Diversity, Equity, and Inclusiveness (DEI) in Software Engineering Teams: The New Optimal

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusiveness (DEI) in Software Engineering Teams: The New Optimal

Published on
March 16, 2022
Updated on
August 24, 2022
Author
Reх Huхford
Reading Time
Neglecting diversity, equity, and inclusiveness in your engineering team could be detrimental to overall performance. We go over the benefits of having a DEI-oriented team and how to go about building one.

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The concept of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusiveness (DEI) isn't new. Still, it's only recently that a growing number of organizations have seriously started implementing it in their workplace. According to SHRM and Harvard Business study from 2021, as high as 67% of respondents say their organizations are only somewhat successful at creating a DEI-oriented workplace.

Diversity, equity, and inclusiveness involve having and celebrating diverse voices within an organization. A truly DEI-oriented company values employee differences and takes people's wellbeing as a part of success. As such, it welcomes all races, ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations, ages, and socioeconomic classes equally.

According to recent data, we have reasons to believe the tech industry has a lot of room for improvement in this area. The current culture and gender gaps are highly concerning, to say the least. If companies want to build a more diverse and inclusive industry, they'll need to make DEI a central part of their values and workplace.

In this article, we'll reveal the current DEI data and trends in the tech industry to inform your decisions. You'll learn why diversity in software engineering matters and how you can overcome the existing gaps. If you want to improve your company culture and build on employee experience, continue reading.

What Is DEI?

DEI is the abbreviation for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusiveness. To fully understand its meaning, we should first explore each of the three concepts. Then, we can look at them in unity and see how you can incorporate DEI within your organization.

Diversity

Diversity as a term stands for the differences that exist among all individuals in a society and then workplaces and other smaller settings. These differences are based on race, religion, ethnicity, age, nationality, political perspectives, and religious commitments. They also include distinct views, values, and ideas.

A diverse workspace includes people with varying characteristics and beliefs in an equal and respective manner. Many leaders tend to think that implementing diversity in their company is a challenging task. However, they fail to understand that the benefits are well worth the effort.

Here are some ways in which diversity enriches every workplace:

  • Increased employee engagement: Diversity is a great way to enhance the level of employee engagement in your company. It allows everyone in your workforce to feel welcomed, resulting in better productivity and participation.
  • Higher satisfaction: A company with a diverse team usually has a healthier culture. When all groups participate in work equally, regardless of their characteristics and backgrounds, they feel respected and valued. That leads to higher satisfaction on the job.
  • Better productivity: When employees are well-engaged and satisfied with their work, they will not hesitate to work way above their potential and improve overall productivity.
  • Access to a vast talent pool: Implementing diversity in your company gives you access to a vast number of talented people you might have been missing out before. It allows you to interview more skillful talent and generate a better workforce for your organization.
  • More innovation: Taking the above point forward, DEI increases innovation. Having a large skilled workforce with diverse ideas means you get more things to work on daily.
  • Higher profits: All the above benefits of diversity finally result in increased profits for your company. We'll talk about these benefits in more detail later on.

Equity

Equity involves the promotion of justice, impartiality, and fairness by recognizing the background of every team member. It's not to be confused with equality, which includes ensuring access, fair treatment, and availability of opportunity for everyone.

Equality means that every individual gets the same resources or opportunities. On the other hand, equity recognizes that every person has a different background and starting point. As such, equity doesn't mean treating everyone equally but treating every person according to their unique circumstances.

Suppose you want to implement equity in your company. In that case, it's imperative to identify the different circumstances of all the team members in your company and then allocate opportunities and resources to help them achieve equal outcomes for your company.

This aspect of DEI aims to promote an even distribution of resources and equal implementation of processes. It's imperative to evaluate and understand the root cause of disparity in a work environment or society to achieve that.

Inclusiveness

When you bring a sense of belonging, connection, and community within an organization, you build on inclusiveness. An inclusive work environment acknowledges and values all employees' differences and contributions to the organizational culture. It includes inviting people of every race, religion, or group to take part in organizational development. As such, an inclusive workplace rejects every discrimination or unequal opportunity.

