How to Diversify Your Engineering Team

Diversity and inclusion (or “D&I” for short) is an increasingly hot topic in the tech industry.

And, rightfully so.

After all, only 18.7% of software developers are women, according to the most recent Labor Force Survey published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The same report found that only 4.5% of employed web developers are Black or African American, despite representing 13.4% of the US population. Clearly, tech companies still have a long way to go to level the playing field.

In this post, we’ll outline steps for diversifying your engineering team.

Step 1: Understand Your Organization

It’s difficult to become more diverse without a firm understanding of your current organization. Before spending too much time on tactics aimed at bolstering inclusivity, start by looking for issues pertaining to:

Workforce Representation:

How does your overall workforce representation compare to that of your engineering team? Are certain genders or ethnicities underrepresented? What are the possible causes of such underrepresentation?  

Income Disparities:

The pay gap between men and women still persists in the United States, with women only earning 82% as much as their male counterparts. Though many factors contribute to this disparity, bias is certainly one of them. Is it possible that biases (whether intentional or unintentional) have influenced compensation policies at your organization?

Hiring Decisions:

Obviously, technical recruiting represents a huge opportunity for becoming more diverse and inclusive. It’s therefore wise to study your company’s existing hiring practices along with specific outcomes. Have recent hiring decisions made your organization more or less diverse? What seems to be the cause of such trends?

Geographic Distribution:

Geographic distribution could also be a relevant consideration, especially given the popularity of remote teams and distributed workforces. Does simply having a foreign engineering office mean that your company is truly “diverse”? What steps must be taken to ensure an inclusive work ecosystem that transcends national boundaries?

Step 2: Set Specific and Realistic Goals

After digging deeper and looking at your data, you may start to feel a bit overwhelmed. Remember, no organization is perfectly diverse or entirely inclusive (just ask Facebook), which means you’re bound to identify issues that require attention.

Since you can’t fix everything immediately, it’s probably best to focus on a handful of specific, yet realistic goals. For example, let’s imagine that your analysis indicates that only 10% of senior-level developers are female. Aspiring to increase this number to 50% by year’s end, while specific (and laudable), is probably not very realistic.

So, how can you find the right balance when setting diversity and inclusion goals? A simple solution involves studying what other tech companies are doing. For example, our friends at Gusto have done an excellent job in identifying clear and attainable D&I goals. Case in point, as outlined in the company’s Diversity and Inclusion Report, one goal is to “increase the percentage of Black and Hispanic Gusties to 10%,” which would represent a two-point increase from the former level of 8%.  

In short, don’t try to do too much all at once. Set goals that challenge the status quo but are also attainable.

Step 3: Be Transparent

In a perfect world, diversity and inclusion would extend well beyond executive-level discussions. To ensure success, D&I needs to be a grassroots initiative that is embraced by everyone in the company. Such initiatives are rarely successful, when key information is restricted to senior staff.

To encourage maximum transparency, some tech companies have resorted to publishing extensive diversity reports online. Here are a few examples that we’re particularly fond of:

Regardless of whether or not your company publishes a public-facing diversity report, one thing remains true: your internal stakeholders, at a minimum, need a clear understanding of your D&I vision, challenges, and priorities.  

Providing baseline metrics about current workforce demographics can be a great starting point, thereby establishing new channels of communication and collaboration.

Step 4: Implement Technology that Decreases Hiring Biases

As diversity and inclusion become ingrained into the company culture, your team will begin to identify opportunities for improvement. Innovative technology, in particular, will likely be a major topic of such conversations.

For example, technical assessment platforms, such as CodeSignal, can supplement your diversity and inclusion program by eliminating biases from the hiring process. Unlike traditional hiring methodologies that overemphasize educational pedigree and work history, technical assessment platforms provide insight into each developer’s true abilities by allowing your company to:

Harness Data-Driven Analytics:

Identify top programmers with less effort and minimize unintended biases during the hiring process with Predictive Coding ScoresTM. Such scores are based on a variety of factors that reflect true competency, such as domain expertise, problem solving abilities, responsiveness, and many other real-world factors.

