In the tech industry there is no question that there are huge advances in technology and efficiencies each and every day. Even the general public is joining the conversation around data and how it is collected and shared across companies. In an age of so much development, there is still a major issue in the tech industry that many companies are simply not doing enough about—diversity.
Why is diversity important?
One simple word: perspective. The industry, as a whole, skews towards men, especially the more you look at positions of influence and power. While not to discredit any of these men’s achievement and hard work, it’s also reasonable to assume that a room of people with a similar socio-economic background have a similar view on the world which is shaped by their upbringing and experience of life to date. You may ask yourself, “Well, so what?” This present lack of diversity can lead to business missteps such as the infamous Kendell Jenner PEPSI commercial or the large microscope Uber found itself under sexism allegations.
These problems can be avoided but building a team of diverse members is easier said than done. When looking at the tech industry we can look at statistics to things as simple as wage discrepancy:
- Female software engineers receive 83% of the salary to that of males with the same title.
- Across all races male workers earn more than their female counterparts in the same position.
- For every 100 women who are promoted in corporate settings, 130 men are promoted.
- Resumes with African-American sounding names are 50% less likely to receive a call back.
These are just a few of the stats that help illustrate the obstacles that women and people of color face in the tech industry. Fighting against the perception of an entire gender or race is often a heavy burden that will leave many workers in stagnant positions.
How can the tech industry do better?
With systemic issues within the industry, we have to look at the procedures that we are a part of that allows for this lack of diversity.
- Access your companies hiring practices. Are you limiting your recruitment to top ranking universities who also have a large discrepancy in ethnicities?
- Open up recruitment efforts to universities with a more diverse student base. Are you selling a company culture to candidates that could be viewed as isolating or threatening?
- Re-evaluate how your company culture could be feeding into a “boys club” mentality, and actively seek to find other outlets for an enjoyable work environment.
- Use available tools to gauge fair compensation across job titles and skills at your organization to ensure gender and ethnicity aren’t playing a factor into your payment practices.
Examples of Diversity
Companies such Apple and Twitter are just a couple in the industry that are beginning to re-evaluate their processes and how they are resulting in a lack of diversity. Proving that even some of the largest corporations in the world are dealing with these issues. Many of these companies have taken the first steps to fixing a rising problem, such as:
- Apple recently hired a new head of diversity to help combat the fact that only 31% percent of their employees are female, which lead to more than half of their new hires in 2016-2017 being from a minority group.
- Twitter has made it a mission to broaden diversity among its employees by setting two-year goals and releasing diversity reports yearly to hold themselves accountable, as well as starting an internal program called #GrowTogether which encourages staff to pledge a personal commitment to inclusion.
While these are great first steps, accountability to follow through with your company’s diversity goal is what will make lasting change.
As an industry, we should be fostering the minds of those unlike ourselves, as they offer a perspective that we cannot often see, and when working together and building up all workers we can often exceed our expectations as a collective and the innovations that could result will be worth sharing a seat at the table.
If you’re looking for ways you can take action in your business to improve skewed hiring practices check out some of these online resources.
Z A C H A R I A H C H R I S T E N S E N – M O H A M M E D
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