Inclusiveness helps build an environment that is collaborative and supportive, in which everyone gets a chance to contribute. Such an environment aims to eliminate barriers that may come up between people and groups of different characteristics.

Together, diversity, equity, and inclusiveness build a work environment that celebrates diversity and its role in the company culture. Every individual within an organization gets perceived as a valuable member and contributes from its starting point. A truly DEI-based company acknowledges differences among employees and ensures equal opportunity for all, creating an affirmative place for everyone to express their capabilities.

DEI in Software Engineering

Have you ever wondered what makes the tech industry different from others? It's the promise this sector holds to change the future. The tech industry is quite forward-thinking, but unfortunately, it's also the victim of stagnation and poor acceptance at times. That brings it close to any other field that neglects the need for DEI.

As long as companies within the tech industry continue to overlook diversity in software engineering, their promise of the more advanced future is nothing more than a mild statement. To avoid this being true, companies need to make a greater effort toward having software development DEI.

Here are some ways DEI can help people working in the tech industry:

  • It manages bias and encourages skilled workers to be more productive at work.
  • DEI provides mentorship, ensuring that every team member gets an opportunity to communicate.
  • It helps diversify teams, increasing the number of skilled and talented people that can be a part of your company.

In the end, it's all about giving equal rights to each employee working in the software development industry, so they can practice their skills without worrying about being judged. Software development DEI allows every developer and professional to come forward and showcase their talent. It gives every person a chance to thrive, both personally and professionally.

The software engineering diversity and inclusion concept also touches the customer base. It involves producing technologies that can cater to a diverse group of customers. For instance, a voice-enabled device should be compatible with various languages and dialects to meet the needs of a diverse customer base.

As highlighted above, inclusiveness, equity, and diversity in software engineering teams are crucial for the success of an organization. Unfortunately, many organizations fail to identify the benefits of DEI for software engineers. Instead of giving it the importance it deserves, company leaders take it for granted.

Taking this point forward, we will discuss the current demographics of software engineers and ways to make software engineer teams more inclusive and welcoming.

Current Demographics of Software Engineers

According to the Future Processing report, there are almost 26.9 million software developers in the world. Moreover, in 2023 and 2024, this number is expected to grow to 27.7 million and 28.7 million, respectively.

The number of software engineers in the USA is around 4.3 million, while Europe has more than 6 million software professionals. Also, as per the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for software engineers will grow by almost 22% in 2029.

Now that you know the rough numbers, let's explore how different genders, races, and groups are represented in the industry. Here are some interesting demographic stats on software engineers we gathered from the comprehensive Truelist research:

  • The percentage of women software engineers in the world is around 27.5%. That is way less than the percentage of men (72.5%) working in the tech industry. The data shows there's an enormous gender gap in this field across the globe.
  • Men account for 87% of software professionals in the USA alone, while only 19.3% of software experts are women. The stats demonstrate that software engineering in the US has a male-dominated culture.
  • There are almost 52.3% white American software engineers in the USA. They get followed by 33% of Asians, 6.9% of Latino Americans, and only 4.9% of African American software engineers. The concerning percentages indicate that skin color is still a factor in the tech industry in the US and that DEI strategies and needed more than ever.

You may also be interested to hear that the average age of a software developer is between 25 and 34 years, which is very low. With young developers overrepresented in the tech industry, people in their 40s or 50s may get discouraged to enter the field. Other concerning data shows unequal wages of different racial groups.

In summary, all the data listed above doesn't look promising DEI-wise. The demand for software engineers aims to increase by 2029, courtesy of the rapid growth of technology that isn't slowing down anytime soon. Although software engineering is booming, diversity and inclusion are still lacking. As a result, software development DEI deserves more attention.