Encourage Inclusivity During Assessments & Interviews:

Flawed assessments and interviews can be another roadblock to achieving a diverse workforce. Eliminate barriers by implementing a virtual interviewing interface that is both welcoming and collaborative. Look for a solution that is not only easy for candidates to use but also helps your organization effectively measure technical talent. The ideal system should provide a robust task library, support dozens of programming languages, and empower staff to create real-world programming tests without technical assistance.

Anonymize Candidate Demographics:

For the most unbiased approach, some companies take the additional step of anonymizing candidate demographic information. As our friends at Greenhouse have pointed out, “By building in anonymization into your hiring process, organizations can more easily change behavior, reduce bias, and select the most qualified candidates.” Check to see if your talent management system offers an out-of-the-box anonymizing solution and if that solution integrates with a technical assessment platform.

Supplement Your D&I Program with CodeSignal

Need a technical assessment platform that aligns with your diversity and inclusion program? Perhaps it’s time to learn more about our CodeSignal Recruiter platform. With CodeSignal, your hiring managers gain instant access to the tools they need to mitigate unintended biases. Our Predictive Coding ScoreTM incorporates machine learning to help your team make data-driven decisions about technical talent. In addition, our library of 4,000+ coding tasks paired with an advanced IDE ensures your interviews are both fair and welcoming.

Schedule a risk-free demo of CodeSignal today.

 

CodeSignal Speaks at Tech Inclusion SF About Removing Hiring Biases with Technology

Will we see you at Tech Inclusion (#TechInclusion) this year?

October 15th, 2018, marks the kickoff of Tech Inclusion San Francisco 2018. Most of the recent diversity and inclusion initiatives in tech has been to consciously and actively select for people of more diverse backgrounds, which has made a significant impact. But what if we can completely remove conscious and unconscious bias all together? To achieve this, we must start from the first step: hiring. The key to removing biases is to make our assessments and processes as objective as possible and build it into our HR workflow. Today, we’ll talk about the impact of technologies that have been used to anonymize candidate information even before we start evaluating them.

The CodeSignal team is particularly excited about this year’s event because our CEO, Tigran Sloyan, is joining a panel on day two with Mehul Patel, CEO of Hired.com, and Lauren Ryan, VP of New Products at Greenhouse.io. They’ll be chatting about “how technology can completely remove biases from hiring”.

Here are just a few reasons why you should join us.

What is Tech Inclusion San Francisco?

2018 will be the fourth annual occurrence of Tech Inclusion San Francisco, an event dedicated to furthering the causes of diversity and inclusion. This year’s theme is “Voices of Innovation,” which spotlights diverse and underrepresented voices who are shaping innovative technology of the future.

The conference spans a three-day period (October 15th – 17th) and is packed full of educational and networking events for tech leaders, bootstrapping entrepreneurs, and nonprofit organizations. In addition, students and technical talent are invited to attend.

For an hour-by-hour listing of all scheduled happenings, check out the detailed agenda. Here’s a quick preview of what is planned for each day:

Day 1 (Monday, October 15):

Doors open at 8 am. Attendees can choose from a variety of workshops, breakout sessions, and presentations that run through early afternoon.

Day 2 (Tuesday, October 16):

Doors open at 8 am. Keynote presentations and panels begin mid-morning and run through late afternoon. Happy hour begins at 5 pm and ends at 7 pm.

Day 3 (Wednesday, October 17):

The third and final day is primarily focused on the career fair, which begins at 11 am and concludes at 3 pm. After networking with fellow tech companies, developers, and educational institutions, be sure to stop by the Mezzanine Level for a free headshot. Several workshops are also scheduled for Wednesday.

Who Should Attend Tech Inclusion San Francisco?

Tech Inclusion San Francisco is an excellent opportunity for anyone who works (or aspires to work) in the technology industry.

Founders & Tech Leaders:

Learn best practices for building a more inclusive company culture by interacting with top CEOs, including Greg Clark of Symantec, Mehul Patel of Hired, Melinda Briana Epler of Change Catalyst, Danielle DeRuiter-Williams of The Justice Collective, and our very own Tigran Sloyan of CodeSignal.

