Is Diversity Fatigue failing Women in Tech?

Recently I’ve been talking to people under the Women in Technology umbrella about “Diversity Fatigue” which for the majority of people I’ve talked to, have never heard of it.

So for those of you who haven’t heard about it before, there’s a handful of blogs this year from CNN and big Fortune 500 companies (I always think fortune cookies for this one) talking about diversity fatigue as a response to a New Yorker article in 2017 year in review page. From that we learn that people were using this “diversity fatigue” phrase, in the late 90s!!! Probably when we first realised that lack of diversity in business was a thing that wasn’t going away… we are still talking about it 20 years on though?!

What is Women in Technology Diversity Fatigue? 

Diversity Fatigue is where people have become negative, and feel exhausted and bored towards any conversations about inclusion and diversity. It’s also sadly meant that there are anti-positive discrimination arguments (such as quotas for interview or board roles) and an increasing resilience to changing “the way it’s always been”.

The big company representatives I talk to generally feel like businesses aren’t doing enough. There is still room for improvement at all stages including recruitment, engagement, employee retention and even what demographics clients and customers are! It goes so deep, we understand it’s going to take time for change, and for it to have the ripple effect we want for the world, but can we say now that we’ve waited too long?

I’m very lucky, I co-own my own business. If we want to make changes we can do so quite easily and quickly. If we want to update policies, procedures or packages, we can. We don’t have the many levels of management and authorities (or boards) that need to sign off on any changes you want to make. If you’re a small business, or own an SME of any size, you have the luxury, and yes, responsibility to look at these things, and effect change for good.

But if you don’t have any say in decision making for diversity and inclusion, don’t worry because there are still things you can do to make a change. I’ve always loved the idea of putting together many micro-actions that help support towards one larger task. This is where everyone, EVERYONE, can get involved.

Whatever, whoever and wherever you are, you can figure out what micro-actions you can do to help make a positive difference in the world. With diversity fatigue becoming more prevalent – because there is sometimes a long process to agreeing change in organisations, we need to make sure our actions are visible to help counteract this fatigue.

With Women in Tech only accounting for 17% of the UK gender split in the workforce, the stats prove, we still have much work to do to redress the balance. I speak around the world about #womenintech and there are a wide variety of levels of engagement and structure in place – some very professional and agreed, others more informal and practicing. One thing the stats do say, is that the UK numbers of women in tech, is low down on the ratings scale – outside of the UK some places are doing much better! Bulgaria is one to watch!

So how can we help any part of the world increase these numbers of women in technology to avoid more diversity fatigue.

First off, let’s stop just *talking* about diversity and inclusion. All lovely human being already know and acknowledge we need to get better at being inclusive and representative. The worldwide workforce is gender-split almost 50/50, so how can we help reflect this more in the digital and technology sectors?

 

Micro Actions to Counteract Diversity Fatigue - What Can You Do?

Here’s some micro-actions I think almost anyone can get involved with to help make the change…

  • Share a good news story – online or offline
  • Share a good women in technology role model’s story
  • Tell young people that you can have a real career out of technology – even if you don’t know how
  • Research different job role in tech to help people understand the opportunities
  • Support someone thinking about re-skilling to consider how technology might fit in
  • Read up on the latest technology and future world of tech to share with others (good pub chat starters)
  • Discuss the pros and cons about fixed gender quotas with someone – what do you think?
  • Support a Women in Technology non-profit or charity doing awesome stuff
  • Don’t just buy children and young adults the stereotypical gendered toys/gifts – for example does your female niece really want something in Pink?!
  • Talk to someone about flexible working – understand it’s not just for mothers, but for all
  • Discuss how remote working might fit into your workplace and how that might increase employee recruitment and retention

 

And there are LOADS more, but hopefully this is an ideas starter to make your own personal or work bespoke list of what micro-tasks you could do too.

 

I’d love to hear your suggestions and how you get on when you action them! Comment below or tweet us @Tech_Geek_Girl