Learn More: Software Engineering vs Software Development: What Does Your Team Need

The Gaps Where Engineering Teams Can Be More Inclusive

According to the stats above, there are many gaps in the engineering teams that require addressing. We listed only some concerning percentages that demand more work on DEI in the workplace. Here are more details on the most pressing gaps in the tech industry:

Gender Gap

Currently, a massive disparity in the number of women and men software engineers exists. As quoted above, almost 80.7% of software professionals are men in the US, while female software developers count for only 19.3%. What caused such a huge gender employment gap in software engineering?

Underrepresentation

Unfortunately, the representation of women across the tech field is below average. The male-dominated industry discourages women from considering software development as their first career choice.

There's a massive gap between the number of men and women who seek STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). According to STEM data, only 35% of women pursue STEM in their higher education studies in the UK.

In addition, very few experts encourage women to pursue careers in software development. This pushes women to look for other career options with a more substantial pay and a better representation.

Lack of Career Growth

There are very few women who hold top positions in the software development field. That's because, again, most companies consider the expertise and experience of men to be above those of women. This lack of growth in the career demotivates women to join the IT industry, which eventually leads to a decrease in their demand.

Cultural Gap

The racial bias in the tech industry makes it undoubtedly less progressive. While the more prominent organizations in the tech world celebrate black people and their achievements more than ever before, the signs of racial discrimination are sadly still in the IT industry.

According to stats, only 4.9% of software developers in the USA are black African. The percentage of Hispanic developers is also just 6.9%. Compared to white IT professionals (52.3%), these percentages are way below average. Why is that so?

Lack of Diversity in Education

In the last decade, many big companies such as Facebook and Google claimed their acceptance and support for black people in the tech world. Still, the underrepresentation of black people in the technology world continues. One of the primary reasons is a lack of diversity in the education sector. Very few black Americans feel encouraged to pursue a career in software development because of a low acceptance rate in various colleges and universities.

Racism in the Field

We live in 2022, which is considered a modern time when many past social issues are worked on, if not fully improved. Unfortunately, racism bias is one of the most pressing issues in the software development field. We can see it most clearly in language use, as there were more than a few examples of racial discrimination in software engineers' speech.

Additionally, racism in machine learning is quite common. A simple example dates back to 2015 when Google Photos categorized all black people as gorillas. While Google resolved the issue by eliminating the images of gorillas from its datasets, the most significant search engines didn't take any measures to modify their algorithm correctly.

Any case of tolerance towards these types of mistakes or simply language use puts us one step behind. It only establishes racism in the field all over again and allows further repetitions instead of eradicating it.

Benefits of Diverse Software Engineering Teams

If you want your software engineering team to grow and surge forward, you need to be diverse as an organization. Implementing software engineering DEI ensures that your team members belonging to different races, groups, genders, and religions feel welcomed and valued for the various things they have to offer.

Here are some significant advantages of diversity in software engineering:

Diverse Companies Outperform Those That Are Less Diverse

A report published by McKinsey tells us that organizations with culturally and ethnically diverse leadership are more likely to perform better than their non-diverse counterparts. It also states that having more women in executive roles can significantly impact the bottom line.

What's more, companies with a more gender-diverse workforce are 48% more likely to outperform their non-diverse competitors. Also, ethnically strong companies are 36% more profitable than organizations that don't value a diverse culture.

Diverse companies tend to capture 70% more of new markets than organizations that do not believe in hiring talent from underrepresented groups. A software engineering team that supports members from all walks of life and educational backgrounds tends to be more productive. It's also great in retaining valuable skills and talent.

Inclusiveness Spurs Innovation and Creativity

As mentioned, inclusiveness means building and nurturing a diverse workforce. It's a practice that helps you design a healthier work environment and boost innovation, creativity, and financial growth. What's more, an inclusive and diverse culture provides companies with a certain competitive edge over their competitors.

An inclusive workspace inspires people to work more efficiently and express their unique skills. It also elevates decision-making abilities and promotes a broad approach to every task. Because inclusive teams look at a problem from different perspectives, they spot opportunities faster and come up with better solutions.

