Article: Wiley report: 50% Gen Z employees are uncomfortable at work. Reason? Their identity

Life @ Work

Wiley report: 50% Gen Z employees are uncomfortable at work. Reason? Their identity

The second annual report explores the early-career experiences of tech and non-tech Gen Z employees, while providing actionable recommendations for businesses to advance their diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) goals.
Wiley report: 50% Gen Z employees are uncomfortable at work. Reason? Their identity

A report compiled by Wiley Edge has shown that the efforts of the tech industry to diversify its workforce remains both slow-moving and disjointed. 

As per their  “Diversity in Tech: U.S. 2022” report, for which they surveyed over 2,000 early-career professionals and 200 business leaders, almost 60% of business leaders say their companies work hard to create an inclusive culture.  But even so, half of Gen Z tech workers (50%) still feel uncomfortable in their jobs because of their gender, race, ethnicity, socio-economic background or neurodevelopmental condition. This number rose to 55% for women, 56% for LGBTQ+ respondents and 61% for Black respondents.

When asked why they had left or wanted to leave a tech role, employees most often cited the lack of a sense of belonging (20%). Young Black professionals were the least positive (47%) about their experiences.  Given the tools and environment to succeed, however, more than half (53%) of Gen Z professionals currently working in tech said they aspire to one day be in a senior leadership position, including 57% of women compared with 49% of men.

Recruiting diverse talent a challenge 

The tech industry is still struggling to recruit and retain talent from myriad backgrounds. Nearly 70% of business leaders said they struggle to recruit Black, Hispanic or Latino/a/e, Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) and other historically underrepresented talent at every organizational level—including entry-level talent (39%), mid-level talent (28%) and senior-level talent (18%)—while 43% said the same about retaining their historically underrepresented employees.

This challenge is well recognized by most organizations. Sixty-one percent of business leaders are aware of a continuing lack of diversity on their tech teams, with 37% noticing a lack of gender diversity, 32% a lack of ethnic and racial diversity, 27% a lack of socio-economic diversity and 16% a lack of neurodiversity.

“With a growing awareness of the tech industry’s lack of diversity comes a growing responsibility to finally address it,” said Todd Zipper, Wiley’s executive vice president and general manager of University Services and Talent Development.

Archana Jayaraj, Director, Partnerships and Talent, APAC, Wiley Edge, said, "While there are many opportunities for entry-level talent in the tech sector, the report indicates the need for sustained efforts to create a more equitable workforce.”  

Greater awareness of tech-career pathways essential

Only 23% of 18-24-year-olds who are currently not working in the tech sector believe it offers excellent career opportunities, with almost the same percentage feeling that tech careers are among the most future-proof. 

Thirty-nine percent of respondents said they either did not have, or did not know how to get, the correct  qualifications in order to pursue a career in tech. In fact, not having the right qualifications was the top-ranked choice among Hispanic or Latino/a/e (25%), white (25%) and Black (17%) respondents. 

Women (23%) were more likely than men (15%) to say they weren’t good at math and science, which deterred them from pursuing a tech career.

Small talent pool limiting hiring efforts

39% business leaders said they struggle to recruit entry-level employees. A whopping 45% admitted they are more likely to hire, even exclusively hire, graduates from top-ranked universities. This has made the process of filling entry-level tech roles more difficult. 

79% of businesses that recruit exclusively from top-ranked universities said they struggle to recruit entry-level software developers. Additionally, 77% business leaders said they try to develop employees internally when they need to fill senior tech positions.

Value of diversity initiatives not fully acknowledged yet

Almost a third (31%) of businesses are still failing to collect the relevant workforce demographic data. Also, only half (49%) of the business have a mentorship program to support the personal as well as professional development of Gen Z employees. Additionally, only 38% utilize employee resource groups aimed at fostering an inclusive workplace.

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