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Tackling Technology’s Diversity Challenges & Opportunities

Tackling Technology’s Diversity Challenges & Opportunities

Diversity and Technology

Studies show diverse and inclusive companies drive greater innovation and have improved team performance and revenue growth than their less diverse business peers. Yet the technology industry continue to struggle with diversity and inclusion (D&I).

On one hand, tech professionals working in some major cities reported the belief there’s been an uptick in workplace diversity during the last 10 years. Yet, on the other hand, just 24% of Apple’s and Facebook’s technical positions are filled by women, and just 23% of Microsoft’s tech jobs are filled by women. The truth is technology continues to be a male-dominated industry that’s also underrepresented by people of color.

While minority representation in cybersecurity is higher than the overall U.S. workforce (26% vs. 23%), these professionals are disproportionately in non-management roles. Further, women make up just one-fifth of the cybersecurity workforce and nearly two-thirds are paid less than their male counterparts.

To complicate matters, the technology industry is facing an overall labor shortage. According to one source, a software developer shortage is imminent. Another source shows more than one-third (35%) of companies said their top priority is searching for cybersecurity professionals. Plus, retention is difficult because trained and experienced employees who become experts can easily leave their employers to pursue more lucrative positions.

Perhaps it’s time to tackle two birds with one stone – create a more diverse and inclusive workforce while helping fill the need for more people working in the technology sector. Let’s explore ways CIOs, CISOs and other technology leaders can help bridge the gap for a more diverse, innovative workforce.

Role of Technology in Diversity and Inclusion (D&I)

1. Improve Diverse and Inclusive Hiring Efforts

To increase your efforts in hiring and retaining women, consider implementing your own version of the NFL’s Rooney Rule, which requires teams to interview minority candidates for coaching and other senior leadership positions. This is a start because you can’t hire who you don’t interview. FLEETCOR has adopted this policy with some success. During the hiring process and before onboarding, this practice helps ensure at least 25% of our leadership team is comprised of women.

Further, we created groups to foster female leadership within the company in three of our major regions

    1. Europe,
    2. Brazil and
    3. North America.

2. Be Flexible to Extend your Talent Pool

FLEETCOR looks outside of Atlanta (our headquarters city) for potential talent in an unlimited geographic footprint. The pandemic showed us people can successfully work remotely, and while we like them in the office some of the time, it’s not necessary for certain positions.

Further, FLEETCOR operates globally using a hybrid workplace policy and has embraced flex time, particularly for staff juggling careers and taking care of children or elderly parents. We also provide a generous leave policy for parents having or adopting babies.

3. Get Senior Leaders on Board

Even if your company has a chief diversity officer (CDO), the CEO needs to ensure D&I starts at the C-suite and is central to every department and employee. Consider setting targets for how many diverse employees your company should have. For instance, Nielsen CEO David Kenny added CDO to his title since he was in the company’s most powerful position to drive change and ensure inclusion and equality at every level. He also set measurable targets aimed at hiring a more diverse workforce. Taking a similar approach, FLEETCOR’s Global Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging (DIBs) Council made of a key company leadership starting with the C-suite promotes dialogue, provides training, and creates an environment of mutual respect for all employees.

4. Ensure D&I is Part of Your Business Strategy

Rather than being an HR issue, D&I should be core to your company’s strategy. Diversity in your employee base can help you please a broader group of clients – ones who come from a broad range of backgrounds and experiences themselves. Remember, inclusion is more than employee training sessions. Consider identifying internal agents of change through various departments to keep D&I front and center.

5. Aim for the Impossible

FLEETCOR aims to hire and retain diverse talent companywide. Greater diversity drives more innovation, better performance, increased employee engagement and trust, and higher revenue potential, among other benefits. And with a shortage of security and technology professionals globally, companies that improve their D&I initiatives will attract the right talent – and likely improve overall retention.

Claudia Brind-Woody, vice president & managing director for Global Intellectual Property Licensing at IBM once said, “Inclusivity means not ‘just we’re allowed to be there,’ but we are valued. I’ve always said: smart teams will do amazing things, but truly diverse teams will do impossible things.”

This is something every company should strive for – employing and retaining diverse teams so your organization can do the impossible – and attain the kind of success you never dreamed was possible.

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Contributors

James Edgar

James Edgar, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Security Officer, FLEETCOR

James Edgar is an IT security and risk professional with extensive background in network engineering, security architecture, policy, risk, compliance and management. James has more than a decade of experience, which has included roles rangi... More   View all posts

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