From education to employment

How tech companies can build a meaningful DEI strategy in the workplace

students sat working together

More than a tick-box exercise

Approximately 40% of companies worldwide have a DEI policy and that number is thankfully growing as more and more industry leaders take the charge and place DEI at the heart of their business. As more companies across the globe commit to the fact that DEI is a ‘must’ and not just a ‘nice to have’, we are seeing increasing numbers of businesses making it integral to their hiring processes, brands and employee lifecycle. 

Setting businesses up for long-term success

Not only are companies recognising that putting DEI at the core of their business is the right thing to do, as it’s moral and ethical to break down barriers and give everyone an equitable chance to progress in their careers, but they’re also seeing the far-reaching benefits of such a culture. Not only does an inclusive and diverse culture connect their business with the wider world, but a workplace that reflects their neighbourhood can also help serve their customers better; companies don’t exist in a vacuum. Crucially, businesses are also understanding how investing in DEI will help them create success in the future. Diverse companies see 19% higher revenues than their less-diverse counterparts and businesses with greater diversity in the workforce are more likely to perform better when it comes to long-term profitability. 

Shining a light on the tech sector

When it comes to the tech industry, many would say that now, more than ever, it is pioneering the push for cultural inclusion and gender equality in the workforce. However, more needs to be done and there continues to be a lack of diversity when it comes to technology roles, especially with regards to gender in leadership positions. Research shows that less than a tenth of senior leaders in the UK tech industry are from ethnic minority groups, and a sixth of IT professionals are female. And despite companies spending billions on diversity and inclusion efforts, 68% of tech business leaders report a lack of diversity in their tech workforce. 

With this in mind, first and foremost, tech businesses need to ensure they dedicate time to developing a well-thought out DEI strategy. Worryingly, recent research shows that half of UK employers claim that they don’t even have one in place. Effective action needs effective planning, so here are some key steps that tech organisations should bear in mind when putting a strategy in place for creating an inclusive, equitable and sustainable culture and work environment: 

Make it precise and actionable

As with any goal or target, being specific is key to success. A well thought out plan that has strategic priorities with clear objectives and action steps is vital.

Have clear KPIs

A strategy needs to be measurable. Some metrics to take into account when thinking about a goal-oriented DEI strategy, include hiring and employee demographics, promotion rates and how they relate to demographics and retention. 

Ensure everyone is invested in the outcome

Communicate your plan and goals company-wide. Make sure it is consistently communicated across all channels – from social media, to the company website and internal newsletters and bulletins. 

Encourage employee feedback

Use surveys and discussions to gather feedback from your employees. Employees need to be put at the heart of your strategy – the DEI strategy is being created for them after all!

Cultivate a culture of DEI

Continually work hard to cultivate a happy DEI workplace where people are treated fairly with compassion, kindness and understanding. Ensure organisational leaders are educated in the culture you’re looking to promote – no matter how ‘flat’ your organsiation might be, leadership goes a long way to setting the tone. This requires consistent work and is just as important as putting policies and procedures in place. 

Don’t just focus on hiring

There needs to be strategies in place for DEI in all areas of the company so businesses should make sure to not solely focus on hiring a more diverse workforce. It pays to take a good look at all existing policies and processes that are already in place. These should be scrutinised to see if any work as they stand and to address what needs to be changed or tweaked to be made more inclusive and equitable for all.

Have a dedicated DEI team 

While companies have an HR department that mainly addresses workplace issues, cultivating DEI needs real focus and bandwidth. Concerns, suggestions and solutions to implement steps towards a DEI-first culture should have a home in a business. A DEI committee is ideal for helping businesses to keep on top of their DEI strategies. Earlier this month, Tencent launched its DEI special committee which plays an important role in promoting the integration of DEI into the company’s group management.

Final thoughts

Many companies claim that they want to reach their DEI goals in two years, however, DEI is a journey – it’s not a finite goal to be ticked off or a project to complete. DEI is a way of being and should be at the heart of a company, whatever the sector. It’s an ongoing process that requires constant work, examination and scrutiny to ensure it’s always current and hitting the mark.

By Dr. Xiangqi Huang, Senior Engineer of the global tech giant Tencent’s Security Platform Department

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