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Diversity In Tech: How to Challenge the Status Quo Successfully!

It is no secret that diversity and inclusion issues have plagued the tech industry from its inception. The homogeneity of the sector isn’t simply a surface problem anymore; it’s probably one of the main reasons why so many bigger problems in tech exist today! This has ramifications for equality, justice, and fairness and has caused catastrophic defects in the products produced by the industries’ market share leaders. Plainly speaking, the diversity of tech companies nowadays simply doesn’t reflect the variety of people in our world. For example, consider unfair facial recognition systems that worsen prejudice against people of color or virtual reality headsets that might make women queasy, a technology mostly created by and for men.

Is there potentially hope with new tech startups?

Well, it depends on the founders of the company as they set the tone for everyone else to follow. To succeed where the tech industry has failed in the past, DomainRooster introduced a bold set of diversity and inclusion goals and a robust way of achieving them which we feel is a significant action towards developing a more egalitarian world. This was etched into the bylaws of our organization from inception. One of the reasons why we implemented these is because, well firstly as a new tech startup we could. You see 68% of corporate executives report a lack of diversity in their tech workforce and we certainly did not want to be part of that statistic. Dean Jones, CEO of DomainRooster saw a unique opportunity to address the prevalent inclusion and diversity challenges facing the tech industry and, more specifically, semiconductor companies. Secondly, our leaders know firsthand from experience how it feels to be marginalized, and treated differently and unfairly because of one’s cultural background, sex, and or disability. So wanted to start as they meant to go on and at the same time lead by example. And thirdly, as a startup tech company we wholeheartedly believe that for organizations to remain competitive in the talent market and relevant to their customers, diversity in technology is crucial, not optional. You see, it is not only the moral thing to do to prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion, but it is also the new business imperative—vital for addressing the current tech talent crisis.

But what exactly is diversity and inclusion in tech?

In a nutshell, it’s about empowering people by respecting and appreciating what makes people different, in terms of age, gender, ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, education, and national origin which ultimately comes down to adding fresh perspectives to a historically homogeneous and frequently exclusive sector. The examination of these distinctions is made possible by diversity in a supportive, encouraging, and safe atmosphere. It entails going beyond simple tolerance to guarantee that individuals actually value one another’s diversity. This enables us to value diversity in the community and in the workplace while also embracing and celebrating the rich diversity that each individual possesses.

Recruitment biases

Hootsuite‘s Gabriela Jordão,  manager of diversity, equity, and inclusion, said: “Historically, there has not been enough of an impetus placed on honing a diverse approach to finding and retaining diverse talent. A major contributor of this is the geographic concentration of big tech.” It is wrong to assume that because someone does not speak good English, or can not articulate themselves as well as others that the person has nothing to offer. Understand that each employee at a company contributes a variety of viewpoints, professional and personal experience, as well as varying religious and cultural practices.

Window dressing or diversity now?

Dean Jones, CEO of tennerr has had the opportunity to lead world-renowned multi-million-pound projects in the United Kingdom for the Major of Policing and Crime MOPAC and The House of Commons and House of Lords at the Palace of Westminster. He noted that on every major project he has worked on, there has been a complete lack of diversity on the senior project steering committee and executive boards. With a variety of demographics and backgrounds being a vital factor in innovation, unfortunately, the project boards did not mirror the surrounding communities the projects were intended to benefit…!  Bluntly speaking, executive project boards routinely consisted of a group of middle-aged highly Intellectual people of a set class, status, and background directing significant national transformation projects and programs, on behalf of diverse multicultural communities they couldn’t possibly identify with on a level, so to speak…. So what you end up with, is public money being spent on end products that end up benefiting a certain group and or class of people more than others. Ethnic minorities always being the last priority and diversity treated as a tick box exercise. Kind of like dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s so to speak. Nobody really had any genuine interest. And if someone did, they were overruled.

A lack of role models

“According to a poll by cyber security company Kaspersky, performed earlier this year, only 19% of women in computing were motivated to pursue their career by a female role model, while 38% indicated that the dearth of females in the industry made them hesitant to pursue a career in IT.”
It was the same then, and it is the same now. ‘One of the most striking quotes that inspired many comes from Marian Wright Edelman, Founder and President of the Children’s Defense Fund: “You can’t be what you can’t see.” Though hyperbolic, Edelman’s quote touches on a key barrier to women in Computer Science: a dearth of strong role models. Without other women to look up to, many young women are self-selecting out of a technical career path before they even really give it a chance. Young people from underrepresented groups must be inspired by positive role models from an early age if they are to recognize technology as a viable alternative for their futures and be aware of their opportunities. What you cannot see, you cannot be.

So, um…. aren’t Google and Microsoft good at everything?

