In this feature Marianne Calder, VP & MD for EMEA at Puppet shares her thoughts on using aptitude to identify and empower diverse young talent into the tech industry and what this means for the recruitment process.
Considering that today’s generation of young people has grown up in a society saturated with technology, it’s natural to assume that finding and recruiting young talent into business technology positions is fairly easy. However, with a shortage of role models, and outdated stereotypes, this can be harder than it looks. Finding a connection with a generation who take tech for granted is quite difficult, but also provides a great opportunity to change the way organisations go about hiring talent and could help in building a more diverse workforce.
Techs not just for coders
One of the crucial first steps is reaching young women at an early age, and get them exposed to the fact that the technology provides for a variety of roles. It is no longer about being the geek in the corner. Instead, technology is actually front and centre of every single digital transformation that our customers are driving, and that’s a key thing. At the same time, tech is behind some of the apps and innovations that young people use every day – like DePop, Spotify and Netflix. This means that you don’t just need to be a coder to appreciate tech – you can be a visionary, a creative, a salesperson, a communicator – there’s huge scope. We need to demonstrate to a diverse range of people that technology is exciting and hugely impactful – and anyone with an interest can play a role in the industry.
Once we’ve secured the interest of young women, it’s about finding a way to harness them as the talents they are, rather than looking for a stock skill set. A big part of diversifying the pipeline is shifting the recruitment focus to aptitude rather than just skills and taking advantage of the positive traits we know about Millennials and Generation Z. After all, skills can be learned, but talent and temperament are innate.
Look for aptitude teach the skills
In EMEA, where I serve as the Puppet VP across such a broad range of different countries and diversity levels, this is exceptionally important. You just have to look at the recent news around women being able to drive in Saudi Arabia to see the current state of diverse opportunities available to women to date, and the social changes that are underway. As more women become enabled to enter the workforce, we have to bear in mind that a traditional skill-based interview will be prohibitive for those already of working age who have not grown up with the educational opportunities that their younger counterparts may now get. However, it would be a huge loss for organisations to overlook the natural talents and knowledge of these women, who bring insight into a customer base that has been poorly represented by organisations to date.
To support this, whether it’s hiring an 18-year-old for their ability to embrace change, or re-integrating an experienced mother back into the workforce after her maternity leave, it all comes back to offering comprehensive, and on-going, mentorship and training. The technology industry moves incredibly fast, and the skills required for success change year-on-year. A comprehensive training program that helps employees succeed in this landscape is imperative, not just for providing opportunities to people who otherwise might not be equipped to succeed, but also for business success in enabling its workforce to be at the forefront of that change.
Mentors, role models and advocates
This change also doesn’t need to just happen at the business level, it needs to be across organisations. As a community, we need to provide the facilities for women of all backgrounds to come together and share experiences, mentorship and skills, and ensure that there are role models who represent all different ways of approaching balancing a career with a personal life. Everyone has their own roadmap of goals, and mentorship can help support in balancing priorities and pushing for success at the right times.
Young women who have a positive approach to change, as well as plenty of creativity, ambition and passion, have great potential to revolutionise businesses – and we shouldn’t let a lack of “traditional” skills stand in their way. Hiring for aptitude, rather than qualifications, is essential for achieving a truly varied HR pipeline, and a diverse set of ideas and backgrounds within an organisation.