Dimension Data’s Nompumelelo Mokou explains why diversity, transformation and inclusion are more important than ever.
Diversity and inclusion in the technology industry have traditionally been sticking points. In 2017, Pew Research found that women and people of colour were more likely to perceive discrimination in the sector and five years later, in 2022, the issue remains.
A recent analysis by Dreamhost found that there are significant obstacles. Companies need to focus on change and this means focusing on the learnings highlighted by these surveys and lived experiences, and translating these into tangible shifts in the sector that benefit them across multiple levels and layers.
To achieve this, companies need to frame their talent acquisition differently and step outside the traditional expectations by connecting with talented people on multiple levels. This approach will not only have a direct impact on employee diversity, but on overcoming the current complexities around skills scarcity in the IT industry.
Most organisations want talent that will set them shoulders above the competition: the innovators, inventors and entrepreneurs with exceptional skills that can provide customers with inherently relevant solutions. However, the skills shortage is, as put in a recent article by Fortune magazine, decimating the industry, a concern echoed in the IEEE Impact of Tech in 2022 and Beyond survey, which underscored how difficulties in finding and retaining skilled IT workers will affect technology projects.
This is further complicated by the ongoing ebb and flow of the so-called Great Resignation that’s seen thousands of people walk out of roles because they want fresh work environments that offer them greater scope for professional growth or the need to find a better work/life balance. This has put immense pressure on companies to find the right talent at speed, while putting measures in place to retain that talent.
One very smart way of overcoming almost every one of these obstacles is to invest into diversity. This means that companies need to focus on becoming employable themselves. They need to look at employees as colleagues and people first and throw away old ways of thinking, like believing that people are assets.
They aren’t. They don’t depreciate over time; they are not a commodity. People can choose where they work, how they define their value and what they want their careers to look like. Companies must adapt their conversations and thinking and ask questions like: how do we create value for our people? How do we enable our talent? What do people need for their careers and personal wealth creation?
Find the answers to these questions and the business is on track to building a workforce that has the right skill sets to deliver the best possible solutions to an increasingly discerning customer base and market. After all, if a company has some of the best talent behind its doors, then customers and global markets will pay attention.
In South Africa, this shift in talent acquisition perception is critical. Here, with a young and diverse population, lies an opportunity for organisations to invest into the future of technology skills development and innovation. If companies can align their talent acquisition strategies with this vibrant and diverse population, then they can put South Africa on the map as a service delivery destination, and as an example of how technology companies should be doing diversity.
It is the differences between talented people that create the truly disruptive ideas, not the similarities, which is why tech leaders in South Africa are actively shifting the diversity benchmarks and changing legacy perceptions to create remarkable places to work.