Dice Survey on Tech Industry Finds Discrimination, Bias, Ageism Are Still Big Problems

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Jun 15, 2018
This article is part of a series called Opinion.

This shouldn’t come as any great surprise: Dice’s new Diversity and Inclusion Report 2018 finds that discrimination and bias are still major problems in the tech industry, particularly as they relate to gender.

The Dice report surveyed nearly 4,000 technology professionals in the U.S. and the United Kingdom and discovered that bias by gender, age, ethnicity, and political affiliation still exists today despite so many employers’ efforts to be inclusive.

The key finding, however, should not be terribly unexpected to anyone who has been awake and following the Silicon Valley debate over the last few years, and the report’s summary doesn’t pull any punches:

“Despite the #MeToo movement and other recent pushes for equality, 85 percent of women and 62 percent of men believe gender discrimination exists in tech.”

As Barron’s put it in a May 2018 article, “Progress is glacial … While some companies have made incremental gains in categories such as overall hiring and leadership roles, the industry, as a whole, has made little progress.”

Some 76 Percent Say Ageism Is a Problem in the Tech Sector

The other key findings in the Dice report are equally depressing and/or unexpected:

  • More than three in four (76 percent) of technology professionals believe ageism exists in technology, and 40 percent of Gen X professionals feel discouraged to apply for jobs due to their age;
  • Some 40 percent of tech pros who identify as LGBT believe sexual discrimination exists in the workplace, while only 15 percent who identify as heterosexual feel the same;
  • Nearly four in 10 (38 percent) of female technology professionals said they have had their appearance commented on inappropriately in the workplace;
  • A fifth (22 percent) of technology profs report politics as part of the ongoing corporate culture in technology.

The Dice Diversity Survey also asked respondents if they had ever witnessed discrimination in their work as technology pros, and you might have also guessed, a lot of them had. They reported that they had seen discrimination based on:

Age — 29 percent;

Gender — 21 percent;

Political affiliation — 11 percent;

Sexual orientation — 6 percent.

Political Affiliation a Big Problem, Too

The report made special mention of the tech sector’s problem with ageism and political affiliation. The analysis said, in part, that:

Ageism in tech appears rampant regardless of city or region, but diversity in age can open doors to new skill sets, mentoring opportunities, and faster technology integration in the workplace. Understanding these benefits and hiring across generations — from Gen Z to Baby Boomers — is a key business strategy for success.

Furthermore, creating a workplace and industry that supports freedom to express a diverse range of political views contributes to an inclusive culture. Understanding the experiences of everyone in tech can help inform the ways employers recruit candidates for the highest productivity, biggest business returns, deepest innovations, and best workplaces.

“Every company today should be thinking about its diversity program and considering the immense benefit to their organization when they are inclusive,” said Kristina Yarrington, VP of marketing for Dice, in a press release about the report.

She added: “Tech professionals say it’s an important factor when considering working for a company and with the highly competitive tech recruitment landscape today, neglecting this important program can mean the difference between maintaining a competitive advantage in all parts of business, or falling behind.”

Time for Silicon Valley to Get Serious About Diversity

Here’s my take: I was pleasantly surprised that the Dice Diversity and Inclusion Report 2018 dug into two topics that often get avoided in the discussion about diversity and inclusion — ageism and political affiliation — because one can’t have a full and comprehensive view of workplace diversity without broadening the discussion beyond just race, gender, and sexual orientation.

In fact, the Dice report made this fact clear by highlighting this part of its analysis:

Age has been said to be in the ‘silent career killer’ in the tech industry. But employers must realize that diversity of thought – as well as experience – is critical for all organizations to thrive.

Companies that champion inclusivity and tolerance should also prioritize making sure all political voices feel welcome — Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, etc.

The Dice report is also sprinkled with statistics that, in many cases, are just jaw dropping — particularly when you consider that much of the Silicon Valley tech sector leadership embraces values that are largely liberal and progressive.

Here’s one example from the report: Although “the tech industry is depending on everyone to build the future. …  according to Girls Who Code, women are on track to fill just 3 percent of all computer science jobs (1.4 million )in the U.S. by 2020.”

Sounds like there is a lot of work still to do if the tech industry truly wants to be diverse and to uphold the values that so many tech executives espouse.

There’s a lot of meat in the the Dice Diversity and Inclusion Report 2018. Click on the link here to get a copy. I think you’ll find that you’ll get more than a full meal.

From Feb. 13 to March 30, 2018, Dice surveyed U.S. and U.K. registered users and visitors of Dice and eFinancialCareers. A total of 3,993 professionals responded, with more than 1,200 men and 500 women completing the entire survey. Of those who completed the entire survey, more than 500 identified as Gen-X and 400 as Millennials.

This article is part of a series called Opinion.
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