From human resources to the executive suite, tech leaders have often decried that they can’t find qualified candidates from diverse backgrounds. They will often cite the “pipeline” as the problem, shifting responsibility to colleges and universities for not graduating enough STEM students to fill their open positions. Their argument is partially true, since most colleges do not recruit and graduate enough students in STEM to keep up with employer demand, and they are not the primary institutions of higher education and learning. However, with nearly 2.5 billion users on social media worldwide and over a billion people using Google search, tech companies are in fact “educating” the masses.
If trends of past years continue, and if the future plans of tech giants like Facebook and Google are any indication, over one billion new people of different backgrounds are poised to come online in the next few years. To make products and services attractive and accessible to this diverse new user base, companies must traverse vastly different cultures, communications and computer literacy levels. Many of these emerging markets for technology consumption are not just in developing countries; they also include untapped segments of the U.S. market — predominantly in communities of color.
Here are three recommendations for tech companies on how to improve their diversity pipeline problem at the earliest stages of the process: recruitment.
1. Amend the recruiting process.
This is a tall order that’s impossible to do in one step. However, companies can take small steps to expand their diversity recruitment efforts, starting with the Applicant Tracking System (ATS). It’s no secret that most mid-to-large-size companies rely on an ATS to screen resumes of potential candidates. What’s less commonly known is how unrefined these systems are at selecting qualified candidates. Exceptional candidates may be stopped from advancing in the hiring process simply for not having chosen the “right” keywords on their resumes.
That’s where companies like Atipica, a recruiting software that identifies top candidates through a “bias-free” recruiting process and helps companies hire more diverse candidates, come in. By first examining a company’s historical recruiting data, Atipica is able to diagnose company problems, identify blind spots and provide solutions to reduce and eventually eliminate the biases that filter out qualified candidates from diverse backgrounds. The software also uses predictive analytics to extrapolate candidates’ skills beyond keywords included on resumes.
2. Tap into job boards dedicated to diversity.
With the endless number of job boards online these days, it’s all too tempting for recruiters to only use the big-name job boards that command the largest number of users and total page views. It’s time to go beyond the most popular defaults and instead filter down into unique job boards that cater to specific populations. There are a few compilations of diversity job boards, one of which is Jopwell, a career platform that empowers underrepresented ethnic minority professionals and students to successfully navigate their careers. It enables companies to search and recruit from a pipeline of diverse candidates while leveraging the power of technology to create access and opportunities for a more diverse workforce.
By creating a company profile on diversity sites like these, you as an employer not only have the opportunity to directly market to the specific population you would like to recruit but can also signal to candidates that your company cares about hiring and supporting a group you identify with.
3. Strengthen higher education and employer relationships.
A huge untapped recruitment opportunity involves academic institutions, such as state universities. In particular, some of the best and brightest students from the most underrepresented backgrounds attend large state universities. This is a largely untapped market due to the sheer size of these broad-access universities, which enroll a majority of students within the local region. Just like most students striving for excellence, state students want the opportunity to successfully obtain jobs and internships at the nation’s leading companies. And they are ready and willing to put in the hard work to get there.
The problem is that that the road to tech companies tends to be harder to tap into for state students because professional development programs often have smaller budgets and state universities have fewer resources than private universities. One organization that is providing programs for students from coast-to-coast is Braven. In close partnership with regionally-renowned institutions, this national nonprofit is working to close the education-to-employment gap by providing a diverse talent pipeline for companies across sectors, including many tech companies like Facebook, Google and LinkedIn.
As top tech companies are renewing their commitment to diversity, there’s no better time to try and expand upon strategies that will remove bias from the hiring process, tap into diversity job sites and strengthen the education-to-employment pipeline. Not only can expanding company recruitment strategies to include these recommendations increase diversity numbers, but it can also create a consistent and continuous pipeline of diverse candidates every year thereafter. These synergistic partnerships have the ability to create a virtuous cycle that positively impacts all parties involved in a collaborative effort to bolster the diversity pipeline and create a more inclusive sector.