A recent phenomenon, especially in the tech community, is high resignation rates. A recent study shows that 72% of tech workers are considering leaving their job in the next year. Another reveals that 97% feel burned out. But why is it happening and how can businesses keep employees happy? Experts believe that an inclusive culture is key for retaining talent and that exclusive environments are to blame for much of this retention challenge.
The topic was the subject of a session during an Advancing Tech Talent and Diversity Community meeting at CompTIA’s Communities & Councils Forum in Chicago, where Trisha Daho, CEO and founder of Empowered, Angel Pineiro, vice president of CompTIA’s strategic academic relationships, and Lindsay Raduka, vice president of talent and culture, provided eight tips for tech companies to retain talent:
1. Make Your Culture Sticky
Workers feel as if they aren’t being treated equitably and, as a result, they are seeking out workplaces that offer more inclusion. Industry experts suggest making an intentional culture that supports diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and that actively works to support all workers as they are.
To truly include groups that often feel marginalized, you often need to have some uncomfortable internal conversations. It’s also important to examine internal efforts and define where you could be doing more. Here are some of the strategies recommended by industry experts.
2. Understand the Difference between Equity and Equality
One of the conversations surrounding retention and DEI is understanding the difference between equity and equality. Inclusion involves the equalizing of workplaces to help everyone feel represented and accepted. Daho says that “equality is giving everyone the same resources regardless of how they show up, while equity is giving everyone the resources they need to be successful.” She stresses the importance of this even if that means giving some workers more or different resources than others. She provides the example of providing captions for someone who is hard of hearing to give everyone the same experience and access.
Related Content: Make a Case for DEI at Your Tech Company | Trend Watch
3. Provide a Better Work Life Balance
When we talk about better work life balance, we see workers adjusting schedules to better accommodate family life or enhance their personal relationships. Pineiro notes that while we are doing better with flexible expectations, there is also a stigma surrounding those who choose to opt for a variable work schedule, with many thinking those workers lack the dedication or commitment of their peers. “People think work from home means more inclusion, but it can also result in exclusion,” states Pineiro. “If you’re not around because you work from home, your business staff and teams may not include you in certain aspects of the job.” Pineiro recommends that leadership set a clear example for staff by not engaging in work tasks or messaging when they’re outside of working hours or on vacation.
4. Promote Allyship in Your Workplace
Retention means making everyone feel welcome, which can sometimes be difficult to do when systemic practices are in place. Allyship is one way to help support better inclusion. Allyship involves engaging in active behaviors and practices to help support and advocate for others in the workplace. Daho recommends that leadership and others become more intentional with their support of others. “Allyship is being intentional about supporting people who don’t look like you,” she said. “You call out behaviors that don’t support, unite, involve inclusion—all those things.” Raduka supports that opinion, asserting that allyship translates to action and allyship is only accomplished through active support.
5. Make Reward Systems Equitable
Reward systems are a common way to incentivize workers to be successful and can help create retention by showing appreciation for work done well. But historically, these systems have also acted to exclude certain populations. To encourage retention, experts recommend more equitable reward systems. “Go beyond just technical acumen,” suggested Daho. “Look at opportunity, visibility, pay, bonuses. Is there clarity around bonuses, is everyone given leadership opportunities?” She notes that retention will happen if everyone feels there is equal opportunity to be part of the reward system.
6. Use Sponsorship and Reverse Mentoring to Support Retention Efforts
Sponsorship involves having the support of team members to help employees grow and advance, but it has to be genuine and persistent. Reverse mentoring involves relationships between different groups of workers and leadership, where workers educate higher ups on how they can be better and more inclusive leaders.
Workers are resigning due to lack of exactly these kinds of equitable practices, said Daho. Sponsorship and reverse mentoring are ways to help everyone be seen and heard. “It is extremely important as you’re climbing inside an organization to have advocates who will speak for you when you’re not in the room,” she said.
7. Make Sure Inclusive Leadership is Promoting a Sense of Belonging for Everyone
Leadership has the job of making sure everyone feels included as they are. Raduka’s organization uses The Six Cs to ensure leadership is practicing inclusion.
- Courage, to be brave enough to promote more inclusive practices.
- Commitment, to DEI efforts and making sure you are being active and intentional about inclusion.
- Curiosity, to help you seek out creative and comprehensive ways to include everyone in your business.
- Cognizance, to help leadership be aware of where changes need to be made.
- Cultural competence, to enable a more inclusive culture through varying and active efforts.
- Collaboration, where you encourage active participation from everyone to ensure you are building a better culture.
Daho also noted that a sense of belonging will encourage greater retention, but also help with productivity. “People should be able to show up as they are because if they don’t, they can never give their full potential.”
8. Be Aware of Microaggression and Make Efforts to Eliminate Those Practices
Microaggression in the workplace is often subtle and sometimes unintentional practices that make someone feel excluded. This might involve the perpetuation of stereotypes or making indirect comments about the expectations of someone with respect to a group they belong to. Pineiro cited an example of microaggression as saying, “You’re good at math for a girl,” or “You don’t look like other programmers.” Pineiro suggests that we do what we can to eliminate microaggression. “I think the most important thing is to call out microaggression when you hear it,” he said. “Not as an aggressive thing, but from an educational standpoint.”
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