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Building diverse teams: How to overcome the 3 most common barriers

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Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) are proven strategic necessities that drive financial returns and innovation. And yet the “DEI backslide” taking place in the U.S. marks a disconcerting rollback in investments toward these initiatives, with DEI leadership seeing cuts at major tech companies like Zoom and Snap.

TEKsystems works with Per Scholas to deliver a program that solves the ongoing demand for diverse talent. The outcome? Management support for leaders, training for learners, and skilled talent to help drive business growth and ROI.

Findings from TEKsystems’ 2024 DEI report dig into these changes and reveal that there’s still work to do. To meet the challenges of the future head-on, and to prepare the workforce with the much-needed skill sets and variety of insights, DEI must remain a priority — one that’s supported through TEKsystems and Per Scholas’ partnership.

“The work that goes into building, shaping, retaining and growing a diverse team pays off in terms of your company’s ROI,” says Caitlyn Brazill, chief revenue officer of Per Scholas. “Companies can’t afford to not harness the critical thinking, creative and innovative benefits that come from a more diverse workforce.” There is an opportunity to do just that with TEKsystems and Per Scholas.

“TEKsystems is deeply rooted in DEI initiatives, and we are dedicated to making careers in IT accessible to all. Part of that journey involves our work with Per Scholas, including our joint product offering,” stated Lauren Kolodrubetz, executive director of marketplace diversity solutions at TEKsystems. This report identifies three critical challenges executives face in pursuit of building more diverse teams:

Challenge: Recruiting a more diverse workforce

When asked to identify the top difficulties of DEI, survey respondents indicate a 7% increase in difficulty year over year in recruiting a more diverse workforce. One potential reason could be recruiters going back to their preferred sources, such as higher education fairs, repeatedly and being introduced to similar employee profiles. Building a talent pool with strategic upskilling or reskilling allows organizations to develop stronger relationships and fill in future needs with existing talent.

Brazill shares a recent example of this approach helping a Fortune 100 tech firm: Kelly Cupit-Madland started working at a tech firm through TEKsytems’ recruiting after graduating from Per Scholas’ full-stack Java training and saw the positive influence diversity had in the workplace. “There’s not one way to approach a problem or find a solution. Diversity and diversity of thought are important. You need an entire team of different thinkers to find solutions in your work,” Cupit-Madland reflected.

Innovative recruitment strategies ensure companies can handle the dynamic nature of global markets. These partnerships enable companies to dynamically scale their recruitment efforts to meet evolving technological and market conditions, ensuring a diverse and highly competent workforce.

Challenge: Retaining a more diverse workforce

The challenge does not end with recruitment, however. Survey respondents also indicated a 9% increase in difficulty year over year in retaining a more diverse workforce.

Retaining talent requires a proactive approach to fostering an inclusive culture where every employee actively feels valued and engaged. Initiatives such as mentorship programs, career development opportunities and transparent communication channels about growth and advancement help maintain a satisfied and motivated workforce.

“Retention is critical,” Brazill points out. “It’s about more than just bringing diverse talent through the door; we have to ensure that all team members feel welcomed, valued and seen as essential contributors to our mission. By focusing on these qualities, we nurture the retention of those individuals, resulting in an average 30-50% higher retention from Per Scholas and TEKsystems alumni.”

Challenge: Poor participation in DEI programs/events

Another pain point in adopting DEI initiatives is poor participation in programs and events (statistically at 27% two years in a row). This could stem from a perceived disconnect between DEI initiatives and their practical impact on daily work life.

That’s why companies must weave DEI goals into the fabric of their corporate mission and communicate these objectives clearly and repeatedly across all levels of the organization. Creating a feedback loop where employees can voice their opinions and influence the direction and implementation of DEI initiatives can significantly enhance their effectiveness and engagement.

Build a unique talent pipeline

Diverse teams are a boon for creativity and make an organization significantly more likely to achieve financial returns above their industry mean. The reduction in DEI investments poses a risk to the sustained growth and inclusivity that many organizations have fought hard to achieve.

“Embracing diversity is not just about being socially responsible,” Brazill notes. “It’s a strategic imperative. Through strategic partnerships and committed leadership, we can build a workforce that truly reflects the diversity of our global community.”

Want to learn how to drive ROI for your business while building and maintaining diverse teams? Contact TEKsystems!

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