Why do women, minorities leave tech companies? 4 study insights

A new study by the Kapor Center for Social Impact explores what fuels voluntary turnover in the technology industry.

For the national study — partially funded by the Ford Foundation — Harris Poll surveyed 2,006 U.S. adults who left a technology job within the last three years.

Here are the researchers' four main takeaways.

1. Among respondents of all backgrounds, "unfairness" was the most frequently cited reason for quitting. Thirty-seven percent of respondents said unfair treatment or mistreatment in the workplace was a major factor in their decision to leave their job. Underrepresented men of color were most likely to leave due to unfair treatment (40 percent) out of all minority groups surveyed.

2. Unfair experiences differed across demographic groups. Although 78 percent of all employees reported experiencing unfair treatment, these experiences varied by race, gender and sexual orientation. One in 10 women, for example, reported receiving unwanted sexual attention. In general, stereotyping and bullying were associated with shorter length of employment.

3. This turnover has a financial impact. When considering the percentage of technology employees who leave due to unfair treatment, tech companies lose an estimated $16 billion each year in workforce replacement costs. Moreover, 25 percent of respondents said they would be less likely to recommend others use products and services from their former employer.

4. A comprehensive diversity strategy can reduce turnover. Companies with a comprehensive diversity and inclusion strategy in place — rather than a single, one-off initiative — had less unfair treatment than other workplaces. Sixty-two percent of employees said they would have stayed at their company if leaders had taken additional steps to create a respectful work environment.

Click here to view the full report.

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