A new report from Uptime Institute drives home the importance of data center workforce diversity – finding companies that commit to diverse and inclusive workplaces have more effective employee-ambassador recruitment, higher employee retention rates, and better employee career satisfaction scores.

The report specifically zeroes in on the role women can play in the data center workforce. While the majority of data centers surveyed – 75 percent – have women in design, build, or ops roles, women typically make up less than five percent of overall staff. Uptime Institute points out that women comprise 47 percent of the overall workforce – driving home the dearth of women in the data center field.

On top of the lack of women in the workforce, Uptime Institute found that only one in four data centers have any initiatives in place to recruit more women. Though there is currently not a significant push to bring more women into the workforce, 40 percent of data managers surveyed said increasing the number of women on their staff represents an “opportunity.”

In terms of why data centers should focus on increasing workforce diversity, Uptime Institute drove home the benefits – better, faster decision making; more innovation and less groupthink; and greater productivity and higher financial performance.

On top of needing to improve diversity, the data center industry overall is struggling to fill jobs. The report finds that 50 percent of data center managers are struggling to fill open positions. Data centers are by no means alone in facing a workforce shortage. Across the IT industry, there is an ongoing skills gap, impacting industries from cybersecurity, broadband, and artificial intelligence, among others.

Additionally, the lack of gender diversity is pervasive across many IT sectors. If organizations, both private and public, can close the gender divide, they could experience a financial windfall. A March 2020 report analyzing the gender divide in cybersecurity found that achieving equal workforce representation between men and women would add $30.4 billion to the U.S. economy. The report, from Tessian, also found that closing the gender pay gap would add an additional $12.7 billion.

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk's Assistant Copy & Production Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.