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’s a pithy hashtag to go with it. While raising awareness through social media is a must, the under-representation of women in tech development is a real problem requiring real commitments. Barely one in five tech workers is female, and just using a hashtag to promote diversity is not enough.
But why should we care about diversity in the tech industry in the first place? Well, diversity is not just about fairness; it’s about ensuring that companies are bringing in the talent they need to thrive. According to a report by the Technology Industries of Finland, the Finnish tech industry will need to recruit another 53,000 tech workers skilled in fields such as data analytics and artificial intelligence over the next three years. To avoid a shortage in key positions, we must widen the talent pool to the whole population. As employers, we simply cannot afford to miss out on all that brainpower.
We create better products and services when we’re more diverse and inclusive. Evidence shows how bias in product design harms technology development – for instance, the first speech recognition technology didn’t recognize women’s voices. Similarly, studies illustrate that diversity increases innovation since people with different backgrounds and experiences often come up with different solutions to a problem. So, clearly we should foster diversity in the homogenous tech industry. But how can we attract a more diverse workforce into tech and inspire them to succeed?
In my view, we can and should encourage technology as a career opportunity for everyone, regardless of their background or personal traits. The stereotype of a coder from an engineering background is too narrow as we need a wide array of professionals from business and humanist backgrounds as well, let alone should we limit the consideration of candidates to things like gender, sex or sexual orientation.
We need to retain new talent and offer them an environment where they can prosper as they are. Through speaking openly and standing with pride, we can support an important cause and walk the talk. All this calls for a diverse and inclusive organisation where everyone is valued and respected for who they are. This kind of environment does wonders for self-confidence and creativity in the workplace.
Within TietoEVRY, we have adopted a set of practices to foster diversity and inclusion. We have established programs such as Leadership as a service and TeamWorks to develop diverse teams and foster an ethical working culture. For example, our network of young professionals gets acquainted with various role models. We also collaborate with different partners to increase digital equality. For instance, in Finland, we work with Startup Refugees to improve refugees’ and asylum seekers’ digital skills.
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!
As leaders and recruiters, we must tackle unconscious bias in hiring and promotions, and at TietoEVRY we make sure each decision is based on competence and potential. We monitor pay grades closely to ensure equal pay for equal work, and offer benefits, flexibility and coaching to support each individual’s wellbeing through various life situations. Additionally, we have created models for developing diverse teams.
Our values are interwoven with our everyday work and interaction: our open doors enable collaboration, open ears facilitate transparency and curiosity, and an open mind drives us towards innovation. However, fostering an open, diverse and inclusive culture requires concrete, open actions and leading by example – even small changes can lead to big results.
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!