With demand for data scientists far outstripping the available supply, the war for data talent is in full swing. This means companies must be extra conscious of how their specific employer brand is perceived by would-be hires if they hope to attract and retain top performers.
In order to ensure organizations are able to staff up to execute on their data-driven initiatives, firms must think critically about several key areas:
What attracts talent to their brand
Creating an inclusive work environment
A recent IBM study highlights just how dire the data talent hiring crunch is. Although the number of job openings for data scientists was expected to grow to 61,799 in 2020, that figure represents just 2 percent of the projected demand across job roles requiring data and analytics expertise.
In this post, we'll examine the growing importance of employer branding and how those efforts are helping organizations edge out the competition for finding and hiring top talent.
One challenge hiring organizations must overcome is the changing expectations of today’s data scientists. Candidates know they’re in high demand, so they’re in a position to insist that their day-to-day work be varied and interesting. Harvard Business Review writes, “Given that today’s most qualified prospects come from nonbusiness backgrounds, hiring managers may need to figure out how to paint an exciting picture of the potential for breakthroughs that their problems offer.”
Compensation is always a factor, but more and more often what data scientists really want is a seat at the table where they can be directly involved in the companies’ data challenges at the highest levels, according to HBR.
“Data scientists don’t do well on a short leash. They should have the freedom to experiment and explore possibilities.”
Microsoft is one company that’s invested a great deal in their employer brand and culture since Satya Nadella was elevated to CEO in 2014. Nadella recently had this to say about the culture Microsoft is working to develop:
"You join here, not to be cool, but to make others cool."
This ethos communicates the type of organization candidates can expect to join—one that cares about and prioritizes people. Microsoft understands the importance employer branding, going so far as to enumerate its company values right on its website for all incoming candidates to see:
Diversity & Inclusion
Corporate Social Responsibility
This set of values is especially attractive to would-be hires given today’s heightened concerns around data security following numerous high-profile data breaches at top internet companies like Facebook and others. It also positions Microsoft as a responsible global citizen that puts a premium on fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace, which have become strong differentiators for today’s socially-conscious data scientist job-seekers.
The events of the last year have catalyzed a national reckoning on systemic racism and the pervasive injustices faced by underrepresented groups. Many global corporations have responded by renewing efforts around increasing diversity and inclusion at all levels of their organizations.
These efforts matter deeply to today’s workers, particularly among Millennials and Generation X, who make up more than two-thirds of the U.S. labor force. According to ZipRecruiter, close to 90 percent of these workers say a company’s commitment to workplace diversity affects their decision to work there.
By committing to assembling teams that represent all races and gender identities, firms not only better position themselves to attract talent from younger generations, they also perform better. A recent McKinsey report shows that companies in the top quartile of workplace diversity are 33 percent more likely to financially outperform less-inclusive competitors.
The importance of good corporate citizenship and social impact was borne out in our recent white paper, Top 100 Dream Employers: Where Diverse STEM Talent Aspire To Work, which surveyed 8,394 students and working professionals from diverse backgrounds to get a pulse of their most-desired places to work. In the survey, dozens of impact-focused organizations made the list, including the United Nations, the World Bank, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, UNICEF, and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
Mentorship is a key component to creating more data science career opportunities for underrepresented groups, which is why it’s a cornerstone of ourData Science for Allprogram. Through the free fellowship program, aspiring data workers are given guidance and advice by career professionals, matching them to opportunities and helping them launch successful careers.
Mentorship not only helps organizations groom the next generation of data scientists, it forges meaningful and lasting relationships with the communities you hope to reach. In our Top 100 Dream Employers survey, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple were by far the top choices of respondents, with Google receiving an eye-popping 48.5 percent of votes by respondents. As some of the world’s biggest technology brands, these companies are leading by example when it comes to diversity and inclusion, and have made strides in recent years to level the playing field when it comes to pay equity and equal opportunities.