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How to get diversity initiatives right

Sharon Florentine | March 15, 2017
New research shows that the tech industry is still struggling to make progress on diversity and inclusion issues. Here are some strategies to get it right.

You can't simply assume that leveraging a tech tool for diversity is going to fix your problems, though you might get lucky with some of your hires. "…this is where inclusion comes in -- you have to build and maintain relationships with these different groups; for instance, we realized that we were having issues hiring women engineers because our teams and our recruiters and hiring managers were predominantly male. Without having others who shared their experiences, they'd come in and feel uncomfortable, and that was exacerbating the problem," he says.

Now, a concerted effort is made to ensure the sourcing, recruiting and hiring teams are just as diverse as the talent pools they're looking at, he says, and that's made a huge difference.

Accountability

A huge part of diversity is accountability, says Hannah Lucal, associate director, Open MIC, a nonprofit that works to foster diverse and inclusive media and organizational cultures.

A new OpenMIC report, "Breaking the Mold: Investing in Racial Diversity in Tech," recommends that organizations start by collecting and disclosing more detailed workforce demographic data so they can identify where they face the biggest challenges and hold themselves accountable to changing those metrics.

The report also suggests that companies set time-bound goals and make public commitments to achieving those goals so they can be held accountable for meeting those. Linking executive compensation and employee incentives to greater diversity can also help advance the cause, and, finally, enlisting white people within the organization to help ensure that diversity initiatives are given priority and are not ignored.

"It shouldn't be left to those directly affected by underrepresentation or discrimination to fix the problem; the responsibility to increase racial diversity falls on those who currently hold the most power and influence, in other words, white people," Lucal says.

White people in leadership have to identify their own stake in this work, according to Lucal. "The problem isn't just individual, it's structural and systemic; there's personal responsibility and organizational responsibility. So, for white workers and executives, you need to examine how you benefit from these structures and systems. Only then can you start to change the culture, the standards and norms that are contributing to this problem," he says.

 

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