Hire developers Community Blog Find a dev job Log in
Close menu
Hiring Tips & Insights: Beyond the Diversity Tag: Top DE&I tips for tech hiring
Less noise, more data. Get the biggest data report on software developer careers in South Africa.

Beyond the Diversity Tag: Top DE&I tips for tech hiring

13 July 2023, by Alexandra Hanson

During our recent Untold Stories in Tech Hiring event in Berlin, we hosted a public discussion about the status of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) in the tech industry, and the steps that companies can take to power up their efforts. An effective DE&I strategy is essential for organisations to send a strong message about their company’s values. It also encourages hiring teams to expand the scope of talent pools they tap into during the recruitment process.

The panel included Manjuri Sinha, the Global Director Talent Success & DEI at OLX, and Sérgio Laranjeira, the Director of Engineering at Delivery Hero. The session was moderated by our head of Performance Marketing, Robyn Lighton. Here’s are key insights from their discussion:

Beyond the Diversity Tag: Top DE&I tips for tech hiring

The relevance of DE&I in tech hiring

The tech sector is notorious for its lack of diversity, so DE&I is highly relevant to companies in the space today. Teams need to become diverse by design, ideally with employees spanning different cultures, genders, sexual orientations, ability levels and more. This fosters a work environment where diversity of thought and perspective can flourish. According to research from McKinsey, diverse teams can help avoid groupthink and results in better performing teams and more profitable businesses.

“Hiring from the same talent pool over and over again is not going to move the business forward faster,” says Robyn.

Manjuri argues that a big mental shift is needed: Leaders should go beyond the diversity tag and shift the conversation to one about representation instead. Her experiences being the only woman in the room while working in India — and often the only woman of colour in the room in Europe — has shaped this mindset.

Reassessing DE&I during a hiring slowdown

Sérgio’s view is that the present market conditions offer a great opportunity for companies to take a step back and reassess the state of DE&I in their organisations.

The global tech hiring slowdown means that companies don’t have to be overwhelmed by the prospect of allocating resources to this.

“We’re no longer growing like crazy and no longer hiring for volume,” he said. “This gives us the opportunity to take a step back and to look at where we stand today”.

He told the panel that we need to be playing the long game, avoiding short-term thinking and taking the time to see how DE&I fits within the broader company goals.

Implementing DE&I strategies

Talking about DE&I is one thing, but actual implementation is something else entirely. For Robyn, the latter is integral to how tech companies attract, engage and retain talent in the long run.

Manjuri argues that the problem has to be acknowledged first before it can be fixed. She suggested looking at a company’s board, and how diverse the top level of the company truly is: this will give you a signal whether or not there are actual opportunities for people from diverse backgrounds and life experiences to grow in the company.

During the session, the panel grappled with the notion of whether it is possible to achieve so-called “true” DE&I, given the nuance and scope of the global workforce. Manjuri believes we’re a step closer to achieving tangible diversity and inclusion when “it’s a goal with the leaders”. For her, that pressure or realisation must ideally come from the top-down. The buy-in makes it easier for hiring teams to gain access to resources for implementation, in a bid to eventually achieve the organisations’ bigger representation goals.

She advocates for a systemic approach to DE&I that covers the attraction, sourcing, interviewing, decision-making and onboarding phases of the recruitment process to improve the chance of success.

Practical advice for hiring teams to implement DE&I strategies

Throughout the conversation, the panel shared a series of practical tips for hiring teams looking to give DE&I a boost and make representation a priority throughout the recruitment phase:

  • Ask what type of team you’re building, Sérgio encourages team to move away from just “filling the role as fast as you can, no matter who the person is”. Robyn echoed this, adding that the entire team should be on board with this thinking. “If we ‘win’ with a diverse candidate in this role, we’re all going to be better off”, she added.

  • It’s essential to make sure that more than one person is making the final hiring decision. For Manjuri, this is a core competency in the hiring process. Doing the opposite leaves everything open to individual biases. No matter the way the process is set up, she encourages HR teams to “make decisions based on scorecards that are filled in based on competencies, leadership behaviours, or whatever you call it in the organisation”.

  • The panel agreed on the importance of factoring in remote work policies (or the lack thereof) as part of a successful DE&I strategy. Big Tech is forcing people to return to the office again, which affects accessibility as much as it does flexibility. Geographic diversity might be understated at times, but it is just as relevant to the other representation areas mentioned earlier.

  • Don’t drop DE&I efforts when budgets get tight. “People get left behind when this happens”, Sérgio said, sharing personal experience from his own company. Do what you can with the tools that you have and consider different market solutions rather than taking shortcuts and cutting staff or resources allocated to promoting DE&I in the office.

    If faced with a lack of resources, encourage your team to build a network of support by attending relevant meetups and conferences and identify potential partners who can help you in implementing DE&I strategies. For example, you could partner with universities or training schools by offering internships to a diverse group of tech talent, in exchange for building a network of young talent that are motivated to stay at your company.

  • Manjuri believes in-house training should be prioritised for hires to actually end up feeling like they’re entering an inclusive work environment. She shared a real-world example where a transgender hire was repeatedly referred to by the wrong pronouns.

In-house teams should receive ongoing coaching and training to foster a culture of inclusivity. “If not, we bring diverse people in and are very happy ourselves, but they end up feeling bad in the job”.

  • Lastly, mentorship is an essential component of DE&I, especially considering the moment the world is living through right now. This extends beyond the in-house staff contingent, expanding to the broader community. Tech leaders have an added responsibility to create initiatives and programs that support the mentorship of talented members within the local community. For Manjuri, this “giving back mindset” matters because it creates the future talent pool for everyone to draw from.

A move towards representation

A sustainable DE&I strategy needs to stretch beyond “ticking the boxes”, where companies do the bare minimum to project an image of inclusivity to customers, staff and competitors. It requires actual implementation and accountability, in a bid to create true representation in the context of the fast-changing work landscape in tech.

By implementing the practical steps discussed, and driving these conversations in an organisation, hiring terms can help create a more inclusive environment and achieve long-term gains for a business.

200+ developers are waiting for you each week
Get access to a curated list of skilled developers, ready to interview.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Subscribe to our blog

Don’t miss out on cool content. Every week we add new content to our blog, subscribe now.

By subscribing you consent to receive OfferZen’s newsletter and agree to our Privacy Policy and use of cookies.