- Black technology workers face professional barriers that lead to shorter average tenures than technology workers of other racial backgrounds, according to a recent report by executive search firm Russell Reynolds Associates.
- Russell Reynolds found that Black tech workers moved between employers every 3.5 years in order to advance, whereas non-Black tech workers did the same every 5.1 years on average. The firm surveyed nearly 400 workers, 307 of whom identified as Black and 71 of whom identified as either White or Caucasian; East or South Asian; or non-Black Hispanic or Latino.
- The difference was even more pronounced in workers with less than 10 years of experience, with Black workers leaving after an average of two years and non-Black workers doing so after an average of 4.5 years. Early-career Black tech talent may have less insight into the practical considerations of moving up the ladder, Russell Reynolds said, particularly with respect to networking.
Barriers to advancement continue and morph beyond Black tech workers' early career years, according to the report. For example, Black respondents with 10 to 20 years of experience in the industry cited higher dissatisfaction with employers' performance evaluation process compared to their non-Black peers.
That translated to even more negative experiences for Black respondents, according to Russell Reynolds. The firm found that only 29% of Black talent with 10 to 20 years of tech experience were satisfied with the equality of their pay and organizational recognition, compared to 47% of non-Black talent.
Racial pay inequity has borne out in the broader market, according to job search platform Hired. The company's 2021 Impact Report found 2020 wages for Black job candidates were 4% lower than the baseline for that year. It also observed a disparity in how pay gaps are resolved; while White employees received a salary increase after surfacing a discrepancy 28% of the time, Black employees received such increases 20% of the time and Hispanic employees received such increases 15% of the time.
Additionally, midcareer Black tech workers were promoted almost half as often as their non-Black counterparts, Russell Reynolds said.
Meanwhile, Black tech professionals with more than 20 years of experience were more likely to miss out on key experiences that would help them advance their careers, the firm continued. While 88% of non-Black tech workers with more than 20 years of experience had led major company initiatives, 61% of Black tech workers with equivalent experience said the same. Nearly 1 in 4 of this Black tech worker contingent said they did not believe they would have such opportunities.
That is not to mention the various other biases Black professionals encounter during their careers. A 2021 report by social network Fishbowl and Living Corporate found that more than half of Black professionals working in certain industries — including tech — had felt pressure to change aspects of their behavior or appearance.
Employers seeking to improve diversity, equity and inclusion within their talent operations will need to do their own part in building better network capabilities, according to sources who previously spoke to HR Dive. Existing talent pools may lack diversity themselves, and recruiters also may need to expand their personal networks in order to better include underrepresented groups.