A snapshot of the tech workforce reveals that whites and males are represented at a higher rate than other groups. Nearly 70 percent of the workforce are white while only seven percent are Black, and eight percent are Hispanic/Latinx. On the other hand, women only made up 36 percent of the industry.
With these numbers, it’s no surprise that algorithmic bias persists in the industry. One company that’s working to resolve this is Tech Talent South. This woman-owned training provider and tech firm provides technical training to candidates who are underrepresented in the industry.
Tech Talent South is diversifying the tech talent pool by building a vibrant community with members largely identifying as women, BIPOC, and/or Latinx.Become a part of Tech Talent South’s expanding community.
Why Diversity and Inclusion in Tech Matters
Algorithms are not free from bias. When artificial intelligence was implemented in the healthcare system to determine which patients should get “high-risk care management”, it was found to assign lower risk scores to Black patients. It means that Black patients are less likely to receive the quality of care they need and end up shouldering the cost for added care.
This instance of algorithmic bias signals two things. First, faster doesn’t necessarily mean fairer. While we have come to depend on machines for their efficiency, the world of AI and machine learning is not immune to biases. The bias is there; it’s simply coded.
Second, software and applications are only as inclusive as the people behind them. And the tech industry lacks the diversity it needs to build tools that will be beneficial to all, not just a select group of people.
Diversity and Inclusion at Tech Talent South
Tech Talent South (TTS) is a woman-owned company specializing in recruitment, immersive technical training, and staffing. TTS prides itself on putting inclusion high up on its list of priorities to ensure that underrepresented talent has access to high-growth careers in technology.
“We’ve been really intentional about trying to move the needle and help to build a more diverse industry that looks like the people it’s meant to serve,” says Mary Lachapelle, the Vice President of Growth at Tech Talent South. “We want to have people building more empathetic products that really serve end-users in meaningful ways.”
“So, we’re working hard to build a talent pipeline that ultimately makes a difference in the composition of who’s being represented in tech, and it starts with going out of our way to invite underrepresented people into our network and presenting them with opportunities that they might not have considered in the first place,” adds Mary.
According to the statistics provided by Tech Talent South, 89 percent of its talent network identifies as women, BIPOC, and/or Latinx. The company serves as an all-in-one resource to transform the hiring process in the tech industry.
We spoke with two Tech Talent South alumni—Sophia Chapman, a software engineer at Trusted Provider Network, and Hiwot T. Sidelil, a big data engineer at DXC Technology—to learn more about their experience as members of the TTS community. Below are the essential measures that Tech Talent South takes to encourage diversity and inclusion in its community.
Providing Affordable and Accessible Training
Both Sophia and Hiwot agree that the tech sector is not as diverse as they would want it to be. “I wouldn’t say it [the STEM field] is diverse at all. It’s not. It’s biased a little bit towards the male gender. And there are a lot of good movements and groups right now to encourage women in coding and…diversity in IT,” says Hiwot.
Creating a Shared Work Environment Area
Organizing a shared work environment area is another point highlighted by Hiwot. “All the folks that came from different backgrounds, and it was welcoming in a sense that you could relate to other peers next to you…There were people from some walks of life that I was able to talk to,” he says.
“So you get to interact with different folks and get to hear their perspective and share your perspective as well…There were all kinds of different age groups, too,” he adds.
For Sophia, Tech Talent South was a welcoming place for every person in her group. “I always felt that Tech Talent South was inclusive of every background. The speakers, companies, and recruiters that they brought in for events came from many different career and life backgrounds. My classmates also ranged widely in their career backgrounds and ages.”
Facilitating Networking Events
Tech Talent South organizes various networking events for its students and alumni. “Networking is so important,” shares Sophia. “It’s hard to make a connection with a company or a person if you’re just sending resumes through an online portal… I went to almost every event that Tech Talent South put on, whether it was a company tour, a Q&A panel, a recruiter presentation, or a guest speaker.”
“The first job I got after I completed my classes was an apprenticeship that I found through a Tech Talent South graduate who I met at a Tech Talent South event. She encouraged me to message a company on Linkedin and ask about the apprenticeship that she had just completed and gave me great advice on how to prepare for the interview,” adds Sophia.
Making Students Job-Ready for Careers in Tech
Tech Talent South prepares bootcamp students for tech careers by teaching in-demand tech skills and providing career services, offering help in the hiring process, and preparing for work in a tech company.
“I took the initiative to ask my instructors what they recommended to prepare for interviews, and they gave me plenty of resources to do on my own time that helped prepare me,” says Sophia. “Tech Talent South helped me prepare for so many things that I do in my day-to-day work now, especially using GitHub, working on code with others, and knowing that asking a question is never a bad thing.”
Tech Talent South grads work at leading tech companies like Accenture, Amazon, Bank of America, Home Depot, GAP, Spotify, Wayfair, WebMD, among many others.
How Can Organizations Get It Right When It Comes to Diversity and Inclusion?
Tech Talent South emphasizes the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout an organization. It’s not enough to merely give everyone a seat at the table. It’s also important to pull out a chair and listen to what they have to say. As a diverse and inclusive company, Tech Talent South is happy to share its tips on how organizations can nail diversity and inclusion.
Open and Honest Conversations
An organization must make an effort to establish clear expectations for how it will improve its inclusion. Leadership needs to be on board, but it also needs to be in charge of the process and ensure that everyone follows it. There must be open and honest discussions on the best ways to attain these objectives so that everyone may contribute.
Setting goals and measuring progress help a company ensure that it is taking concrete steps to increase diversity and inclusion. It is not a problem that can be solved overnight and will require a long-term commitment.
Diversity and Inclusion Training
Pay attention to the advice of experts. There are numerous diversity and inclusion training and consultants available to help organizations get started. It isn’t something that can be solved in a single training session, but it may lay the groundwork for how to proceed and what is acceptable.
Transparent and Structured Processes
Implementing systematic and transparent processes is a smart first step toward making a workplace more inclusive and ensuring that no one is left behind. Salary transparency has been found to benefit women and people of color and aid in the fight against any pay inequities concerning gender or race.
True diversity and inclusion require a long-term commitment from the entire team. It’s critical to have a system to give and receive feedback openly and honestly. Employees should be able to participate in these discussions, whether to call out a microaggression or to offer a recommendation for how the organization might improve.
Building a Diverse Tech Talent Pipeline with TTS
Diverse organizations make better decisions, have higher revenue, tap into broader markets and audiences, and outperform their competitors. Over the last decade, many tech companies have improved their diversity and inclusion efforts, yet there is still much work to be done.
With over 89 percent of its talent network identifying as women, BIPOC, and/or Latinx, Tech Talent South is building a diverse tech community for a better future, one person at a time.
Become a part of the movement and break into tech by applying to Tech Talent South.
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.