Recruting for a More Diverse IT Staff: Seven Tips
CIO - Diversity (or lack thereof) in IT has been a hot topic in the news and among our clients in recent months. And it's true: IT departments are notorious for their lack of diversity, and the problem is only getting worse. Over the past few years, the number of women and underrepresented minorities (URMs) in IT has been dropping steadily. CIOs and other IT leaders can follow these simple steps to attract and retain women and URMs into their IT departments:
• Adjust the language in your job description. Research has shown that women are less likely to apply for positions unless they meet every requirement in the job description, while men are more likely to send in an application if they meet three-quarters or more of the criteria on the list. When writing job descriptions, companies often list required qualities in a candidate in the same sentence as qualities that are not required but that are desirable. Instead, if you're writing a listing for a network administrator, for example, and virtualization skills are a plus but not entirely necessary for the position, list this skill separately from the other required skills.
• Recruit at women's and minority-serving institutions. Over the past decade, the historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) and the Hispanic-serving institutions (HSI) have received billions of dollars from government agencies to benefit their science and technology programs. These programs graduate thousands of qualified minority candidates in technology and engineering every year. Additionally, several highly regarded women's colleges are starting up engineering and computer science programs that are growing quickly. Smith College's Picker Engineering program is an excellent example of this.
• Reach out through professional groups and attend job fairs for minorities and women in IT. Professional networks for women and minorities in IT, such as the National Society of Black Engineers or Women in Technology International, are plentiful and are a great way to reach out to diverse candidates. Many of these professional groups also host online job boards or listings and, often, events. The biggest conferences for women and minorities in IT are the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing and the Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing.
• Promote work/life balance and a flexible workplace. Work/life balance, as well as a culture of flexibility in the workplace, is the single most important factor when attracting and retaining women and minorities. Although these types of cultural adjustments have historically been aimed at attracting and retaining women (who are more likely than men to be juggling childcare along with a career), anecdotal evidence suggests that these qualities in a workplace are important to minorities as well, especially if they are foreign-born.
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