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Economic Uncertainty Challenges Tech Workforce Diversity Efforts, According to New Wiley Report

62% of IT leaders say the economy is slowing DEI efforts, while nearly the same number are still struggling to recruit underrepresented talent.

HOBOKEN, NJ – The current state of the global economy threatens to roll back efforts to diversify technology workforces, according to Wiley’s (NYSE: WLY) latest “Diversity in Tech 2023: U.S. Report,” released today following a survey of 1,000 Gen Z professionals and over 300 senior tech executives.

The third annual report by Wiley’s industry-leading talent development business, Wiley Edge, explores the early-career experiences of tech and non-tech employees, and provides companies with actionable recommendations to advance their diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives.

However, these initiatives are increasingly at risk today. Sixty-two percent of executives acknowledged that the current economic environment is slowing their DEI efforts. Moreover, there’s a growing disconnect between the perception and the impact of this work. While 86% of business leaders believe their DEI strategies are working well, nearly 60% are still struggling to retain tech talent from historically underrepresented groups.

Indeed, almost 70% of Gen Z tech professionals have felt uncomfortable at work because of their gender, race, ethnicity, socio-economic background, neurodevelopmental condition or disability. This figure is up nearly 20 points from last year’s survey, contributing to the retention challenge many companies face.

“Despite the uncertainty in the market today, businesses would be wise to prioritize and expand efforts to diversify their tech teams and create more inclusive workplaces,” said Todd Zipper, executive vice president and general manager at Wiley. “Diversity fosters innovation and opportunity. It’s especially important to provide a more level playing field for entry-level tech roles, widening the aperture of access to qualified candidates of all backgrounds.”

Remote Work and Expanded Talent Pools

As companies hired more remote employees during the pandemic, 94% of executives said this strategy helped to increase the diversity of job candidates. In fact, 34% reported offering flexible working policies to attract underrepresented applicants to open positions. Yet 62% conceded that remote roles are more at risk for layoffs in the current economic environment.

Recruitment Challenges and Degree Requirements

The biggest challenge facing companies when recruiting entry-level tech talent was finding candidates with the specific skills needed for a role. Nearly 60% of executives noted a gap between candidates’ tech skills and the company’s requirements for entry-level positions, despite them holding a relevant college degree.

Furthermore, 58% of companies are now considering dropping the degree requirement from certain roles over the next year, while 25% are expanding job qualifications in place of degree requirements specifically to increase the diversity of qualified applicants.

To view the full report, please visit: https://www.wiley.com/edge/diversity-in-tech-2023-us-report/.

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