Improve diversity by focusing on staff retention, Wiley says

Diversity begins with retention, according to Wiley, which has found nearly 65% of firms struggle to retain staff from underrepresented backgrounds

Improving staff retention is an important first step in tackling the tech sector’s diversity problem, according to the authors of a new research report published by Wiley.

Nearly two-thirds (64%) of UK businesses admit to struggling to retain employees from underrepresented backgrounds, according to the research. This is in spite of a majority (65%) of respondents believing that they work hard to foster an inclusive corporate culture.

More than a quarter (27%) of tech workers aged between 18 and 24 say they have left a role because they didn’t feel a sense of belonging, while over a fifth (22%) say they had previously experienced biased treatment from managers.

The research indicates that failing to create a truly inclusive and welcoming environment contributes directly to poor retention rates on tech teams. Many businesses concentrate their D&I efforts on recruitment, but the report suggests that more could be done to retain workers from underrepresented backgrounds and prevent talented employees from leaving the industry.

On a positive note, more than half (55%) of businesses say they have some sort of mentorship programme for younger employees to support their professional and personal development – a step that is likely to encourage some to stay.

‘Give staff the chance to provide regular feedback’

Becs Roycroft, Senior Director of Global Emerging Talent at Wiley Edge, says: “It’s not enough to attract and hire candidates from a broader talent pool. If we are to make any meaningful, long-term change when it comes to diversity in tech, businesses must also have effective strategies in place to retain employees from all backgrounds.

“Until these issues around company culture are adequately addressed, employees are more likely to continue feeling out of place and unhappy, which will ultimately lead to continued poor retention rates and limited progress when it comes to improving diversity.

“If businesses do find themselves struggling to retain employees from underrepresented backgrounds, they should ensure they are providing them with regular opportunities to offer feedback and constructive criticism. Without input from employees themselves, businesses will find they are continuing to make the same mistakes, and potentially missing some easily actionable improvements.”

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