Tech companies are scrambling to make their business models recession-proof as stocks continue to dip and inflation rises.
Some have turned to cost-cutting measures, such as walking away from planned office space, to more drastic methods such as layoffs.
This could be the beginning of several disparities in the workplace, and those that will likely be most impacted are marginalized communities.
For years, the tech industry has made strides in bolstering diversity initiatives in terms of representation and enhanced no-discrimination policies. However, some within the sector are now worried that new cost-cutting strategies will come for diverse communities first.
There’s a reason for this, too. Historically, marginalized groups have been viewed as replaceable. This particularly impacts those working in lower-paid positions.
“A male engineer will get hired into a coding job, and a female engineer will be hired into a user interface job, where coding is seen as one of the most high-status positions,” said Sarah Kaplan, director of the Institute for Gender and the Economy at Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto.
“Even as companies have tried to make progress, that progress has not always been in the highest status and most highly compensated areas.”
For example, Amazon’s data shows that the most diverse portion of the company is also the lowest paid, such as their warehouse operations and customer support. This also impacts other areas of the tech industry that are perceived as not valuable, such as communications and marketing.
“Most of the time, you see BIPOC candidates being hired into the HR and recruitment space,” said Mimi Fox Melton, program director at nonprofit Code 2040. “But in a hiring freeze, you don’t need as many people recruiting candidates, so those people will face layoffs.”