As Forbes writer Peggy Yu writes, “Inclusivity happens organically when you have diversity at the top of the organization.”
Even with constant talk of diversity and inclusion efforts, minorities are still pushed to the side, interrupted, and dismissed. In the United States Supreme Court, a study was conducted to compare how many times female and male justices interrupted each other in court. The result, according to Washington Post, was that “male justices interrupt the female justices approximately three times as often as they interrupt [other male justices].”
In another study done by the Kapor Center, an organization in active pursuit of diversity and inclusion in the tech industry, reported “White and Asian women had the highest rates of dissatisfaction with their company’s leadership and management (47%) – significantly higher than…White and Asian men (38%).” Another study conducted by the American Association of University Women (AAUW) reported, “Women in computing has fallen from 35 percent in 1990 to just 26 percent today.” Similarly, representation of women or minority groups found in a tech company’s leadership team has been stagnant for years.
Even though tech companies have made promises of diversity and inclusion, the numbers and demographics seem unchanging. If tech companies refuse to listen to their employees’ experiences of discrimination or harassment, worker retention will be the least of their problems. It is evident that there is discontent in work environments, so how do companies develop a less toxic work culture that helps ensure workers’ safety and comfort?
There are plenty of first steps offices can take to create a more inclusive environment.
Companies need to provide pathways for their employees. Often, companies identify leadership potential in individuals who are non-native English speakers. To encourage these individuals to pursue a higher position in their department, companies can seek out programs (such as Lingo Live) to provide language and communication training, allowing them to gain the confidence to speak up more in meetings and presentations.
Another simple change: when testing a product or service, make sure to include people within said target market. Take it from Apple, whose face recognition feature was heavily advertised through its marketing channels. Yet they faced outrage and backlash when this feature did not recognize black or Asian faces.
Experiencing different cultures also means experiencing different ways of thinking. Many tech companies have a focus and drive towards solving problems. Engineering thrives on ideas that can be molded and formed to create viable solutions. A diverse team brings diverse perspectives and experiences to the table, favorably increasing the ratio of solutions to problems.
A long-term change that needs to be made throughout many companies and industries would be the reflection of diversity in upper management. In other words, looking at a company’s leadership team should not be like looking into a monochromatic color palette. Not only is diversity on your leadership team crucial for helping initiate change and provide critical perspectives, it also improves your financial performance: “Diversity significantly improves financial performance on measures such as profitable investments at the individual portfolio-company level and overall fund returns.” The executive or leadership team should mirror the actual demographics of a company’s employees. As Forbes writer Peggy Yu writes, “Inclusivity happens organically when you have diversity at the top of the organization.”
It would be an injustice to all those who are underrepresented in the tech workforce to try and configure a “quick fix” solution – that would be synonymous to placing a bandage on a stab wound. Tech companies can hire as many culturally diverse employees as they want to satisfy their short-term diversity and inclusion efforts. But retaining them is a problem much more interlocked with long-term success. The success in the recognition and implementation of diversity and inclusion lies in progressive mindsets and advancements in social conventions. Crafting a culture within the tech industry that emanates an organic sense of inclusion starts at the top.
-Courtney Yu, Lingo Live Marketing Intern
Interested in reading more? Check out Microaggressions in the workplace.