Why D&I is the key to better infrastructure and operations teams

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“Why should an I&O leader care about diversity and inclusion? [D&I]? Why do you have to participate at all? What use will that be for you? “

The answer to those questions, according to Vice President and Gartner Fellow Debra Logan, is building better infrastructure and operations (I&O) teams.

“I’m not asking you to have faith,” she said. “I’m not asking you to do it for non-business reasons. I am not asking you to do it because someone else told you to, or because you think it is the right thing to do. I want you to do it because it will solve the problems that keep you up at night. “

Talk to the last one Gartner IT Infrastructure, Operations & Cloud Strategies Conference, she said that creating diverse and inclusive teams can lead to a more productive, agile, resilient, and better suited workforce for the digital transformation required of I&O than a homogeneous team would be.

The need for agility and resilience is a common topic in IT. For I&O teams, agile technology initiatives include just-in-time infrastructure, more integrated management and monitoring tools, and composable systems (some of the top Gartner trends that will impact I&O in 2022).

Meanwhile, according to Gartner survey participants, the top three challenges facing I&O teams are insufficient skills and resources, technical debt, and facilitating culture change.

“You face a number of challenges, including attracting and retaining talent, driving innovation, and changing the I&O culture. These problems are complex and ubiquitous, ”Logan said.

There is no easy solution to these challenges, but prioritizing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) is key to success.

“Diversity, equity and inclusion programs can help you address some of the most important issues – talent shortages, innovation bottlenecks and resistance to change. That way, you can acquire new career-enhancing skills and become resilient and adaptable to put together the I&O teams you need for the future, ”said Logan.

The diversity problem in IT

IT has a reputation for lacking diversity, and Logan shared some stats.

In 1984, 37 percent of graduates with a technology or data-related degree were women. By 2018 that number had dropped to 19 percent. By comparison, nearly 50 percent of medical and law students are women, Logan said.

“The gender balance in IT just kept deteriorating while overall employment in ICT – information and communication technology – exploded,” said Logan.

Many minority groups are also still underrepresented in IT. The numbers are more complicated; some minorities are underrepresented, but others are not. “It depends very much on geography,” said Logan.

Specifically for I&O, the numbers show that the lack of gender diversity is omnipresent.

“Right now, 86 percent of your I&O colleagues are men … and 80 percent of your colleagues are over 45,” Logan said. “In an industry and a profession known for a lack of diversity, I&O actually stands out above average,” said Logan. “You work in a monoculture”

The disadvantages of monoculture farming – growing only one crop – include a higher susceptibility to pests, diseases and weather disturbances, and there are parallels in IT. “The problems with monocultures are that they are not adaptable and not resilient. In other words, monocultures are fragile, ”Logan said.

That has to change so that I&O can adapt to unpredictable and changing conditions, Logan said. “You have to become resilient enough to withstand the actual and metaphysical storms of the modern world.”

The three biggest challenges for I&O teams

The shortage of skilled workers continues to escalate across IT. Today, 40 percent of people in tech-related jobs are looking for jobs, and they have many options, Logan said.

“If you keep looking where you’ve always been looking for talent – the same profiles and job descriptions you’ve always had, using the same processes – nothing will change. In fact, you’re going to lose ground, ”Logan said. “You will have many vacancies.”

Recruitment and retention – the biggest problem facing I&O teams according to Gartner’s data – will benefit from DEI, Logan said.

In a PwC study, CEOs worldwide reported that a diverse and inclusive organization improved retention rates by 18 percent. Ninety percent of CEOs said DEI programs help them attract top talent, 85 percent said they improved business performance, and 78 percent reported improvements in innovation and new offerings.

The battle to manage technical debt – another of the top three challenges facing I&O teams – will also suffer from a homogeneous workforce. The burden of outdated infrastructures affects not only future IT investments, but also human resource development.

“I&O executives need to get rid of technical debt in order to free resources to innovate,” said Logan. “Technical debt does not allow for cultural agility. It’s like an anchor that holds you tight. Technical debt and the promotion of innovation and change are inversely related. “

Finally, the third biggest challenge facing I&O leaders – promoting cultural change – can benefit from a more diverse and inclusive workforce.

“Culture change requires different ideas and different behaviors … DEI programs are one of the best ways to change culture,” said Logan. “Our 20-year data shows a positive correlation between different types of diversity – gender, ethnicity, mindset, skills, disability – and superior business and IT performance.”

How to Practice Diversity, Justice and Inclusion

Logan shared a number of mindsets and behavior changes that I&O leaders can adopt to make DEI easier.

It starts with learning the DEI language and realizing the sensitivity of the subject, which makes using the correct vocabulary even more important.

“Participation in the DEI conversation requires a common understanding of the DEI language. I had to learn everything, and I’m still learning, ”Logan said. “You can also learn and take your first steps to have the safe and civilized conversations that will make this a success.”

Read more on the next page …



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