Diversity initiatives, AI-driven tools and even a Chrome extension to impede recruitment bias have cropped up in recent months to encourage more diversity within the technology industry—a sector with a reputation marred by a lack of racial and gender-diverse workforces.
Now Interactive Ontario is targeting the interactive digital media (IDM) industry, launching a diversity and inclusion toolkit for IDM companies looking to enhance their talent management strategies. The report by the non-profit industry trade association was created in partnership with Ubisoft, Ontario Media Development Corporation, the Canada Media Fund, and the Humber College School of Media Studies and Information Technology.
The actionable advice and strategies are tailored to the unique needs of the IDM sector with the goal of empowering industry leaders with the guidance they need to attract and retain talent from diverse backgrounds—necessary to keep pace with the growing demand for skilled workers.
It’s projected that Canada will have a skills shortage of 2.3 million people by 2031, the report reads, something that’s worrying for the high-growth IDM sector that’s seeing an increase in skilled talent needs. Interactive Ontario represents 330 IDM companies of varying sizes in Ontario including those that produce video games, VR and AR, mobile apps and e-learning tools.
“One important strategy to help meet those needs is to reach out to underserved communities in recruitment and to learn how to be a more inclusive workplace to ensure that all employees feel able to reach their potential,” the report states.
There currently isn’t any in-depth data that reflects the degree of diversity within Ontario’s IDM industry, but anecdotal evidence and surface-level reports suggest the sector lags in diversity. Interactive Ontario’s recent Measuring Success report found that women account for just 25 per cent of sector employees.
Perhaps more surprising is that 20 per cent of companies don’t have any female workers. The report addresses the challenges of obtaining credible stats about both the industry and post-secondary programs that feed young talent into the IDM workforce.
“It is therefore impossible to measure the extent to which the available talent pool or talent pipeline is diverse enough to meet diversity goals and whether there are certain institutions or programs that may be doing a better job at recruitment than others.”
Recruiting a more diverse team isn’t just a good look for the IDM industry, but will allow companies to reach new audiences from underrepresented communities.
Last week, Ryerson University released a report on boosting diversity in STEM disciplines, detailing next steps for companies that want to pursue evidence-based and data-driven programming.