January 6, 2023

Inclusion Is Key To Retaining Young Tech Workers, Report Finds

A lack of inclusive and welcoming work environments is contributing to poor retention rates among young diverse tech workers, finds a new report by Wiley Edge.

In a survey of 2,000 18 to 24-year-old UK tech workers, only 1 in 5 said they liked their company’s culture. Another 1 in 5 felt welcomed by their colleagues. Black respondents were the least—and white respondents the most—likely to say they liked and felt welcome in their company’s culture.

When asked why they had ever left or wanted to leave a tech role, the most common reason was a lack of belonging (27%). Moreover, nearly half (48%) reported feeling uncomfortable in a tech job because of their gender, ethnicity, socio-economic background, or neurodiversity. 

Beyond recruitment: Retention

While tech diversity initiatives typically focus on recruitment, the report highlights the importance of fostering inclusive and welcoming environments. Without these, employers will find diverse tech talent will struggle to remain and thrive in their teams.

The researchers also spoke to 200 senior business leaders of tech teams. The majority (87%) identified a lack of diversity in their tech teams as a continuing issue. 

Most (64%) admitted they struggle to retain employees from underrepresented backgrounds, despite 65% saying they work hard to foster an inclusive company culture. In addition, as many as 1 in 5 reported receiving complaints about diversity and inclusion from current and former employees.

Awareness doesn’t equal action 

Despite recognizing retention issues in their teams, less than half(43%) of businesses had any diversity targets. Similarly, only 1 in 4 businesses had an onboarding process that took into account exit interviews and historical employee feedback. As a result, most employers are likely missing some easily actionable improvements toward retention.

Fewer than half of the businesses had a system for identifying whether employees from underrepresented backgrounds may require additional support. Only 1 in 4 had employee resource groups (ERGs).

Listen and act

“In addition to focusing on recruitment, businesses need to ensure they have a range of initiatives and strategies in place to enable people of all backgrounds to feel comfortable at work and thrive professionally,” the report states. 

Their recommendations include mentorship programs for entry-level employees, supporting ERGs, and encouraging employee feedback.

“If businesses do find themselves struggling to retain employees from underrepresented backgrounds, they should ensure they are providing them with regular opportunities to offer feedback and constructive criticism,” says Becs Roycroft, Senior Director of Global Emerging Talent at Wiley Edge.

“Without input from employees themselves, businesses will find they are continuing to make the same mistakes, and potentially missing some easily actionable improvements.”

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Samara Linton

Community Manager at POCIT | Co-editor of The Colour of Madness: Mental Health and Race in Technicolour (2022), and co-author of Diane Abbott: The Authorised Biography (2020)