Diversity and inclusion efforts in tech have stalled due to ‘diversity fatigue’

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Dive Brief:

  • Diversity and inclusion (D&I) efforts in the tech industry have stalled, according to a new Atlassian study. Despite recognizing its reputation for keeping out people of color and other underrepresented groups, tech companies are “not making significant progress toward building balanced teams,” the report notes.
  • Study results show that “fatigue has set in and progress has stalled” when it comes to D&I. Tech workers in Silicon Valley and across the U.S. said they were tired of talking about D&I, frustrated by slow or non-existent change. And although 80% of respondents said D&I is important, Silicon Valley respondents are less likely to have a formal D&I program in 2018 compared to last year.
  • Atlassian cites three reasons why D&I has stalled in the tech industry: supporting the effort takes too much emotional energy, so it’s harder to be committed to the goal; there’s been too much focus on hiring a certain number of underrepresented people instead of focusing on inclusion generally; and the political climate, including the #MeToo movement, has people feeling overwhelmed.

Dive Insight:

The notion of fatigue may ring true for HR departments that feel they don’t have the resources to institute a strong, long-term D&I program. And the current political environment may be emboldening some push-back as well.

Backlash against D&I made headlines when an ex-Google engineer, James Damore, sued the company for firing him over controversial comments he posted about women being unfit for tech careers. And another ex-Google employee, Tim Chevalier, is suing the company for allegedly firing him for speaking out against bias present within the company’s culture — specifically, bias against white men.

Numerous studies have shown, however, that a diverse employee base is key to company success — stats HR can use to get buy-in from leadership, if they don’t have it already. Led by Tim Ryan, PwC’s U.S. chairman, 330 company heads made a pledge at the end of last year to advance D&I in their own organizations. They recognized D&I as not only the right thing to do, but a matter of business necessity in a time when talent is hard to come by, and even harder to retain.

D&I specialists are reportedly in demand, too, which may well be an indication that employers are taking D&I seriously and plan to step up their efforts in the future.

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