Today, diversity and inclusion is one of the biggest challenges facing the tech industry. The tech world has been talking about D&I for decades. There are books, podcasts, panels at conferences, and so much more dedicated to the topic.
Yet, the numbers are still quite discouraging. According to studies, only 20 to 25% of entry-level technical jobs are filled by women.
The adverse effects of technology bias are already being seen. Research shows that most facial recognition software can identify white faces quickly, but can’t consistently identify people with other skin tones. This is because those algorithms are trained on data that features primarily white faces.
Companies worldwide are looking to tackle the issue of diversity hiring in tech, but very few have made strides in the right direction. Hence, we have handpicked the following top 4 lessons from global companies to help you promote a diverse and inclusive workforce.
Lesson 1: Build products with everyone and for everyone
Organization in focus: Google
“When communities are underrepresented in our workforce, they can be underserved by our products. Business and product inclusion is the intentional practice of designing products and services for a diverse range of consumers and communities by better understanding their unique needs. The goal is a better user experience and accelerated business growth.” —Google diversity annual report 2019
Diversity and inclusion are business imperatives for Google. The organization believes that D&I improves outcomes for its employees, products, and users. Here are a few D&I lessons that we can learn from the world’s most renowned multinational technology company.
- Google offers inclusive design and engineering training as part of its onboarding curriculum for new tech hires on its New York and Mountain View campuses. All employees of Google residing anywhere in the world can participate in it.
- Google works with external partners to improve its products for everyone. For example, as part of the Grow with Google program, Digital Coaches at Google host workshops, working with women- and minority-owned businesses that are part of Google’s Supplier Diversity program. The organization collects user feedback from communities to build products with inclusion in mind. Additionally, Google spent $400 million on businesses owned by people from underrepresented groups in 2018.
- Google offers online crowdsourcing platforms to encourage anyone and anywhere to help improve the inclusivity of the organization’s products. For instance, Project Respect helps create more inclusive AI algorithms in line with Google’s AI Principles. Also, at Accelerate with Google, the organization “open sources” research, best practices, and guidance on inclusive design. This brings an inclusive lens to the design process for all its products, making the organization user-centric.
Lesson 2: Use empathy to lead innovation
Organization in focus: Microsoft
“Technology can empower people to achieve more, help strengthen education opportunities, and make the workplace more inviting and inclusive for people with disabilities. And with more than one billion people with disabilities in the world, Microsoft believes accessibility and inclusion are essential to delivering on our mission to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.”—Jenny Lay-Flurrie, Chief Accessibility Officer at Microsoft.
Microsoft believes that diverse and inclusive companies are not only more profitable and innovative but also fair well in retaining top talent who can meet the requirements of customers from a wide range of communities. The better organizations represent global diversity internally, the more prepared they are to innovate everywhere, for everyone. Here are a few products that Microsoft built to promote a diverse and inclusive environment, not just internally but around the globe.
- Microsoft holds its annual internal hackathon every year. The event invites and encourages employees at Microsoft to work on pet or experimental projects and present them to their colleagues for feedback. In 2016, a small crew of designers built the first prototype for the Xbox Adaptive Controller. The aim was to build a gamepad for people with limited mobility. That core team continued to work on the project and launched the Xbox Adaptive Controller in 2019. The game controller has inspired a number of people to build hardware and software features that let gamers with physical disabilities play the games they love.
- Blur was developed by Swetha Machanavajhala, a software engineer at Microsoft who has been deaf since birth. Blur is a feature within Microsoft Teams and Skype that obscures the background in video chats. The technology was borne out of Swetha’s frustration during video chats with her parents in India, when bright lights behind them made it hard for her to read their lips. Also, the background-blurring feature turned out to be useful for privacy reasons as well, helping to hide curious café customers during job interviews or messy offices during video conference calls.
- The Seeing AI app developed by Microsoft reads documents and menus, identifies currency, and recognizes people for users with disabilities. It is also useful for sighted people who need to extend their field of vision in challenging environments.
