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You Won’t Improve Gender Diversity in Your Technical Hiring Without Doing These Things First

Hiring Developers

Wanting to improve gender diversity in your technical hiring, but not sure where to start? Or, you’ve been trying to improve gender diversity but have found yourself struggling? You’re in the right place. 

If you don’t have these 5 things “down”, your gender diversity goals will stall. These are the foundations for more gender diverse tech teams. You’ll need to:

1. Get executive buy-in

A foundational step towards achieving gender diversity is securing support from your executive team. 

Actively engage them in your diversity goals and ensure they champion these initiatives. Make sure that there’s a clear, well-communicated aspiration for the entire organization. This executive buy-in will also pave the way for implementing ever-important training programs for recruiters and hiring managers.

To win executive support, Elaine Brown, Director of Inclusion at the University of Essex, suggests that you emphasize the tangible benefits for the company, such as fostering innovation, enhancing creativity, boosting productivity, improving retention through a sense of belonging and inclusion, and increasing employer attractiveness through better representation.

2. Get the ‘stats’

In order to address gender diversity effectively, you need to understand where you currently stand in regards to your workforce and your hiring.  

“Look at those numbers, look at your selection or hiring ratios […] look at your input and your output at each stage of the process. That would be the first step.” 

Clinton Kelly, Principal Consultant at ioPredict

Understand the numbers. Here are 5 examples of important metrics to follow:

Gender breakdown of applicants per source

Understanding where your candidates come from can help steer your sourcing diversity efforts. Evaluate the gender breakdown of applicants from various sources to identify trends and disparities. 

Which channels contribute to a more diverse candidate pool? By pinpointing these sources, you can strategically allocate resources and explore new channels to enhance applicant diversity.

🔖 Related read: Women-Friendly Tech Job Boards

Interview panel diversity

Don’t underestimate how much the composition of your interview panels impacts your hiring.

Consider who conducts interviews—are diverse profiles represented? This is key to fostering better representation and, consequently, more diverse recruitment. 

Mark Lomas, Head of Culture at Lloyd’s, recently shared that LLoyd’s have created a pool of “diverse interviewers” across the company, who are trained in unconscious bias and skills-based hiring and committed to taking part in a certain number of interviews per year.

Retention rates per group

Retaining a diverse talent pool is just as important as attracting one. 

Examine retention rates per demographic group to uncover potential disparities. Issues like microaggressions will significantly impact the retention of women in the workplace. In fact, women who experience microaggressions—and self-shield to deflect them—are three times more likely to think about quitting their jobs (Women in the Workplace 2023, McKinsey & Company). 

Understanding your retention rates will empower you to implement targeted strategies to improve retention, particularly among underrepresented groups.

Managers per gender

Leadership diversity is a key indicator of an organization’s commitment to gender equality. 

Track the representation of women in managerial and senior positions. Additionally, examine the duration it takes for women to be promoted compared to their male counterparts. With only 25% of C-suite leaders in tech being women (as reported by understanding and addressing these disparities is crucial for fostering an inclusive leadership landscape.

Employee satisfaction

Utilize metrics like a Net Promoter Score (NPS) per gender group to identify satisfaction imbalances. 

Complement these quantitative measures by gathering qualitative feedback to uncover any inappropriate behavior or discrimination issues. By comprehensively evaluating employee satisfaction, you can address concerns and cultivate an environment where every employee feels valued and supported.

🔖 Related read: 12 Key DEI Metrics To Track For An Inclusive Workplace

3. Map your current hiring journey

If you haven’t already, formally document each and every step of your current hiring process. 

Standardizing your process will make it much easier to identify and rectify any bias. By mapping your hiring journey, you create a framework for consistent and unbiased recruitment.

For every step of your internal hiring process, from the job description to the initial screen to the technical interview and beyond, document the following items: 

  • What does this step entail?
  • Who is involved and what is expected from them?
  • What do we hope to learn?
  • Why is this important to us?

If done thoroughly, this process alone will most likely help you to identify areas for improvement (a gray area? A sticking point? That’s most likely where bias will creep in first). 

“Adding structure to the hiring process, in my opinion, makes any bias transparent, and therefore fixable.”

Clinton Kelly, Principal Consultant at ioPredict

4. Set clear quantitative and qualitative goals

Establishing clear and measurable goals is essential for progress. Identify key metrics to track your gender diversity initiatives. 

“You make what you measure.”

Anvisha Pai, Founder of Dover

Designate someone responsible for reporting on these metrics and sharing findings with the entire company. By prioritizing these goals and holding individuals accountable, you can turn your intentions into tangible outcomes.

A 50/50 gender split, for example, may feel like an overly ambitious goal—but it can be done! Jason Buchanan, who has successfully built a gender-balanced engineering team at Empower, stresses that making gender parity a goal is the only way that it’s actually going to happen.

“The bottom line is really being aware and setting a goal. This is something we did years ago in engineering [..] we acknowledged that the pool of candidates was going to be smaller, but that we wanted to focus on getting that 50/50 equity in the team. Setting it as a goal really helped us to focus on that.”

Jason Buchanan, Director of Engineering at Empower

5. Document any existing initiatives and policies

Take stock of any existing diversity initiatives or inclusive policies in your organization, whether widely adopted or not. This includes both formal and informal policies. 

In a recent panel talk, Philip Vickers, Director of HR at Charles Tyrwhitt, shared that the company only recently started documenting some of their care policies. 

They offer extra time off for difficult personal situations (cancer diagnosis or pregnancy loss, for example), but, until recently, only those affected knew about this arrangement. 

“Communicating that the company will support you, if you were ever to find yourself in that situation, contributes to building a culture of psychological safety.”

Philip Vickers, Director of HR at Charles Tyrwhitt

Anything that can help candidates get a feel for what kind of company you are and what matters to you, will help them project whether or not they would feel comfortable and respected within your teams. This is especially important for underrepresented groups.

From securing executive buy-in to owning your statistics, mapping the hiring journey, setting clear goals, and documenting initiatives, each step contributes to laying the groundwork for more meaningful and inclusive tech hiring.