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Poor retention is causing tech’s diversity problem

Businesses’ failure to create inclusive work environments is contributing to poor employee retention rates amongst young tech workers and hindering efforts to address the lack of diversity in tech, new research suggests.

Article by Becs Roycroft, Senior Director of Global Emerging Talent – Wiley Edge

Businesses’ failure to create inclusive work environments is contributing to poor employee retention rates amongst young tech workers and hindering efforts to address the lack of diversity in tech, new research suggests.

The research* revealed that nearly two-thirds (64%) of UK businesses admitted to struggling to retain employees from underrepresented backgrounds.

Although 65% stated that they work hard to foster an inclusive company culture, 18% said that they had received complaints related to diversity and inclusion from current and former employees, and the research highlighted a number of effective DE&I tactics that are being widely overlooked.

Positively, more than half (55%) of businesses have a mentorship programme for younger employees to support their professional and personal development. However, fewer businesses (47%) have a system in place to identify whether additional support may be needed for graduates and other entry level employees from different backgrounds, and only around a quarter (26%) of businesses offer access to employee resource groups.

Just 25% of businesses have an onboarding process that takes into account exit interviews and historical feedback from employees.

The research indicates that failing to create a truly inclusive, welcoming environment contributes directly to poor retention rates on tech teams. When asked why they had ever left or wanted to leave a tech role, most commonly cited reasons amongst those aged 18-24 were a lack of sense of belonging (27%), biased treatment from managers (22%), lack of support for additional need (21%), and a company culture that made them feel unwelcome or uncomfortable (16%).

Becs Roycroft, senior director of global emerging talent at Wiley Edge, commented: “It’s not enough to attract and hire candidates from a broader talent pool. If we are to make any meaningful, long-term change when it comes to diversity in tech, businesses must also have effective strategies in place to retain employees from all backgrounds.

“Until these issues around company culture are adequately addressed, employees are more likely to continue feeling out of place and unhappy, which will ultimately lead to continued poor retention rates and limited progress when it comes to improving diversity.

“If businesses do find themselves struggling to retain employees from underrepresented backgrounds, they should ensure they are providing them with regular opportunities to offer feedback and constructive criticism. Without input from employees themselves, businesses will find they are continuing to make the same mistakes, and potentially missing some easily actionable improvements.”

*Research Wiley Edge  ‘Diversity in Tech 2022’ report

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