Why diversity in tech is important?
The tech industry has been growing every year. As time passes, the demands for diversity and inclusion within the field have become less of a suggestion and more of an expectation when looking at candidates. The overall workforce is still too homogenous, leaving women feeling like they don’t belong or that being a minority means you’re not good enough. Change needs to happen-and it starts with the people in positions of power who will help bring these changes about.
Why diversity matters
Diversity fuels innovation and helps companies remain competitive globally. Incorporating different perspectives into various aspects of business-therefore approaching problems from unique vantage points–can create solutions that would never be generated had everyone thought alike. In fact, there’s evidence that teams with a diverse mix of intelligences outperform homogenous teams.
Diversity in the workforce
In recent years, there’s been a great deal of attention given to promoting diversity and inclusion within tech companies. Despite this aspect being at the forefront of many verbal proclamations from those in power positions, only 22% of people working within tech are women, and Asians account for 30% of employees while representing less than 17% of the U.S. population.
People belonging to different ethnicities or have differing religious beliefs feel that their ideas aren’t considered as valuable as they should be because management isn’t interested in reaching beyond their small world view-and ignoring differences can limit people’s potential contributions to an organization trying to reach its highest potential.
Supporting a culture of innovation
There’s not one “magic bullet” to achieve diversity and inclusion. Several approaches may be needed, including:
- Enacting hiring practices that eliminate unconscious bias;
- Encouraging mindsets that embrace difference so everyone feels included; and
- Providing opportunities for people from different backgrounds to collaborate on key projects. Without a culture where innovation can flourish-so all contributions are welcome–a company will never reach its full potential. Diversity isn’t just about race or gender; it involves welcoming every perspective as a way to spark new ideas.
Leveraging diversity & inclusion across the organization
Most companies want diversity and inclusion initiatives focused primarily within one function or area; however, multicultural awareness should be embedded throughout an organization so everyone works together seamlessly-enabling them to offer more creative solutions while increasing employee satisfaction.
Like any other change initiative, building a solid foundation for diversity will require considerable effort and continued attention as you move forward. You’ll need everyone involved with these efforts-not just the people in power positions–to work with you toward making this happen.
Promoting diversity & inclusion throughout the organization
When promoting diversity and inclusion within an organization, leaders need to recognize that they can’t rely solely on HR or other team members responsible for tracking organizational progress. To see continuous improvement, all people within an organization-not just those in senior roles-must recognize that this is important work and are committed to helping you achieve your objectives. Encourage them to help spread awareness about the importance of multiculturalism throughout their teams so everyone feels like part of a cohesive whole.
Encouraging social mobility
Having a workforce that reflects the people your organization serves and supports is integral to having a sustainable culture of inclusion. What’s needed are opportunities for everyone in an organization-regardless of their station or level of power–to advance throughout the ranks based on their own merits. That conversation is for another day, though. Today I want to talk about why diversity in tech matters to the people building and running businesses.
Different backgrounds, experiences, and even outlooks lead to creative solutions. The more varied a group is in terms of its makeup-in terms of race, gender, education level, socio-economic background–the broader the array of perspectives presented. Different backgrounds result in different challenges and opportunities that can be leveraged to solve problems differently or create new products. Yet companies are still overwhelmingly white and male; 78% actually as employees (only 17% of executives), as well as in leadership roles (only 16%).
Breaking down barriers to entry
Research from Harvard Business School points out that “companies in industries where the percentage of female managers is relatively high are more likely to experience above-average annualized return on equity than those with a lower percentage.” So it’s no surprise that companies that incorporate diversity into their hiring practices have higher returns and overall financial performance, as well as better stock performance.
That’s not just good news for investors but also employees who share in those profits. You don’t hear much about the business case for diversity, though right? Typically it gets lumped into talking about social justice and benefits to society at large instead. But when we look at these numbers there’s something to be said for the fact that it’s the business case-as well as how important diversity is to maintaining a vibrant, productive workplace.
Expanding horizons, markets, and opportunities
Diversity is important because it gives us access to a wider range of experiences than our own that comes with different ways of doing things. It enables us to reimagine how products look as well as what they can be used for. More people from different backgrounds also opens doors to new markets.
For decades African Americans have complained about the lack of presence in mainstream media but didn’t see an opportunity themselves until Tyler Perry made his first film . Many Asian Americans complain about their absence in widely distributed films such as The Fast and the Furious or Transformers so we didn’t see a movie with an Asian American lead until Justin Lin took the helm of Hollywood’s highest grossing film in 2015. Diversity brings opportunity; that’s what makes it important to business.
Recognize the importance of d&i
D&I should be top-of-mind for every leader, regardless of his or her role in the company. When starting out as a new member of the management team, find ways to be a visible ally in this effort and encourage others to engage by offering them opportunities to use their unique perspectives to further this cause.
Ensure everyone-including high performers, those on leadership development paths, and even interns–understands how critical it is for the organization’s success that they work together toward achieving these objectives. The more everyone becomes aware of the vital need for diversity and inclusion, the easier it will be for you as a leader or manager to adopt policies aimed at making your organization successful.
To conclude, Diversity and Inclusion go hand in hand. Anytime you have one without the other, it’s not working to its full potential; it’s also a lot less fun!
We’re all human so we’ll always face challenges in our lives that will challenge us as individuals or teams but we can grow by using those challenges for positive growth, thus creating better products and businesses.
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