This article appears as part of the Most Diverse Tech Hub initiative, underwritten by the City of Philadelphia Department of Commerce.
Written by Technically Media CEO Chris Wink, Technical.ly’s Culture Builder newsletter features tips on growing powerful teams and dynamic workplaces. Below is the latest edition we published. Sign up to get the next one.
At least half of all engineering hours in the United States are done remotely now.
The pandemic’s remote work surge should be a boon for diversifying tech workforces, which are notoriously short on Black and Latino representation. Many of the country’s most diverse cities are regional economic hubs that have homegrown tech workforces.
Tech workers in places like Atlanta, Baltimore, Miami, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia now have more professional choices than at any time in human history: both employers at home and hungry hirers from anywhere in the world.
The trouble is that a city’s demographics do not represent its technical workforce. Consider a case study.
“Philadelphia may be diverse as a city,” one growth-stage tech CEO told Technical.ly. “But tech is not diverse as an industry.”
Between 2012 and 2018, Philadelphia’s 100,000-person technical workforce became less diverse than the country’s as a whole. Worse, between 2020 and 2021, the region’s workforce actually shrunk, according to an Economy League analysis. The area’s pipeline for new technical talent, including computer science degrees and coding bootcamps, was fairly diverse but relatively small.
These are considerable headwinds facing one of the country’s largest regional tech hubs, and indicative of challenges confronting the long-term prospects of diversifying the American technical workforce.
With high pay and flexibility, tech work is frequently part of a strategy to combat income inequality. That underscores The Most Diverse Tech Hub (MDTH), an initiative backed by the City of Philadelphia’s Commerce Department’s Tech Industry Partnership, to which Technical.ly has contributed.
Today, Technical.ly is releasing “A Way Forward,” a report informed by a year of reporting and detailing the stubborn problem of diversifying technical workforces.
Most Diverse Tech Hub 2023 Report by Christopher Wink
With Philadelphia as a backdrop, the report is informed by interviews with 10 founders and hiring managers, a general survey of tech employers and a year’s worth of programming and discussions. The report is divided into three parts: background on the current state of tech diversity, a review of what has been done to address it and recommendations on what more can be done.
The report reviews four main tools for diversifying a tech workforce:
- Future Pipeline: Increase and Improve Youth Training
- Workforce Development: Develop and Market Career Changing
- Immigration: Attracting Professionals from Other Countries (or Regions)
- Organizational Dynamics: Improve the Hiring, Retention and Company Culture efforts of tech employers
One tension the report makes clear lies between the supply of diverse technical talent and the demand for it. Considerable attention has been heaped on tech employers diversifying their workforces.
Most of the CEOs interviewed for the report accepted responsibility for doing more, but several doubted whether they’re likely to lead meaningful change. The employers identified with being on the demand side of a more technical workforce, but as one said, “This is a supply problem.”
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