Developer jobs: When it comes to building diverse teams, employers are still missing the mark

Tech companies are having a difficult time filling open roles, and demand for talent exceeds the supply.
Written by Owen Hughes, Senior Editor

Companies must the tools at their disposal to build diverse teams.

Image: Maskot / Getty

The tech industry has been facing increasing scrutiny over diversity, equity and inclusion issues in recent years. Even though having a policy aimed at hiring a diverse team can bring employers a greater range of talent to improve just about every business outcome, progress in this area remains disappointingly slow.

According to a report by hiring platform Hiretual, organizations are doing little to boost diversity within their software teams. Analysis of candidate searches made via its platform between January 1st and July 31st this year found that just 15% of searches applied a diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) filter to find developers from Black, Hispanic, Asian or Native American backgrounds.

In the US tech hub of San Francisco, just 9% of searches were for Black software engineers, 7% for Hispanic or Latinx candidates, 6% for Native American, and 3% for candidates from Asian backgrounds, the company's data found.

See also: IT strategy: How an investment in diversity can boost your business.

Hiretual's report included searches from the US cities where search volume for software engineers was highest: San Francisco, CA; Seattle, WA; New York, New York; Boston, MA; Washington DC; Atlanta, GA; Los Angeles CA; Chicago, IL; and Denver, CO.

The highest volume of searches for Black, Hispanic/Latinx, Native American and Asian candidates came from Washington DC – 17%, 14%, 13% and 10%, respectively.

Women were equally underrepresented in candidate searches, the data found: again, just 15% of searches on the platform were for female candidates specifically. Washington once again proved the most progressive here, with 26% of the total search volume accounting for women.

"The technology is there to help find and hire diverse candidates," said Steven Jiang, CEO at Hiretual. "Companies have the option to make a difference -- there are no more excuses."

According to the US Labor Department, job openings hit 10.1 million by the end of June 2021, up from 9.5 million in May.

Developers and software engineers have been amongst the most coveted tech workers throughout 2020 and 2021, owing to a boom in the demand for digital services and application development caused by the pandemic. Hiretual found some companies are now paying their talent up to 13.2% more than the national average, with 55% of US companies paying software engineers an average salary of $90,000 to $150,000 per year.

According to Hiretual's data, there are currently 1.2 million professionals with a software engineer title, and some 170,000 job postings for software engineers. It also found that 12% of professionals have changed jobs within the past 12 months, while 7% of professionals have changed jobs within the past six months.

The fact there are twice as many software engineer job postings compared to software engineers moving jobs supports the claims that tech companies are having a difficult time filling open roles, and that the demand for talent exceeds the supply, said Hiretual.

See also: Digital transformation: Two CIOs explain how to make it work

Opening up job vacancies to a more diverse talent pool, therefore, seems like an obvious step in addressing existing skills gaps, as well as boosting an organization's overall success.

"Job candidates have a lot of leverage and options to consider right now. So, companies looking for the best talent need to be trying to make the strongest impact from the very first impression, which requires an understanding for what candidates find value in today: things like building more diverse and inclusive teams, offering competitive pay and more flexible location options," Jiang told ZDNet. 

"The data shows that companies willing to do that stand to fill more jobs, but many are missing the mark."  

Hiretual's report also analysed the software skills most frequently searched for by recruiters. Python programming was the most in-demand proficiency, it found, followed by Java, C++, C# and object-oriented programming (OOP). Rounding out the top 10 skills were JavaScript, distributed systems, Microservices, C/C++, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and GoLang.

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