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July 18, 2023
Want to future-proof your company? Doing so might rely on discussions during the coffee break

Casually drop the phrase ‘diverse hiring’ into a conversation, and you’re likely to be met with a few different responses.

The knowing, sage nod: ‘Ah, yes, we do that at our company … I think?’ The blank look of someone who’s heard this phrase before, and stored it under ‘must Google so I have something smart to say next time’. And, inevitably, someone who throws out an ‘it’s all the rage now’, or ‘it’s the latest checkbox to tick’.

But diverse hiring is so much more than ticking a box, meeting a quota or your next Google search. It is the lifeline to a resilient, future-proof company; the guarantee for enduring creativity and innovation.

This is true in all industries, but especially so in tech.

Finding the next gear in tech

If you or your company are active in tech, it will not have escaped your attention: the marketplace is moving at a pace which is leaving many of us breathless. We wake up each morning to another groundbreaking AI website, we finish the workday with alerts on our phone of tech companies launched, listed and - inevitably - folding. 

Life cycles of products have shortened, and the pressure to innovate and create constantly is a familiar feature of our work life these days.

In this chaotic but fruitful era of tech, companies are more inclined to assign tasks to teams, rather than individuals, to get things done at a higher pace and work more productively.

Diversity in a short case study

Let’s take a closer look at two entirely fictional teams, who might be assigned to come up with a new product.

Team A: a group composed of people with broadly the same skill set, ethnic or cultural background, and way of thinking. Candidates have been hired based on their click with the existing company culture, or because they share the same gender, ethnicity, age or education with the majority of the existing team.

Team B: a group of people that differ from each other when it comes to their gender, ethnicity, but also in less-considered and often less visible factors such as ability, education, or neurodiversity.

In this scenario, which of these two teams can we reasonably expect to come up with a product that pushes the envelope? A strategy that is creative and new? An approach that can endear a company to different audiences?

Diverse workplaces: A or B?

Team A will score high on agreement. Coming up with a new product and strategy will likely be a ‘comfortable’ process, one in which the team agrees quickly and in time for the mid-morning coffee break.

Team B, on the other hand? The research is clear.

In 2020, McKinsey published a report with the premonitory title: ‘Diversity wins’. Their conclusion: companies with culturally and ethnically diverse teams out performed less diverse companies by 36 percent in terms of profitability. 

In practice, diverse teams score higher on creativity and problem solving. They can be relied upon to make better business decisions 87% of the time, are 70% more likely to capture new markets, and can expect a 45% increase in revenue directly related to innovation. 

Plus, the conversations around the espresso machine just got so much more interesting.

Addressing the problem at the root

Research and objective numbers confirm what we already know. Diversity in the workplace is a good thing. Not just because it’s the right thing to do, but also because it’s simply smart business sense.

Yet in practice, companies who are ready to ‘walk the talk’ and create more diverse teams have one major hurdle to overcome: the hiring process.

Traditional CV-based hiring perpetuates unconscious biases related to appearance, age or even someone’s name, feeding into a process that tends towards more of the same, rather than diversification.

One way in which to address the problem is how new team members are hired. Sophie Soulane is Head of Sales at Equalture, a tech company that is going straight to the root of this problem. They design and build game-based assessments for companies who are no longer willing to accept the inherent biases of CV-based hiring.

She explains how the process works. ‘Our game-based assessments assess a variety of competencies that are relevant in a work-setting. This helps companies to not only select candidates based on work experience and education, but focus on relevant skills, behavior and intelligence. At the same time, this offers candidates a more equal opportunity. Not every candidate has the privilege to have studied, or has the network to get a certain work experience’.

Equalture’s work is catching on. Their roster of clients includes market leaders such as Vodafone, Pepsico, KLM, the Dutch National Police Force, Ahold Delhaize and dairy giant FrieslandCampina. 

Their clients are unanimous: game-based hiring works. Tamara Spuij, Manager HR & Development at multinational Pon Automotive, praises the company in a review on software marketplace G2: ‘Working with Equalture has enriched our business. It has ensured that we have now hired employees who look ‘differently’ and add something new to the organization, instead of people who mainly fit in well with us’.

The work that Equalture does feels timely and necessary, and it’s clear that the 37-strong team of the company is invested in their mission. 

Sophie: ‘I am really proud that we are able to show companies the potential of many candidates that without our games might have been rejected wrongfully’.

Hiring across borders

Another way of injecting much-needed diversity into the hiring process is taking a closer look at where you are hiring from.

COVID showed us what most in the tech world already instinctively knew: working remotely is not only possible, but also highly effective. Throw into the mix a shrinking pool of applicants in certain markets, and many companies are looking beyond their own borders and regions for talent.

This is where TAP steps in. By upskilling young, talented Palestinians and getting them ready for high profile jobs across the tech world, we’re actively creating a diverse pool of hireable applicants. 

The benefits ripple outwards. Stable, remote jobs for our TAP graduates help contribute to a sustainable and flourishing Palestinian economy; hiring companies benefit from new diversity in their workplace, in turn leading to more creative innovations and access to new markets.

Like Equalture, TAP’s team is very much invested in this mission. Christian Vezjak, CEO, writes on his LInkedIn:

 ‘We’re transforming the tech industry by giving Middle Eastern and Palestinian women and youth a platform to accelerate their remote careers. I believe that there needs to be a big shift in how humanity and technology coexist. We can’t allow technology to create opportunities only where plenty of them already exist. As I see it, the shift can be achieved via equal opportunities and remote jobs’.

Bringing together two missions

In this, TAP and Equalture have found each other. Sophie Soulane not only works at Equalture, but has put time aside each week to be a mentor at TAP. She helps students in the Business Development cohort with job preparation, personal branding and their LinkedIn and CV. But, crucially, she also shares her insights with them into company culture and paves the way for them to land a remote position in tech companies around the world.

Sophie says of her mentoring work: 

‘I enjoy my time at TAP very much. I am really honored to be asked to help out, and share my expertise in sales with young and talented Palestinians that are interested in learning more about the commercial side of an organization’.

Sophie currently shares her mentoring roster with similarly passionate professionals from across the world, including the USA, Germany, Turkey, Portugal and France. 

But the mission of creating a tech industry where diversity is no longer an exercise of ‘ticking boxes’ but a valued tool in driving innovation, profitability and creativity is far from complete. 

Want to help us get where we need to go? Get in touch to find out more about our mentoring program at TAP.

TAP provides upskilling programs in Palestine and Jordan to get you job-ready in software development, business development & sales, and digital marketing.
Over 80% of our graduates find a full-time job, mostly remote with international companies.
You will receive extensive guidance and mentoring to launch your career.
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