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This LGBTQ+ History Month we explore inclusivity in tech.
The tech industry is a fast-moving, innovative industry, but when it comes to being truly inclusive and representative of all, it’s still got a long way to go.
LGTBQ+ people are still massively underrepresented within tech, and a recent study by the Institute of Engineering and Technology revealed that 30% of LGBTQ+ young people in the UK aren’t considering a career in tech due to concerns about discrimination. Another survey by Stonewall also found that 35% of LGTBQ+ employees hide that they are LGTBQ+ in the workplace for fear of discrimination.
So, what can we do to change this, and what are the benefits of a diverse workforce, where people don’t fear discrimination?
Firstly, let’s look at the benefits of diversity, and more importantly, an inclusive culture where everybody feels valued, equal and heard.
Different minds result in brilliant things
When employees who are different from one another are enabled to flourish, their different experiences, skill sets and viewpoints can collide, resulting in brilliant creations and solutions.
It’s socially responsible to ensure that the production of digital services and products, which now play a huge part in all our daily lives, are created by a diverse demographic that’s representative of the general population.
Growing the talent pool
When it comes to tech, it’s well-known that the industry is suffering from a massive skills shortage. By increasing and improving diversity and inclusion, we can make the industry more attractive to people who are put off entering because they think they’ll be discriminated against. This would increase the talent pool and reduce skills shortages.
The advantages of a diverse and inclusive workforce are clear, but how can the industry become more inclusive? We asked two of our LGBTQ+ representatives what tech companies should do to better support LGBTQ+ people.
Lillie (she/her), .NET developer at Sun-Strategy:
Lillie believes focusing on mental health is really important right now, and thinks having well trained mental health first aiders in companies would benefit LGBTQ+ people, as well as all other employees.
Lillie says: “Companies should actively promote these mental health first aiders, hold talks about mental health, and encourage people to talk about and recognise mental health stressors. A healthier mind is a healthier employee, and healthy employees make for healthier companies.
“Taking steps to identify opportunities to promote allyship within organisations is also important and identifying opportunities to develop employees so they can better understand other people’s lived experiences is something all companies should do.”
Quinn (they/them), a coach at The Coders Guild, managing director of Fish Percolator and tech lead at Citizens Advice:
Quinn believes inclusion at work isn’t just about handling ‘incidents’ when things go wrong, it’s about building a company’s ethos with systemic inequalities in mind.
Quinn says: “Companies can take several steps to become more inclusive for trans people.
“People might like to put pronouns alongside their names whenever they’re introduced; it’s good to do this in all workplaces, even if they have no visibly trans people.
“Companies could also hire a trans awareness trainer who can introduce employees to the basic concepts of how to respect and include trans people at work. And really importantly, make sure you listen to your trans colleagues and give them space to talk about discomfort.”
The Coders Guild knows society’s most underrepresented groups can become the digital industry’s future innovators, and we need tech companies across the board to take stock and implement processes to create truly inclusive environments where all employees feel comfortable and able to shine.