Lesson 3: Empower diverse entrepreneurs
Organization in focus: Amazon
“Diverse and inclusive teams have a positive impact on our products and services, and help us better serve customers, selling partners, content creators, employees, and community stakeholders from every background. We are constantly learning and iterating, whether through central programs or work within our business teams, through programs that are local, regional, and global.”—Amazon
Amazon’s mission is to be the world’s most customer-centric organization, with diversity and inclusion being the center of it all. Amazon enables its creators, builders, and sellers from around the globe to follow their passion and find their best future, without extensive capital or networks. Here’s how Amazon helps technologists, entrepreneurs, and authors from around the world through its products and services:
- Through We Power Tech , Amazon programs with partners with over 70 organizations around the globe. The aim is to provide access to AWS credits and learning modules and support the underrepresented communities in tech. We Power Tech organizes workshops and events to support founders and entrepreneurs who are people of color, women, people with disabilities, or from the LGBTQ community.
- The Amazon Business credentialing program enables veteran-owned, women-owned, minority-owned, and LGBTQ-owned small businesses to promote their products. Customers can shop at storefronts that support women-owned businesses, and the Amazon Saheli Store that displays products built by women supported by NGOs in India.
- With publishing options in 40 languages, Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) enables more than one million authors to publish their books globally. To encourage more people from different ethnic backgrounds to access Amazon’s services for authors and content creators, the organization promotes content creation tools at events like the AfroTech and the Congressional Black Caucus.
- Amazon is intentionally incorporating content representing a variety of communities on its platforms. For instance, for Pride 2018, AMazon featured more than 60 official feature films from the Outfest LGBTQ film festivals on Prime Video. In 2018, Amazon content was awarded the ReFrame TV stamp for gender parity.
Lesson 4: Embed diversity with smart HR analytics
Organization in focus: SAP
“A rich and diverse ecosystem drives innovation and allows us to better serve our customers. We will leverage technology for inclusion, ensure our tools are accessible, and build a diverse and inclusive tech ecosystem across the entire supply chain of supplier diversity to consumer experience.”—SAP
SAP measures its progress in the areas of supplier diversity statistics, management position data for underrepresented minorities and women, and attrition and retention rates by using technologies such as Machine Learning (ML), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Internet of Things (IoT). Here’s how SAP leverages technology to build a diverse and inclusive workforce:
- SAP uses the Job Analyzer to integrate D&I considerations into key talent management decisions. The tool helps managers and recruiters to make gender-fluid job descriptions. This results in a richer, expanded candidate pool, which, in turn, helps business leaders to reach the most qualified candidates for every position.
- The SAP SuccessFactors Calibration tool helps managers evaluate the performance management process without bias. Instead of potentially being swayed by unconscious bias when making a decision about employees because of their photo, the tool replaces the photo with a generic icon.
- Functionalities within the SAP SuccessFactors Succession & Development solution enable HRs to match mentees and mentors based on competencies and skills to ensure that mentoring is equitable and inclusive.
- Data analysis capabilities within the SAP SuccessFactors Workforce Analytics solution helps SAP highlight areas where D&I targets are not being met. The organization can visualize and forecast D&I trends and give executives a greater insight into its D&I efforts.
What HackerEarth does to promote a diverse and inclusive workforce
At HackerEarth, we do not treat diversity and inclusion as a separate to-do list. It is imbibed in everything we do, starting from hiring people with diverse skill sets or having someone from the LGBTQ+ community as a BU head. Not only that—we encourage all employees to speak out and challenge any out-of-date processes or practices. We hire based on skills and not pedigree and transparency is at the forefront of every managerial decision made. Additionally, our platform helps recruiters and hiring managers conduct fair technical assessments by cutting bias out of the process. We enable them to assess candidates solely on their programming abilities. We reduce bias even further by masking candidate information and evaluating them on the one thing that matters—their coding skills. Since our inception, we have implemented more structure, purpose, and impact around these efforts to foster meaningful and valuable employee engagement experiences.
If you care about diversity, we’d love to entertain a conversation. Contact us to learn more about how you can jumpstart your team’s diversity by leveraging our platform. Our email is always open: firstname.lastname@example.org