Despite the fact that diversity has been a major issue in the tech and IT fields for years, reports show that progress has been sluggish. But, in part due to the media attention attracted by Ellen Pao from her gender-discrimination lawsuit earlier this year, industry voices are piping up once again to work through some of the complicated issues that prevent women and minorities from entering, succeeding, or rising to executive-level roles. Pao, who claimed that she failed to be promoted in her company due to her gender and then was fired for complaining about it, lost the suit to former employer Kleiner Perkins. Taking her loss in stride, she has been leveraging the media attention to further important discussions about workplace diversity, and has recently decided to appeal her case.
For tech workers of both diverse and non-diverse backgrounds, the conversation sparked by Pao and many others is one that’s crucial to each and every company, team, and employee. As the Houston Chronicle elegantly puts it, “Access to a larger talent pool is one of the biggest advantages of having an employment recruitment policy that values diversity.” Diversity means equitable hiring and treatment regardless of race, class, creed, religion, age, sexuality, political views, abledness and any other differences that don’t affect an employee’s skills and workplace performance. A successful diverse workplace means a better workplace on all levels, including both profitability and positive work culture.
This is why it falls to all of us to take part in the conversation.
Reactions from the Re/code conference indicate that the needle is moving on workplace diversity, but there’s still more work to be done. While some celebrated the coup of even talking about diversity in the first place at this year’s conference, others noted that the conference itself was problematic, bringing on board only 6 female speakers out of a total of 27.
Leaders across the most important tech companies are trying to solve the diversity issue with varying degrees of success. Chief Business Officer at Google Omid Kordestani proclaimed of diverse hiring practices, “We’re all terrible at it.” And indeed at Google, a whopping 70 percent of employees are men, 60 percent are white, and 31 percent are Asian. However, Kordestani and others are using innovative new methods such as “bias training” to teach employees how to account for the unconscious biases that can lead to hostile workplaces for diverse employees. At this time, over half of Google’s workers — some twenty-thousand people — have attended these seminars.
Other companies are investing large sums of money into hiring programs that will help them build stronger, more diverse workforces. Intel, for instance, announced a $300 million campaign at the start of the year that has already increased diversity by 9 percent. To a lesser extent, Ebay — also a non-diverse workplace — has increased their diversity by one percentage point as of Q2.
Even some of the world’s brightest minds haven’t cracked the code for workplace diversity yet. There may be a long road ahead of us, but it would seem that we’ve at least taken the first step. As Google’s Kordestani put it, “There’s not a silver-bullet answer here.”
Stephen Van Vreede is not your average IT/technical résumé writer. He provides career strategy and concierge job search solutions for senior (15+ years) (ITtechExec) and up-and-coming (NoddlePlace) (5-15 years) tech and technical operations leaders. Stephen and his team focus on building simplified, targeted, and certain career move campaigns, be it an external search or an internal promotion. He is co-author of UNcommon with career development leader Brian Tracy (out June 11, 2015). Contact Stephen directly at Stephen@ittechexec.com or send him an invite at https://www.linkedin.com/in/stephenvanvreede. To see whether Stephen and his team are a good fit for you, take their free (and anonymous) 1-minute compatibility quiz, Is the ITtechExec Approach a Good Match for You? Also, feel free to take his complimentary resume self-assessment quiz, How Certain Can You Be About Your Technical Resume? You might be surprised by what you find out!