Well, apparently not when it comes to diversity and inclusion. Google published its job diversity statistics in 2014, and they were appalling. Unfortunately, things have not improved, since Women and people of color are largely underrepresented in tech today; according to Google, only 5.5% of new recruits in 2020 were Black+ (and only 6.6% were Latinx+) which is bad for business. Yes, see, a company’s ability to better understand its clients increase with a diversified workforce. Today’s consumers are beginning to have greater standards for goods and jobs that cater to their unique and varied requirements and preferences. Google knows this as they are probably the largest data collector on the planet. Employees, on the other hand, are starting to have higher expectations for workplaces that recognize the various perspectives, abilities, and experiences that people bring to the table and are inclusive of their requirements. Furthermore, diversity in the world is staggering. Our tech-based world cannot take full advantage of the range and richness of that diversity without diversity in technology. It’s impossible. And yet there are still many who are ignorant of this today.

Are big tech companies above diversity and inclusion?

There is no denying that men dominate in the tech sector, period. Statistics on diversity in tech demonstrate that women continue to be underrepresented and underpaid throughout the world. Only 25% of computer-related jobs are held by women, according to the Pew Research Center. Only 14% of the workforce in engineering is made up of women, an even lower representation.  So why is no one holding the market leaders accountable?  Well, perhaps it’s because they are so large, have the largest market share and so dominate. And so just like tax evasion, they evade anything else. Well, because they can of course. Furthermore, we think that the majority of the technology sector is mired in a low-inclusion rut and that a troubling number of companies are regressing. The lack of diversity in tech is also “simple for large corporations to interpret as a pipeline problem or a legacy issue — it’s a comforting diagnosis that would indicate it’s someone else’s problem, another area’s fault, perhaps.

Is racial diversity in tech worsening?

Yes and no. The difficulties that corporate America and the United Kingdom are facing in trying to improve their performance in terms of diversity, equity, and inclusion—or lack thereof—continue to grow. Indigenous, Black, and Latinx people are still underrepresented in the tech industry. Even after being employed, some minorities may leave or seriously consider leaving their professions out of fear that they may experience unease or discomfort at a higher rate than their white peers. Furthermore, women of ethnic minorities face much harsher conditions. Women of color hold only 15% of entry-level jobs compared to 35% held by white men… Furthermore, at Facebook, only 2.1% of tech jobs are held by Black employees. This essentially means that for some reason or another, most black employees may not even attempt to make it to the door, much less walk through the door.  The figures are not much better at Microsoft, where Black employees make up 4.7% of the workforce. Hispanic workers made up just 6.4% of the workforce at Microsoft. The bulk of staff at these two companies is white and Asian. Sadly, in the tech industry, prejudice against people of color is a common occurrence. 42% of Hispanic employees and 62% of Black employees said they had encountered discrimination at work. This can include earning less compensation than a coworker doing the same job, less support from top management, or being turned over for opportunities for professional development. Because of this, IT occupations are less enticing and accessible to people of color. Our CEO stated he has a really good track record when it came to landing jobs throughout his career. But noted that over the last decade he recollects submitting about 5 applications to Google, 1 to Microsoft, and 2 to Amazon, but that he didn’t even receive a response from any – and he is at the top of his game. So what chance does anyone else have? And ok, perhaps they were inundated with applications and so could not get back to him. But that in itself is a serious omission given the current state of jeopardy. Right… Not even to send confirmation of this to encourage someone to keep trying. Nobody’s asking for the red carpet to be laid out. Just for things to be leveled up when it comes to diversity and inclusion. Is that too much to ask for?

Low venture funding

Tech businesses are moving slowly toward diverse workplaces, and people of color and women still receive too little venture capital,” said  Dr Elizabeth Shaw, the creator of 1000 Black Voices. This story rings true for DomainRooster which has been funded by its founders. You see it’s also no secret that Black entrepreneurs have had difficulty entering the technology sector; according to s study by NPO, only 0.24% of UK  venture capital funding went to Black founders, a startlingly low percentage given that Black founders exhibit a 30% higher ROI than white founders.

The tech industry and pipeline are like a colander

The unsettling fact is that the tech industry and the pipeline are like a colander: they both have holes throughout the entire thing. Before we start to see diverse and inclusive workplaces become the standard in technology, there are still a lot of gaps to be filled. These gaps range from attracting people as previously mentioned to the field to ensure that everyone has equal access to programs and entry-level opportunities. They also include uncomfortable and unwelcoming cultures that leak diverse talent and a lack of recognition and development for underrepresented people who do make it into organizations. Addressing diversity and inclusion in tech entails leaders taking full responsibility for plugging what Laura Smith, head of diversity, equity, and inclusion at Bolt, describes as “holes” in the structure. The ability to challenge the problems and develop fresh approaches to battle them rests with each individual employee, new founder, and investor. But in order to accomplish this, introspection and comprehension of how the industry arrived at this point are crucial. Top-level commitment is necessary, not optional or just a checkbox task. The industry will then develop faster and better than before and broaden the scope of its effect if actions are taken to foster a more diverse global workforce.

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