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Diversity in the tech sector: the problem with recruitment

One of the repercussions of the protests following the death of George Floyd is a revised look at inclusion in the work space.

In tech, this has been a perennial problem.

The 2020 Stack Overflow Developer Survey shows that 68.3% of participants classify themselves as of white or European descent, down from 70.8% in 2019.

Race and ethnicity: 45,948 respondents

As for gender, the survey indicates 11.8% of respondents as females in the US. It was 11.7% in 2019.

Gender: 51,406 respondents

As companies take a look around the office and see nearly only white, rich, male developers, one may ask what went wrong.


A study made by the United Nations Technology Innovations Lab brings up how biases in recruitment affect corporations.

As pointed out in Venturing into Diversity & Inclusion, a light take on addressing inequality can be ineffective.

For gender inequality initiatives, the women who benefit tend to be white, middle class, able-bodied, heterosexual and cisgender.

Sara Shahvisi

Director of Program Fearless Futures Venturing into Diversity & Inclusion, page 34

Pursuing inclusion as a competitive advantage

Companies in the top-quartile for ethnic / cultural diversity on executive teams are 33% more likely to have industry-leading profitability.

Selection processes are arranged in a way to guarantee that companies hire the best, not that all best candidates get to be hired. And to that end, they compare achievements in a global scale - even more after the pandemic, when all jobs are going remote.

Candidates are submitted to gruesome tests, whiteboard questions and endless challenges in order to find the smartest, most resilient, super-human employee.

They ignore the challenges faced by each of them, how they persevered, what they compromised in order to advance.

Changing recruitment in the tech sector

Recruiting for the tech sector is not an easy task.

With software eating the world and remote work becoming the norm after the pandemic, the amount of candidates applying for every position that surfaces is nothing short of perplexing.

One needs only a few days to receive hundreds, if not thousands of CVs from all over the world, for a single position.

With such an abundant offer, draconian examinations quickly became norm for finding the best candidates.

The FAANG (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google), the best-performing American technology stocks in the market, took recruitment to a whole new level. Books were written about the peculiarities of each one, trying to encompass the ever growing amount of knowledge necessary to have a shot at being hired.

Countless other companies followed suit. Candidates are not expected to receive an offer before spending hours executing a project at home, answering technical questions on site, writing code on a piece of paper, being interviewed by every manager in the chain of command.

And the rule is to be dismissed with not more than a “thank for your interest in us”. Applying for a job is an expensive, full time job.

It is a system designed to help companies to hire the best, not to guarantee that every good candidate will be hired.

And that makes sense from the perspective of the employer. But it is unfair to the people who had less opportunities in life, and inevitably leads to the poignant and omnipresent lack of diversity we see today.

The solution lies with the recruiter. It is right there, in front of their noses.

Abandon the herculean tests, demote the whiteboard.

It’s more about how hard it was to achieve something than what was achieved.

Inequality emerges from comparing just the end products of candidates’ careers.

Favor dedication and continuous effort over being a leader in a field or solving algorithms in a whiteboard.

Make an effort to avoid selection biases, tackling inclusion in diverse fronts.

Any change leads to a fairer process and better companies.

June 09, 2020.