According to The State of European Tech Report 2018 Europe is unanimous. If we want tech businesses to achieve their full potential, we need to ensure diversity in the workplace.

Diversity was also a topic discussed this Fall during our alumni gathering at Ledarskapsakademin. If you surround yourself with only like-minded people with the same background you will form a consensus, but you will have no one to challenge that consensus, which risks disordering the ethics. To ensure sustainable business ethics you simply need people with different backgrounds and different points of views who are able to question the policies and decisions made.

The challenge

As discussed in the report, there are several factors to be considered when figuring out why there is a lack of diversity – the (un)availability of role models, the access or no access to expertise and funding, social mobility issues, culture-based norms – to name but a few. Gender is the most visible form of discrimination but also age, ethnicity and disability play an important part in the discussion.

We are all part of the problem

Have you ever experienced discrimination while working in the European tech industry?

39% of all the women respondents in the Nordics state that they have experienced discrimination while 18% of male respondents state the same

It goes without saying, at least by following the social media discussions related to job searching, that discrimination occurs regarding to age and ethnicity as well. This phenomenon has led to trials such as anonymous applications and campaigns.

As pointed out in the report, we are all part of the problem. We might think we are inclusive but, when asked directly from the underrepresented group, we are not.

The solution – or at least steps towards the solution

So, what can we do to take more part of the solution than the problem? Here are 4 ways to start with.

 1.     In order for us to be inclusive we need to re-evaluate our hiring criteria and be more precise.

If we need a professional with “5 years of experience”, we automatically exclude certain groups that haven’t been in the field for that long e.g. due to the lack of role models. What do we actually think someone with 5 years of experience has learned and experienced? What can be learned along the way and what is essential from the get-go?

In the IT consultancy business, it is common that at least some, if not all, recruitment requirements come from the clients. If the clients’ requirements fall under one roof, it will be difficult to provide diverse teams. What we can do, however, is to more clearly pinpoint the requirements, so that everyone could start gaining that skill e.g. “by presenting a certificate in X, we will be able to take your application into consideration”.

2.      We need to attract underrepresented groups to the tech industry.

We need more role models. We need allocated funds to help tilt the boat. Role models such as Linda Liukas and campaigns such as #womenintech and #mimmitkoodaa set a great example. Read more about the campaign #mimmitkoodaa and how we participated in our blog.

Any other campaigns everyone should be aware of? Please share!

3.      We need to work on our company culture, so that it is inviting and inclusive.

How?

a) by ensuring the employees have the power to decide on important matters and

b) by keeping in mind that some groups are underrepresented, which means that a specific idea from an underrepresented group might not get as many ”votes” as an idea from a dominant group. Hence, when analyzing the results from employee satisfaction surveys certain characteristics such as gender might be important to take into consideration as this may help underrepresented groups get their voices heard.

c) encouraging to speak freely is crucial, but we also need concrete tools and methods to support joint decision making and transparency. This is something we are working persistently on at Teamit.

4.      We need to ask the underrepresented groups on their opinion on the matter. Have they experienced discrimination? And if so, act on it.

On the question if our company treats its employees equally regardless of age, gender, origin or sexual orientation we received an average of 4,84 out of 5 points on a scale from 1 to 5. No points less than 4 was given, which is positive. Our aim is, nevertheless, a straight 5 out of 5.

We encourage all tech and IT companies to ask this question and to not accept anything but a straight 100 % satisfaction score on all equality related matters.

In conclusion

Let’s be part of the solution and mix the industry up a bit. After all, we have come a long way already, don’t you think?

Christel Isberg, Team & Talent Development Manager

Christel Isberg-Arasola

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