Protecting Tech Diversity Amidst Economic Downturn

We’re all aware of the current economic downturn in the tech industry and the unfortunate layoffs that have followed. But we can’t afford to let this affect the hard-won gains made in diversity efforts as a result of all the turmoil. That means putting this on your strategic priority list. There’s one very simple thing you can do to protect your diversity work, right away.

The underrepresentation of women in tech and its impacts

The underrepresentation of women in tech is still a major issue. And in the tech industry in particular, having diverse teams is a game-changer. It’s what enables companies to create products that work for everyone, not just a specific group, it improves problem-solving, creativity and innovation. As a wise CIO once said, “Tech needs diversity because it helps us create better and safer products that consider everyone’s needs, not just a select few.”

Women’s representation in the tech industry is still below 28%. Especially as companies that embrace diversity outperform their counterparts – those are the cold hard facts. They attract top talent, keep their employees engaged, and retain their workforce better than companies that don’t prioritise diversity and inclusion. Research by McKinsey backs it up all the time (as shown below).

Immediate strategies to protect diversity in your tech teams

Now, let’s address the elephant in the room: the tech economic downturn and those dreaded layoffs. Unfortunately, diversity often gets sidelined during these tough decisions and, as a result, we lose valuable diversity in our tech teams. All that progress we’ve made takes a hit, it’s an ongoing one step forward two steps back sort of situation and it’s never-ending.

So, what can we do about it? How can we protect diversity in tech teams and leadership during these challenging times? This is what you can do – TODAY:

  1. Establish clear policies that guide us during crises like these, ensuring we don’t make knee-jerk decisions based on biased criteria.  Begin by introducing a simple Diversity & Inclusion Policy or adding an amendment to our existing policies along those lines.Add a version of this Clause:
    We value diversity in our workforce and if, as a result of economic, market, business restructuring, technological changes or an epidemic or pandemic emergency, redundancies are required, careful consideration will be given to retaining diversity as a priority.
  2. Take a moment to think about what renowned author Daniel Kahneman teaches us in his book “Thinking, Fast and Slow.” He emphasizes the power of slowing down decision-making, especially when the stakes are high. This helps us avoid unconscious biases and make smarter choices. Sure, economic downturns demand quick action, but we shouldn’t forget the warning signs that tell us diversity is crucial and should therefore be considered carefully.

“When we face economic shifts, market fluctuations, business restructurings, technological advancements, or any challenges affecting our tech industry, we promise to prioritize maintaining diversity. We value the diverse perspectives and talents in our workforce, and we’ll carefully consider their importance when making any necessary adjustments.”

By clearly expressing our commitment and taking concrete steps, we can ensure that diversity remains a top priority even during these challenging times of tech downturns and layoffs.

Now, of course, words alone won’t cut it, we have to show we value diversity in our actions. Let’s keep diversity thriving in the tech world. Starting with a thoughtful approach and well-defined policies, we can make a real difference together!

If you want to do more to remove systemic barriers for women in tech, look into the Project F certification programs here or start by evaluating where your company stands with our Pulse Check.

And if you’re a startup, Project F has the perfect solution that’s cost-effective and will enable you to easily weave DEI into the fabric of your business for sustainable outcomes! Check out our Gender Balance Toolkits here.

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Further reading

How to build a genuinely diverse and inclusive tech workforce without underestimating women’s abilities and potential.
By prioritizing Diversity and Inclusion, startups can tap into a multitude of benefits that will propel their success. Let’s explore.
Uncover the differences between traditional and progressive HR and how the latter is essential to build diversity and inclusion in the tech industry, especially on the verge of the fifth revolution.