Diversity in tech is lesser than in most industries, and it is now a significant concern among talent management teams. As a matter of fact, over 80% of employers report challenges in finding critical tech talent. Employers cannot afford to lose out on underrepresented groups with technical skills at a time like this. Black representation in tech is suffering in today’s talent market, and it needs to be addressed.
As per a UN report, diversity in tech could generate an additional USD 300-370 Bn in annual revenue for the sector. With more diversity in the organization, companies get to access a 360-degree perspective. In tech, this can mean new product ideas and new USPs, among other things.
An Overview of Black Representation in Tech
Draup’s research shows that Black talent is primarily employed in low-paying jobs with no employer benefits and faces surprisingly higher attrition rates. This critically low representation of Black talent in the most in-demand tech roles such as “Software Development” is a distress call for D&I leaders.
D&I leaders need to rethink their approach to acquiring and retaining talent and properly exposing such underrepresented minorities. It was also discovered that Black talent employed in critical functions only amounted to less than 12%. As jobs get more technical and secure, the level of Black representation decreases gradually.
Challenges faced by Black talent
Even with the known benefits of D&I and pressure from investors, companies are struggling to mitigate the challenges to improve the Black representation in tech jobs. Blacks in tech roles face specific problems leading to their low representation in high-demand roles such as a Software Development Engineer (SDE). Some of the critical issues faced by the Black talent in tech include:
- Geographically distanced: Geographical gaps in tech opportunities and Black talent availability in tech hubs such as Bay Area is a concern.
- Hiring preference to top universities: Most tech companies prefer hiring from reputed universities like Stanford and Caltech, which have less than 3% black representation.
- High attrition at entry levels: Black talent faces much higher attrition rates than white talent, disturbing the pipeline in black representation.
- Lack of Career Progression: Workplace bias and racially less diverse teams damage the career progression of black talent.
With such issues at hand, companies are also pushing to improve D&I with improved Black talent representation.
Active Developments and Strategies for Black Representation
Leading companies across industries are focusing their efforts on improving Black representation and actively adopting the best D&I practices to promote Black talent in Tech jobs.
Some of the firms with the highest Black representation in tech include Bank of America (9.6%), Accenture (8%), and TIAA (6.3%), while the lowest in the list include Microsoft (3.7%), Google (2.4%) and Facebook (1.7%).
Companies are now introducing scholarships, internships, apprentice programs, and tie-ups with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to encourage diversity in fresh talent intake. Google is actively working on improving Black representation and fill at least 30% of leadership roles with minority talent by 2025. On the other hand, Microsoft has launched digital skills training for Black individuals seeking new jobs.
Developments in Black representation are coming from every way, but implementing best practices alone doesn’t solve the core problem. HR leaders need to have a solid plan of action for hiring and reskilling to improve the ‘current’ Black representation in tech job roles such as SDE.
Today, leading companies are utilizing specific strategies based on the varying application of hiring and reskilling.
- Identify internal talent prone to disruption and reskill them.
- Hire external adjacent talent and reskill them.
- Hire fresh talent from HBCUs and facilitate their career progressions.
- Hire from Black SDE’s hotspot locations.
Let us discuss hiring and reskilling Black talent in detail.
Hiring Strategies and Location Intelligence for Black SDE Talent
Companies are targeting emerging locations to hire Black SDE talent. Apart from tech hubs such as Bay Area, emerging Tier 2 locations with high availability of Black SDE talent such as Dallas and Atlanta are being preferred by companies.
As far as fresh Black talent is concerned, companies are hiring tech graduates for SDE roles from top universities which have the lowest representation of Black graduates.
As an alternative, companies can look into Historically Black Universities and Colleges (HBCUs) to hire Black CS graduates. HBCUs have ten times Black CS Graduates compared to the top 10 universities.
Improving Black representation in SDE with Reskilling
Increasing drop-out rates of Black graduates in the STEM field is becoming a significant concern on top of the existing crisis. Reskilling is becoming inevitable to improve Black representation in tech roles. Even though there has been a considerable improvement in course enrolments, the drop-out rates communicate a different story.
The Black CS course enrolments are increasing at a CAGR of 6.6%, while the number of graduates is declining at a CAGR of -3.7%.
Organizational HRs can follow a specific 4-step framework to reskill and build Black talent capabilities.
- Identify disrupted tech job families with high Black talent that can be reskilled.
- Skill gap analysis of black SDE talent between the starting and desired role.
- Analysis of feasible transitions based on work experience
- Finding a suitable learning module to bridge the skills gap.
Reskilling can help companies target and improve the Black representation of specific tech job roles such as “Software Development Engineer,” which has high demand across the industry.
Draup’s research shows that Programmer Analyst, System Engineer, Systems Administrator, Network Development Engineer, IT Security Engineer, and Database administrator can be transitioned in a short duration.
Reskilling Case Study: System Engineer to a Software Development Engineer
As D&I leaders make conscious efforts to include Black talent into their talent pools, the demand for such talent will naturally witness an upward swing.
To meet this demand, either enterprises will organize hiring drives or reskill existing talent to suit their needs. In this case study, we attempt to turn a System engineer into a Software development engineer.
This transition has to go through a reskilling process that includes identifying:
- Skills needed for the new role
- The skills gap between the new and previous role
- Feasibility of transitions based on relevant reskilling parameters
- Suitable learning module to facilitate reskilling and bridge the skills gap.
It is essential to identify each element in the list above and prepare a reskilling path to facilitate this transition.
Let us try preparing a reskilling path from a System engineer to a Software development engineer.
In a timeframe of 4-5 months, a System engineer would be transformed into a Software development engineer.
Most companies may hire fresh graduates, but that leaves one section of the community abandoned with redundant skillsets. Organizations have to find the right mix between hiring and reskilling to get the most out of this underrepresented group.
Enterprises that choose to move with targeted hiring and custom reskilling would be less likely to face a lack of diversity in the coming future.
Draup is an AI-powered talent intelligence platform that delivers HR leaders with data-backed insights into the global talent pool, cost modeling, and reskilling pathways suitable to manage talent faster and drive company-wide reskilling initiatives or hire quality talent.