Hiring Managers:

Engage in thought-provoking sessions that will challenge the status quo within your hiring organization. Be sure to attend the keynote facilitated by our CEO, Tigran Sloyan, titled “How Technology Can Remove Biases from Hiring.” By attending this panel, you’ll get an action-oriented game plan for removing conscious and unconscious biases from your hiring workflow. You’ll also learn how to leverage technology to create assessments and processes, resulting in a more diverse and inclusive workforce.

Technical Talent:

Tech Inclusion San Francisco isn’t just for management-level staff. Developers and programmers are also encouraged to participate in the conversation. Choose from workshops on a variety of topics, such as creating more “inclusive” products, collaborating for true change, cyber security and culture, protecting human rights in the age of AI, and much more.

Students:

The career fair on Wednesday, October 17th, is a great chance for students to establish connections with tech employers. Well-respected technological schools will also be represented at the career fair.

Connect with CodeSignal at Tech Inclusion 2018

Be sure to give us a shout if you plan to attend #TechInclusion.

We’d love to meet you and show how our CodeSignal platform makes hiring more inclusive by standardizing technical assessments, streamlining interviews, and overcoming unintended biases. Learn more about CodeSignal today.

Developer Success Story: Marcus Currie at Evernote

“Anything is possible, given the right amount of time and motivation.” – Marcus Currie, Software Engineer at Evernote

Watch the full video here or learn more below.

For Marcus Currie, time and motivation have never been an issue. The real challenge was getting recruiters to take him seriously despite his lack of real-world programming experience.

In this case study, you’ll learn how Marcus transitioned from coding hobbyist to a full-time developer at Evernote.

Card Game Sparks Interest in Computer Science

Shortly after graduating from the University of Maryland, College Park with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering, Marcus joined the Department of Defense to work as a physical design engineer. During this time, Marcus’ college friends began to move away and start their own careers in other parts of the country. Although the group of friends remained closely connected, it became impossible to play their favorite card game, Dominion.

“As people started to move away, I had the idea to build a web app that would allow us to continue playing the game,” Currie said. “I didn’t know anything about web development, HTML, CSS, or Javascript, so I had to learn those skills.”

Driven to achieve his goal, Marcus began studying the basics of computer programming. And, within an impressive two-week period, he was able to complete the app. Once again, his friends could get back to playing the game they loved – regardless of where they were physically located.

CodeSignal Opens the Door to Evernote

By building the card game app, Marcus came to realize his passion for web development. Although a computer programming career seemed appealing, Marcus lacked the real-world experience that most employers look for.

“I started applying to different companies, but I wasn’t getting the responses that I had hoped for – and it was pretty obvious why,” Currie said. “I was a hardware guy applying for web development roles with no professional or industry experience.” Marcus had the raw talent to become a top-tier developer, but he needed a way to refine his skills and demonstrate his abilities to potential employers.

That’s where CodeSignal came into the picture.

“I went through CodeSignal’s interview practice mode, learned a bit more about computer science, and then applied those concepts by working on practice interview problems,” Currie said. “After that, I took their skills test and did really well on it.”

Marcus’ strong assessment resulted in an exceptional Coding ScoreTM, which helped him attract attention from recruiters at several well-known tech companies – including Evernote. Evernote soon came through with an offer, and Marcus moved westward to embark on an exciting career in Silicon Valley.

New Friendships, Common Interests

It didn’t take long for Marcus to feel right at home at Evernote. In fact, many of his closest friends are coworkers who also play the Dominion card game.

“During my interviews, most of my interviewers mentioned that they had visited my site and played,” Currie said. “They were really impressed with the project.”

No doubt, Marcus’ story has come full circle.

Anything is Possible

Interested in a computer science career but not sure what to do next? Perhaps it’s time to follow Marcus Currie’s lead by signing up for your free CodeSignal account. Practice your skills, participate in coding challenges, and get your Coding ScoreTM today.