Considering Technology Upskilling in Your DE+I Strategy

By Jes­si­ca Mitsch ● May 27, 2021

While learn­ing and technology upskilling efforts may have typ­i­cal­ly been man­aged sep­a­rate­ly from DE+I ini­tia­tives, now is the per­fect time to con­sid­er how to con­nect the two with­in one strate­gic plan, allow­ing both efforts to inter­act and cre­ate the most impact­ful outcomes.

We wanted to share recent thoughts on the link between technology upskilling and your DE+I strategy from Brandon Miller, a sought-after thought leader in the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE+I) space, and the chair of the Diversity Council at Clarkston Consulting.

With many tech organizations considering how to move forward with a hybrid or flexible work plan, it’s a perfect opportunity to make beneficial organizational change when it comes to both technology upskilling initiatives, and DE+I inclusion efforts. Considering the current tech talent shortage, companies may be realizing that they have loyal entry-level or mid-level staff with the foundational hard and soft skills needed to develop valuable tech talent from within.

Why should business leaders consider upskilling in their DE+I strategy?

When considering DE+I strategy, it is important for business leaders to discuss how to effectively meet all employees’ upskilling needs. For a business with a heterogeneous group of workers with different preferences for what career growth may look like, DE+I initiatives tied with training can provide a competitive advantage.Though business leaders have many priorities, support for technology upskilling or reskilling has becoming increasingly necessary as an effective talent retention strategy, actively working to encourage growth for all employees.

How does investing in technology upskilling benefit employees?

Upskilling employees enables them to progress towards career goals within their interests, which is especially beneficial for tech roles, where new software and platforms are constantly going through iterations. During these times of rapid digital transformation and the rise of automation, upskilling your talent not only instills a value of having a growth mindset, but also allows your talent to professionally develop at the same rate as your organization’s innovation. While learning and development may have typically been managed separately from DE+I initiatives, now is the perfect time to consider how to connect the two within one strategic plan, allowing both efforts to interact and create the most impactful outcomes. 

There are multiple quantifiable advantages for upskilling employees as well. Newly trained employees will be able to bring a value-added combination of both industry and tech experience to the company after their training. The company can also demonstrate commitment to DE+I by upskilling and retracking people from underrepresented populations into professional career tracks. Organizations can build internal loyalty, decreasing both hiring expenses for professional positions and turnover costs.

Is it a level playing field when it comes to technology upskilling?

There are numerous key factors that can affect a diverse workforce’s abilities to complete technology upskilling programs. Certain members of the workforce may not have the same availability or time to spend on training as others, especially if they have responsibilities as caretakers, or if they must prioritize other time-consuming activities. Studies have shown that the rise of automation will have a disproportionate impact on women and employees of color. It’s imperative that organizations are forward-thinking when it comes to their future of work, keeping diversity and equity in mind, ensuring that you’re upskilling talent for future opportunities is integral to your leadership and DE+I strategies. Additionally, some members of a diverse workforce are affected by the documented wealth gaps related to race and gender, and may not have the financial resources to cover the costs of a technology upskilling program, especially if they are supporting extended family or are repaying debts such as student loans. It is important to help employees feel supported by the company, especially if they are part of a marginalized community that has historically lacked effective mentorship, access to leadership opportunities, or structured plans for career growth. Learning disabilities can also impact some members of a workforce. All of these employees’ needs should be evaluated and integrated when determining a DE+I strategy.

More Than Just Paying for Training

It is important to keep in mind that providing access to upskilling should extend beyond paying for outside courses to maximize success. A true training partner will adapt curriculum to meet that company or industry's needs and can leverage experience in talent identification and assessment to spot and cultivate candidates from non-traditional educational backgrounds who have the skills it takes to succeed in their new roles.

Momentum’s programs provide opportunities for software development talent to build and grow skills, confidence, and leadership. We’re helping visionary companies deploy new and inclusive strategies to find, develop and retain the best technology talent. Contact us today to learn more about how we can support your team’s corpo­rate training needs.