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Diversity in tech: can flexible work practices make the industry more accessible?

Bright Purple looks at the benefits of flexible work practices and how they open up the industry for underrepresented talent. 

The tech industry has a long-standing diversity problem. Almost daily there are worrying statistics about the lack of representation for marginalised groups in the industry. 

Diversity UK recently reported that while black and Latino people make up 18% of computer science graduates only 5% work in the tech industry. The question is why are 13% of these graduates not working in the industry? 

It can’t be a lack of jobs. In the second quarter of 2021 alone, Bright Purple saw recruitment hit a five year high with 100,000 jobs being advertised every week in June.  

If it’s not a lack of talent or vacancies, then tech, like many other industries, faces a big challenge to address institutionalised bias and other oppressive power structures. 

Many companies have digitised their workspaces throughout 2020 and remote working has become the norm. This move towards flexible work practices has arguably made the tech industry more accessible than ever, but has this changed things for underrepresented groups?  

From bringing teams together across the globe to the rise of asynchronous communication, the last eighteen months have made fulfilling and flexible work environments possible. But as pressure to return to the office mounts, many companies are revisiting the necessity of these practices. 

While there are many arguments in favour of returning to the office, Bright Purple is ready to take a deep dive into how flexible work practices are of benefit to our clients, talent and the tech industry as a whole.

The benefits of flexible work practices

Flexible work practices are about more than remote working. In fact, remote working is just the tip of the iceberg. Asynchronous communication and hybrid working are also a large part of the future of work.  

In 2019, Doist released an extensive report looking at their flexible work practices and how remote work has made their team more productive.  

The company cites benefits from giving employees more control over their own schedules to building deeper, better lines of communication between team members.  

They also argue moving away from synchronous communication has allowed for employees to focus on the ‘deep work’ of ongoing projects instead of dividing their time and attention with ‘shallow work’ such as monitoring their inboxes or replying to messages.  

Doist places more value on these contributions than the hours their employees put into maintaining an online presence. This move towards ‘deep work’ arguably allows employees to feel like they are making bigger, more satisfying contributions to their workplace and in turn encourages employers to invest in team members.  

While it sounds like they reject traditional methods of communication, Doist have in fact developed a balance with synchronous communication being used for emergencies or to reconnect with team members in one-to-ones and at annual gatherings.  

When the pressure to stay connected is lifted, it can give everyone the time and chance to express themselves clearly with better laid out plans and ideas than if we expect an immediate response in the middle of a working day. 

This move away from traditional communication has gained Doist a 90% employee retention rate, with employees staying with the company for more than 5 years compared to organisations like Google who often retain employees for only 1.1 years. 

Higher retention rates usually indicate a better rate of employee satisfaction. By continuation, fulfilled and satisfied employees are more likely to be productive and commit to investing in a company’s future. What does this mean for underrepresented talent in the industry? 

To read the full blog, it is continued on Bright Purple’s website here.

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