This year’s news cycle has been full of reminders that the tech industry has a diversity problem. Women and minorities are underrepresented in tech and leadership roles. They are also more likely to face discrimination, harassment, and the hot mess James Damore’s Google ‘Manifesto’ has created.
Tech’s diversity problem is complex and many-layered, and there isn’t just one way to address or help solve it.
However, there are simple, effective things we can all do to help fight the lack of diversity and inclusion (D&I) in Canadian workplaces.
There are simple things we can all do to help fight the lack of diversity and inclusion in Canadian workplaces.
One of the first places to look is the recruitment process, where the hunt for diverse talent begins…and often ends.
Unconscious bias in recruiting
Unconscious bias is when our personal experiences and cultural context impact how we perceive other people without us even realizing.
This bias can lead us to gravitate towards people who are similar to us and to judge those who aren’t based on harmful stereotypes. It’s an extremely pervasive trick of the brain and one that’s nearly impossible to unlearn or ignore.
Unconcious bias is an extremely pervasive trick of the brain and one that’s nearly impossible to ignore.
Conscious of this, our very own Karel Vuong, director of people at Collage, implemented a handy tech solution to reduce bias in sourcing and screening candidates.
“I spend A LOT of time recruiting and sourcing on Linkedin. Despite my best efforts, I know some unconscious bias creeps in. This helps a bit.”
— Karel Vuong (@karelvuong) June 26, 2017
With a “sprinkling of CSS via Stylish Themes,” as Karel puts it, you can hide the names and profile pictures of potential candidates on Linkedin Recruiter.
This forces recruiters to focus on skills and qualifications, reducing the opportunity for implicit bias from the outset.
You can copy the code here (just go to “create new style” and set “applies to” to www.linkedin.com/recruiter/).
This isn’t an entirely new idea. Harvard professor Iris Bohnet has written a book on how to ‘redesign work’ for gender equality. Her video, below, points to a similar experiment conducted in the 1970s that resulted in 30% more female musicians being hired in major U.S. orchestras.
A similar experiment from the 1970s resulted in 30% more women being hired at major U.S. orchestras.
The bigger picture
Again, this ‘hack’ won’t end bias or inequality for good. But it can help contribute to increased equal opportunities for those who are underrepresented in tech and other industries.
Here are a few other ways Canadian individuals and businesses are doing their part, and what we can learn from them:
- First, make sure your organization’s management and staff understand the value of diversity and inclusion (D&I) in the workplace. Industry veteran Maurice Fernandes makes the business case here.
- Second, Sarah Stockdale and Jennifer Kim make an excellent case for getting ahead of the conversation. Provide a safe space for discussion and put HR policies in place to effectively deal with discrimination—both before and if it happens.
- Third, take a good hard look at your own organization’s diversity reports, like our friends at TribalScale. Even if they aren’t picture perfect (yet), they can help highlight the areas that need the most attention.If you’re not sure how to measure and track diversity, TWG’s Change Together guidebook and Hubba’s open source framework are great places to start.
To sum up
At the end of the day, whether it’s Google, Uber, Betterworks, or any other case, the most important thing we can do is to try and move past tired conversations towards actionable solutions.
Think about what diversity and inclusion (or any other sensitive but necessary topic) mean at your individual organization, and what you can do today to change the status quo.
If you’d like to join a company that believes in creating a diverse and inclusive workplace, Collage is hiring. We welcome people of different backgrounds, experiences, abilities, and perspectives to apply.