candidates who share our passions and have the necessary skill sets at our company tomorrow. However, almost all of our applicants are overwhelmingly white men, and we don’t get enough applicants, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or race as it is.
Company culture directly impacts how appealing your organization is to an applicant. It’s important to note that the issue of finding the right people has deeper roots than initially surmised. Mark teaches a C# class in the Computer Science (CS) degree program at Eastern Washington University (EWU) and noted that the vast majority of the CS students in the classes he has taught are white and even higher percentages are males. With such an extreme homogeneity in higher education, the challenge of diverse hiring becomes significantly more complicated.
Sparking an Early Interest in Tech
We believe the lack of diversity in tech is addressed at too late a stage. To improve diversity, we need to start at the beginning of the career pipeline. By the time companies start to seek out diverse candidates, they are too late! At IntelliTect, our Culture Crew works on finding creative solutions to increase our diversity while pulling from a non-diverse population.
We believe that tremendous talent is going to waste! Smart and STEM-focused high school students self-select out of CS. It’s possible they do this because they don’t think it is the right fit or don’t know about the field. Therefore, to increase diversity in tech, we reach out to them when their CS passion isn’t more than a spark. We’re determined to bridge the gap between classroom and cubicle. Encouraging high school students to explore their curiosity for coding and providing them the resources to do so might help.
To assist young students in their exploration of computer science, our company created a local-focused scholarship around bright, STEM-focused students who can be developers, but for whatever reason, might not make it to a college classroom.
Our scholarship’s purpose centers around the mutually beneficial value of building relationships so that students from diverse backgrounds see a place for themselves at IntelliTect and the tech industry at large. More so, we intend our scholarship to show students they can thrive and achieve success as software developers.
How Does Our Scholarship Help Students?
- A professional contact in the industry. “Who you know” is important, and now they know us
- Guidance as they pursue their college careers
- Opportunity to envision what a career in software development might look like and how it can be compatible with their desired future lives
- The potential to increase diversity in the computer science industry, which could lead to more potential students and eventually (maybe) potential future employees
- To meet some exceptional students and help them see what we love about our careers
What we get is a big “if,” but it was important enough to invest time and money to try. It’s a long-term plan, no doubt. A winner just out of high school is four to five years away from MAYBE finishing a CS degree. If they choose that path, they MIGHT consider coming to work for us.
There is no obligation for the winner; they may not stay in the area. There are many “ifs,” but if we succeed, we firmly believe that increased diversity will improve our whole industry.
While the IntelliTect scholarship won’t transform the diversity of the software development industry, every additional woman that enters and stays in the field transforms the industry themselves! If every developer can look to other developers as role models, then they can potentially see themselves in that position.
Interested in Joining Our Team?
Check out our jobs page for more insight into enhancing your career and creating a more inclusive tech community!
For a deeper dive into why diversity matters in the tech field, check out The Empowering Guide for Women in Tech in 2022.
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