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Diversity in the AWS community in 2022 – where are we at?

By Andy Fury

Equality in the workplace is of paramount importance, but many organizations have a way to go before they achieve optimal inclusivity. In the tech industry in particular, companies are being urged to prioritize equality and diversity when hiring, mentoring, and retaining employees. As well as ensuring fairness and parity, nurturing diverse teams can have distinct commercial advantages too.

With multiple benefits associated with diversity in the workplace, businesses can increase equality by factoring this into their recruitment processes. To get started, let’s take a look at why diversity in tech is so important, some ways to eliminate bias in the hiring process, and discover how nurturing a diverse team can enhance your organization:

How Diverse is the Tech Industry?

Tech may be noted for being forward-thinking and fast-paced, but the sector is lagging behind when it comes to diversity and inclusion. One recent study compared diversity in the high-tech industry to diversity in private industry employment, with surprising results. Data from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission showed that the high-tech industry employs fewer women, Hispanics, and African Americans than private industries, which highlights the inequality that millions of people face when climbing the career ladder within digital roles.

These findings were echoed when we examined diversity in the AWS ecosystem too. In the Jefferson Frank Careers and Hiring Guide: AWS Edition, 51% of respondents self-reported as white or Caucasian, 26% as Asian, and just 6% as Black, African, or Caribbean. However, it isn’t only racial diversity that’s lacking in the tech industry—38% of respondents working in the AWS ecosystem reported having a bachelor’s degree, while 39% hold a master’s degree. Not every aspiring IT professional can undertake further study at graduate or postgraduate level, which could hinder subsequent career advancement.

Furthermore, just 7% reported having a disability, long-standing illness, or infirmity, again highlighting the urgent need for increased inclusivity and equal opportunities.

Gender Equality in the Tech Sector

Although women account for nearly half of employed adults in the U.S., the tech industry is not made up of almost 50% women. In fact, Deloitte Global predicts that major global tech firms will reach 33% female representation in 2022. Yet a recent study by Accenture showed that gender equality in the tech industry is actually worse now than it was in 1984, with just 32% of roles currently being held by women compared to 35% decades ago.

However, it isn’t just the number of women working in the tech sector that highlights gender equality. For instance, 50% of women are likely to drop tech roles by the time they reach age 35, compared to 20% in other industries. This startling statistic indicates that beyond just finding people to fill roles, the tech industry isn’t providing women with a supportive working environment in which they can thrive.

Want more insight into the AWS community?

From diversity to work perks, certifications and platform trends—The Jefferson Frank Careers and Hiring Guide: AWS Edition has you covered..

Is There a Skills Gap in Tech?

The U.S. tech industry has grown at a much faster rate than virtually all other industries and is currently on track to grow at 5-6% year-on-year. As the sector has evolved at such a fast pace, a wealth of new roles have also been created. However, many firms are struggling to find talent due to an ongoing skills gap, as the rate of professionals entering the industry isn’t in line with the increasing number of roles available. Of course, when companies are using restrictive recruitment practices and overlooking top talent from diverse backgrounds, this magnifies the problem and makes it harder to build and retain tech teams.

By reassessing your hiring processes and increasing diversity, you can overcome the skills gap and mitigate the impact it has on your operations. What’s more – you can reap the additional benefits that are associated with increased equality and inclusivity and use these to enhance your workstreams and your company performance.

Eliminating Bias in the Recruitment Process

Let’s be honest—few organizations intentionally incorporate bias into hiring practices, but this doesn’t prevent it from impacting recruitment across all sectors. Confirmation bias occurs when interviewers attempt to justify snap decisions and bias via the questions they ask, while affinity bias occurs when recruiters favor candidates who are similar to them in some way.

Crucially, the majority of bias in the recruitment process occurs subconsciously or unconsciously, which is why it’s so pervasive. Due to this, recruiters must actively seek to eliminate bias and cultivate fairer hiring practices.

Gender-neutral wording in job descriptions, blind resume reviews, and standardized interviews are just three ways to minimize the risk of bias affecting your recruitment. Of course, working with a specialist recruitment partner will also enable you to access impartial practices that reflect your company’s commitment to diversity and give you the opportunity to enhance your hiring processes.

Retaining Diverse AWS Teams

As we’ve seen, the tech industry is notably lacking in diversity, and this is reflected in sub-sectors, that includes AWS teams too. By being aware of the importance of equality and diversity, eliminating recruitment bias, and working with a trusted recruitment partner, you can ensure that you’re providing equal opportunities to all and build a diverse team that benefits your business.

However, hiring a talented and diverse AWS team isn’t sufficient; you’ll want to retain and develop your teams in order to reduce employee turnover and maximize value. To achieve this, long-term support is needed, so be sure to implement effective strategies to nurture your staff—otherwise, attracting those from diverse backgrounds into your organization is a hollow gesture if there aren’t the mechanisms in place to try and make sure they remain with you.

Providing AWS professionals with access to mentorship programs is one simple yet highly effective way to enhance skillsets and boost motivation, for example. Similarly, offering career progression opportunities with a clearly-defined pathway to all team members will ensure equality and diversity throughout leadership roles and increase employee retention rates.

No matter what sector you operate in, delivering a supportive and enjoyable working environment is critical to retaining your staff, so pay attention to what AWS professionals value most. According to Jefferson Frank’s AWS Careers and Hiring Guide, AWS specialists who took a new role with a pay cut accepted the position because they wanted to:

  • Take on more responsibility
  • Enjoy a better workplace culture
  • Work remotely
  • Gain experience with different projects
  • Access flexible working arrangements

As you can see, it isn’t always salaries that are a top priority for potential new hires. Instead, work/life balance, company culture, and professional opportunities are critically important when it comes to attracting and retaining top AWS talent. By continually reviewing your inclusivity practices and workplace benefits, you can increase staff satisfaction and ensure that all team members are incentivized to remain with your firm.

Do Businesses Benefit from Diversity?

Sadly, a considerable number of people still consider equal opportunities and diversity to be a ‘tick box exercise’, without realizing the positive impact that a diverse team can have on the workplace and the business as a whole.

When you hire diverse teams, your company benefits from a broader range of approaches, working styles, and expertise, which inevitably has a positive impact on your commercial performance. In a recent study conducted by McKinsey, companies in the top quartile for gender diversity were 25% more likely to have above average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile, while those organizations in the top quartile for ethnic diversity were 36% more likely to have above average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile.

Furthermore, Gartner research asserts that “75% of organizations with frontline decision-making teams reflecting a diverse and inclusive culture will exceed their financial targets” in 2022, while “gender-diverse and inclusive CIO teams outperformed less inclusive, gender-homogenous teams by an average of 50%.”

Many IT and AWS roles encompass problem-solving, innovation, and creativity, and these three skills are significantly enhanced when you have cognitively diverse teams who bring different perspectives and approaches to the table.

By actively building diverse teams, companies can leverage the commercial benefits that equality and inclusion offer. Additionally, supporting, nurturing, and retaining these employees will enable businesses to maximize their value and reap the economic advantages that come from having a diverse workforce.

Hiring and Retaining a Diverse AWS Team

Building a truly diverse AWS team requires expertise and experience. After all, eliminating recruitment bias and implementing inclusive hiring practices isn’t always straightforward. Fortunately, companies aren’t on their own when it comes to hiring and retaining AWS professionals.

At Jefferson Frank, our specialist knowledge, global network, and extensive experience puts us at the forefront of the industry and enables us to build strong talent pipelines on behalf of our clients. By scouring our network of almost 20,000 AWS professionals, we’ll help you to develop a diverse AWS team to enhance your operations.

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