According to some reports, companies with a diverse and inclusive culture experience 10% higher financial performance than teams that fail to acknowledge diversity in their workforce. For a software development team to produce unique and helpful products for their audience, achieving creativity and innovation is a priority, and that is only possible through welcoming inclusiveness.

Diversity Increases Access to New Markets

Diverse software engineering teams are more likely to enter new emerging markets as:

  • Diversity increases the chances of developing inclusive and effective marketing strategies. Inclusive software teams can reach customers their competitors don't fully understand.
  • DEI helps teams have a better understanding of different and foreign cultures, and they can eliminate barriers that hinder organizations from growing globally.

Here's an example. Suppose your software development team produced an innovative product and wanted to market to a specific group of people but can't due to language barriers. In that case, having even one person who understands that language in the team makes it quite convenient for your company to push away this hindrance with ease.

Having diversity in your team is a great way to understand your customer base in a better way. Your team members are in a better position to know about different customer segments, which eventually boosts growth.

According to stats, the software market was $507.2 billion in the USA in 2021. The amount promises to increase manifold in 2022 and all the upcoming years. However, that's only possible if various software teams embrace a diverse culture to help them enter new markets with ease.

Inclusive Teams Are More Attractive to Candidates

According to a Glassdoor survey, 76% of job seekers believe that the inclusion and diversity of a team are imperative factors when it comes to evaluating different companies. Professionals prefer to work with companies that accept people from all races, cultures, genders, and religions.

Additionally, the attraction towards working in an inclusive team is quite common among people belonging to underrepresented groups. Almost 32% of people prefer not applying to an organization with a non-diverse workforce.

If you want to recruit the best software engineers, building a team that accepts people from varying genders and cultures is a must. For instance, if a qualified woman wants to apply for a vacancy in your company, she will most likely get motivated by other women filling the top positions. A team that values experience and talent over gender is simply more attractive.

Diversity Increases a Team’s Adaptability

Adaptability is an excellent by-product of leading a diverse team. A diverse software development team is more adaptable because of the pool of different experiences and talents it contains. Moreover, an inclusive and diverse culture boosts an exciting work environment in which developers get an excellent chance to share their cultural positions and innovative ideas.

According to Gartner, the performance of an easily adaptable team is almost 12% higher than in those that hinder adaptability. An inclusive workforce works harder to meet the demands of their customers, and at the same time, they feel encouraged to exceed their previous performances.

A strong sense of belonging also helps increase a team's adaptability in a diverse company. Ultimately, this elevates job performance and the overall turnover.

It's worth mentioning that almost 83% of millennials feel more engaged in companies that incorporate DEI in their organization. This implies a direct and robust connection between the team's adaptability and performance and the diverse workforce culture.

How to Build a More Equitable Software Development Team

Now that you understand the benefits of running a diverse and inclusive software development team, it is time to take measures to create one. We list steps you can take to start your journey.

Establish a Talent Pipeline That Is Diverse and Inclusive

If you plan to recruit new candidates for your software team, ensure to establish a talent pipeline that is both inclusive and diverse. Hire people for talent and not characteristics, but also do so from underrepresented social groups and genders. To get better results, you may want to highlight your preference in creating a diverse talent pipeline in your job description for various vacancies.

Building an inclusive team is not only a source of motivation for your existing employees, but it's also a great way to attract new and bright candidates who your diversity-friendly strategies might tempt.

Create Job Postings That Don’t Deter Underrepresented Candidates

Unfortunately, many job postings discourage underrepresented groups from applying for a job. That's because the job description's tone often clearly reflects a company's aim not to include certain people in their team.

The use of language in your job posts can inspire or demotivate some groups to apply. For example, the masculine wording can make women think you seek only men for the position. So, make sure to choose your words carefully. In this case, avoid words such as "head-strong," "aggressive," "dominant," and similar. Similarly, explicitly mentioning that "only whites can apply" is another direct way to deter candidates from other ethnic groups from applying.

