Technology companies fulfill the needs of populations around the country, not just people with money or certain demographics. It is not uncommon to hear about companies with biased algorithms. LinkedIn, the professional networking company, recently released data analytic tools to help companies find bias in their hiring software. This was, of course, after LinkedIn found bias in its algorithms. Hiring was biased before algorithms were used to filter candidates and because everyone operates with a little bias. LinkedIn’s tools also flag companies whose hiring practices are representative of the applicant pool.
Seeking out diversity in hiring for tech companies can help stop this bias from happening in the first place. When diverse groups of people create policies, applications, and other software programs, their product becomes more representative. Technology has the potential to bring equity to marginalized populations by providing educational opportunities, allowing access to new markets, and connecting communities.
There are qualified individuals who can bring diverse experiences to your product teams. You need to look in the right places to find them.
Companies often think that to get the best employees they should look at graduates from top universities. There are good reasons to hire from top colleges, but community college graduates often have diverse skills that would benefit your company. Those who attend community college are often driven and skilled at multitasking. Many community college students attend because they have a hardship in their life that make attending a traditional school inconvenient. Community college students are more likely to have part or full-time work in addition to their course load, making them ideal candidates for positions that require a person to work on many projects at the same time.
Community college is also a fiscally responsible way to get an education for those who might not have the means to attend a four-year university. Students can save tens of thousands of dollars a year by attending a community college and then transferring to a four-year university after receiving their associates.
Another benefit of community colleges is that students are local. Hiring from your local talent pool increases the investment in your local community more than hiring and relocating an out-of-state applicant. Not to mention it is much cheaper. Community colleges often have excellent computer science programs that turn out diverse and capable software engineers.
Teachers are workhorses. Each day they create intensive lessons that challenge the minds of youths across the country. Teachers are also a diverse group of individuals who come from varying backgrounds and boast a wide range of soft skills that can be valuable to any company. Teachers often have the great skill of breaking down problems or complex material into easily digestible chunks. Most teachers have master’s degrees and have summers off to learn new skills. Depending on the school, teachers might already know how to code an app and have taught their students to do so through in-class projects.
Teachers really are jacks-of-all-trades and possess the ability to look at a problem through the user’s eyes, a skill they practice every day when envisioning how their students learn new material.
Another non-traditional option for hiring diverse talent is coding bootcamps. Students attending coding bootcamps often have a range of experiences in different fields. Their various experiences can add insights to your projects that your company may not have considered. Bootcamps churn out capable software engineers. Bootcamps transform students with no coding skills into competent coders with the skills for entry-level jobs. The graduates of these programs are ready for the blitz-like pace of startups as bootcamps are incredibly intensive courses. Many of the top tech companies are no longer requiring tech workers to have college degrees in computer science if they can show they meet the position’s requirements.
A popular bootcamp is Flatiron School. Flatiron is available in-person and online and offers bootcamps in data science, web development, engineering immersion, full stack development, and cybersecurity. There are skills that can interest any person looking to switch their career to a job in tech with a high level of job security.
To hire diverse tech workers, employers need to look in diverse places instead of the standard job boards. Creating partnerships with other institutions and offering scholarships is a great way to increase your organization’s reach and invite more diverse people to apply to positions at your company.