Newsletter and Subscription Sign Up

Tech Workers Hit 72,000 But Lack Diversity

Published Thursday Aug 5, 2021

Author Matthew J. Mowry

Despite the pandemic, the NH tech industry mostly held its own, losing only 209 tech jobs between 2019 and 2020. And the future looks good. According to a CompTIA “Cyberstates 2021” report, NH will not only recover but add 1,406 tech jobs in 2021.

More than 5,000 technology firms contribute $11.2 billion or 13.8% to the NH economy, reports CompTIA, a nonprofit trade association for the tech industry.

At the end of 2020, NH’s tech employment totaled 71,912 or 10.3% of the state’s overall workforce. The only other New England state with a higher concentration of tech workers is Massachusetts (12.1%).  

“The state has seen a huge wave of talent moving here. They want the quality of life New Hampshire has to offer,” says Julie Demers, executive director of the NH Tech Alliance. Once here, these are also workers who pump money into the economy. Tech workers in NH earn an estimated median wage of $85,935, which is 82% higher than the median wage for all occupations in the state, reports CompTIA.

That report also shows NH’s leading tech sectors are tech manufacturing (16,403 employed, down 1.5%); IT and custom software services (14,862, up 1.8%); engineering, R&D and testing (7,990, up 1.6%); telecom and internet services (5,669, down 0.1%); and software (3,773, up 3.1%).

The leading tech jobs in NH are software programmers, web and QA (11,558, up 0.5%); cybersecurity, systems analysts and engineers (3,470, up 0.1%); network administration, architects and support (3,278, down 0.7%); IT support specialists (3,186, down 0.3%); and database and data scientists (642, up 0.7%).

Lack of Diversity
But, while the CompTIA report shows NH’s tech industry doing well, it also reveals a lack of diversity. Per CompTIA, women account for 26% of NH’s tech workforce, the same as the national percentage, but well below the percent of women in the workforce. In NH, women account for 50% of all workers.

Blacks or African Americans make up only 1% of the state’s tech workforce even though they account for 2% of the state’s workforce. Representation of Hispanics or Latinos in the tech workforce is only slightly better at 2%, again below their 5% share of NH’s overall workforce.

Demers says the lack of diversity underscores the importance of hiring and retention practices. “We need to improve the representation of people of color in the tech workforce,” says Geno Miller, co-founder and CEO of Shtudy, a Manchester-based firm that screens software engineers of color, coaches them and then matches them with tech recruiters at Fortune 500 companies and high-growth startups.

Demers says the days of businesspeople blaming the state’s demographics for the lack of diversity in their own workforces are over. “That is not an acceptable answer,” she says.

Miller says there’s no shortage of qualified candidates of color, adding there is increased demand for his firm’s services, which has a waiting list of companies searching for diverse candidates through 2022. “We’re seeing a huge increase in the number of candidates coming to us to work at the companies and employers who are genuinely trying to improve diversity and equity in their workforce for the long term.”

Miller says more NH business leaders are open to increasing diversity though they don’t know how to make that happen. He says while businesses want to diversify, some may not care enough “to do their own research or remove unconscious biases in their workplace.”

Demers says some Alliance members report recruiting diverse talent is challenging. Her response is that companies should examine their cultures to ensure they are welcoming before starting the hiring process. That can include creating employee resource groups aimed at supporting and connecting employees of color, Miller says.

Miller says candidates of color will look at a company’s leaders to see if there’s diversity. “If not, they know there is only so much growth in the organization for them,” he says. “Bring in qualified people of color who can thrive in those roles. From there, people will be surprised how fast more diverse candidates will flow into their organizations.”

If a candidate is the first person of color at the company, Miller says it behooves the company to ensure the candidate is comfortable with that as there may be cultural barriers. “I’ve spoken to candidates who are perfectly fine going into an organization as one of the only or few people of color on that team,” he says.

Miller recommends recruiters look at historically black colleges and universities and reach out to different coding boot camps and tech programs that specifically cater to qualifying tech talent of color. “That needs to be a priority,” he says.

 Tech companies can also do a better job partnering with educational institutions. “The digital divide is a real thing.

Technology gets to underserved communities a lot slower than to white communities or affluent communities,” Miller says.

“Because of that, people of color are just getting into tech majors in college.”

Demers says the Alliance is taking the lack of diversity to heart and established a charitable foundation last summer. It’s first project is raising $200,000 to fund a full-time diversity, equity and inclusion officer, and she hopes to hire that person this summer.

All Stories