How businesses can work towards a more diverse workforce

Front view of diverse business people looking at camera while working together at conference room in a modern office

Article by Poonam Flammarion, Head of Talent Academy, Cloudreach

It’s no longer a case of ‘if’ business will adopt the cloud but a matter of ‘when’.

IT professionals need to be competent when it comes to the implementation and management of the cloud, this is especially true for new talent entering the sector. However, it’s not only a cloud skills deficit the industry needs to wrestle with, but a diversity gap too. In Europe only 2% of the tech workforce are from Black, African or Caribbean backgrounds and just 17% of tech workers are women.

Not just tokenism

The benefits of a diverse workforce are well understood, there are numerous case studies and enough research out there to show that output is boosted when a workforce is more diverse and inclusive. According to a McKinsey study, there is a positive correlation between a more diverse executive team and the financial performances of the companies they studied. So, the argument for diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) is a well understood one. Balanced teams across the board produce better results for shareholders, which in turn produces better solutions for customers and overall lead to a much more engaged workforce.

That is the key term in all of this – ‘balanced’ – DEI hiring targets can’t just be a numbers game and tokenism. Setting yourself the challenge of hiring five more ‘diverse’ candidates this quarter isn’t the way to develop your teams and nurture talent. Especially if businesses want to fix their cloud skills shortage as well.

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Training talent

The sector can’t rely on traditional talent pools to fix either of these problems. Candidates who are in the jobs market and have extensive experience in the cloud are few and far between. Competition for those candidates is fiercer than ever and businesses are no longer able to win attractive candidates with substantial compensation packages alone.

To really close the diversity gap and the subsequent skills gap, businesses need to look away from their usual avenues of recruitment and invest in schemes internally that look beyond your typical tech backgrounds. These fast-track schemes and training programmes will be important to businesses looking to diversify their workforce as many female candidates and those from minority backgrounds don’t follow the traditional channels into tech.

Recruiting and training candidates through hiring initiatives which focus on a broader range of background can help solve skills shortfalls and improve DEI at the same time. These diverse candidates bring with them a wealth of transferable soft skills, which in many cases are harder to teach than technical skills. Developing programmes and schemes that are more open and inclusive removes the barriers that people from disadvantaged groups face, all while allowing you to nurture the next generation in cloud talent.

The talent crisis is not one that will disappear overnight. The lack of supply for cloud ready candidates is connected to the need for improved DEI. Balanced teams have been shown to perform better and in the long term the sector needs so much new talent that it cannot rely on traditional talent pools to solve the shortages.

Poonam FlammarionAbout the author

Poonam Flammarion is Head of Talent Academy at cloud consultancy firm Cloudreach. During her time in the role she has lead the charge in developing the organisations talent academy, a commitment to improving diversity within the tech sector.