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What's with the Deep Tech Diversity Gap?

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What's with the Deep Tech Diversity Gap?

Where are all the missing Deep Tech candidates? The industry’s pioneers are facing off against a global talent crunch, and while a focus on diversity provides a fix, the challenge runs deeper – traditional recruitment methods often rely on established networks to reach talent, limiting access to diverse candidate pools.  

Broadening this talent pool through alternative search methodologies is critical to both technological and industry progress. The question is, how do we do it?

The Situation

Deep Tech employers everywhere have found themselves in a precarious position. Between a shrinking global economy, skill shortages, a highly competitive landscape, tight project deadlines, and (often) a lack of access to funding, hiring managers have their work cut out.

That said, it didn’t stop 2023 from being the year of Deep Tech innovation, and 2024 is shaping up to follow suit – talent will be a key battleground for ambitious startups and multinational giants alike. Given the current shape of the talent market, specialist recruiters are well-placed to support industry growth.

Not everyone has the time or resources to perfect the candidate search, and yet they can’t afford to absorb the cost of a bad hire. In the UK, the average cost of a bad hire is estimated to be around £105,000. In Deep Tech, where salaries are typically high (comparable to national averages), this cost can skyrocket.

On the candidate side of the coin, it’s worth noting that breaking into Deep Tech requires a strong foundation in STEM subjects. While a formal STEM education is traditionally seen as the launchpad for Deep Tech careers, there’s evidence to suggest that people from minority ethnic backgrounds, women, the LGBTQIA+ community, and those from low socio-economic backgrounds are underrepresented in STEM subjects.

This limited representation and accessibility at the early stages of professional development ultimately contributes to a lack of workforce diversity.

Searching for talent outside of the traditional academic parameters doesn’t mean sacrificing candidate quality, and nowadays, there have never been so many alternative routes for candidates to enter the industry.

Alternative Routes

Widening the lens of your candidate search means knowing how to target transferrable skills, hiring for coachability, and venturing beyond the standard channels. Here are a few examples of how candidates avoid the traditional route into Deep Tech:

  • Bootcamps and online learning platforms have come a long way in recent years, and they’re an incredibly popular choice for those wishing to make a pivot into the tech space. Code Institute are a prime example, check them out here: https://codeinstitute.net/

  • Open-source contributions are ideal for those wishing to build real-world engineering experience without needing a degree to prove their expertise. Deep Tech ventures often rely heavily on open-source projects, so it’s worth targeting candidates with demonstrable open-source contributions that apply to your specific tech stack.

  • Hackathons and Coding Challenges are platforms for individuals to showcase not only their technical skills but also their problem-solving prowess, entrepreneurialism and teamwork ability. Deep Tech employers can partner with hackathon initiatives to identify a broader talent pool.

  • Industry Mentorship Programmes are becoming ever more popular in light of a growing need to close skill gaps. Consider developing your own, it’s a great way to develop a future-proof workforce.

Building Inclusive Environments

To truly bridge the diversity gap in Deep Tech, organisations must cultivate more inclusive working environments.

From your employer brand proposition to the language on your job ads, inclusion shouldn’t be tacked on at the end, it should be woven into the DNA of your business.

Unconscious bias training, employee-led resource groups, targeted policies and benefits, specialised remuneration packages, mentorship programmes, flexible working arrangements, and perhaps most of all, buy-in from leadership are essential elements.

Building an inclusive working environment is a long-term project, and it requires a proactive approach.

Community-Led Deep Tech Recruitment

Here at DeepRec.ai, we’ve been using a community-led approach to recruitment since day one. By moving beyond transactional recruitment to build a diverse community of engaged and passionate candidates, we’ve been able to create an exclusive global talent pool. We’re here to connect that talent with Deep Tech innovators. Is that you?

Whether you’re hoping to build out an AI engineering function from the ground up, or you’re looking to make your first C-suite placement, our specialist Deep Tech recruitment consultants have you covered. Reach out to the team to find out more: https://www.deeprec.ai/contact-us