Reskilling and Rehiring: Tapping Into Diverse Tech Sales Talent

  • 5 min read

The average American worker makes around $40,000 a year. The average American working in tech makes over 200% more.

Over the years, salaries in the tech industry have exploded. But the wealth that tech creates isn’t being distributed equally among every race, gender, and sexual orientation. 

It’s clear that the industry suffers from a severe diversity problem.

With COVID-19 causing millions to lose their jobs, and communities of color and black workers being disproportionately affected by the virus, now is the time to address the inequalities in tech and provide more lucrative pathways for underrepresented talent across industries. 

To bridge the gap, hiring managers need to assess the barriers to entry for candidates and uncover the roadblocks that have previously hindered them from building a more diverse workforce. Partnering with companies focused on diversity and inclusion can assist with this.

For jobseekers with nontraditional backgrounds who are trying to break into the industry, reskilling in tech sales, web programming, or some other skill, can present ample opportunities to learn at an affordable cost. 

Disproportionate Impact of COVID-19

The impact of the pandemic has brought increased awareness to the disparities between different social and economic classes. The fact of the matter is, covid-19 is exacerbating trends that were already present and people in underrepresented communities, especially communities of color across income levels, are being disproportionately impacted in various ways. 

They are more likely to hold ‘essential’ jobs that require them to be on the frontlines than someone with the option to safely work from home, thus increasing their risk of getting sick and being unable to work. BIPOC are also more likely to be in industries severely impacted by furloughs, layoffs, and business shutdowns, exacerbating an unequal opportunity for wealth distribution. Americans need pathways to reskill and pivot. Consider these data-based stats:

  • More than 1 in 6 black workers lost their jobs between February and April
    • “As of April, less than half of the adult black population was employed. While the economic devastation is widespread, as we show in this report, black workers are less able to weather such a storm because they have fewer earners in their families, lower incomes, and lower liquid wealth than white workers.”
  • Black households are substantially less likely to have a computer or internet access at home than white households
  • Black-owned businesses are a small share of overall business, but are most likely to be in industries impacted by COVID-19 shutdowns
  • Black Americans make up 12.5% of the U.S. population but account for 22.4% of COVID-19 deaths

What Companies Can Do to Take Action When Rehiring

While tech companies have long pledged to value diversity, the data proves otherwise. For example, it’s been six years since prominent tech companies put out their first diversity reports, but the reports show little progress in terms of diversity hiring and employee retention. 

Companies must play an active role in the reskilling and rehiring of diverse American workers to restore the health and integrity of the economy in a sustainable way. With the nature of hypergrowth in the tech industry, these companies have a unique opportunity to drive necessary change and set new precedents for diverse and inclusive leadership with their hiring decisions.

While many companies are waking up to this issue based on the existing social justice climate, data shows that building an inclusive brand is also better for business. Not only because these teams perform better, but because failing to be inclusive is becoming a liability as people increasingly want to invest in brands and companies with shared values.

The needle is moving, but the lack of diversity and gender equality within the historically male-dominated tech industry is still increasingly present, especially when examining leadership roles and considering the underwhelming amount of funding for female founders in 2019. So there is already a clear need to improve things at the highest leadership levels, but smaller companies can also start by building a diverse workforce from the bottom up.

At any rate, Microsoft Chairman John Thompson says, “If the leadership team of a company does not believe in diversity and inclusion, it’s certainly not going to trickle down and it’s not going to create the right pipeline for candidates to come into the company.” 

Hiring managers must reassess how they source, interview, and hire candidates. In this process, it’s important to look for and uncover your own hidden biases, question the status quo, and truly think about the skills and qualifications someone does or does not need to do their job successfully within the roles you’re hiring for. Is that qualification or college degree really necessary, or can the core skills required for success actually be transferrable or learned?

It’s important to measure what actually matters. This is no easy feat. Can this process lead to more work for hiring managers? Yes. But it can also offset the cost of poor retention and build a stronger business foundation for future growth.

Tech recruiters and new startup founders who can figure out how to tap into non-traditional talent pools will have a strategic advantage in terms of team building and long-term sustainable growth. 

Flockjay Tech Sales Bootcamp and Others Can Help Bridge Gap

At Flockjay, an online tech sales bootcamp, we’ve perfected a process for identifying individuals with latent sales talent that is usually overlooked by the traditional methods and training them to be elite sales reps. Flockjay was built on our mission of providing upward mobility and increased access to education for people from underrepresented communities and backgrounds. 

People who apply to Flockjay have the unique opportunity to improve their lives, careers, and economic situations by breaking into tech sales through an accessible program with options that require zero upfront tuition. Consider Raven Winchester, a Flockjay grad who more than doubled her salary this year and shared her unique reskilling success story in the SF Chronicle.

When a Flockjay Tech Fellow graduates from our 10-week program, they have mastered the skills to become an elite SDR at a tech company. Flockjay sales reps already have experience using Salesforce, Salesloft, and other sales tools while mastering inbound and outbound sales. 

They also hail from a variety of backgrounds and industries (such as hospitality) that boast transferable skills such as excellent communication, problem solving, organization, negotiation, teamwork, resilience, and grit. They are ready to grow their careers with your team.

Companies who partner with Flockjay for their sales hiring needs benefit from highly productive SDRs with a growth mindset who ramp faster and retain longer while strengthening the diversity and impact of your overall workforce.

Gabrielle Wathen

Gabrielle Wathen is the Content Marketing Manager at Flockjay, where she works closely with a diverse team of tech sales and educational experts to help organizations build diversity and inclusion into their DNA. With her passion for storytelling and professional backgrounds in journalism, marketing, and professional online communities, she supports Flockjay’s mission to support underrepresented talent and strives to help others succeed.

  • Originally published August 12, 2020, updated May 5, 2023