When posting a job, make sure that your words reflect your views on diversity and inclusiveness. For instance, saying that anyone who fits the educational criteria can apply is an open invitation to people from different groups to try their luck.

An inclusive job posting is not only an opportunity to grab good talent, but it also portrays your company in a good light. It can help build a good reputation for your organization, which can further assist you in achieving growth and recognition for your team.

Mitigate Unintentional Bias in Interview Processes

Many software experts don't apply for jobs because they fear that the interview process may be biased. Unfortunately, many companies present themselves as diverse, but when it comes to conducting interviews or hiring the workforce, the unintentional bias towards certain groups becomes quite apparent.

If you want to stick to your mission of building a diverse and inclusive team, ensure that the entire interview process is free from bias. Here are a couple of notes to help you out:

  • Avoid questions that may highlight the culture or gender of the candidate more than their career or education.
  • When choosing a panel for interviewing various candidates, always include underrepresented groups. Your interview panel should be diverse per se so that the candidates can feel a sense of belonging.
  • Make sure that the interviewers take into account everyone's specific needs and skills. Remember, equity is not giving everyone the same opportunities but knowing that not all of us start from the same point.

Analyze Hiring Metrics by Groups to Assess Inclusiveness and Equity

You need to measure and analyze your hiring metrics carefully to ensure success for your DEI strategy. The mismatch between the diversity policies and their implementation increases the number of barriers that hinder the adoption of a diverse culture.

Measuring equity and inclusiveness in a hiring process can be pretty challenging. However, if you successfully implement specific metrics, you can assess and enhance the performance of your policies.

You can use metrics such as the number of people of color shortlisted for a specific position or the percentage of women taking part in an interview. Moreover, your hiring metrics can also include the representation of transgender in the list of candidates, ensuring that different groups get included in your diverse hiring strategy.

Analysis using hiring metrics is necessary for knowing whether your current diversity strategy is working well or not. If it isn't, you can always implement changes as needed.

How Revelo Can Help Your DEI Hiring Goals

Now that you know all the facts about DEI, you're probably eager to start making your organization a better place for diverse employees. Your first step may be scaling your teams and bringing in talented and skilled individuals from different cultures, races, genders, and religions. But how do you do so strategically?

Bringing DEI in the recruitment process may sound challenging, but Revelo can support your diverse hiring goals. We are a talent marketplace that helps tech companies in the USA connect with skilled software professionals from Latin America. We gather the best talent out there regardless of race, culture, gender, religion, and other determinants. Our professionals come with various social backgrounds and are pre-vetted for expertise and experience.

Choosing Revelo is one of the most convenient ways to build a diverse workforce for your company. We make it easy for you to streamline your hiring process and connect with candidates that can bring a culture of inclusiveness and equity to your software development teams. Our Latin American talent can also help you raise the percentage of Hispanic groups represented in the tech industry.

All you need to do is schedule a meeting with Revelo experts and communicate your goals and demands. We'll match you with the best candidates on short notice, so you can interview, shortlist, and hire candidates without wasting time. Revelo makes hiring quick and easy, offering you the talent that perfectly meets your needs as a company.

Key Takeaways

Encouraging diversity in software engineering is imperative for companies that want to grow a healthy workplace. When you bring diversity, equity, and inclusiveness in every business aspect, you directly improve employee experience, productivity, and ultimately, profits.

If you want to build a diverse software development team in your company, begin with establishing an inclusive talent pipeline, post culture-friendly job openings, and focus on mitigating any bias during the interview process. Finally, use hiring metrics to measure the results after implementing equity and inclusivity in your operations.

Do you need help in making the most of your DEI strategy? Contact Revelo today to learn how we can aid you in bringing diversity, equity, and inclusion to your hiring process.

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Full-Stack developer with 6 years of experience working with MERN stack. Worked for multiple transnational companies focused on web and cloud, technology services, and R&D. Major professional experience in Frontend with Javascript, Node.js, React.js, and Vue.js

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