Diversity (or lack thereof) in IT has been a hot topic in the news and among our clients in recent months. And it's true, IT departments are notorious for their lack of diversity, and the problem is only getting worse. Over the past few years, the number of women and underrepresented minorities (URMs) in IT has been dropping steadily. In IT Infrastructure and Operations, the picture is even grimmer — data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that IT job titles such as computer hardware engineer and network and computer system administrator have some of the lowest participation rates of women and minorities (see figure). Although some IT careers are more diverse than others — computer operators, for example, show evenly represented women and minorities by participation in the workforce — very few women and minorities can be counted in the ranks of management.
"Why should I care?" many firms ask. Besides issues of equality and social responsibility, there are several major advantages to taking steps to improve diversity in your workplace:
- Your team will be more innovative. Recent studies have shown that more diverse groups produce more innovative results. Additionally, diverse backgrounds also promote diverse approaches to problem solving, solutions being found more quickly, and teams that are more likely to experiment, be creative, share knowledge, and fulfill tasks.
- Retention and job satisfaction will improve. 52% of highly qualified women in science, engineering, and technology quit their jobs and that almost half of all minorities leave technology jobs to enter other occupations. Taking steps to improve the workplace experience for women and minorities, such as promoting work/life balance and setting up mentoring programs and affinity groups will reverse this "brain drain" and also increase job satisfaction.
- You will attract the best and the brightest of the Millennials. Millennials (those born between 1980 and 2000) have remarkably different attitudes towards work and home life that previous generations. New data shows that full-time employed Millennials (both men and women) expect to spend more time during the workweek caring for children, and will therefore be looking for more flexible work situations. Promoting work/life balance and a flexible workplace is also the single most important factor when attracting and retaining women and minorities.
I encourage you to read the full report with more specific recommendations on how to recruit, develop, and retain women and underrepresented minorities in your Infrastructure and Operations department
By Rachel Dines
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