In 2014, large tech companies began releasing diversity reports, disclosing that their employees were overwhelmingly white or Asian men. Years later, there is still work to be done. A recent Wiley report found that half of 18- to 28-year-olds either left or wanted to leave their IT or tech roles because they felt “unwelcome or uncomfortable.” Among Asian, Black, and Hispanic respondents, that percentage was even higher. The study also found that 68 percent felt uncomfortable for reasons related to identity.

One of the barriers to creating and retaining a more diverse tech workforce is that recruitment and hiring largely rely on outdated strategies to find talent. McKinsey predicts that by 2030 the demand for workers with IT and programming skills will rise by as much as 90 percent. If companies only focus on traditional talent pools coming out of universities and other big tech companies, they greatly limit their number of candidates, many of whom are already employed and are in high demand because other companies are defaulting to the same strategies.

For New Tech Talent, Look in New Places

How to upend the same-old, same-old strategy? Evolve your criteria for new talent that’s not limited to a university degree, Zip Code, or traditional work experience.

Take the example of women. The percentage of women in the U.S. job market has increased to 47 percent, but the number is much lower in tech. Gartner points to some studies that find women hold only 10 percent of executive leadership positions in tech.

Investing in female workers with education, reskilling, and promoting flexible work hours can bring in new talent that could pay big dividends: over an eight-year period, companies with the highest proportion of female employees had annual returns that were 2.8 percentage points higher than the least diverse firms.

Often when searching for tech workers, recruiters focus on their local markets. Well, as the pandemic has taught us, work can get done virtually from anywhere. Considering remote workers quickly broadens your talent pool both in number and potentially in lived experience.

Universities have not been able to keep up with the demand for computer science graduates. That’s where coding schools and community colleges fill a critical gap. Here students learn valuable digital skills that can make them immediate contributors to your team.

Reconsider whether someone needs to have completed an advanced degree, or is their real-world experience suitable enough? Keep in mind not every excellent candidate can afford to take an unpaid summer internship, but maybe they got valuable experience building an awesome app for fun. And how can they apply for a job if you haven’t heard of it—find out what audiences you’re reaching online with digital audiences and how you can expand that.

We have some ideas at OutSystems, where I work.

OutSystems Partnerships Expand Opportunities in Tech

Education about tech careers is key. The Wiley report found that 39 percent of 18- to 28-year-olds, while they were in high school or college, didn’t receive any information about tech careers. That’s something we’re trying to improve here at OutSystems by expanding our Developer Education Program to close the skills gap in development and technology.

We’ve already done a lot of work in the area, partnering with over 2,300 universities across 40 countries, training over 58,000 students who completed nearly 68,000 online courses that resulted in the creation of more than 9,000 personal environments and close to 6,500 apps built.

But OutSystems is broadening the mission with tech community partners.

Our goal is to accelerate software technology and development education efforts in communities that have been overlooked and underrepresented, including women, Black people, and transgender and gender non-conforming individuals, among others.

We’re excited to introduce our new partners helping with this important initiative:

  • Women Who Code (WWCode) is a non-profit group that assists aspiring women in tech fields. Along with OutSystems, WWCode is offering a life-changing scholarship for women looking for a new career in tech. The coding scholarships will provide a supportive community, mentorship, and career opportunities.
  • Blacks in Technology works for the promotion and inclusion of Black people in tech. OutSystems is partnering with the Blacks in Technology Foundation to help sponsor CompTIA scholarships, providing unique opportunities for Black individuals looking for a tech or IT career.
  • The Australian Computer Society Australia’s largest information and communications technology (ICT) professional organization, is partnering with OutSystems on a scholarship program to empower transgender and nonbinary people to discover more opportunities in the tech sector and gain new skills. The year-long program, See IT, is one of the first programs for transgender people in tech in Australia and launches in February 2022.

Personally, I couldn’t be prouder of the steps my company is taking to make the global tech community more supportive to a more diverse community. Tech talent can come from anywhere and everywhere—let’s deploy every resource we have to seek it out and cultivate it. Our CEO and Founder, Paulo Rosado, summed it up nicely:

“The world will be a better and more equitable place when diversity and development combine. We all have work to do to create a more diverse, inclusive, and vibrant developer community.”