In 2022, we saw more than 90,000 workers in the tech sector laid off in mass job cuts across the industry. Even more disturbing is that these prominent companies and organizations have announced plans for additional layoffs and hiring freezes, citing various reasons from COVID-19 fallout to preparing for a potential recession. And while lengthy conversation continues around why these massive layoffs are taking place, there is very little dialogue – or action – around the long-term effects of the resulting inequitable disinvestment in people.
AnitaB.org is concerned not only over the implications this has on the current and future technological landscape, but how this industry-wide ‘downsizing’ impacts those who are most vulnerable and least protected in the industry – people of color, women, non-binary, and LGBTQIA+ technologists.
While organizations often say they defer to antiquated ‘formal policies’ to determine who stays and who goes during layoffs, analysis shows they rely heavily on position and tenure to determine an employee’s status and, therefore, their value to the company. Statistically, this wipes out most or all of the gains made in recent company diversification – the last hired are often the first fired. A PEW Research study found that the tech industry is already one of the least diverse areas of the STEM fields. In a recent Deloitte survey, diversity was shown to improve employee retention and engagement, with findings that morale, company culture, and employee engagement all thrive in diverse and inclusive work environments. Remove this, and companies are setting themselves back decades in both gains and growth. In fact, companies with more diverse leadership teams report higher innovation revenue – 45% compared to just 26%.
Companies in cutting mode must choose to recognize the value that people of diverse backgrounds and those from intentionally marginalized communities bring to the table, questioning the formal policies that turn them into expendable assets. Continuing these ‘formal policy’ layoff practices undermines a company’s values and commitment to their own diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging advancement.
AnitaB.org stands with and for the talented people who make the technology sector better in all ways. We are here to call out this unacceptable behavior and work towards solutions that are equitable, achievable, and scalable. We cannot do it alone. We encourage our community to step boldly into the fray and support their fellow technologists by sharing resources, advice, and compassion. As we move into 2023, we urge companies and organizations to think critically about their next moves and the far-reaching impacts of what and who they chose to invest in. This matters for all of us, today and tomorrow.
Read more posts from the thread The Current State of Black Women and Non-binary Technologists