The Importance of Cultural Diversity in Tech

How to attract a diverse talent pool to your technical teams

“Sociomantic Labs has offices in eighteen countries worldwide. In our Berlin office alone, we have over thirty different nationalities represented. Diversity is a part of our identity.”

– Anna Richardson, Head of Human Resources at Sociomantic Labs

The subject of cultural diversity is a hot topic at every HR conference, and few would dispute how important it is for building strong teams. As a global advertising technology company, we believe that diversity is not just advantageous, but critical to our success. Our research and development department consists of individuals from over twenty-five different nationalities. We’ve seen firsthand how their work can thrive in a multicultural environments, especially in these areas:

Innovation — Diversity of thought, and the courage to shift away from what is         familiar and comfortable, is key to driving innovation. It’s important to bring together people of different backgrounds and outlooks as a company grows: a diverse team offers unique perspectives and enables idea generation that drive results.

Productivity — Hiring a diverse team dynamically increases the range of knowledge and skills within that team, as each individual brings knowledge and know-how from past projects and life experiences to the table. This breadth of collaborative knowledge can be a key advantage in fast-paced, competitive technology industries. 

Talent Attraction — The chance to join a cultural melting pot of perspectives and experiences can be a key selling point when speaking to prospective talent. Working in an international environment is a wish-list item we hear constantly in the recruitment team. Sociomantic’s diverse team has helped us to attract high-performing individuals despite the competitive market.

If you are looking to create more diverse technical teams within your company, here are three pieces of advice that have brought us success over the years.

1. Work to sidestep unconscious bias during interviews.

The recruitment process must allow for and support cultural differences at every stage; it’s important that recruiters are aware of and trained to combat any implicit (unconscious) biases they may hold that would change their perception of a candidate in an unfair way.

One way we strive to counteract unconscious bias is by implementing task-based assessments during or prior-to interviews. These technical tests direct the focus to practical skills, putting less importance on factors such as educational background, English-language fluency or in-person presentation skills.

For example, we welcome applications from developers who are self-taught in addition to those who have an accredited education. We weigh the results from the task-based assessment alongside important factors such as team fit, motivation, attitude and passion. While we recognize that it’s impossible to completely remove bias, we believe that tactics like this will continue to help us hire the right people.

2. Create a recruiting process that supports hiring candidates from abroad.

Another important lever in hiring a diverse team is to make it easy to take the job when relocating. That means continuously improving onboarding by assisting international hires however we can, whether managing complex visa requirements, offering relocation assistance, or providing in-office onboarding and integration programs. It’s the responsibility of the entire team to ensure a smooth start for new employees.

Furthermore, we often invite newly hired team members to our company events ahead of their start dates to make the transition a little easier, and our team also developed a “Moving to Berlin” guide that shares tips and resources from those who relocated to our headquarters.

3. Implement a zero-tolerance policy for intolerance, and support collaboration across regions.

Saying that diversity is part of our identity is a pledge we take seriously, and we have a company-wide, zero-tolerance policy towards any negative actions or attitudes related to personal identity. Whether it be a formal code of conduct or values, safe channels for feedback and opinions, or cross-cultural training on mindfulness starting at leadership level, it’s important to create a culture that doesn’t condone intolerant behavior.

We also made a commitment to not just accept, but to celebrate, our differences. On any given day in our headquarters, you will see people cooking together, sharing their customs and celebrating local holidays.

Making diversity part of your company culture

Cultural diversity is core to the success of our business. Our employees unanimously cite their peers as the most valuable part about working at Sociomantic. We’ve found this contributes to stronger employee engagement and higher retention rates — which is extremely important as technical roles typically have higher turnover rates.

By building inclusive communication practices, encouraging differences in opinion, and not tolerating negative attitudes, we hope to increase the diversity of our teams as we continue to grow.