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Why we must diversify the Tech Industry?

As we think about the present intensity around diversity and inclusion in all areas of our lives, the Tech Industry had to do some real soul searching to determine which side of the fence it sits. Unfortunately, we found that, according to Wired.com, Black, Latinx, and Native tech professionals make up less than 5% of the workforce at major tech companies.

What does this mean to you?

Well, it means that 95% of the tech ideas, products, etc. are coming from only one sector of the
population. Not only that, but most of the algorithms, mega data, and other tools designed to provide you with information, when you type your search into the major search engines, comes from the perspectives, agendas, and experiences of individuals that do not reflect the interests of those that make up the rest of the community.

This is crucially important. Why? Because when you search for answers, you expect an objective
response; and most likely, you’re not getting it. According to Dr. Umoja, author of Algorithms of Oppression, search engines are not providing an equal playing field for all forms of ideas, identities, and activities. She explores the phenomena of data discrimination and argues that the combination of private interests in promoting certain sites, along with the monopoly status of a relatively small number of Internet search engines, leads to a biased set of search algorithms that privilege whiteness and discriminate against people of color, specifically women of color.

What can be done? We can diversify the Tech Industry!

One of the first things that can be done is to take a hard look at the workforce at major tech companies, from top to bottom. Does the company have a diverse Leadership Team, Research and Development Team, Creative Team, Coding and Programming Team, Administrative Team, etc.? If so, they are well on their way to balancing the idea generation and execution in their companies. If not, there needs to be a shift that levels the playing field appropriately and creates an atmosphere of inclusion and equity.

How does this benefit the Tech Companies and Industry as a whole?

Even before diversity and inclusion became a buzz word and folks were moved into roles aimed at exploring the issues and recommending changes, the Forbes Technology Council (an invitation-only community for world-class CIOs, CTOs, and Technology Executives) explored the lack of diversity in the industry and came up with 12 benefits of a change:

  1. The Right Solutions: The value of diverse teams goes well beyond the obvious sentiment that inclusion is the right thing to do. The diversity of thought is crucial in coming up with the right solutions to business challenges, customer success and creative thinking.
  2. Best Ideas Rule the Day: Simply put, diversity is how we ensure the best ideas rule the day.
  3. Solve Problems Faster: Innovation is crucial for any tech company and diversity plays a significant role in this. A company is much more likely to experience innovative change with a diverse team as they have an array of different
    knowledge bases. Diverse teams provide different perspectives and new ways of seeing a problem.
  4. Build A Product For Everyone: Diversity isn’t just about race or gender. It’s about background, perspective, age, education and so much more.
  5. Increased Creativity: Teams need to be innovative to be truly valuable today. Innovation happens when teams challenge the status quo, look beyond the obvious and work creatively.
  6. Connect With Customers: Ultimately, it goes back to customer-centricity. The audience for our software is widely diverse, so why wouldn’t we want our team to reflect that level of diversity as well?
  7. Increased Profits: Analysis of a global survey suggests that the more gender diversity there is in a company, the higher the performance and the higher the financial results. In fact, it was proven that it is simply good for your
    business.
  8. People Grow Faster: Value to tech team diversity is no different than diversity for any other team in that it makes for better overall people. The advantage for tech versus other industries is speed.
  9. Expand The Borders: Diverse teams who work cohesively encourage new ways of thinking and problem solving, which naturally enhances creativity and the ability to overcome challenges.
  10. Different Work Styles: There are so many different ways of working that can be incorporated just by making your team more diverse.
  11. A Better Product: Diversity in your team is important to have a complete product that attracts many customers.
  12. Culture of Diversity: Diversity in tech is all about building great company culture.

Finally, a proven way to develop, foster, and promote diversity in the Tech Industry is to create
partnerships and collaborations between the Tech Giants and organizations that represent the
communities that have been historically left out of the mix. This will increase the effectiveness of
their diversity and inclusion plans by learning and applying that learning to the Tech Industry of the
future.

How? Develop a a pipeline of new tech professionals through active recruitment from HBCUs,
Apprenticeship Programs, and other sources where they are being trained and groomed for
immediate impact.

Here are a few to get you started:
Workforce Impact Network (workforceimpactnetwork.com) is a collaboration of workforce
professionals that are focused on bridging the talent and diversity gaps by adopting the time-tested
model of apprenticeship to meet evolving workforce needs.
BDPA (bdpa.org) is a premier organization focused on nurturing and developing diverse working
professionals and future IT leaders in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) and all
digital technology fields.

Reboot Representation (rebootrepresentation.org) is a coalition of tech companies committed to
doubling the number of Black, Latina, and Native American women receiving computing degrees by
2025.

Black Girls Code (blackgirlscode.org) is a San Francisco-based non-profit dedicated to increasing the
number of women of color in STEM by introducing girls ages 7-17 to computer science and technology.
Re:work Training (reworktraining.org) is a Chicago-based organization that creates workspaces that
reflected the city’s diverse communities. The organization aims to reshape hiring trends and empower
untapped talent to jump start their career in the tech industry by providing free training.
Code2040 (code2040.org) is a nonprofit dedicated to achieving racial equity in the tech industry. The
organization focuses on connecting early-career Black and Latinx tech talent with a network of
companies, mentors, and peers.

Dev/Color (devcolor.org) is a is a nonprofit dedicated to achieving racial equity in the tech industry. The
organization focuses on connecting early-career Black and Latinx tech talent with a network of
companies, mentors, and peers.

Blacks in Technology (blacksintechnology.net) is now the largest global community and media
organization dedicated to increasing the representation of Black people in the tech industry.

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