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Is D&I Becoming a Tick-Box Exercise?

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Is D&I Becoming a Tick-Box Exercise?

​2024 looks set to be a cardinal milestone for diversity and inclusion – are tech leaders equipped to approach it from the right direction?

For a space defined by its innovation and forward-thinking leaders, tech’s representation troubles should seem out of place. Scratch beneath the surface, and you’ll find systemic bias, a lack of access to opportunity, and plenty of company cultures in need of a refurb.

In 2023, Women made up just 26% of the UK’s tech workforce, up from 21% in 2016. A meagre 5% increase in 9 years isn’t enough progress.

Thankfully, corporate paradigm shifts are underway, and brands know they can’t afford to ignore their representation gaps anymore, not if they hope to stay relevant and competitive.

To truly benefit from the strengths of a diverse workforce, avoiding the tick-box approach to D&I is essential.

What is Tick-Box D&I?

In its simplest form, tick-box D&I refers to ineffective, performative, and surface-level D&I efforts. For example,  hiring candidates just to meet pre-determined diversity quotas such as gender, ethnicity, veteran status, or even sexual orientation.  

This approach discourages the expression of identity and (usually) fails to account for the retention methodology. By reducing someone’s identity to characteristics on a checklist, you’re negating the complexity and uniqueness of their individual experience.

The challenge is to avoid superficiality while creating a company culture that accounts for the unique needs of your employees. This tends to require a behavioural shift, rather than a checklist.

Why Does it Happen?

Why do so many employers still fall into the trap of tick-box D&I? Be it deep-rooted behavioural change or an overhaul of the recruitment process, building diverse and inclusive environments is often thought of as time-consuming or costly. While it’s true that the results might take a while to materialise, the building blocks for a truly inclusive environment are completely free.

Some of the common pitfalls we see preventing the emergence of inclusive environments include:

  • Resistance to change

  • A lack of access to resources

  • Knowledge gaps

  • No D&I strategy

  • A lack of cultural direction

  • Access to a shallow talent pool

Between the rise of ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) concerns and the birth of the most diverse generation in history, consumers are calling out for socially responsible, purpose-driven brands.

Tick-box diversity might look like a quick fix, but even if you can attract diverse candidates, this method will probably fall short when it comes to retaining them. Poor retention rates are bad for the morale, the brand, and the bottom line.

Where to Start

D&I is not a tick-box exercise. Want to improve your company’s D&I efforts? Accepting D&I as a constantly evolving journey (the antithesis of a tick-box approach) is a good place to start.

That journey can consist of formalised training, the establishment of employee-engagement groups, unconscious bias workshops, inclusive language tools, mutual mentorship, or a host of other factors, but ultimately, it depends on your business.

Every company is different, and so too are its cultures, ambitions, objectives, values, and of course, people. As such a custom-made approach to D&I is the only effective one.

Support from Trust in SODA

Whether you’re hoping to hire or get hired, we know the impact the right environment can have on high-quality candidates. Through our community-led approach to recruitment, we’ve been building a diverse, engaged, and highly skilled global talent network for over ten years. Want to know more? Drop me a message! Trust in SODA’s specialist recruiters are here to help.