In the technology industry, success requires a mix of different skills and people from different backgrounds.
Somewhere in the world this week a company will have kicked off its new social media campaign promoting gender equality and diversity – and in all probability, there is a catchy hashtag to go with it. While raising awareness through social media is a must, the under-representation of diversity in tech development is a real problem that requires real commitments. Just using a hashtag to promote diversity is not enough.
Diversity is not just about fairness; it’s also about ensuring that companies are bringing in the talent they need to thrive. According to a report by the Technology Industries of Finland, over the next three years, the Finnish tech industry will need to recruit another 53,000 tech workers skilled in fields such as data analytics and artificial intelligence. To avoid a shortage in key positions, we must widen the talent pool. As employers, we simply cannot afford to miss out on all that brainpower.
Research shows that diverse teams with a wealth of perspectives create better products and services, achieving at a higher level than homogenous teams. Bias in product design can harm technology development, for example, such as when the first speech-recognition devices did not recognize women’s voices. Diversity increases innovation, as people with different backgrounds and experiences naturally approach solutions from different perspectives. Inclusion also drives personal engagement and career success by allowing individuals to feel appreciated for who they are. An inclusive environment boosts individual self-confidence too.
Clearly we should foster increased diversity in the tech industry. So how can we attract a more diverse workforce into tech and inspire people to succeed?
In my view, we can and should encourage technology as a career opportunity for everyone – regardless of their background or preferences. The stereotype of a coder with an engineering background is too narrow. We also need professionals with business and humanitarian backgrounds, and of course we should not consider candidates on the basis of gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation.
Attracting and retaining talent means offering employees an environment where they can prosper as their true selves. Through speaking openly and standing with pride, we can walk the talk to support this important cause.
Within TietoEVRY, we have adopted a set of practices to foster diversity and inclusion. Our established programs – such as ‘Leadership as a service’ and ‘TeamWorks’ – are aimed at developing diverse teams and ensuring an ethical workplace culture. For example, our network of young professionals gets acquainted with various role models in the organisation. We also collaborate with different partners to increase digital equality, such as the ‘Startup Refugees’ work we do in Finland to improve asylum-seekers’ digital skills.
Unconscious bias is an important concept for us to address as part of our efforts to advance diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Biases are influenced by our environments and by our experiences, so they can be difficult to eliminate. One way to minimize their effects is to be aware of the biases one may have or may encounter. To this end, almost 900 of our managers have undergone TietoEVRY’s bias training, and we offer training on this topic for all our employees in Finland and Sweden.
As leaders and recruiters, we must also tackle unconscious bias in hiring and promotions, so that each employment decision TietoEVRY makes is based on competence and potential. We monitor pay grades closely to ensure equal pay for equal work, and we offer benefits, flexibility and coaching to support each individual’s wellbeing through various life situations. We have also created models for developing diverse teams.
Our recent initiative, the Polite Type, stands against cyberbullying and hate speech online. It is an open-source font that recognizes hate speech. We welcome everyone to test it and take this initiative forward. Join the movement via this link!
TietoEVRY’s values of openness, trust and diversity are interwoven with our everyday work and interactions. Fostering an open, diverse and inclusive culture requires concrete, honest actions and leading by example. Even small changes can lead to big results.
We partner proudly with the Pride organisations in the Nordics. Read more here, and join the events here!
Hanna Vuorikoski works as the Head of HR for TietoEVRY Finland. With around 3500 employees in 20 sites, Hanna focuses on designing and developing the desired culture, employee experience and leadership at TietoEVRY. She enjoys working in a diverse, multi-competency and matrixed organisation, and has a passion for turning business strategy into people actions. Connect with Hanna on LinkedIn!