May 23, 2022
Fueled by the pandemic, the recent wave of employee turnover known as “The Great Resignation” has caused a major shortage of employees throughout the economy.
Technology companies have received more than their share of the instability, with 72% of tech/IT workers thinking of changing jobs or exploring other opportunities in the next 12 months, compared to 55% for other careers in the U.S., according to a 2021 survey of 1,200 tech employees by Talent LMS and Workable.
A deeper look reveals that diverse workers are more likely to seek other opportunities, with Latinx (64%) and Black workers (49%) looking to change jobs at greater rates than white workers (34%). That’s why many companies are focusing on how to recruit and retain diverse talent.
This issue was the subject of SVLG’s “Inclusive Conversations: The Great Resignation” roundtable on May 17. Moderated by Audrey Soriano, SVLG Sr. Associate for Racial Justice and Equity, the roundtable featured a guided discussion between Dr. Kathleen Wong(Lau), Chief Diversity Officer for San Jose State University, and Cheick Camara, Senior Director, Head of Platform Engineering Operations at ServiceNow. The intimate roundtable discussion provided an opportunity for companies to discuss recruiting and retaining top diverse talent at Silicon Valley companies.
“To me, the companies that win will win the talent battle. And to me, the companies that win the talent battle will win the diversity battle,” Camara said.
Designed in response to questions from members about employee retention, the goal of the roundtable was to learn more about what’s fueling the Great Resignation and to find constructive solutions.
Dr. Wong(Lau), Chief Diversity Officer for San Jose State University, is a nationally recognized leader in diversity and inclusion with over 20 years of experience in using applied research to design diversity training programs in a variety of settings.
Increasingly, younger employees are also looking for an alignment between their values and those of the company, she said. There is also a focus on systemic racial injustice, with Black employees rating this issue most highly.
Talented, diverse young people are also looking for a way to make a positive impact on the world, she added.
“They want jobs that have meaning and that impact the well-being of the world, and that’s what they’re asking for,” Dr. Wong(Lau) said. “And so that’s a high order for us to fill because I think we haven’t thought about what our companies can bring to that equation and what the younger generation is expecting from the private sector as well as the nonprofit sector.”
There are many reasons why tech employees may seek other opportunities, with limited career progression topping the list. Workers are increasingly looking for transparency on salary and criteria for promotion. Built-in raises that increase equity and a clear structure for promotions can give employees more of a sense of forward movement and control over their professional path, Dr. Wong(Lau) said.
Other causes for turnover include lack of flexibility, lack of appreciation, and inadequate management.
Camara, a leading voice in Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging, develops volunteer programs and initiatives focusing on retention and learning, community development and outreach. He is also a co-chair of SVLG’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion subcommittee.
Building community and a sense of belonging can help employees feel more connected to their workplace, and mentorship plays an important role. Camara described a program at ServiceNow in which VPs were paired with more junior employees from underrepresented groups to give them a sense of the path to upper management.
“I think that was one of the most successful programs that I’ve seen,” Camara said, “in terms of just the happiness of the employees.”
Mentorship is just one of many proven techniques for retaining diverse talent. In an effort to drive change, in 2021 SVLG’s RJE Team unveiled the Pledge 25×25 Initiative, which will help companies to implement some of the solutions that Camara and Dr. Wong(Lau) discussed. Providing a framework and support for companies to ramp up their diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, Pledge 25×25 participants pledge to have 25% of their leadership positions filled by members of underrepresented groups by 2025, or if they have already reached that metric, to increase their total by 25%.
The time to act is now. To learn more or get involved, visit www.pledge25x25.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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