Generation Z – those born between 1995 and 2010 – already make up about 36% of the global workforce, and this number will continue to rise in the coming years as more and more of this generation leave school and university and enter the world of work. Generation Z are, on the whole, digitally native, says Barbara Whye, chief diversity & inclusion officer and VP of social impact and human resources, Intel.
This generation grew up with internet and mobile phones and can be seen as more digitally-savvy then previous generations. However, this generation is also characterised by purpose and altruism. Equality, fairness, diversity and corporate social responsibility all rank highly on Generation Z’s agenda. For organisations, their stances and policies on these matters can be the difference between a Gen Z employee taking or declining a job offer – or even applying for a role at the company in the first place.
Diversity expectations survey
Intel recently launched a UK-based study assessing Gen Z’s expectations around diversity, to help organisations understand Gen Z’s workplace expectations. The research asked questions about diversity, their experiences of bias and how these will contribute to shaping their future career paths.
The findings reveal that diversity and inclusion are important for Gen Z. For example, Gen Z respondents stated they would be hesitant to take a job if a prospective company does not have diverse representation in senior leadership roles. Diversity and inclusion (D&I) policies ranked just under pay in terms of picking between competing job offers.
When asked why D&I is an important factor, respondents explained that inclusive organizations have a better base of experiences, a stronger sense of belonging, and a greater competitive advantage. Generation Z clearly sees the values in having a diverse workplace – but does your organisation fit the bill?
Taking long-needed action
Generation Z’s understanding of the benefits of D&I is ahead of the current curve for the UK technology industry, highlighted by the fact that just 19% of tech board directors are women and just 4% are from BAME (black and minority ethnic) backgrounds.
The benefits of having a diverse workforce have already been proven and, it is long overdue that organisations rid their cultures of conscious or unconscious bias and nurture workforces that are diverse. To help your organisation move towards positive change, there are three key principles to consider for improving diversity and inclusion.
Start with leadership: A diverse leadership team is key to instilling diversity into a workplace’s culture. Leadership matters because it’s leaders who often own and direct resources and make key decisions. Inclusivity is needed at the highest level of leadership so that those actions are carried throughout the rest of the organisation. It is not enough to have representation in a company if representation does not exist in leadership and key roles up to and including the board of directors.
Be socially responsible: Technology companies are disrupting sectors, society and the world as a whole. Innovation enriches people lives, but – at the same time – companies must take responsibility for the potential negative consequences from their actions, such as the digital divide and the gap in STEM education. Accessibility and inclusivity apply to digital marginalisation.
At Intel, we are committed to improving inclusion and accessibility to tech skills and resources for millions of underserved people in our communities. We recently launched our 2030 Corporate Social Responsibility goals and global challenges, partnering with governments and communities, to address the digital divide and expand access to technology skills needed for current and future jobs.
Intel is also to accelerate global D&I across the tech industry through our Global Inclusion Index open standard. We encourage organisations to similarly look at how they can better society as a whole through their business.
Implement systems and accountability: Implementing systems and holding people accountable to those systems can help to overhaul systemic bias and foster much needed cultural change. At Intel, our Inclusive Leaders program teaches executives how to foster the leadership skills needed to build diverse and inclusive, high performing teams.
HR personnel and managers must be held accountable in the hiring process, in the form of unconscious bias education and implementation. These practices include posting formal requisitions using impartial descriptions of qualifications for all open jobs and having diverse slates of candidates and diverse hiring panels.
Diversity and inclusion are incremental to innovation and organisational success. As our research shows, these factors are also critical to becoming an attractive workplace for the next key generation of employees. Now is the time to drive positive change across the UK tech sector through diversity and inclusion. It is long overdue, and the benefits promise to be vast, both for the tech sector and society.
The author is Barbara Whye, chief diversity & inclusion officer and VP of social impact and human resources, Intel.
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