Dr Marianne Blattès, senior researcher at the Bridge Group:
“Unlike other professions where it is obvious what you need to study (e.g. to become a doctor you study medicine) the pathway to a career in tech is often unclear, haphazard and informed by popular/media discourses. As a result, those who are in the know have better chances of accessing tech roles and have greater awareness of the range of careers which exist in tech. So far the focus has largely been on getting more women into tech, however, socio-economic background, ethnicity, age, disability and other diversity characteristics also come into play. An exclusive focus on gender means additional challenges may be overlooked. Intersectionality matters.”
There are several things businesses and the wider tech industry can do to combat entrenched inequalities and elevate opportunities. Some highlights include:
- Beginning with data - track the social mobility of your workforce. Consistent collection and analysis of data enable organisations to understand the current situation, indicate opportunities for action and measure change.
- Creating a shared narrative about why socio-economic diversity is important to your business with clear and visible commitment at senior levels.
- Showcasing diverse role models - ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’.
- Embedding hiring practices which emphasise competence rather than qualifications. By demanding educational credentials that are not necessary for performing a job, recruiters and hiring managers may exacerbate social class disadvantage.
- Social mobility isn’t just about who gets in, it’s also about who gets on. Look at progression rates to ensure that talent does not get ‘stuck’ at lower rungs of the organisation. See below the Social Mobility Commission's masterclass on progression (May 2021)
During our Spring 2021 Hackathon, subject matter experts were tasked with creating a new product for employers: 'How to incorporate social mobility into a diversity and inclusion strategy' and their product is below: